Almost Famous **½/****
Image A- Sound A- Extras A-
starring Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson
written and directed by Cameron Crowe
by Bryant Frazer Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's fondly remembered period piece about a bygone era of rock stars and the various satellites in their orbit, is a bit of a relic these days. Even on its release in 2000, when it was almost 30 years removed from its subject matter, Almost Famous was a notably uncritical celebration of a moment in 20th-century music history. Another 20 years on, having centred the phallic sexual and creative powers of a white guy with a guitar, Almost Famous is increasingly disconnected from the prevailing pop and hip-hop zeitgeist, and the film feels even more like cultural hagiography. On the other hand, it is a hell of a story. The fundamentals are autobiographical: Cameron Crowe really was a 15-year-old whiz kid who earned early graduation from high school; he really did seek career advice from legendary rock-and-roll critic Lester Bangs; and he really landed a ROLLING STONE assignment to hit the road with a group of next-big-thing cock-rockers. The story, as Crowe retells it here, has intrepid young journo William Miller (a fresh-faced Patrick Fugit) on assignment with the fictional rock group Stillwater--dealing with celebrity egos, yearning for the teenaged groupies who sprinkle their figurative fairy dust around a series of interchangeable ballrooms, basketball arenas, and hotel suites, and checking in with a protective mother (Frances McDormand) who can only peer helplessly into her son's wonderland from her world outside the circus tent. Finally, William meets with his editors back at HQ to bang out a chunk of blistering reportage that will lay bare the raw emotional state of a band on tour and cement his status as a rock journalist. What could go wrong?