Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe) 2000 **** 5/29/2017

I didn’t go into this knowing it was a Rock & Roll movie.  Knowing it is now, I’m tempted to phrase my assessment like this: it’s more than a Rock & Roll movie.  But that diminishes Rock & Roll.  Nowhere is this more powerful than when Willie Miller (Patrick Fugit) is sitting on the tour bus with Stillwater, a rift in between the band and their guitarist Russell (Billy Crudup) after a bad night out in Topeka.  “Tiny Dancer” is playing and slowly everyone is joining in.  It’s a corny setup, but it’s powerful, and it heals that rift.  Willie is 15 years old, and is with the band for Rolling Stone.  He got there after writing some stuff for Creem Magazine, and having already met the band while doing a piece on Black Sabbath for his hero, rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman).  At that first encounter he also meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), an enigmatic groupie who figures big throughout the rest of the movie.  He is only reluctantly let on assignment by his mother (Frances McDormand), who’s overbearing and already lost a husband to heart attack, and a daughter (Zooey Deschanel) to her overbearingness.  The scenes with the most to say come from Lester, on being truthful and unmerciful, and on something to the effect of “the most real things are those shared between two uncool people.”  The irony is that this is a cool movie, and me an uncool person, so it’s really only almost real.  And because of that maybe almost cool.

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