ALMOST FAMOUS
2000, Paramount, 122 min, USA, Dir: Cameron Crowe

Writer-director Cameron Crowe drew on his own memories as a teenage writer for Rolling Stone to create this incandescent coming-of-age tale (and earn a Best Original Screenplay Oscar). Despite worries from his mother (Frances McDormand), aspiring rock journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit) lands a plum assignment covering the band Stillwater. On tour, he befriends groupie Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and – against the advice of rock critic mentor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) – Stillwater’s guitarist (Billy Crudup).


JACK GOES BOATING
2010, Anchor Bay, 89 min, USA, Dir: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut with this insightful romantic drama. Awkward New York City limo driver Hoffman grows closer to Brooklyn funeral home worker Amy Ryan while the couple who introduced them, John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega, begin to struggle with their own marriage. Adapted from the acclaimed Off-Broadway play (which starred all of these actors except Ryan), this charmingly low-key indie boasts superb performances and an eye for telling details.


HAPPINESS
1998, Strand Releasing, 134 min, USA, Dir: Todd Solondz

Happiness is in short supply in the Maplewood family: Oldest sister Trish (Cynthia Stevenson) learns she’s married to a pedophile (Dylan Baker), middle sister Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle) is fixated on an obscene phone caller (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and youngest sister Joy (Jane Adams) is alone. With Jon Lovitz, Louise Lasser and Ben Gazzara.


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