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ALMOST FAMOUS

John Cusack in a trench coat, holding up a "boom box" that's playing Peter Gabriel's "Your Eyes", in the hopes of winning over Ione Skye. It's a scene from Cameron Crowe's Say Anything; A scene that's always stayed with me. Maybe it isn't an overly complex scene, but it's one that perfectly captures emotional purity.

Cameron Crowe's made a lot of movies; Most notably he wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High and he wrote and directed the wonderful Jerry Maguire. His latest project, as both writer and director, is the critically acclaimed Almost Famous.
I wanted to be blown away by this movie. I expected to be…I had bought into the hype. Unfortunately, even though I did enjoy the movie very much, I'm not sure I see what all the hubbaballoo is all about

Almost Famous is Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical account of a fifteen year old whiz kid's experience as a novice journalist covering an up and coming rock and roll band for Rolling Stone magazine. It is a trip back in time to the early 1970's, and in that aspect the movie is technically flawless. It's no wonder movies cost so much these days. To so perfectly emulate the look of the '70's must have been kind of expensive.

The band that young William Miller, played with wide eyed innocence by Patrick Fugit, follows around is called Stillwater. Stillwater is a fictional band, and I'd really like to know who they are based on! Among the band members are Russell Hammond, the "guitarist with mystique" played very well by Billy Crudup, and Jeff Bebe, the lead singer played by Jason Lee. I really like Jason Lee, and in this role he is practically unrecognizable. He totally nailed the '70's rock star persona, complete with attitude and on stage moves. I was thoroughly impressed. Billy Crudup has a bigger role, and he does it very well, but all I could remember him from is Inventing The Abbotts, which nobody saw.

Probably the best performance in the movie is by Frances McDormand as William's worried mother. She is absolutely perfect! Her role isn't very big, but it's crucial to the film. In an even smaller role, but a very good one, is Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs, a mentor of sorts to young William. Let me tell you, Hoffman is becoming one of my favorite actors around today. I haven't seen all of his work, because quite frankly he does a lot of movies, and not all of them are to my taste. He is however very, very good. He's kind of a chameleon too. He's great here as Lester, but unrecognizable from his disturbingly awesome performance in Happiness.
The scene stealer of the movie though is Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, the spiritual leader of sorts of the band's many "Band Aides" (don't call them groupies, damn it!).
Kate Hudson is a very attractive young blonde hottie, who happens to be Goldie Hawn's daughter. She also happens to be a very good actress. I haven't seen much of her before this, but now I will definitely keep an eye out for her. I really liked the dynamics of the relationship between her, Crudup and Fugit.

Like I said, this movie has received a lot of critical acclaim. Best I can figure Frances McDormand should easily get a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Billy Crudup could get a Best Actor nomination, and I would love to see Kate Hudson get a nod for Best Actress. Even if she doesn't win, it would be nice just to be nominated…
As for Writer, Director, or Best Picture…I dunno.
I DID enjoy the movie. Very much so. I just don't know…we'll have to see what happens with the upcoming Pay It Forward, Castaway, and even Unbreakable.
Until then Rock and Roll baby. Rock and roll.

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