Sunday, September 11, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Singles'

In 1992, things were changing. The music of the time was in a huge shift, from bands like Guns N' Roses to bands like Pearl Jam. "Grunge" was the new thing. Taking a queue from the music of the time, Cameron Crowe built a love story around it and the home where it came from.... Seattle. The story itself, had very little to do with "grunge", it was more about love with mid 20somethings in the early 90's. It featured a lot of hip up and coming actors and actually had a lot of Seattle musicians and bands, like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and the boys of Pearl Jam. I remember seeing it in the theaters when it came out and at the time, I was "grunge". Even to this day, I'm still thought of in that context and I've never taken it as an insult or a dig.... to me, it's a good time and memory. I was just at the right age to have the music and the film speak to me. I wasn't in my 20's yet, but it was still my generation. Even to this day, I'm an avid fan of "grunge" and yet for some reason, I haven't seen 'Singles' in over a decade or more. This past week, I was at a store and saw it on DVD for $3.... I always wondered why it wasn't already in my collection and now I can proudly say that it finally is. Tonight, I watched again for the first time in years and it's a funny thing.... I never realized how much of an impact it had on my life and how much the music and scene impacted me as well. It's a wonder I never ended up living in Seattle. I love the rain and cloudy days, it seemed like a no brainer. Somehow, I ended up in Colorado, where it's sunny about 362 days a year. Funny, huh?

Here's a VERY basic outline of the plot: (taken from "Generation X neighbors share their bittersweet, intertwined stories of the single life in director Cameron Crowe's quirky relationship comedy set against the backdrop of Seattle's grunge music scene in the 1990s." I suppose I couldn't sum it up any better. It's all about being young and single and trying to find your way in the dating scene. Each character seems to represent a different stereotype. The activist, the musician, etc. and despite their differences, they all seem to relate to each other. In a lot of ways, it's a very typical love story. What sets it apart is the backdrop for the film and the music. It's where Cameron Crowe has always shined. If you look at everyone of his films, they are all based around music and how it ties into the story either emotionally or lieterally. He is a master at this. Just look at the sales of the 'Singles' soundtrack.... it sold millions. That's just a soundtrack! Granted, it boasts a huge number of big named performers and songs that weren't and aren't available everywhere. Hell, I own it on cassette and CD. I played the cassette so much that it broke.So what does it all mean? As I said earlier, this film has really left a mark on me. I'm not sure if it really is the film or the time or the music.... but they're all connected. For example, when I went to film school, I didn't want to write horror or action.... I wanted to write romantic films like this one. I also included music as a huge part of the writing process and in the scripts themselves. When I finished my first script, it included music clues in the screenplay and I even made a soundtrack to go with it. When I turned it in, my professor said that he'd never had a student do that before and it really impressed him. He even commented on my grade that it was a nice addition to have the music to match up with the scenes. Even to this day, if I hear a song that inspires me, I write. I can't tell you how many things that I've created were based on some kind of inspirational cue from a song. It's a beautiful marriage. This film also influenced my love of certain actors and increased my affections for certain bands. Like the mime that is in this film, he's played by Eric Stoltz and he left and impression. As a matter of fact, I went to see the film 'Naked in New York' because of him and that film is still one of my top films ever. It was the foundation of my first screenplay and I owe it all to 'Singles'. This film may not be the 'Citizen Kane' of the 90's, but it is a time capsule of my generation with blinders on. Kind of like pulling out a magazine from 1992 and flipping through it. You know that the people and things in it aren't a true representation of the people and things from that time, but they are parts of it and most likely the parts you remember the best. That, in a nutshell, is 'Singles' for me.

In the end, I have to thank Cameron Crowe for me giving me something to look back fondly on. He created what I always wanted to, even before I knew it myself. It's a very solid 4 out of 5 star film that I don't think everyone who watches it will understand. I think you had to be there, in that time, to really feel where it's coming from. Kind of like watching a film from the 60's, 70's or 80's. If you weren't there, you may be able to appreciate what it is, but it won't have the same impact on you that it might on someone else. I can never go back to that time and relive who I was and what was going on, but that's the beautiful thing about music, art, film and television.... it's like a pseudo-timecapsule. Even for a short time, we can all go back and visit our past, for better or worse. This is why I do what I do and I am who I am.

If you like this film, check out: 'Naked in New York', 'Threesome' and 'The Brothers McMullen'

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