Rock and roll movies have been around…well…since rock and roll was invented. From the glorious films of a certain King of Rock and Roll to the loads of great biopics, movies starring or about rock and roll hold a certain kind of magic. Among my favorites are Dennis Quaid in the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire, Lou Diamond Phillips in La Bamba, Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story, Kurt Russell in the not-seen-nearly-enough TV movie Elvis and the genius of Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap. But there are also the rock movies about the ones who love the music just as much but either didn’t make it or where on the fringes of fame. Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg, Still Crazy with Billy Connolly and School of Rock with the legendary Jack Black. But perhaps the best known and most beloved among rock enthusiasts is Almost Famous. Moreso than most other films, Almost Famous really captured the love of all things rock. The new film Not Fade Away may just fit comfortably in second place now though as it does for the Rolling Stones era what Almost Famous did for the Zeppelin era.
Douglas (John Magaro) is a teenager in 1960’s New Jersey that wants nothing more than to play music with his band and make it in the music industry. But between his hard working and close minded father (James Gandolfini) and his disinterested mother (Molly Price), Douglas might have to work twice as hard just to keep his head above water. As his band’s popularity grows and opportunity starts knocking, Douglas finds along with success comes more problems as well. But is it all worth it?
Not Fade Away was a hell of a good rock and roll movie. By the time the credits rolled and the TV was shut off, I just wanted to hibernate in the basement, dust off the record player and submerse myself in rock and roll nostalgia. John Magaro is excellent in the lead role of Douglas, kind of a Mick Jagger/Bob Dylan hybrid who lives and breathes for rock and roll. Director David Chase obviously has a personal connection to the genre (he was a drummer himself) and his love for the music shows through in every frame he directs and every word he wrote. Like Almost Famous, Not Fade Away is truly a movie about love for the music. It makes you want to bask in the emotional waves of nostalgia without ever making it a cheesy exercise. The movie is full of heart and soul and is a must see for any rock and roll lover.
The Blu-ray from Paramount is as warm and inviting as the story itself. Full of rich warm tones that perfectly reflect the times, the colors are natural and saturated, full of great detail and clarity. And where it really counts, the soundtrack, it is full, encompassing and clear as a bell. A beautiful transfer of a trip down the rock and roll memory lane.
Available April 30, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.