Not Fade Away (2012) Poster

(2012)

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3/10
The Crutch of Nostalgia
Cyniphile21 December 2012
Reading some of the other reviews I can somewhat see positive interpretations of this movie: life as a young person in the 60s was not cohesive or predictable thus it is fitting for this film to be "confused". The problem is that the more or less random snapshots of the particular life we are witnessing illustrate the decade in ways we already understand: I like the Beatles, I am sad and mad when MLK is shot, I don't want to go to 'Nam.

Without the support of a plot or structured character development, one can anticipate the emptiness of it all. Too many threads are planted at once and they all die in strangled, choppy mess. Finally, individual scenes are executed in a way that is flowery, verbose, and predictable, which leaves each self-indulgent attempt at emotion-evoking very obvious.

Nostalgia is strong, and a few shivers-down-the-spine moments will no doubt come, which makes it easy to overrate this film. However those moments happen *despite* the film: cool history and good music are powerful things.
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8/10
Rock is Rooted in the Blues
Ben Kramer6 October 2012
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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5/10
A movie that insults the viewer.
MosHr7 December 2012
"Not Fade Away" is one of those movies that leaves you with a bad taste after you watch the movie; it's like watching a movie by the resident cool kid in town, straddling the prettiest girl in one hand and on the other hand, going on about how he overcame his meager upbringing, dysfunctional family, disloyal friends to become who he is. The story might be genuine and the tribulations might be authentic but it's just the way it is told that makes it so unlikeable.

The movie does not have an ending (just an absurd tacked on one), creates handfuls of subplots that it never bothers to resolve and indulges heavily in the writer/director's own world of self-references and pointless pettiness. After furiously producing subplots like it's a pilot of a TV show it just ends, giving that unresolved what-ever-happened-to feeling that as a moviegoer I hate. The young Italian-American protagonist who is probably the writer/director himself doesn't have a real story to tell or a point to make. The story just meanders on and on, the key tension points leading absolutely nowhere. Rather than create a compelling story, the movie demands some sort of adulation for what it presents and ultimately insults the viewer assuming the viewer should feel privileged to hear the story rather than earning its merits.

"Not Fade Away" is advertised as a movie about a band trying to make it big; however this movie is more of a bizarre bake of 60s set pieces. There is the vintage music equipment show - the Rickenbachers, the Gretchs, the vintage Fenders and others; the vintage car show and then the 60s records - primarily an obsession with the Rolling Stones that are displayed in their big, shiny and loud glory. While the audience who were teenagers in the 60s might appreciate the shiny items of desire, the rest will find these shiny objects do not fill up a movie or compensate for a story. It's like a glossy vintage advertising brochure - pretty girls, rebellious rock stars and shiny things but not a story to tell.

The other major problem in the movie is the absolute opacity of its sub-characters. The father, the mother, the girlfriend, the band mates, the girlfriend's sister, the families are completely and utterly opaque. They keep doing bizarre things without showing or being to infer why they are doing what they are doing. Perhaps it's some sort of a 60s thing, a band thing, an Italian-American thing or a 60s band thing but I wouldn't know. The movie doesn't bother to really explain or resolve anything and it just bubbles up here and there and then it's gone. The movie is just a sequence of these strung together and it just makes all the characters unlikeable and tiring.

