In 2000, Cameron Crowe released this brilliant and largely autobiographical film about a young budding rock journalist who gets to live every music fan's dream of going on tour with one of his favorite bands, the fictitious Stillwater.
Stillwater is a fictitious representation of many actual experiences Crowe had as a young rock journalist. Many of the experiences William Miller had with Stillwater in the film are experiences Crowe had with an assortment of different groups from The Allman Brothers Band to Led Zeppelin to Lynnyrd Skynnyrd (to name but a few).
What makes this movie so brilliant isn't that it's based on fact (although, admittedly that does help), it's that the performances are spot on. There are scenes where Kate Hudson says more with her eyes than most actresses say in all the lines they deliver over the course of their career.
There's a certain likability of William Miller and of Penny Lane and the chemistry that Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, and Patrick Fugit share really pulls the whole film together. In this director's cut, remains over 30 minutes of extra footage that did not make it into the original theatrical release.
While some of the scenes that ended up being deleted do feel like filler material, there are also several extra scenes or extended scenes which really add a lot to the film as a whole. Probably the strongest of the extra scenes features Crudup, Hudson, and an ice machine. Russell (Crudup) has a glass and every time he gives Penny Lane (Hudson) a compliment he puts another cube of ice in his glass until finally he says, "I'd keep going but my glass is full." To which Hudson replies simply and perfectly, "Damn."
The performances are solid, all around Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, and Frances McDormand is exceptional as William's worried mother. Sometimes there's a film where one or two actresses can hold the viewer's attention and the rest seem like filler, but all of these actors give such exceptional performances that they command the viewer's attention in each and every one of their scenes.
There are few movies out there that are good enough to garner repeat viewings, but this one never gets old. It captures the heart and imagination of the viewer and for the duration of the film, it feels ever so perfectly like a home away from home.