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Heroes of the Zeroes: Almost Famous

by on January 12, 2010
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The Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.


“Almost Famous”
Rated R
2000

Cameron Crowe’s quasi-autobiographical 2000 film about a 15-year-old Rolling Stone stringer seduced by 1970s rock ‘n’ roll teemed with evocative sequences.

The goofy giggles of the “I am a golden god!” speech. The unfairly maligned “Tiny Dancer” scene, which underscores an unabashedly sincere communal apology. Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) twirling in a concert’s afterglow to Cat Stevens’ “The Wind,” and, as she boards a plane, realizing she’s shifted from rarefied to recycled air.

But seek out “Untitled” — Crowe’s preferred title and cut of the film. Like the full version of a radio-edited track, there was more to admire and mull. And, as a title, “Untitled” better represented the individual interpretations we bring to our favorite music — a sentiment with which “Almost Famous,” in any form, was suffused.

Uncovering what moves him about others’ phrases, keys and riffs is all that gets William Miller (Patrick Fugit) through tempestuous travails of road life with Stillwater — a fictional collage of groups with which Crowe traveled. (As his mom, Frances McDormand’s delightful maternal clinginess never turned dysfunctional.)

Whether about disappointment or elation, Crowe’s observations are trenchant. Instinct is your greatest asset when idols let you down. That first gulp of passion in a profession you love can quench you for years. Quite often, bassists and drummers don’t have much to say. And, in the words of Lester Bangs (inimitably portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman): “The only true currency you have in this bankrupt world is what you confess to each other when you’re uncool.”

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