I like rock and roll movies but in this movie rock music neither serves as a backdrop for a personal story nor tells a story about the rock and roll greatness. The 60s backdrop overpowers the movie and the story feels like it's about a bunch of teenagers so in love with themselves that they feel they are the privileged ones. One scene comes to mind; an aunt comments, "I hear rock and roll keeps you young" to which our protagonist churlishly replies, "rock and roll is an art form. Does Dostoyevsky keep you young?"
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4/10
Jumbled and Thin Characters with a side of Indulgence
Clayton Davis8 October 2012
David Chase's anticipated Not Fade Away not only jumbles itself into an indulgent story, constantly keeping the audience at an arm's length but it's overly stretched and uneven not utilizing the strong talents in the film like James Gandolfini, Jack Huston, and John Magaro. A natural comparison to Almost Famous (2000), the film doesn't hold a candle to Cameron Crowe's homage to music. Showcasing outstanding music of the 1960′s and 1970′s, Chase manages to capture moments of the young adolescent mind longing to be more. Lead Magaro delivers a character transformation of mind and body, a turn that elevates the film considerably. The great Jack Huston, an actor that will likely be one of the biggest things in Hollywood any minute now, delivers an aggressive supporting turn reminiscent of Channing Tatum's work in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006). Bella Heathcote shows tenderness and promise but undervalued and virtually unused. James Gandolfini, stands out with charisma and garners much of the big laughs. A great character actor like Gandolfini should be given room to move. The film ultimately fails because it never feels like Chase knows his film or where he wants it to go. The last twenty minutes feel unneeded, unearned, and thrown together for an "artistic" catalyst with no emotional or technical effect whatsoever. A large disappointment.
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8/10
Baby Boomers, this is a love letter to Us
Indyrod19 May 2013
just finished up watching this growing up in the sixties, and rock and roll movie. for the earliest of the Baby Boomers, this is the movie for you, and the music will rock your soul. A teenage band, with inspirations maybe a little too optimistic. With a top notch cast, and great story telling, this was indeed entertaining and very realistic, since I was in a little band back then too. James Gandolfini is great as a pretty typical sixties Father, coping with everyday problems and a pretty wacky Wife. The teenagers are very realistic, and you could tell it was written pretty much biographical. It works for me. Highly recommended especially to us Boomers.
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4/10
Unlikable
Jacob Rosen11 July 2014
David Chase's earnest mix of rock 'n roll, young love and family drama is overlong and sloppy, aspiring to be a defining examination of the Sixties but rendered trite by trudging out references to every historic moment (in this, it's similar to "Lee Daniels' The Butler") and wallowing in misguided pronouncements about the Vietnam War, capitalism and rock's purity; the intent is to advance the father-son conflict between lead John Magaro and a wasted James Gandolfini. (In fact, Chase unintentionally portrays rock music as a negative force, divisive enough to destroy families.) Chase's strength as the creator of "The Sopranos" was in his carefully plotted backstory that forced the viewer to pay close attention upfront; here, he employs a similar approach, but without the expanse a mini-series affords the result is disjointed and incomplete: all of the stories he introduces are either left unsatisfactorily unresolved or spontaneously concluded. It doesn't help that his characters are inherently unlikable (Magaro is a good example), mere caricatures (co-stars Jack Huston and Will Brill) or blanks (love interest Bella Heathcote). The film's sole asset is Steven Van Zandt's musical curation, though he eschews the deeper tracks in favor of songs even the casual fan will recognize.
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8/10
A rock version of That Thing You Do
Brandon Chamberlain3 December 2012
I enjoyed this. I went into the film having no idea what this film was about and thought it was really good. The music more than anything was done so well, credit to Steve Van Zandt. The story wasn't amazing or mind-blowing, but it was entertaining for sure. Set in the same time as That Thing You Do - early 60s - it follows a similar concept but completely different story. I was surprised by all of the music rights they obtained in the film as it is filled with big songs that couldn't have been easy to clear. In terms of the cast, Bella Heathcoate was definitely the standout for me. Her and her sister where my favorite to watch.
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1/10
Terrible
easlayton6 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. And it's sad because James Gandolfini does a great job, as he always does, with his performance. The problem is not the actors. The problem is the script and the direction. I liked the beginning of this film. It had real promise and direction. As the movie breaks into the hour and thirty minute mark it begins to wander aimlessly to the point of having no point, no direction and nothing to say. Until, at the very last moment, the meaning of the film is told to us by a break of the fourth wall. This practice, breaking the fourth wall-having one of the characters in the film talk directly to the audience-is tricky business. It's done far better in other films but not in this one. Especially not when one of the characters walks up to you and tells you what the movie is all about in a few words. That's not art. That's gutless. In regards to the length of this film; that's beating a dead horse. When you do something that blatant in film or story or any other kind of medium, the only thing you are doing is being lazy. It's telling me and the other members of the audience that you couldn't let the rest of the movie stand on its own. It's telling me you're a chicken. This movie would've been fine if it had wrapped up it's point by using metaphor. It was almost there. And then the end lines happened and if I didn't love my TV so much, my foot would've gone right through it. I write this as a warning to people who enjoy good movies; don't waste your time. The people who made this movie don't deserve it.
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10/10
I guess you had to be there
Steven Ball3 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Everyone has heard about the '60's but only a few of us actually grew up during that decade. David Chase evidently did grow up during that time. Music was very important then. Before there were CDs there were vinyl records & every time The Beatles or The Stones or Dylan came out with a new record it was a major event. David Chase captures that time perfectly. He favors The Stones. Jagger and crew are still performing today and part of the secret of their longevity is the fact that they are blues based. Chase knows that & even tho he occasionally throws a bone to that other art form - film - he concentrates almost exclusively on the role of the blues in the formation of rock and roll. The cast of young unknowns are refreshing - especially the 2 leads & the soundtrack as has been noted is killer. I particularly enjoyed hearing Tracy Nelson's "Down So Low" which was used almost in it's entirety.
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2/10
Bye and bye
Stephen Bourne6 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Rising talent John Magaro stars in TV director David Chase's debut big screen feature as New Jersey middle class teen Doug caught up in the fervor of Rock & Roll during the 1960s, fueled by the British Invasion to drum and then sing for his high school pals' five-man American R&B cover band and pursue their dreams of fame against the snarky disappointment of Doug's stoic father Pat (wonderfully played by James Gandolfini).

