Today in Movie History: September 15

Cameron Crowe has had his ups and downs as a filmmaker, but Almost Famous remains his most personal and heartfelt. Based loosely on his experiences as a (very young) rock journalist in the 70s, it follows a precocious teenager (Patrick Fugit) who finds himself in the inner circle of a successful band on the road. It’s sweet, funny and very wise — the epitome of the director at his best — as well as featuring great supporting performances from the likes of Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. It opened today in 2000.

When American Beauty first came out, it was hailed as a masterpiece of suburban angst and the hollow pursuits of consumer society. Time hasn’t been kind to it — it’s not the classic we thought at the time — but it still contains powerful moments, and Kevin Spacey’s performance as a father who gleefully embarks upon his own undoing is still breathtaking to behold. It opened today in 1999.

It’s hard to imagine now, but Al Pacino was seriously on the skids in the late 80s. A string of flops had dissipated his reputation as one of the best actors in the industry, and one wondered how much longer we’d see him onscreen. then he made Sea of Love, a slick little thriller that pitted his cop against a potential murderess (Ellen Barkin) who of course he’s dangerously attracted to. The movie was a hit with the critics and the public, and Big Al was back in the catbird seat. the movie opened today in 1989.


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