Not Fade Away (Blu-ray)

September 13, 2013 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

A certain sadness now comes over me when I see anything with James Gandolfini in it. After his death this past summer, it is just hard for me to watch anything with him and not be reminded of it. It is all too fresh in my mind. Not Fade Away was written and directed by David Chase. He is the creator of TV’s The Sopranos. The role of Tony Soprano was played by none other than James Gandolfini. The two are reunited here, but the film is forgettable. The film takes place during the 1960’s and focuses on a local band trying to make it big. Douglas (John Magaro) drops out of college to pursue his musical career. Gandolfini plays his father and doesn’t appreciate the route his son is taking with his life. In fact, the best scenes in the film involve the two of them. There is a lot of tension in the scenes between them that it kept me on edge. I wish the rest of the film maintained that intensity or at least its energy. The story of a struggling band, pursuing your dreams and teenage rebellion are nothing new. I had high hopes that Chase would deliver an instant classic. That would turn out to be wishful thinking I’m afraid. I am a huge fan of The Sopranos and wish that talent translated to his big screen directorial debut.  Too often, the film simply meanders. It lacks a strong focus and falls victim to too many genre cliches.

Douglas is rebellious and doesn’t get along well with his father. The band mates have problems with a member of the band. We’ve seen it all before (and better). I did enjoy much of the music in the film and the 60’s decor as well as the automobiles, but that only goes so far. Magaro as Douglas doesn’t have a strong screen presence. He mostly just mopes around and looks depressed. Chase does such a good job of recreating the 1960’s that he forgot the one crucial element…. Story. Without a strong story to drive the film, it eventually collapses under its own weight. The direction is also flawed. There are several instances where the camera will zoom in on an actor’s face or ear. I am not sure what Chase was going for here, but it simply does not work. In hindsight, it is all the more frustrating to know that this would be the last time Chase and Gandolfini would work together. The film is well-intentioned, but ultimately (and sadly) a missed opportunity for all involved. Oh well, at least it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray.

Video: How’s it look?

Paramount has done a fine job with this transfer. This film has many bright colors and this transfer represents that well. The AVC encoded 1.85:1 transfer is free of any flaws and defects. We get a variety of colors here and all are spot on and accurate. The details of pores on the character’s faces come through in sharp detail as well. There are several day time scenes that also show strong detail. The 60’s was certainly a decade with strong style and fashion and the details in several of the wardrobes is fantastic. The transfer was so good that some of the curls in Magaro’s hair were lighter than others. I can’t think of anything negative to say here.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD 5.1 track is also solid, displaying a range of depth in several of the scenes. The bass kicks in strong in several of the musical scenes and rear channels get a lot of usage here. I had no trouble with any of the dialogue, it was clean and clear throughout. There was a very natural sound to this track. There are several rock excerpts throughout the film and those are represented well here. Much like the transfer, this is a fine track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • “The Basement tapes” – This is a solid behind the scenes look broken down into three parts. Track 1: The boys in the band (13:32) takes a look at the film’s origins. Track 2: Living in the sixties (12:26) takes a look at recreating the 1960’s. This was easily my favorite of the featurettes. Track 3: Hard Art (10:04) Discusses the technical aspect of the shoot.
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:33) 4 Brief scenes that mostly offer extensions to existing scenes. Don’t expect anything major here.
  • “Building the band” – (3:06) Looks at the casting of the band members.

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