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copyright ©1999-2001

flick pick | Almost Famous 2000
Directed + written by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: nostalgic
The verdict: / 5 the rating system explained

Plot synopsis At eleven, William Miller doesn’t fit in at school. He’s too smart, and looks two years younger than all the other kids in his grade (as it turns out, he is). When his rebellious older sister Anita, fed up with their single mother’s anti-pop culture rants, packs up and leaves home one day, she leaves William a gift: her beloved record collection. Attached to a Who album is a note that says, "Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your entire future." By the time he’s fifteen, precocious William is a devoted rock fan and bona fide music critic, writing his first real story for the legendary Lester Bangs, editor of Creem magazine. William soon lands his dream job when he’s assigned to write a piece on up-and-coming band Stillwater for Rolling Stone. As he follows the band on their tour across America – much to the distress of his very protective mother -- William befriends the band members, falls in love with a "Band aid" named Penny Lane, and soon finds himself caught up in the heady swirl of the 70s rock-and-roll lifestyle.

Review For me, it was the Pixies in high school, specifically that U.K. surf version of "Wave of Mutilation." That was the first song I remember discovering all on my own – not through the radio, or MTV, or friends – and finding it felt like the most delicious secret in the world. That song made me a fan. And though these days I know the Doolittle version of "Wave of Mutilation" is the superior one, it still makes me happy to hear that slow, dreamy song and remember what it was like to be sixteen, and utterly convinced that music was life, and rock stars were heroes. (My bass guitar, now collecting dust in the closet, stands testament to the fact that I actually wanted to be Kim Deal.) Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical Almost Famous – yes, he really was a teenage rock critic wunderkind before he started making movies – has garnered all sorts of praise for its many excellent performances, including Kate Hudson’s luminous Penny Lane, Patrick Fugit’s adorable William Miller, Billy Crudup’s multi-layered almost-rock star, and perpetual scene-stealers Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Mrs. Miller and Lester Bangs, respectively. But though the characters are endearing and the acting marvelous, the best thing about Almost Famous is the vibe it captures, that love-reverence-devotion that rock-and-roll inspires in lonely teenagers of every generation because it makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger, better, more meaningful than real life itself. Very funny, very sweet, and eminently enjoyable to watch, Almost Famous will ring true for anyone who’s ever bought a record, seen a live show, picked up a guitar maybe, and fallen obsessively in love with the music.  — reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun 

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