It's fairly clear early-on that Not Fade Away is a true labor of love bordering on cinematic autobiography for director and screenwriter Chase. It captures specific moments in American history from a baby boomer music-lover's very personal level, and Magaro impressively takes his character through this journey of awkward self-discovery and hero worship of The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan. His performance is often stunningly underplayed, making Doug completely believable here as a kid just trying to make his life worth something. Kudos also go to Bella Heathcote (previously seen in Dark Shadows), stepping in as Doug's upper class hometown love interest Grace.

Unfortunately, all of the great acting seen in this 112-minute picture really isn't enough to distract you from how undercooked and uneventful Chase's screenplay is. Sure, there's some interesting dialog sprinkled throughout. Doug wondering aloud about the Brits knowing the Blues and bringing it to the States - where the Blues came from - is a priceless moment. Yes, the soundtrack is amazing. Leadbelly. Bo Diddley. The Stones. Awesome. Paying moviegoers will likely want to love it, but probably won't because nothing particularly memorable happens to any of these characters. It doesn't even matter if you accept Not Fade Away as Chase's take on his early years as a wannabe rock star or not. Aside from the peripheral high points already mentioned, this is an unnecessarily boring small movie over-all.

There's not much served up at this flick's official website (notfadeawaymovie.com) either: A gallery of photos, a videos section, story and cast info, links to Facebook etc, and the soundtrack available on iTunes. Forgettable.

While it's easy to predict big things from John Magaro in the near future after seeing this movie, the same can't be said for the movie itself. Wait a couple of minutes for Not Fade Away to appear on the IFC channel, if you're interested in taking a mildly novel wander through this tumultuous decade in US music history. Otherwise, you're better off saving your time and cash letting Not Fade Away do just that: Fade away. Yawn. Reviewed 01/13, (c) Stephen Bourne.

Not Fade Away is rated 14A by the Ontario Film Review Board for coarse language, slurs, sexual references, partial or full nudity in a brief sexual situation, illustrated or verbal references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, crude content, substance abuse, embracing and kissing, fondling, implied sexual activity, tobacco use, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is rated G by la Regie du Cinema in Quebec.

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3/10
Nostalgic movie that cannot stand on its own.
plasm-12 October 2013
This is a movie that does not follow an exact straight line for the plot. It is not exactly sure what it is all about. In my opinion it stays fuzzy in that aspect until the end.

The idea behind the movie seems to be to transport the look and feel of the time the movie takes place in. Doing so it follows the adolescent years of a boy, his family and his struggle to make it in the music world. You will find many reviews that are very much in favor of this picture. I cannot share this view, which leads me to believe it needs for the viewer to have some experience with or interest in the decade it plays in (the 60's). Being born in 70's and having no interest whatsoever in the 60's historically or for the music, the movie had nothing to offer to me. That is bad storytelling in my opinion and lead to my low vote.

The plot remains fuzzy and stretched too far to make sense. I guess the acting was not too bad on some supporting roles, but i did not like the main characters too much. Seriously everything remained too shallow for me to care.

