"Thus open the gates of paradise."

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Almost Famous

06 Apr 2002

It wouldn't surprise me if you've never even heard of this film. It wouldn't surprise me if you have already seen it, and thought it was one of the best films you've seen this year. I guess that in the mood I'm in, nothing would surprise me at all.

Hey, look. Did you ever sit around listening to music on the radio until well past midnight? Did you ever feel that your life was about to take off like a car on drag strip, its tires spinning in a deafening whine, waiting for the Christmas tree lights to finally count down to green? Do you remember your first taste of freedom -- staying out late, later than your parents were willing to wait up? These are the memories this film stirred up in me while I was watching it.

  Frances McDormand
 

Frances McDormand

About the film -- there's nothing but good things to say about it. Writing was good. Film was long, but without any dead moments in it. Performances were uniformly superb. Patrick Fugit is William Miller, a young rock and roll writer. His gift to this film is to play his character as close to a real person as you can imagine in such a setting. Even though he's a teenager, he doesn't lapse into any of the usual coming-of-age cliches and so keeps everything fresh. William Frances McDormand does some very nice work as his protective mother who manages to freak out more than a couple characters before the credits roll. Kate Hudson is charming as Penny Lane, a band aid (read "groupie") for Stillwater guitarist Russell Hammond, played by a very affable Billy Crudup. This being a story driven by character, the appearance of Philip Seymour Hoffman is inevitable, and he treats us to another great performance that I'm afraid no one will even notice. He plays Lester Bangs, the editor for Cream magazine who gives Miller his first job and encourages him to write.

I've seen this film twice in the last month or so. Conclude from that what you will.

Related Sites

Almost Famous (Official Site)
Almost Famous (IMDB)