Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - February, 2011

ARTICLE INDEX
"Almost Famous" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-february-2011-almost-famous

Synopsis

William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is a high schooler who lives and breathes rock and roll.  In High School at a very young age since his mom skipped him two grades, he is a bit of an outcast but finds solace in the music.  When Rolling Stone offers him the chance to follow around the up-an-coming band Stillwater on their new tour, he jumps at the chance despite the objections from his mother.  Following the band as well are a few Band-Aids, including Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) who help to get William into the inner circle of the band.  William discovers far more about the band, and his life, than he expects to during his road trip odyssey.

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 2000, Color, Unrated (Original Cut was R), 2 Hr 41 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  William Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup
  • Directed by Cameron Crowe
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

One of the better films of the last decade that has been a little bit forgotten it seems, Almost Famous is a semi-auto biographical story from Director Cameron Crowe who covered many bands on the 1970's for Rolling Stone magazine while still a teenager.  Patrick Fugit does a very good job as the teenage reporter, and Kate Hudson uses this as her star making turn, earning an Oscar nomination in the process.  This is the extended Bootleg Cut and not the theatrical cut, and unfortunately it doesn't include the option for the original version, but most of the additions actually help the story without just feeling like padding.

Technical

Unfortunately the transfer for Almost Famous doesn't hold up to the story.  While some scenes look very good, most seem to be just a little bit soft and not have as much detail as you would hope.  Shadow detail can also be lacking in the film.  When William sits down at a coffee shop with Lester Bangs early in the film, Lester's black leather jacket seems to turn into a solid chunk of black instead of a shadowy, textured object.  The black level can also rise and fall between scenes.  When William's mom drops him off at the Black Sabbath concert, the shot of her in the car has the night sky as a dark gray, but the direct following scene has the sky as pitch black.  I hope that Paramount goes back and gives this the video transfer it deserves.  The soundtrack is better than the video, with strong use of the surrounds, good clear dialog, and plenty of ambiance.

Extras

Directors commentary, music videos, theatrical trailers, multiple featurettes, an interview with the real Lester Bangs, Cameron Crowe's Rolling Stone articles, and the full script.