If you have fond memories of the time then by all means try it. Your personal experience will probably fill in the gaps and you will have a good time. Otherwise the good reviews are all inexplicable. If you are not interested in the era then keep your distance or you *WILL* regret it!
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6/10
Captures the Pretentiousness of Youth
ligonlaw23 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It's like watching gawky, awkward teens trying to read the manual on how to be cool. At times, these kids are so pedantic and serious about trying to find the formula for being hip that you wish they would not try so hard.

Four young men decide to form a band during the 1960s. Along the way, they discover sex and marijuana. The band isn't bad, but there are the usual conflicts, egos and fights over who will be lead and who will get the chick. We are instructed to have great respect for the rock idols of the time, and we are instructed on the blues.

The story is told in a painful way. The actors all have low affect and seem to be drained of enthusiasm as if they took their cues from scenes of Bob Dylan interviews from that period. Bob Dylan was cool in the early 1960s because he was famous and had a lot of hit songs. These kids,really, have no reason to act like Dylan.

The plot is sequential, but disjointed. There is the young-old conflict from the era. Pro and AntiVietnam arguments. A nod to the civil rights issues of that time. These kids are searching, but they are jerks.

In the end, the story drifts. The ending comes out of nowhere and applies to nothing we have seen as if the film-makers ran out of ideas and decided to paste a final thing onto the last part of the story.

In contrast to films that make us nostalgic for the sixties and send us back to those feel-good sounds of the time, this movie uses a lot of music, but fails to connect emotionally to the time.
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3/10
Rave Off
tillzen13 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
As a fan of Mr. Chase I ached for this work to take off but it never does. The film fails primarily upon the page.It says little about the character of those heady times that were the 1960's. This failure is no easy task as rock music, suburban angst and the decade itself remain fertile with enough substance to fill 100 movies let alone 1. Where Chase fails first is in using the 60's as mere fashionable short hand. A news flash or a film clip without worthy exposition turns tempest to teapot. That the 60's and its artifacts are presented as mere fetish objects devalues that currency. It purchases clothes, cars and music rights without story ever rising above being a disposable trifle. The art direction is terrific and while accurate, it never connects actors to actions and exposition to plot. Too often anecdotes and pithy quotes substitute for genuine emotion, motivation or character.

Luckily, the acting is fine. The best moments occur between James Gandolfini (the working class Dad) and John Magaro as his rock musician son.Their scenes crackled as no others did leaving the underwhelm pronounced. The female character's (clearly Mr. Chase's Achilles)are broadly drawn hysterical caricatures seemingly created mostly to advance the story of men. This was exemplified by Magaro professing to believing in a girlfriend whom we know nothing about. Equally inelegant were the fore-shadowed dramatic twists of staged fights, staged accidents and cancer as dramatic license. "Not Fade Away" was continuously so Hollywood soft that I found myself wishing that a Don Corleone type had read the script, met with David Chase and slapped his face yelling "Write like a man!"

Ultimately this film seems unable to decide if it is a John Sayles' time capsule told within simple salt of the earth fables or is instead a history lesson told in the sound bites and cliff notes of genuine deep thinkers.It never chooses and it ends as it began; an exercise in excess signifying little. What a waste of a green light and 20 million dollars.
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6/10
60's Drop-In With A Killer Soundtrack
AudioFileZ30 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Seeing "Not Fade Away" leaves one wanting more. More of something, a resolution to be sure...but more of a fleshed out insight into the main characters. There's plenty to ponder and little to grab hold off. The question of why make the film was easier. Because Steven Van Zant loves music and film and he has the means, and friends, to make a movie revolving around the art forms he cherishes.

There is quite a lot to love however thin the story itself may be. First, there's the depiction of an era where rock and roll became the voice of a generation. The 60's are realistically brought to the screen in sight through spot-on wardrobes, scenery, automobiles...as well as some of the best rock music ever recorded no less. The cast looks as if they are truly imported from 1965 too. The cast is a mix of known and unknowns who all perform well, yet no one is used to their fullest potential. The overall feel is accomplished by showcasing the turmoil as a constant background: changing moires, a war in a foreign land dividing a population, the taking hold of the so-called "generation-gap" between those coming of age and their elders, and finally the widening gap between the lower middle-class and upper-class. The cinematography is bright even while the feel is decidedly darker.

