Tribute: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Immortalization of Lester Bangs
Yesterday (February 2) actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead at age 46 in his Greenwich Village apartment. Famous for roles in films as diverse as ‘Capote’ (for which he won an Oscar) to ‘The Big Lebowski,’ one of his finest moments was playing legendary rock critic Lester Bangs in ‘Almost Famous.’ That film and that performance made a big impact on Radio.com’s Jeremy Larson, who wrote the following post.
Philip Seymour Hoffman defined a rock legend, and, for better of for worse, made a lot of people want to be sardonic, surly rock writers. It was an emblem of what Hoffman could do best: make the uncool incredibly cool.
One of the greatest things about Cameron Crowe’s movie Almost Famous is its tireless pursuit of something pure. It tries to ferret out those moments where – finally unburdened by social or moral strictures – a certain kind of clarity appears and defines your formative years. The film highlights a group sing-a-long to “Tiny Dancer” on a bus, losing your virginity to a trio of hippie Band Aids, and finding out that reporting the honest-to-god truth about a band is the best kind of journalism. It’s about finding the moments that make nostalgia so addictive as we get older. It’s a really good movie.
You have the young kid William Miller, a bastion of naiveté, whose sheltered upbringing and overbearing mother make his encounters with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll one of cinema’s biggest cannon balls into the deep end. As a precocious rock writer cutting his teeth interviewing bands and struggling to get published, the movie shines a light on one of his idols, a veteran writer and editor at Creem magazine, Lester Bangs. He’s introduced as someone who hates The Doors, loves The Guess Who, and gets his rocks off playing Iggy Pop at the crack of dawn on the radio.
— Jeremy D. Larson, Radio.com