Singles director Cameron Crowe describes his new filmInterview, September 14.
By Chris Roberge
T he 8th Annual Boston Film Festival, currently taking place in the cinemas of the city, has brought a fair number of celebrities to Boston to promote the films they hope will be among those getting a publicity boost from the increasingly important festival. Two of those were Cameron Crowe, writer and director of Singles, which opens today, and Danny Bramson, the film's music supervisor.
Crowe began writing for Rolling Stone at the age of 16 and eventually wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which became a best-seller and spawned one of the more successful films of 1982. A follow-up to Fast Times, The Wild Life, was not as big a hit, but Say Anything, which was his directorial debut, garnered both popular and critical acclaim. Singles, more slight but funnier than Say Anything, continues Crowe's fascination with young people and their relationships with one another.
One of the most noticeable elements of Singles is its strong use of a very good soundtrack featuring Seattle musicians such as Pearl Jam, whose members act in the movie, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. The "Seattle sound" is popular today, but Crowe and Bramson contend that its rise in popularity was a shock to them. "In the movie, Matt is interviewed about the Seattle sound. That was a joke at the time," laughed Crowe. "Now it plays almost like a documentary, because there is a huge Seattle scene. The music that began as private thrill ended up being, for lack of a better phrase, the hottest thing going."
About the importance of the music to the film, Bramson added, "I think music is obviously a part of our everyday life, whether it's as common as a musical association with a particular event, time, or place, or it's something to carry you through the day... It's an added texture to match Cameron's world and his characters. Really what it's about is complementing the film and if it ever takes a different role I think it would be a detriment as opposed to a positive addition."
Paul Westerberg, formerly of The Replacements, contributed two songs and a score to the film. "It worked really well because he's romantic with an edge. He's got sadness mixed in with the joy and he's got cynicism mixed in with his absolute belief in love. And that's so much what the movie is. It just fit so well," Bramson said.
With Singles, Crowe has graduated from the high school scene to chronicle the lives of people in their 20s. "It's odd, because really when we started the movie it seemed like there were teen movies and movies about adults and there was a gap there," said Crowe. "Now of course, I was flying here and looking through People magazine and I saw page after page after page of attractive ensemble casts in TV shows and so forth. So now that generation is being documented."
But one of the problems that Singles does have is that the attractiveness of its own cast sometimes takes away from the realism of the movie. One sequence actually has the very beautiful Bridget Fonda consider plastic surgery. Crowe rebutted, "It's funny because when we were making the movie a comment came back to us from the studio saying, `Matt Dillon looks like Charles Manson! What are you doing to that attractive young man?' But yeah, I think in a funny way Bridget Fonda, for all of the elegance and beauty that you see in her work, . . I don't think that we played to that at all. And no, she's not an Amazon woman, but I wanted to tell a story about the girl who has to compete with the Amazon woman. And the great thing about Bridget Fonda is that she's so able at playing against what is her natural beauty that I think that she's very natural in the movie. And Cambell is a leading guy, but he's certainly a new face and not someone that would walk down the street and cause you to say, `Oh, that guy must be a model or something.' I think the cast feels kind of natural and no, they're not ugly, but certainly it's not Hollywood. Their dilemmas are those of normal people."