|By Mira Harber
Writer, director Cameron Crowe
introduces us to his 15- year-old journalistic-alter ego in Almost Famous,
a semi-autobiographical ode to rock ‘n’ roll.
This movie brings back the late
1960s, early 1970s for anyone who was there (or can still remember
that far back!). If you liked the music of that time, and a good, simple
yarn, this is the movie for you.
Crowe had incredibly good luck,
and a couple of mentor/angels watching out for him as he begins his journey
towards becoming a writer for Rolling Stone magazine and eventually a film-maker
(Jerry Maguire was his last film).
His mother is played by the
incomparable Frances McDormand. She's a spirited, open-minded university
professor who loves her son enough to let him leave home and school in
San Diego to follow a band on the verge of making it big. Before he begins
his journey he meets rock critic Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman,
one of the best, if not THE best character actors currently working on
stage and screen) Bangs edited Creem magazine and wrote for both Rolling
Stone & The Village Voice. It's 1973 and corporate greed and corruption
have ruined rock ‘n’roll as far as he's concerned. This man is a purist
and he truly loves the music. He's inspiring to a young, fledging critic
and is always there to guide and help the young man find his way as a critic.
William, our hero, goes on tour
with the band Stillwater and is mesmerized by their talented lead guitarist,
Russell (Billy Crudup) and his girlfriend, the 'Band-Aid', Penny Lane (Kate
Hudson). His dilemma as he spends more and more time with the band is,
should he write what he really sees happening? Or should he write a piece
of fluff about his new friends? This is presented as a real moral dilemma,
and if anything, this is the main problem with the movie - there really
is no dilemma - if William writes a real, tough article, well guess what?He
gets the cover story on Rolling Stone - pretty good when you're only fifteen.
The relationship between the
star-struck teenager and the guitarist is interesting - is he just an egotistical
ass, or a decent, talented artist? His girlfriend is not just a groupie,
but a 'Band-Aid', she really LOVES the music, and the artists who perform
it. Kate Hudson (daughter of Goldie Hawn) is excellent in her angelic,
sweet & sexy way. She and the other Band-Aids reassure William's mom
that they're all watching out for him, and "don’t worry, he's still a virgin".
This of course isn't the case by the end of the movie, but isn't that part
of what rock ‘n’ roll is all about ?
Peter Frampton was the key music
consultant to the movie, and Nancy Wilson of Heart (she's married to the
movie's director) wrote all the songs and lyrics with Crowe.
Patrick Fugit plays the 15- year-old critic William,
and he is a marvel. He plays no false notes in this film, and is an absolute
delight. He's like the movie actually - funny and sweet.
Billy Crudup may finally become
a star because of this role. I hope that in the future he shows more of
himself to the camera -I find him a little elusive emotionally and I think
this is what has stopped him up until now from becoming a big star.
All in all, if you like rock
‘n’ roll, go see this sweet slice of a movie. It's charming and heartwarming,
and I mean that in a nice way. The music is good, sometimes great, and
the semi-satirical moments that enter the movie, especially when the egomaniacal
lead singer (Jason Lee) let loose, bring back fond memories of This is
Spinal Tap. Have fun at Almost Famous - you won't be able to help yourself.