Among Cameron Crowe fans, the question, "What's your favorite of his films?" is both simple and loaded; for the Crowe-crazy, any of the writer/director's half-dozen flicks are heartfelt and quirky enough to spark impassioned debate. With the upcoming release of "Elizabethtown," Crowe has given the faithful yet another option among the multiple-choice answers. Filmgoers, however, might want to think twice before answering; one's favorite Crowe film, it seems, says more about the viewer than he or she might think.
"'Almost Famous,' " Orlando Bloom recently declared when asked for his nominee. "I just love the coolness of that movie. The way it was shot, the music — it was a great behind-the-scenes insight into the world of music and everything else in rock and roll."
"'Almost Famous' is brilliant," agreed 59-year-old entertainment icon Liza Minnelli, illustrating the extremely wide net that certain Crowe films can cast. "It's so original. It's got that thing that a good movie needs, which is you've never seen anything like it — and I loved Kate Hudson."
"I would have to say 'Singles,'" offered actress Judy Greer, who plays Bloom's sister, Heather Baylor, in "Elizabethtown." "I just remember it being a really pivotal time in my life when it came out. I'll never forget it; I watch it all the time."
And then there's Crowe's first directorial effort, the one that put him on the map as an all-around filmmaker in 1989 after he'd already written both "The Wild Life" (1984) and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982).
"It's 'Say Anything,'" Kirsten Dunst insisted. "I love that movie. It's the best. It just gets to you, you know, in a very pure way."
Dunst added that every time she watches John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler raise that iconic boombox above his head in the rain, with Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" serenading the girl he loves, "it gets my heart."
While some might think that for a director to choose his own favorite among his films would be as difficult as a parent selecting a most beloved child among several offspring, Crowe has no qualms about siding with Dunst.
"I'm a 'Say Anything' guy," Crowe cheerfully acknowledged. "I think 'Say Anything' is the best one, probably just because John Cusack really, really matched that character, and he brought a really unique thing to what was on the page. I'll always remember the time when we made that movie. It was kind of like college or a great year in school that you'll never forget."
As a filmmaker who deals with a wide array of "favorites" being cited, praised and quoted when approached by fans on the street, Crowe also reports that he's learned a great deal about both his films and, especially, the specific films' devotees in the years since their release.
"The 'Singles' people are more musical," Crowe said. "The 'Say Anything' ones are generally longing to meet a Lloyd [in real life].
"The 'Fast Times' guys," Crowe laughed. "They're still on the beach, pretty much. The 'Jerry Maguire' people are business people. I always meet an agent, or a sports guy, or someone in the airport and they'll be like, 'Jerry Maguire! That was me! Here, take my card!'
"But that wouldn't be a 'Say Anything' person," Crowe continued, referencing those who, as Lloyd Dobler famously phrased it, "don't want to buy anything, sell anything or process anything" for a career.
"A lot of times, the 'Almost Famous' people are the ones that had to forsake the rock and roll life at some point and start a family, and begin a different phase. But you can just see behind their eyes that there was a dream of being Keith Richards [once]. Those are the guys I love running into. They go, '"Almost Famous!" It's my story!' And the guy looks like your boring uncle, but you can see it in his eyes — it's the rock fire."
"I'm so honored that there are these groups of fans," Crowe concluded, "and that there's actually more than one movie to talk about."
Check out everything we've got on "Elizabethtown."
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