Most helpful positive review
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Great [and Not-So-Great] Version of a Great Movie
on 14 November 2005
[Amazon migrated my original review of this great movie across to the Blu-Ray edition from the Region 1 "Boot Cut". Unfortunately this means that a lot of it is completely inaccurate! The Boot Cut has great extras, such as the superb commentary, and the Blu-Ray has nothing much aside from the extended version of the film. Quite why it was possible to do more with the DVD format than it is with Blu-Ray I'm not sure, but with no Stillwater CD, no "Stairway to Heaven" scene, no deleted scenes etc. this is an opportunity badly missed. Still, it's the extended version and the film really is wonderful ... so it keeps its 5 stars either way.]
"Almost Famous" is a truly great film about music by someone who was also a great rock journalist. If you missed it in cinemas, this is a great opportunity to pick it up for home viewing.
The three discs here are a short CD by "Stillwater" (the fictional band from the film), a DVD of the original theatrical release and the main event: a DVD of the Director's Cut with a commentary by Cameron Crowe and his mother.
The longer version, it should be noted, takes what was already a brilliant autobiographical film and adds some key scenes, most of which explore further the rock world of the early seventies. Crowe himself wanted to tell not merely a love story, but - more importantly - the love story between a band and its fans. The additional detail really "sells" this aspect of the film, most notably in an extraordinarily moving scene when Kate Hudson's character is thrown a birthday party by the band. If you haven't seen this version, you haven't really seen the film: it really does make that much difference.
Finally, the commentary, which is one of the most informative that I've encountered. Crowe's mom (played to great effect in the film by Frances McDormand) provides a wonderful foil to Crowe himself as they talk about how closely events in the film tracked the actual events of his life as a journalist with Rolling Stone. If you think that the movie is inauthentic before you hear the commentary, you will have changed your mind by the end of it. Both come across as really warm, funny people as well, which is more than can be said for most commentators on DVDs.
One niggle: there's an important scene that was deleted presumably because Crowe couldn't get permission to use "Stairway to Heaven". It's here as an extra on the disc (you have to play your own CD along with it) but isn't incorporated into the "Untitled" Director's Cut. It's a shame that in this area the copyright holder spoiled what was in every other respect a great DVD version of one of the better films of recent years.