The story revolves around the aspiring rocker Douglas choosing to follow his muse instead of college with the division at home it causes. As a geek becoming his own person he finds new confidence, even getting the girl who he never had a chance with in high school. Things are not all rosy though. Besides the gap between his parents, Douglas faces differences within the band which constantly threaten to splinter the group even while they enjoy a small degree of success. Also, he has to face his father being diagnosed with cancer. Douglas wears his concerns facially as he rarely smiles, or laughs, except in the company of his girl friend the striking Grace played by Bella Heathcote. Douglas seems somewhat oblivious to the couple's wide gap in looks (she's Paris runway ready, he's a miniature young Howard Stern) or social class, apparently he believes their love of the arts bridges what once kept them at length when they were adolescents. Douglas may style himself as a free-thinker, but at heart he still believes in true love and faithfulness.

Douglas experiences some disappointing obstacles in the road to musical glory. As a result decides upon leaving it all with a new goal of moving to L.A. where his girlfriend can attend UC Berkeley and he can dive into his love of music and film at it's epicenter. Things seem to take a bad turn immediately at a Hollywood party on his first night. He looses the girl (to Mick Jagger?) and abruptly the movie ends. It's a strange open ending which in a way that implies as a rocker Douglas may still...survive?...Because rock and roll will never die and to prove it there's a lovely girl in go-go attire dancing in the middle of a deserted Sunset Boulevard as the quite possibly homeless Douglass is seen in the distance walking away?

O.K., I admit this is "arty" end, but whatever class I'm from for the life of me I'm not sure the hell it is the director/writers is telling me? Not Fade Away seems to be a meandering unfocused movie yet it isn't a failure. It's quite entertaining in spite of itself. For someone who experienced some of the sixties myself (younger than the characters in the film) I enjoyed revisiting a time of profound change, with a wonderful soundtrack and a great original song that fit too! Well worth a look if you keep your expectations guarded.
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4/10
Not fade away, just go away OK
dgefroh20 June 2013
Boy what huge disappointment this movie was, especially since the recent news of James Gandolfini passing. What a shame that this miserable movie is his swan song. Don't get wrong, James Gandolfini is excellent in this movie, he is definitely one of the bright spots in what I view as a very dim movie.

David Chase wrote, directed, and produced this waste of time. David Chase is the creator and writer of the HBO hit series "The Sopranos". I'm not sure what David Chase was thinking or smoking when he came up with this fine piece of rubbish, but whatever creditability he had built up should hopefully now be completely behind him, as he has proved to be a one trick pony in my book.

There are many many problems with this movie, but the main mistakes are there is absolutely no story here. Could there have been a story? Yes, but trust me when I say in this instance there is none. Second, there is no character development. You won't give a darn about anyone in this movie, so combined with no story and no viewer connection to the characters this is a disaster.

The good news is the musical soundtrack is excellent, especially if you like the great 60's rock hits. The acting by everyone concerned is decent, once again James Gandolfini is excellent but at the same time a clone of his role on the Sopranos, which tends to make me think David Chase has him type cast.

So here's the take-away....no story, no character development, no connection for the viewers, no good!!
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7/10
band movement
Lee Eisenberg27 May 2013
David Chase's "Not Fade Away" looks at what it was like to come of age in the '60s. The main focus is a New Jersey teenager who decides to join a band, but there are clear signs of everything that was going on: the Vietnam War, the generation gap, racial tensions, and Dean Martin's mean-spirited comment about the Beatles. Contrary to the previous reviewer, I would say that this movie is better than "Almost Famous". The latter was too fluffy and came across as a sanitized look at its era. This one is very upfront about what sorts of things happened (including some very tense scenes). And the final line poses a good question about how we as Americans want to be known to the world. Can we eventually look to our best qualities to do what's right?

