Monday in Daily Arts...
Come hack next week for a review of
It:hak Perlman's virtuoso performance
at LIHill Audiorium, Sunday at 4 p.m.
SEPTEMBER 22, 2000
SOMETHING TO CROWE ABOUT
Sdtrk. spins in
'70s rock giorj
rock in '
By Matthew Barrett
Dail, Fim Hitor
In making "Almost Famous," a fiction-
alized account of his experiences writing
for "Rolling Stone," it would have -been
very easy for Cameron Crowe and his
film to take on a pretentious feel. As in, I
wrote for "Rolling Stone" when I was
just a teenager, I was a boy-genius and
am now a wonderful writer-director, so
just bask in the world of my greatness for
over two hours. But Crowe never indulges
himself to this point - he has too much
At Quality 16
respect for the music
and the people sur-
rounding it to stoop
to that level.
The film centers
on William Miller
(Patrick Fugit as
Crowe's alter ego), a
15 year old who gets
hired by Rolling
Stone magazine to
cover the band
William escapes the
clutches of his overly
notebooks and seeing how long he can
stretch out his time with the band.
Crudup and Lee are both phenomenal,
and they succeed in giving Stillwater the
look and feel that they need and provid-
ing the acting chops necessary for the
story to work. Some of the film's better
moments take place where the band is
jamming onstage as Crowe captures the
adrenaline rush of a live show on film.
The heart of "Almost Famous" is the
relationship between William and Penny
Lane (Kate Hudson), a self-described
band-aid who follows Stillwater around
on the road. Penny loves Russell, William
loves Penny and Russell loves being
Russell, so you can see where the prob-
lems in the triangle arise.
Penny is the unattainable dream girl,
who William will never get, and yet
something forces him to continue pursu-
ing her. William is an old-soul who treats
women and for that matter everyone else
with a great deal of respect, which makes
him a fish out of water on the tour and a
more likely friend than lover to Penny.
Crowe is one of the most gifted writers
working in movies today and he creates
moments and scenes which are nothing
short of wonderful but he's unable to
string these scenes together to create a
coherent andcompelling narrative.
Nowhere is this more apparent then in
the handling of the character of Lester
Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), late,
great rock-critic. Bangs pops up on occa-
sion throughout the movie but his pres-
ence is too fleeting. Every time we see
him he has some great pearl of wisdom
on life to offer us ("true music chooses
By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Wnter
Cameron Crowe has done it again. Four years have gone
by since he gave us "Jerry Maguire" and the Boss' late hit
"Secret Garden." Now, he heads back to the '70s with a rock
vengeance - and he's brought some of his friends with him.
For the soundtrack to his latest film "Almost Famous*
semi-autobiographical story about a 15 year old writer from
Rolling Stone who goes on the road with a rock band, Crowe
comprised a masterwork of rock 'n roll from the '70s, every-
thing from The Who to Yes, the Allman Brothers Band to Cat
Stevens. And let's not forget, a little tune by a pinnacle of
guitar rock, Led Zepplin. Since Crowe is pals with the band
(he also wrote the liner notes to their box set), Led Zepplin
has allowed only Crowe to use their songs for a soundtrack.
Thus, you're treated to the soft acoustic Zepplin ditty
"That's the Way" plucked right from the "Led Zepplin
3" album. But the rock doesn't stop there. Along with
The Who's "Sparks" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sim*
Man," Crowe joins such classic guitar rock with
Stillwater's "Fever Dog," a hit song by the fictitious
band in the film. And sure enough, he and his wife, for-
mer Heart singer-songwriter Nancy Wilson, wrote it.
"Fever Dog" is a loud, raucous jam, sounding somewhere
smack between Led Zepplin and Mother Love Bone. With a
kicking drum intro and scratchy, raging vocals, it's an
inspired performance (by Wilson, members of the
Lovemongers and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike Mcdready) that
seems to fit right into the sound of the times.
Clocking in at more than 70 minutes, the "Alin
Famous" soundtrack is a gem of an album as far as sound-
tracks go, as it ranges from the classic standard (Simon and
Garfunkel's "America") to the more obscure (Todd
Rundgren's "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference") to the
pop masterpiece (Elton John's "Tiny Dancer").
Expect nothing less from a guy who spent his
teenage years on the road with the Allmans and Thc
Who. Crowe loves rock music, he hears it and takes it
all in. Both "Almost Famous" and its catalog of vitage
songs realize the glory of "Os rock.
(Frances McDormand, doing some of her
best work) and hits the road with the
Stillwater seems to be near the break-
ing point when William joins the tour,
with lead-singer Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee)
and guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy
Crudup) clashing over attention from the
media and fans. William takes in the
whole scene, recording the details in his
Courtesy of Dreamworks
Cameron Crowe's alter ego William Miller (Patrick Fugit) scores a big interview.
you") which at times left me wanting
more of Bangs and less of Stillwater.
Hoffman is phenomenal as Bangs, which
is par for the course for an actor who con-
tinues to turn out top-notch work whether
the role be great or small.
"Almost Famous" is unable to piece its
parts together for a greater whole. Don't
get me wrong, the film is still worth see-
ing as it provides an enjoyable and engag-
ing look at the world of '70s rock, but it
fails to transcend the music and turns out
to be something short of the sublime
work that Crowe has done before.
Chappelle and Breuer light up joints, Hill
I U of M
Se 22 31
$1. per bag after 3pm SaturdayJ
NN ARBOR PT opens at 1am I
S HRIFT S CUP 2 1621 S. State - 996-9155
m uth of The Michigan Union, behind the Produce Station
By Rob Brode
Daily Arts Writer
h ash Bash came a bit early this year.
Da\ e Chappelle and Jim Breuer
roiled" into Iiill Auditorium last night
for an intoxicating performance.
Breuer is best
. known for his
' work on Saturday
Night Live as
Completely "Goat Boy" and
Baked Chappelle for his
HillAuditoriu roles in "200
September 22, 2000 "Robin Hood:
Men and Tights."
starred in the
cult classic "ialf
Baked," a stoner
movie for the'90s, a modern day "Up
With the tour titled "Completely
Baked," there was sure to be more ref-
erences to marijuana than at Whitney
Houston's sentencing. So when Jim
Breuer came out and did his moronic,
sedated, stoner chuckle and proceeded
to talk about weed, the audience ate it
up faster than a batch of magic brown-
ies. Breuer's routine ranged from
Jim Breuer (above) and Dave Chappelle (right) had 'em rollin' in the aisles last
night at their 'Completely Baked' show held at Hill Auditorium.
feined retardation, to feigned drunken-
ness and of course feined highness. In
between his bits on various types of
intoxication he talked about baseball,
child birth, hemorrhoids and goats. The
set was punctuated with sound effects,
impressions and vulgar hand puppets.
In spite of being sophomoric and
sometimes incoherent, amongst college
kids Breuer was comedy gold.
Chappelle began his set with
recounting his recent exploration of
"titty bars" and the experience of a
three dollar lap dance. Chappelle
touched on many subjects from racism,
to the Superfriends, to weed and even
gave a long dissertation on testing
methods to check the freshness of sex-
ual seafood. Unlike Breuer, it appeared
as if Chappelle actually had material,
weaving in and and out of particular
themes throughout the night, leaving
the audience with the munehies for
Although it was a "joint" effort,
Chappelle was the Northern Lights
while Breuer was the paprika your
neighbor tricked you into buying.
These days when a ten-spot won't even
get you a dime bag, spending ten
bucks on a Breuer/Chappelle show is
money well spent.
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