by Jim Ridley
We've been wanting to see David Chase's Not Fade Away since Jason Shawhan returned from last year's New York Film Festival with high praise. Recalling in last week's issue the best uses of music in film for the year, Shawhan wrote, "Nothing comes close to the way Not Fade Away uses Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth's 'Down So Low.' " As that's one of the most powerful recordings we've ever heard, period, our hopes shot up even higher.
The movie, alas, snuck into Green Hills last week for one dismal weekend, and we couldn't find it in this weekend's listings. That makes tonight your last chance for sure to see it in a theater. If you like Chase's work — hell, if you like Tracy Nelson — you'll want to plan accordingly.
From Craig D. Lindsey's piece in this week's Scene:
Not Fade Away is basically Chase's rock-and-roll-changed-my-life movie. Chase, mainly known as the Man Who Changed Television Forever when he created The Sopranos (itself famous for its soundtrack selections, usually handpicked by Chase), goes full-on semi-autobiographical with his feature directorial debut. He takes us back to early 1960s New Jersey to follow around his stand-in, Douglas (spunk-filled newcomer John Magaro), a decent kid and aspiring drummer who gets bitten by the rock bug (beatle?) when the British Invasion hits our shores. ...
For all its wall-to-wall rock cues and archival performance clips, Not Fade Away is largely a quiet, nostalgic affair. Since Chase has a flair for subtlety in telling stories full of imploding moments, the movie has a somber, Paul Mazursky-esque tone. Funniest is how Chase paints rock as a bigger menace to Cold War society than the Russians — a catalyst for young guys to grow their hair long and crank their music loud, leaving their parents to fear they're throwing away their lives (or worse, gay!). One revealing moment has [Douglas' dad, played by James Gandolfini] watching a TV variety show where the Rolling Stones are performing; an eye-rolling Dean Martin quips condescendingly about the band, and Gandolfini grunts his approval.