Anyway, this is a good movie. It's got great music and brings up some important points. I recommend it.
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8/10
The wind in the trees is the point
Wheatpenny23 July 2013
As with most filmmakers who work in themes, you should watch this to see Chase's perspective on the material, not for the story itself. Its seemingly formless structure will throw off some viewers, but it's very much in line with his body of work, being less about the music and the era and more about the effects of the passage of time, specifically the tug of the past on the present and the evolution of character (or not) as the years go by. It's an autobiographical elaboration on the themes in the dark and sad final seasons of the Sopranos, though it does have plenty of the usual witty Chase touches as well, like the kids dancing away the JFK retrospective. There's a pervasive sense of nostalgia because the setting feels realistic, neither idealistic like a Spielberg/Lucas movie nor revisionist like the progressive Pleasantville-type movies whose intention is to show us all how the past wasn't as enlightened as today. The downside is that it's such a well-covered period and milieu (for my generation The Wonder Years is the reference point) that it's hard to find something original to say. But go in with the understanding that it's more complex than it appears and it'll give you plenty to chew on afterward. At one point the lead and his girlfriend are watching Blow-Up and he comments on how strange it is there's no music to tell you when someone's going to get killed, and she replies that the sound of the wind in the trees is the music, which sums up this movie pretty well.
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2/10
Awful
jmillerdp15 September 2013
Oh my gosh, that was awful! Definitely one of those two-hours-I'll-never-get-back movies. David Chase trashed his own "The Sopranos" at its end, and seems to be in the same, no-idea-what-to-do fog here.

The film has very good production values, but that's it. It's just a meandering, aimless, pointless two hours. There is no focus. Just random coming-of-age moments, trying to run a band moments, family strife moments, etc. And, that irritating narrator chick and WTF ending. Man!

I know that far too many movies aren't good, and only a tiny percentage are great, maybe 1/10 of 1%. But, someone, for some reason, financed the $20 million to make this, and I can't imagine why. I'm guessing it's because of David Chase and his success with "The Sopranos." But, the disjointed, uninspired work he showed at the end of that show continues here, stranding all working for him along with the film.

** (2 Out of 10 Stars)
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2/10
Could've been great with a few tweaks, but as-is, it's an absolute mess
Mike Kiker20 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I really had high hopes for this movie. I wanted it to be a great rock film on par with "Almost Famous" or "That Thing You Do", and in a few ways it does get close. The period detail (cars, clothing and instruments) is really convincing, but the clichéd and messy plot, the writing, the acting, and the direction are the movie's downfall. I felt ZERO sympathy or empathy for any single character in this movie. The only time I actually cared for any character, was the girl who was committed by her parents because she tried LSD. I want to know what happened to her! That was a huge mistake leaving that sub-plot unresolved. I couldn't even bother to remember any of the characters' names for the sake of this review, that's how little I got emotionally invested.

Speaking of unresolved, the whole movie is essentially unresolved. The ending is the absolute worst. It doesn't even really end. It just stops on a cliffhanger and pans over to the drummer/singer kid's sister, who by the way, her acting throughout the film was absolutely horrendous, and it was a complete slap-in-the-face to end the movie with her staring blankly at the camera, clearly reading her lines from a cue card and then dancing in the middle of the road (poorly I might add). I guess David Chase was trying to sum up the overall point of the story with this ending, but he chose to do it in the absolute worst way.

As with any period piece, it's always strength to include great songs in the soundtrack, and the songs that they used here are absolutely some of the best of the era. Unfortunately, that's not the case with any of the cover versions or the original songs written and recorded for the film. They just don't sit well with the old songs, which is hard to do for most films. Some pull it off amazingly (again see "Almost Famous" or "That Thing You Do") and some fail miserably (besides this film, "Velvet Goldmine" & "Eddie & The Cruisers" also fail to deliver original music that could be thought of as representing the era in which their respective films are set).

So, if you're looking for a great nostalgic piece of work, I would steer clear of this movie entirely, unless you're an absolute David Chase or James Gandolfini die-hard, which I'm not. Speaking of unresolved sub-plots, Gandolfini, although he's got top billing, is barely in the film, and he also has not 1, but 2 unresolved sub-plots, about possible infidelity and terminal cancer, both of which, had they been resolved could have made this movie so much better! So, in a way, that describes the film as a whole... Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
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7/10
A blast from my past with the clothes and the music
Ed-Shullivan23 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Overall I really enjoyed this movie and I will most likely watch it again in the next few years since I did think enough to purchase a copy of it. The reason I will watch it again is the director did a great job in re-creating that 60's era feel that I grew up in as a teenager. I thought the band members clothes were spot on for the times and especially that one red paisley shirt that the character Wells (Will Brill) wore I actually owned two of them.

The family environment that the lead character Douglas (John Magaro) grew up in was also typical for the times. Teenagers who think they know more about the world issues based on what their fleeting friends and acquaintances tell them, rather than hearing what it was like living in the past few decades from what their parents could really tell them, is a reality many families live with and this underlying theme was brought out so well by the film. Watch for the line that Brad Garrett playing the part of a rock band agent extols on the boy band that was first stated by Douglas's dad that success consists of 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.

