The Movie: 7/10
The 60’s will probably not stop being a sliver of time where our American and European stories come from at least through the 21st century. I mean, even the American Civil War has dwindling numbers of “new” stories or versions of the story of our country’s freedom from slavery. What does this have to do with Not Fade Away? It’s a re-telling of a story we have heard many times surrounded by a specific era’s personality. A lot of the experience of this movie is that blanket of nostalgia that cuddles around us so comfortably. That does take away from what these characters and their lives have to offer.
Our leading man is a young dude who wants to be in a band. We meet him early in the decade, coming off the soul of the 50’s heading toward the birth of rock and roll. We are not talking about a famous band, instead they are in the shadow of the British invasion, The Stones, The Beatles, and everything that came with them. The frenzy of a changing world, our changing country, it’s swirled inside this movie with a lot of heart, but not a lot of guts.
I had no concern or empathy or interest in the leading dude. He’s not presented as being committed to being in the band. He’s wishy-washy as he’s not unexpectedly stuck between a conservative hard-ass father and the emerging hippy-dippy generation of love and music and just doing your own thing. If he had some hard-core behaviors it might make him more identifiable. As it is they made this movie with a very sensitive touch. There is a touch of pot smoking, a bit of drinking, even a trip to a mental hospital, but no real hard-core messy life that might have given it more credibility.
David Chase does his thing, writing overly romanticized characters who have strong traits, but not enough of anything else to make them seem like real people. He hypes the jerky dad but then gives him a way out of his jerkiness by making the wife just a bit more jerky. This lets the father be just as wishy-washy as the son. The friends are abridged versions of stereotypes, the jock, the real musician, the nobody, and the hot chick girl who wants to be loved for more than her looks. It’s almost absurd when you say it that way, but it’s not all that badly portrayed in the movie. They are kind of boring as far as character development is concerned, but the performances, including Gandolfini’s expected but quality portrayal of a frustrated middle-aged father, make up for the flaws.
I liked the movie all together, it’s just the bits and pieces that poked too many holes in it along the way. The leading dude being a non-character stereotype, the overly idealized era of the 60’s was a bit sugary for me, and the lack of guts, lack of reality in exchange for nostalgia, made it hit the average mark in my movie appreciation range.
- The Basement Tapes – A three-part making of feature which runs about 30 minutes and is actually quite good. You get to see a lot of interviews with David Chase and James Gandolfini. The featurettes cover the following topics. The Boys In The Band, Living In The Sixties and Hard Art.
- Building The Band – A very short three-minute featurette that is focused on the young actors who play the band.
- Deleted Scenes – Four different deleted scenes. I really enjoyed the one called Eviction which actually gives the female lead more to do than the actual film.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 2/10
I don’t know enough words for boring, so I’ll just say this cover is boring and you will know exactly know what I mean. Let’s get over this “slap the star in a box” syndrome, it’s sucking the life out of the concept of cover art.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Not Fade Away is a great 1080P AVC encode that delivers the look of 1960’s New Jersey as the Director intended. If I had to complain about anything it would be the lighting which is no fault of the disc. David Chase has chose to use very dim natural light and sometimes that comes across way to shadowy and detail is lost. Aside from that the movie looks great and I saw no digital artifacting at all throughout the running time.
A movie that deals with music lives and dies by it’s audio track and thankfully Not Fade Away has a great sounding DTS-HD Master Audio track that really brings the music of the era to life. If you want a nice demo of the subtlety of a HD Master Audio track watch the opening scene on the train and listen to the wonderful way David Chase mixes the ambient sounds of the train with the music track over the top.
Not Fade away is not a movie for everyone. David Chase die hards will find comfort here and the video and audio presentation are spot on as we expect from Paramount.
For an average movie we need an average price. If you see it in the store for 20 bucks, I say walk on by. If you can rent it online for $3-$5, it’s a fair price. For a movie that leaves me kind of ho-hum but has some elements of entertainment it’s worth watching for sure, just not worth more than pocket money to experience.
Overall Score 5/10