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delhi (originally petergrad) india (russia)
Mostly Infamous
Jan 19, 2004 05:20 PM 1809 Views
(Updated Jan 19, 2004 05:25 PM)





Patrick Fugit is William Miller, a dorky kid who discovers rock and roll and starts writing for Rolling Stones at the precious age of 15. He’s good for his age, or so we’re told over and over. But let’s face the truth here(or this is what they make us believe) anyone with a pen and an brain to think can write for Rolling Stone. Fugit’s first assignment is to write about a tour with Stillwater, a band of longhaired rock star wannabes. It is on this never ending journey that Fugit supposedly finds himself and the truth about rock and roll.

That is, it is repulsive and attractive at the same time.

On the road withStillwater, Fugit falls in love with Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane, a groupie in love with the band’s guitarist (Billy Crudup). He sees some warmth in her that I didn’t. He is welcomed into the inner circle of Stillwater, traveling on their bus and plane. He has sex for the first time, saves Hudson’s life and pursues an interview with Crudup, the band’s most private member. Mostly, he stands around with his mouth hanging open.

’’Almost Famous’’ is probably brilliant movie making for all the americans in their forties who bitch about today’s music and still listen to their stupid Pink Floyd records. For the rest of us, ’’Almost Famous’’ is boring. It’s two hours of backstage scenes loosely tied together by cheap plot devices. One thing I hate is screen writers who make movies just so they can get characters to spout the writer’s thoughts. That goes on here, and the obviousness of it is painful. Actors move from scene to scene, doing nothing but yammer philo-rock nonsense, and instead of a plot the posturing is taped together with contrivances that are supposed to give the story an arc.

Examples: The characters reveal the truth while they fear their plane will crash. Of course, it doesn’t. Shouldn’t a good writer be able to think of a better, less overused gimmick? Kate Hudson swears she’ll never tell Fugit her real name, and we’re expected to wonder what it is, and then be delighted when she tells him. And guess what? It’s a funny name! Isn’t that clever?

Like a drunken uncle who corners you at a family Dinner, Crowe holds you captive for two hours with cute stories that have no real endings. I wanted to get away, but Crowe finished each vignette with, ’’Wait, wait, listen to this one.’’ In the mess, there are some good stories and ideas, but Crowe is too enamored with all of them to save us the agony of hearing them all.

The characters are obvious and flat. The rock stars are egotistical, the groupies are free with sex, the mother is strict, the manager steals from the band. Hudson is a seemingly tough groupie who turns out to be ­ surprise, surprise ­ vulnerable.

And everyone has a selfless, loving revelation at the two-hour mark. Those revelations might work if the characters mattered. They don’t, they’re just mouthpieces for Crowe’s nostalgia and the story’s conclusion is a weak attempt to appease anyone who came expecting a story.

Fugit is entirely competent at standing around, he struggles whenever he has to confront another actor. Kate Hudson turns her groupie role into a juicy ham sandwich, filled with hazy smiles and nothing else. Only Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Frances McDormand are able to salvage their underwritten roles.

One thing the movie does well is recreate the early seventies. ’’Almost Famous’’ feels real and tangible. As awful as the music of the early 70s is, this is probably how it felt and looked.

Beware of movie critics who try telling you this movie is ’’almost perfect’’

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