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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Not Fade Away Movie Review

Ever since "The Sopranos" finished its run on television, I have anxiously awaited what its creator, David Chase would be up to next. The answer is his film debut, "Not Fade Away", a tribute to what rock and roll has meant to the culture of America. To Chase, rock and roll and nuclear weapons are the two biggest things we have come up with as a nation. He might be right.

Chase grew up in suburban New Jersey in the 1960s, much like Douglas (John Magaro), the main character here. Douglas, like many of his contemporaries is caught up in the British music invasion led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He does what everyone and their brother did and formed a band, partially motivated by chasing fame and partially by a love of music.

Instead of a story focusing on a band on its way to stardom or failure, Chase instead focuses on the process. It's clear that Chase loves music and in particular the music of that era. That is one of the reasons that the soundtracks from "The Sopranos" are a must-own. "Not Fade Away" is a true love story, but it does not take place among the people on screen. This is all about Chase's love of music. This takes nothing away from the film, which is immensely watchable and filled with fine performances. Besides Magaro, Gandolfini stars as his father, in a role that strangely does not evoke memories of Tony Soprano even though it takes place in New Jersey and he's being a bit of a hard-ass.

Story takes a back seat to feeling here and usually that is impossible to pull off, but Chase pulls it off in grand style. There are no easy solutions and no particularly hang-on-the-edge of your seat conflicts. It's more of a natural flow and mostly it's smooth sailing. Yet, it holds your interest because it makes no attempts at cheap shots to the face of the audience.

Like "The Sopranos", the ending will leave some wanting because Chase does not like to gift wrap story for you. He prefers to leave it open-ended, just like reality. I love that technique. Many abhor it and feel cheated. If you think you can handle it, I suggest that you make it your business to see it before it fades away.

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