Anyone who has been reading this column regularly over the past few years has perhaps noticed an annual trend: While I generally aim for reviews of two or three new releases per weekend (even more if I'm feeling particularly adventurous), once December rolls around, that number generally slips to two at best, and oftentimes, only one.

Almost FamousALMOST FAMOUS

Almost Famous, writer-director Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical hymn to the joys and heartbreaks of rock 'n' roll, is filled with extraordinarily lovely details and an uncanny fondness for the film's 1970s setting. It's engaging, gorgeously lit, and filled with goodwill. The things it's not are believable, challenging, or memorable. It has obviously been made with great love - Crowe spent years trying to turn his youthful experiences into a movie - and Crowe's attention to the minutiae of the rock scene is heady and alluring. But Almost Famous ends up as far less than the sum of its parts - a movie so intoxicated by its period that elements like character and conflict barely exist. Despite its look and the rave reviews being showered on it, the film itself feels empty.

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