It isn't until the story reaches its fancifully abstract final passages, where cinema displaces music as Douglas's weapon of choice, that Chase's reverie reveals itself as a particularly exceptional exploration of how art ceases being an idle hobby and becomes an obsessive vocation.
Chase deals with the mundane reality that squashes those dreams, but he doesn't downplay the dreams themselves, which he keeps honoring throughout Not Fade Away, right up to an audaciously abstract final scene that rivals the end of "The Sopranos" for sheer nerve.
If you are from this era, this milieu, this will resonate like few other movies (Dazed and Confused is in the same class, but for a different decade and region).
For everyone else, this will likely seem lame.
David Chase is to be admired for doing this niche film. I was transported.
As an avid music fan & aspiring rock musician, I was very interested when I saw the trailer for this movie, and all that interested was definitely justfied, and then some, because Not Fade Away is simply fantastic. First of all, I appreciate that rather than being centered around the big & famous musicians like a lot of similar films would do, this film follows a band, The Twylight Zones, that suffers a lot & even ends on a rather bleak & ambiguous note as to whether or not they'll make it as a band at all. Not only that, but the characters here all seem very realistic. There are no cheap one-note stereotypes or clear antagonists, but rather a group of generally reasonable people that run into very believable problems & misunderstandings. Something like this definitely helps with the relatability factor. Another thing to note is that this is set in the mid-late 60s, and even as someone who was born decades after this time, I could easily believe that the settings here are accurate, with possible minor embellishements here & there for added effect. Steven Van Zandt produced this, and it's very easy to tell that a musician was involved with this. Even though I don't have an impressive amount of band experience yet, a lot of subtleties of being a musican are covered here, mainly in the songwriting process. Speaking of the music, in addition to great older songs being used very often (which would be implied in a film like this) the original song here main character Doug wrote about his breakup, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, is also very impressive, and I'm so glad they released the soundtrack on iTunes cause it's a genuinely good song. M only real gripe with this movie is the last minute, where a girl starts talking to the camera & dancing in the middle of the street. It just lost me there, and would've been much better if it ended on what was happening rght before that. Overall, Not Fade Away is a very well-rounded movie, creating moments that are fun, emotional, relatable & sweet, while never losing focus & keeping a very good & steady pace, making it's over 2 hour running time very justified.
Though not a poor effort per se -- David Chase's Not Fade Away does authentically captures the heart and soul of the music of the era and the intoxicating/naive dream of making it big -- the picture isn't exactly a remarkable one either.
Music drives the movie, and the producers popped for the real stuff: Robert Johnson, Moby Grape and - curiously - the Sex Pistols are all here. The soundtrack is so overstuffed that it relegates Beatles and Dylan tunes to the end credits.
Not Fade Away is like a two hour song without any hooks. Whenever you think it going to hit a satisfying note, it just goes back to the same chord sequence. David Chase's atheism comes through strongly in the film, as a result the film lacks depth. His grim outlook: that we are alone, can't depend on anybody and should just find pleasure where we can get it; is constantly reinforced throughout the film. None of the characters (maybe apart from the protagonist's little sister) are likeable. It makes it hard to invest in the story when all you'd rather see them all fail. I assume it was intentional. A post-modern film where there are no heroes. The thing that made the Sopranos work was even though Tony behaved like a monster, the charisma and kind-spirit of James Gandolfini shone through. It made the viewer care enough about the character to keep watching. Unfortunately, Gandolfini is a bit wasted in this. On a more positive note, the production quality throughout the film is excellent, and the acting/directing is good. The film does a good job of showing the divide between the new/old generations of the day and the tensions it caused.
I think Not Fade Away is worth watching for Sopranos devotees, the film and TV show share the same cinematographer, Sidney Wolinsky, and the same style of dry humor and pacing will make you half-expect to see Paulie Walnuts stroll-in.
this is a perfect cameron crow film: soundtrack is grand, casting fresh and historically correct. but, it is not what i expected as a die-hard david chase fan. i did enjoy the occasional gandolfini, the timing and general rhythm, some of the dialogue and... that is it. this is not a meritless film, but it wasnt what i expected from soprano-great. please do view and review it.
"Not Fade Away" 10 Scale Rating: 5.0 (Mediocre) ...
The Good: Solid musical score. Even the tracks written for the film felt authentic and fit in to the era they were portraying. James Gandolfini did a great job even if he was similar in some ways to his Sopranos character, minus the gangster thing. Truly speaks to anyone who wanted to try and start a band and make it in the industry, regardless of what decade it was.
The Bad: Sort of goes on and on and loses steam halfway through. Starts becoming a chore to watch and you want to get to the ending so that you see what happens. Once you get there, you are pretty let down though.