On a train, Keith and Mick chat about the blues and the Rolling Stones are born. Douglas and Joe chat in front of a New Jersey music store, and a band is born: as Douglas's sister tells us, it's one of many that don't make it. We follow Douglas from high school (1963-64), when he sees himself as a loser, into the band, playing drums and singing backup - then as the front man. There are tensions, a breakup, an audition in front of a major player, and decisions. Douglas pursues Grace, a country-club gal with hip sensibilities who believes in him. There's also his father, working class, wanting Douglas to apply himself as he watches his own life fill with regrets.Written by
Most feature films slot 1-2 percent of production costs for the music budget, but in "Fade', music supervisor Steven Van Zandt, had about 10% of the $20-million-plus budget or at least $2 million. See more »
Nobody said "elementary school" in North Jersey, at least not those days. Grades 1-6 (or 1-8 if you went to Catholic school) was called "grammar school." See more »
The Sopranos' creator David Chase's directorial debut, "Not Fade Away", is, at its core, a sad movie, masked by the comedy and music that barricade my empathy. The fictional story of a 1960s teenage drummer (John Magaro) who creates a rock band with a few of his friends, "Not Fade Away" is a very character driven film, focusing primarily on the social life of the protagonist, specifically his relationship with his girlfriend (Bella Heathcorte), his band mates, and his family. I won't spoil the plot, but it is a coming-of-age tale, not as much about learning and growing as it is about doing and living. James Gandolfini is an on screen pleasure as the main character's father, while the rest of the cast, mostly lesser known actors, gratifyingly embody the 1960s rock and roll personality.
Gloriously filmed by Chase's cinematographer Eigil Bryld, the film succeeds in emitting a rock and roll cluttered vibe when the music is playing, contrasted by a dark, Godfatheresque undertone that is signature of David Chase during more dramatic scenes. While the art direction and costume design were spot on, in the end it was the music that was transporting me through time. Repeatedly watching, with the characters, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Buddy Holly perform on a small black and white TV, I was sent back into the age of drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The band's original songs were probably the highlight of the film. Under the supervision of Steve Van Zandt, the music department took advantage of the actors' talented musical backgrounds and were able to conjure up some extremely enjoyable tracks that very well could've been written during the era.
My main problem with the film is the fact that it is littered with unnecessary scenes, scenes that are probably meant to indicate character development, but ultimately convey little to nothing. It also fails to establish Heathcote, the supporting actress, as an interesting or particularly likable character. Not much is ever learned about her through the course of the film while notably less significant characters remain better developed and ultimately more interesting.
When walking into the theater at the New York Film Festival, I thought I was in for another "Almost Famous". What I got was a very different movie. "Not Fade Away" is a simple picture. With a basic plot structure and relatable characters, the film is practically spoon-fed to its audiences. It is the end of the film, the final scenes, that sum up not only the movie, but the era. You must think before you proclaim a lack of closure, consider the times and the lifestyle. Rock spawned from the blues and, in the sad actuality of this movie, can't ever separate from its source. Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration and in the end we often can't keep up. I recommend this vicarious joyride to all music, drama, and comedy movie lovers, as well as anyone who is looking for a party, a party that is shut down by reality. 8/10 stars.
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