The members of the band had their own singular reason(s) for wanting a record contract and emulating their 60's rock heroes, the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. I think the boy bands individual reasons for aspirations of success were more than just the whole Beatlemania craze and the desire of beautiful women throwing themselves at them if they became rock stars. Douglas for example was spoiled in my opinion at home by both his mom who continued to iron his clothes and his dad who secretly handed Douglas wads of cash. Douglas was a star in his own mind, which many teenagers are then, and still are today.

As Bob Dylan has sung the 'Times They Are A Changing', well Not Fade Away gives all of us including those born after George Bush became president a glimpse in to the family and teenage life of the 1960's with over seas wars, the influence of England on rock music and the blues. It is a bit ironic that Douglas's dad, Pat, (played by James Gandolfini) who was diagnosed with cancer in the movie, would actually pass away from an unrelated heart attack in real life on June 19, 2013, a month before this movie was released in the U.S..

Yes, the times have changed, and this movie reminds us quite subtly of where we once were within the confines of a family, a rock band, and their friends. This movie is well worth a watch if you enjoy reminiscing and seeing the hip fashions of the 1960's.
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8/10
Young man grows into rock and roll and independence
maurice yacowar25 January 2013
Bob Dylan ends Not Fade Away with "She's an artist; she don't look back." David Chase is an artist whose first feature film is not just a look back at his coming of age in New Jersey around 1963 but about the ambiguities in the impulse to look back.

As one character quotes The Tibetan Book of the Dead, there is no past, only the present, which contains the past as it does the future. The film's title comes from a song and a singer (the prematurely snuffed Buddy Holly) we don't hear in the film because it's not about that particular song/singer or even that period; it's about the ineffable presence of the past, our containing what we were. The past is the one thing that doesn't fade away, the way youth, vim, hopes, love, faith, family, friends, lovers, do.

Time is the film's central theme. The early and late TV clips show a trio twisting again, like they did that implicit mythic summer. In the clip from Welles's Touch of Evil the fat old sheriff hearkens to the memories stirred by Marlene Dietrich's mechanical piano -- and she struggles to find the old Hank in the grotesquely obese one. OK, all those candy bars and booze don't fade away either.

Chase's hero, Douglas (John Magaro) -- however autobiographic -- is today what he was then. The plot replays the boy's growing away from his family and the independence he gained first from his passion for rock and roll music and then from his transition to the West Coast and filmmaking. In reverse of the most repeated song in the film, he has time on his side because he's alive in its flow. It's time, not the lover, that keeps running back to him. See more at www.yacowar.blogspot.com
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1/10
Worst Movie 2013
Martin Luther18 September 2013
I am not exaggerating, when i say this movie disappointed even my lowest expectations. And fair enough they were really low, having read some reviews, since the movie came out earlier in the US (I'm from Germany). During the whole film there's not tje slightest bit of tension, not even a real story... I sat through the whole "film" and don't even remember the protagonists name. I neither see what the film was trying to tell, nor do i know how i lasted till the end. This weird row of pictures let me regret every cent i spend on this movie. I write this in the immediate disappointment after the movie but, seriously, save your money on this.'Nuff said.
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7/10
Reality is too much what it looks like
dierregi3 November 2017
This movie received terrible reviews from the audience, but it is not that bad. Its main problems are too many sub-plots and a silly open ending. Apart from that, it is a classic "coming of age" tale. Main character Douglas loves rock'n'roll and joins a band as drum player. The band leader is handsome Eugene, who cannot sing as "soulfully" as Douglas. Therefore, Douglas plans to replace Eugene as front man. Trouble ensues, as it always does and dreams are crushed....

The bitter twist of the story is that we follow Douglas's sister narration and we know from the start that his band is not bound for glory. Maybe this was also what put off the audience: is there a point following the story of a rock band that won't make it?

Considering they must be the majority, I guess there is. Besides, the music is good and you can spend a couple of hours feeling nostalgic for a bygone era.

As already mentioned, too many characters mean that none is developed properly (Douglas's girlfriend Grace and her family, including her nutty sister; Douglas's dad Pat and his cancer, etc...). Even Douglas and Eugene, the two closest to a lead role are very sketchy characters.

