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Almost Famous 4K Ultra HD Steelbook Review, Almost Famous (2000)



Writer, producer, director, journalist and actor, Cameron Crowe was born in 1957 in Palm Springs, California. He skipped kindergarten as well as two years of elementary school, setting in motion a life full of overcoming. By the time Crowe graduated from high school at the age of fifteen, he was already writing articles for local magazines. He then met with Rolling Stone editor-in-chief Ben Fong-Torres, who hired Crowe to write for the nationally distributed publication.

A year later he was sent on tour with The Allman Brothers Band and landed his first Rolling Stone cover. When the publication moved to New York City, Crowe stayed in California to focus on his writing, writing the novel and screenplay, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, launching his film career. After a string of successes, Crowe wrote, produced and directed the semi-autobiographical film, Almost Famous. Today, on Crowe’s sixty-fourth birthday, Paramount Pictures released a 4K steel book of the award-winning film.

In 1973, the rock band Stillwater was on the verge of fame. They were roaming the country and Rolling stone magazine, the largest music publication in the United States, wanted to send a reporter to cover the rise of Stillwater. William Miller (Patrick Fugit; Gone Girl), 15, is that lucky writer.

For three weeks he traveled with the group, becoming a “semi-confident” member of the entourage. He interviews all of the band members except Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup; Zack Snyder Justice League), who constantly put off William. As tensions within the group increase, William is exposed to their dirty little secrets, including Hammond’s side chick (as opposed to groupie), Penny Lane (Kate Hudson; How to lose a guy in 10 days).

Crowe’s writing generally borders on prolific, so it stands to reason that his best work would be a subject he is extremely familiar with. Since Almost Famous is based on his life as a young journalist, the concepts, dialogue, and plot are well thought out and insightful. Although he tends to be a bit “eccentric,” Crowe’s understanding of the material makes his writing masterful while still being relatable.

The cast at the time was mostly made up of young, unknown actors, but many have since racked up a lot of credits making them well known around the world. Crudup and Jason Lee (My name is Earl) are playing well as teammates and rivals and Fugit fits well into the triangle. Françoise McDormand (Nomadic country), Zooey Deschanel (New girl) and Anna Paquin (Real blood) are great in their small roles. However, it is Hudson who steals every scene from him by distracting the attention of the other actors.

4K / Dolby Vision picture quality makes the 21-year-old movie look almost new. Visuals are crisp and crisp, and while the color scheme is somewhat muted, the reds, blues, and blacks are deep and rich. The backgrounds are brighter, and details, like the fur on Penny’s jacket, stand out.

Interestingly, the decision was made not to upgrade the audio to the Dolby Atmos level, which is surprising given the role music played in the film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is usable and even rugged at times, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been with upscaling. That’s not to say the sound isn’t very good, because it is. Dialogue is crisp and the mix of noise and music is balanced.

While most of the extras have already been released, there are five new extras to enjoy, including Casting & Costumes, Rock School, Filmmaker Focus, Extended scenes, and Odds and turf. These features add pleasant moments and are definitely worth watching. Previously published extras are Cameron Crowe intro, Behind the scenes of, Interview with Lester Bangs, Cameron Crowe’s best albums of 1973, Musical clip, Love comes and goes, Rolling Stone articles, Faces B, Cleveland concert, Little blues, Staircase, Scenario, Trailer and Hidden talent.

Cameron Crowe is an amazing writer and has created some great movies. Almost known is easily one of his best and with the right actors he not only launched Hudson’s career, but he’s become a cult classic. This new 4K steel book edition is terrific overall and worth the price of admission.

Note: A-