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Almost Famous: The Bootleg Cut

Almost Famous is a movie for posterity. An undeniable financial flop, it is nevertheless a warm, moving, and at times transcendant portrait of a teenager enamored of rock and roll during the early 1970s. Writer-director Cameron Crowe recreates, with affectionate detail, the unusual chapter in his childhood during which he, at the age of 15 in 1973, went on tour with rock 'n' roll bands as a reporter for Rolling Stone. Patrick Fugit stars as Crowe's alter ego, William Miller, a premature teenager freed from the clutch of his sweet but domineering mother and exposed to the raucous emotional anarchy of touring with a band and their entourage. The unlikely Fugit, in his square, mousy way, is perfect as an instantly likable, underage music geek in over his head, and breakthrough star Kate Hudson, as romanticized groupie Penny Lane, deserves every last sliver of hype buzzing around her electric performance. The rest of the terrific ensemble plays their parts with detail and charm, including Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, Francis McDormand, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Angarano, Noah Taylor, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jimmy Fallon. Crowe has miraculously crafted a truly personal story into a universally accessible epic about the most important moments in life. Disc One of DreamWorks' three-disc set features a Bootleg Cut, with 35 minutes of additional footage adding extra texture, warmth, and occasional edge to the film. It's presented in a sharp anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. This extended version of the film features a commentary by Crowe accompanied by his mother and various production crew. Also on this disc are an interview with pivotal rock journalist Lester Bangs, Cameron Crowe's list of the best albums of 1973, behind-the-scenes and rehearsal footage, and seven Rolling Stone articles written by Crowe during the 1970s. Disc Two features the film in its original theatrical cut, in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby 2.0 Surround. It features a menu of different additional features, including an amusing deleted scene reluctantly not reinserted into the director's cut on Disc One, an extended take of musical performance by Pete Droge and Elaine Summers, Stillwater's complete Cleveland concert, the complete screenplay, and a trailer. The third disc in this set is a six-song audio CD of the Stillwater music created for the film. Folding DVD digipak.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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