Pat is played by Gandolfini, who early in the movies delivers one of the best one-liner ever: while Douglas gushes about Twilight Zone and "Reality not being what it looks like", the tired man answers "Reality is too much what it looks like".
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5/10
I Don't Get It
Tom Siebert10 April 2017
Well made, well-acted, sporadically engrossing snapshot of a moment in time and some players in it that doesn't follow through (or even finish). It feels like a pilot for a TV series that didn't get picked up, with tons of loose ends dangling, but by the time we get there we don't much care anymore.

Setup is solid, characters are decently developed, dialog is mostly believable (I just don't think people dropped the F-bomb back in the early 60s the way they do here). But the story makes huge leaps in time, feels choppy and over-edited, and by the cheap cop-out ending--a character basically wanders onto the middle of the screen, breaks the fourth wall and starts addressing the audience to tell us what the movie's about--I was ready to throw up my hands.

Writer/Director David Chase is a genius, and you can see traces of it here, but this film feels unfinished. I didn't hate it, it's well made and the cast is appealing, but it's the epitome of a "meh" movie in the end.
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4/10
Flaccid David Chase Autobiography
Cinnyaste8 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
One of the first rules screenwriters learn is, "Don't write about yourself." Whether the hundreds of TV scripts (and one abysmal film, "Grave of the Vampire," 1972) written by David Chase clean the slate on that rule is debatable. It stands that "Not Fade Away" is David Chase's autobiography. Momentarily, let's set that aside.

Narrated by Douglas' (John Magaro) younger sister, Evelyn (Meg Guzulescu), we first see Keith Richards and Mick Jagger meet when The Rolling Stones are born during a fateful 1960 encounter at a railway station.

Next, moving on to the day Kennedy was assassinated (and the salve The Beatles applied to the nation's collective mourning), "Not Fade Away" follows a young man's dream of becoming a rock star. This idealist and friends form a band as well as put cart way before the horse by spending Record Deal advances before a first performance. Their devotion to the music 'artform' is tertiary to the second word in "Show Business" and the hard work needed to make it. More Stones than Beatles, their failure is nonetheless assured.

"Not Fade Away" then tracks Douglas et al. through mid-Sixties social and musical turbulence, including the Beatles/Stones rivalry. Checking their respective catalogs, The Stones are more aggressive with "Under My Thumb" versus the Beatles' cloying "Love Me Do."

Soprano's vet James Gandolfini plays Douglas' Dad. Surprise! Dad is New Jersey conservative and wants nothing more than to take shears to his son's growing mop-top. Seems Dad (who's dying of Cancer) also had dreams. He spills them at a Father-Son dinner that's one of the film's few good scenes. Mom? Hold on for another moment.

Though terrific at recreating the feel of the Sixties, "Not Fade Away" treads a tired and predictable path to an awkward end featuring Evelyn dancing 'The Hitch Hike' on a deserted LA street. The coda also finds Douglas finished with music and ready to enter film school.

Those familiar with Tony Soprano's mother, Livia, will immediately recognize Antoinette, Douglas' Mom. Like Chase's Mother, she's a "Passive-aggressive drama queen, and a nervous woman who dominated any situation she was in by being so needy and always on the verge of hysteria."

Those not familiar with Chase's life will find this film an incomprehensible bore, particularly if under Fifty. Seniors old enough to remember Kennedy will have experienced the era and might fall asleep in their Metamucil.

John Magaro is in over his head and cannot carry the film's weight. While the rest of the mostly no-name actors turn in acceptable performances (Bella Heathcote, Grace, is a stand out as Douglas' girlfriend), the story is tired and flat with a lack of dramatic juice.

It might be another story to watch "Not Fade Away" as Chase's autobiography. With a few scrambled details, this is his life. Oddly, it's comforting to see an otherwise brilliant writer living a mundane, suburban life with a highly dysfunctional family. There's even a nod to Chase's legendary depression as Grace's free-spirit sister, Joy, is carted off to Casa de los Wackos.

Regardless how the bread is sliced, "Not Fade Away" is a Chase vanity piece/walk down memory lane surprising in its lack of simple entertainment value. The reason the 67 year old Mr. Chase has stayed away from theatrical film since 1972 is now apparent - brilliant TV notwithstanding. "Not Fade Away" will, and very soon.
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