Singles – Boston Herald

Singles writer grows up

The term “grew up onscreen” is usually reserved for in-front-of-the-camera child stars such as Jodie Foster and Ron Howard. But the same can be said for “Singles” writer-director Cameron Crowe.

It started when Crowe went back to high school to observe students for the book he would eventually adapt into the 1982 breakthrough teen picture “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Continuing with his directorial debut, 1989’s post-high-school “Say anything …,” and again with “Singles,” whose characters are post-collegiate, Crowe has progressed to more mature concerns with each movie.

“That’s my dream, definitely,” says Crowe, 34, whose career goes back to writing for Rolling Stone magazine as a teen. But with this story of the trials and tribulations of dating, he’s eager to stress he’s not just a chronicler.

“There are a lot of things I went through dating, and in a lot of ways this is a very personal statement about connections between people, and all the little moments,” says Crowe, who’s married to Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson.

“Because I always remember the little things,” he adds, speaking of such positive romantic signs in “Singles” as when Matt Dillon says “bless you” after Bridget Fonda sneezes or when Kyra Sedgwick reaches over and unlocks Campbell Scott’s car door.

“I just wanted to be truthful about what goes into the process of meeting someone new. So I would just talk to everybody about the little tests they set up for themselves, or the little habits that throw red flags on a relationship, and make the movie jam-packed with that stuff.

“To do all those little moments looks deceptively easy in the movies of Bill Forsyth, for example, but it’s not. It’s a bitch to keep the house of cards in shape, but what ends up happening is if you care enough about the character, you looking for the twitch in his eye or you looking for the way he spins the fork, because you know that’s what he does when he’s in love or whatever. It was a real challenge.”

Part of Crowe’s solution was to structure “Singles” in vignette-like chapters, “meant to be like cuts on an album,” he says. This music analogy is apt for Seattle-set “Singles,” which includes songs and appearances by such bands as Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, who’ve become commercial hits since the movie’s filming.

“Who thought these unknown bands would just explode?” Crowe asks in pleasant wonder. “Doing the music for this movie was nothing any of us expected. This was the movie where it was, `There’ll be no Cheap Trick B-sides, there’ll be none of that commercial, bogus stuff. This is going to be uncommercial, regional stuff.’ Then, of course, the music ends up being one of the things that got the movie released, in a way.”

But the music takes a back seat to the bittersweet romances in “Singles.”

“It’s one of the most unromantic times in history, and still love flourishes,” says Crowe, whose next movie will bump up the age of his protagonists again. “Still the guy does go over and try to talk to the woman he wants to talk to, and vice versa. That was always the intent, to do something about searching for that little spark.”

Courtesy of the Boston Herald – Paul Sherman – September 21, 1992