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Not Fade Away(2012)
Set in suburban New Jersey the 1960s, a group of friends form a rock band and try to make it big.
For more about Not Fade Away and the Not Fade Away Blu-ray release, see Not Fade Away Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: John Magaro, James Gandolfini, Bella Heathcote, Jack Huston, Dominique McElligott, Brad Garrett
Director: David Chase
» See full cast & crew
Not Fade Away Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 16, 2013
David Chase took the old reliable Mafia genre and morphed it into something nobody had ever seen before, shying away from noir stylings and physical and dramatic genre clichés and embracing a new wave attitude where the crime bosses were the folks down the street. They were folks with their own problems, inner conflicts, and complicated family dealings, not just in their "extended" mob family but within their own flesh and blood. It played with richly developed characters in a beautifully crafted world, the two merging to form the perfect canvas for one of the best thing ever to grace either the big or small screen. His The Sopranos redefined a genre and forever helped shape the future of television drama. Unfortunately, Chase doesn't find the same success with Not Fade Away, his first foray into writing and directing for the big screen. The film tells a dramatically hollow coming-of-age tale in Vietnam-era New Jersey. It works around an endless parade of genre cliché -- dreams of making it big, young love, group strife, family quarrels -- and rewards viewers not with old pieces freshly reshaped à la The Sopranos but just rearranged with different faces filling in the same tired lines. It's technically sound, but Not Fade Away lacks the charisma and captivating cadence of Chase's best and historically significant work.
Douglas (John Magaro) has grown up in a picturesque Americana post-war New Jersey suburb with his old-fashioned father (James Gandolfini) who senses and laments the coming shift in culture. When Douglas returns home from college a changed man -- long hair and spiky-heeled "Cubans" on his feet -- the two find themselves at odds, the old promising a clash with the new ("you look like you just got off the boat!" and "you and me, we're gonna tangle, my friend!" the father's favorite sayings in the house) in a futile effort to reshape a changing generation back into the old's own image. Douglas has found his life aspiration in music. The Rolling Stones and The Beatles are his inspirations, and he and band-mates Eugene (Jack Huston) and Wells (Will Brill) do their best to make themselves into the next-big-thing on the music scene. For Douglas, that means quitting school to focus on his music. He's also fixated on Grace (Bella Heathcote), local beauty extraordinaire who may not be the sort to settle for a one-man romance band.
Not Fade Away tackles all of the usual nation-in-turmoil, a generation in change, and era-specific challenges. There's the influence of a world and a peoples in flux, complicated by the budding intergenerational strife of the old, established way of doing things against the rebellion spurred by adolescence, hormones, a rising anti-war movement, and, of course, Rock 'N' Roll. It's manifested in appearances, attitudes, clashing sentiments, the literal and figurative "beat to a different drum." These are tired but worthwhile components, and as worn as they may seem they were all the dominant defining forces of the era. However, Not Fade Away fails to do much of anything with them that audiences haven't seen -- and in the better movies experienced -- before. Such story lines remain ripe for heightened dramatic effect, but they all seem so routine here, present because the era demands they be present, not because they add anything of significance to the picture beyond the generalized drama that ultimately fails to elicit anything more than a casual response. Not Fade Away is a film stuck in a routine, a picture defined by its actions and settings rather than its ideas and characters. It does very well in capturing an authentic era look and feel, but it's also terribly superficial with no real added value beyond the basics.
