Here’s one of the best little scenes in Cameron Crowe’s UNTITLED aka ALMOST FAMOUS (2000). I prefer the UNTITLED: THE BOOTLEG CUT version available on DVD, and in fact it’s the only one you should watch. After reading the 172 page script, Steven Spielberg told him to “Direct every word.” Many moments are extended to their proper emotional narrative arc and it makes the characters richer, especially the unrequited love between Patrick Fugit and Kate Hudson. Even Jimmy Fallon gets a longer intro as the swinging dick manager in his finest moment. And any second more of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs is worth enduring extended songs by the fictional Stillwater band of the film.
I’ve heard people complain that the film whitewashes the decadent rock life, but the whole point is that it’s seen through Fugit’s idealistic eyes — and UNTITLED actually does contain more backstage debauchery than ALMOST FAMOUS. Along with the movie’s loving recollections of the era’s stadium sounds, anybody who’s written for publication can identify with some of the editorial issues here (buy me a shot of absinthe and I’ll tell you how I pissed off Oliver Stone). Overall, it’s a fascinating cinematic prism into the author’s youthful experience touring with the Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Yes, and other 70’s Rawk Gods. UNTITLED is a pop music movie fantasia, my favorite film of Cameron Crowe, and I treasure it like the sound of needle on vinyl.