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Wednesday, April 11, 2001

SHORT TAKES

Nostalgic views of youth and rebellion


Almost Famous

Rating: * * * * Japanese title: 'Ano Kono Penny Lane To' Director:Cameron Crowe Running time: 122 minutes Language: English

This spring's pure pop treat is a largely autobiographical tale by Cameron Crowe, a superior piece of '70s nostalgia that deals with his own memories of working -- at age 15, no less -- as a rock journalist for (then-cool) Rolling Stone magazine.

His alter ego, William Miller (played adroitly by newbie Patrick Fugit), finds his initiation into the world of backstage bacchanalia and hotel-room hedonism by riding the feathery coattails of groupie Penny Lane (Kate Hudson).

William joins stadium act Stillwater (based loosely on Led Zeppelin) on the road, struggling both to get a coherent interview with the band and to rein in his feelings for Penny, who is smitten with the band's guitarist Russel (Billy Crudup).

Crowe delivers some inspired set pieces (such as Russel's amusing freak-out on acid Kool-Aid at a fan's house party), and gets some nuanced cameos out of Frances McDormand as Russel's aggressively overprotective mom and Philip Seymour Hoffman as caustic rock-critic Lester Bangs. (Giovanni Fazio)



Lover Girl

Rating: * * * * Japanese title: 'Candy Lover Girl' Director:Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse Running time: 88 minutes Language: English

It's the summer of Jake's (Tara Subkoff) 16th birthday but things have been "unbelievably bad." Her mom has taken off and the rent is due, so Jake picks up and goes to find her long-lost sister Darlene (Kristy Swanson), hoping to move in.

Sis slams the door in her face so Jake turns to the kindness of strangers, in this case next-door neighbor Marci (Sandra Bernhard), who works as a "special masseuse" at a joint called American Spa.

Marci is at first annoyed, but soon warms to Jake's charms -- chewing candy, looking forlorn and going to the convenience store for another bag of jawbreakers.

Jake's total lack of direction arouses the protective instincts of everyone, including Darlene. Though most of the action occurs inside a "massage parlor," "Lover Girl" explores emotions that are as complex and elusive as adolescence itself. (Kaori Shoji)



The Source

Rating: * * * 1/2 Japanese title: 'Beatnik' Director:Chuck Workman Running time: 89 minutes Language: English

A well-produced scrapbook of the iconic Beat Generation authors, and their lingering influence on contemporary artists and society as a whole.

Director Chuck Workman's documentary is less a "history" of the movement than a free-flowing coast through several careers and four-decades-plus of American counterculture, featuring recent interviews, period footage, music and more.

The film is largely focused on the triumvirate of Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and enlists the talents of Johnny Depp, John Turturro and Dennis Hopper to render "in-character" readings from the Beats' most famous works ("On The Road," "Howl" and "Naked Lunch"). (Giovanni Fazio)



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