That's the exact opposite of cinema's dominant era-music film, Almost Famous. That landmark picture is built around nuanced characters and actions set in Not Fade Away's time period and against many of the same dramatic structures, but Cameron Crowe's picture's authenticity comes from a cooly built heart and deeply solidified soul that are both absent in David Chase's film, a firmly beating heart and a soul made of the sort of stuff that comes from understanding the power of music, the togetherness and antagonism both it can create, the very real and tangible life lessons that can come from absorbing every note, analyzing each lyric, and allowing it all to deeply penetrate beyond the surface and truly shape one's inward persona. It's a stark contrast in pictures, one a real story of self-discovery amidst turmoil, the other the same but failing to escape that sense of convention under the surface, truly lacking that necessary inward self-study that's the real benefit of love of music. Still, Not Fade Away does the nuts-and-bolts superficialities well enough. The performances are lacking subtlety because the script similarly lacks that quality, but the cast does manage to find the basic purpose and run with it, even if it's through a minefield of cliché. James Gandolfini is excellent as an imposing rock set firmly against the long hair and high heels of an era he doesn't accept nor understand -- or chooses not to understand -- while John Magaro plays off of the veteran actor with both an outward rebellion and a deeper inward one, at least as deep as the script allows him to explore.
Not Fade Away Blu-ray, Video Quality
Not Fade Away features a stellar high definition presentation. Paramount's latest offering shows the studio at its best. The opening black-and-white footage gives way to color soon enough, and with that a truly splendid, full, crisply defined viewing experience. Though there's a slight natural medium-influenced smoothness to the image, there's also an incredible sharpness and vividness to it. Details are positively striking, reinforced by impeccable clarity and definition all around the frame, foreground and background alike. The period set pieces and clothes stand out beautifully, whether in bright, sun-drenched exteriors or low light or nighttime conditions. Facial and clothing details are extraordinarily revelatory, showing the finest textures and lines in close-up shots. The color palette is superb, too. Every shade is captured and presented flawlessly, reinforced by perfect skin tones and wonderfully deep black levels. Of course, there is no unwanted digital tinkering or other flaw of which to speak. This is an excellent presentation from Paramount.
Not Fade Away Blu-ray, Audio Quality
A music-oriented film needs a top-tier losses soundtrack, and Not Fade Away earns just that. Paramount's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation is excellent, featuring balanced, rich sound to the opening Rock beats and through the entirety of the film, be the notes as heard in the film from a prerecorded record album or performed "live" by the band. Instrument detailing is particularly good in those "live" sessions; the band sounds fantastic no matter its experience level or the venue in which it plays as the sound relates to pure audio playback quality. The track features little beyond music and dialogue, however. There is some fine intermittent ambient sound effects and gentle surround immersion, notably in the rumbly train to open the film in black-and-white, but not a steady stream of extracurricular elements to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, the film rarely calls for such things, given most of the locations are localized or closed-off with little natural opportunity for extended environmental elements, anyway. Dialogue comes through cleanly from the center and is never lost under music. All around, this is an excellent soundtrack from Paramount.
Not Fade Away Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Not Fade Away contains three supplements, one of which is a three-part making-of.
Not Fade Away Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The fixation with The Twilight Zone that creeps in from time to time in Not Fade Away may be one of the most errant in film history. Rather than the picture winding up somehow out of the ordinary, it instead moves through with nary a thread out of place. Everything in the movie is as it seems, from the basic plot arc to the shell of the dramatic character elements that never move on beyond the expected teen angst routine. The picture lacks the soul of the best musically inspired films but it does offer sound technical qualities while it traverses its well-beaten path with nary a single footfall astray. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Not Fade Away is a little thin on extras but it does offer gorgeous picture and excellent sound. Worth a rental.
Not Fade Away: Other Editions
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Not Fade Away Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: April 30-May 7 - April 28, 2013
For the week of April 30th, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment is bringing Silver Linings Playbook to Blu-ray. This comedy-drama found success with its portrait of two unstable outcasts who realize that they might be soul mates; director David O. Russell's direction ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Not Fade Away Blu-ray & Autographed Vinyl Sou... - April 26, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a Blu-ray copy of writer/director David Chase's Not Fade Away (2012) and a double vinyl LP soundtrack signed by the filmmaker. The '60s period drama stars John Magaro, ...
• Not Fade Away Blu-ray - February 21, 2013
Paramount Home Media Distribution has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of David Chase's drama Not Fade Away (2012), starring John Magaro, Jack Huston, and Will Brill. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores ...
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