Part I is here.  Part II is here.


10.  Not Fade Away

David Chase, of The Sopranos fame, makes his directorial debut with this strange and glorious ode to that most tired of subjects, rock and roll in the 1960s.  Clearly drawing from a number of very personal memories, the film begins with the dweeby Douglas (John Magaro) seeing the Rolling Stones on television.  The trajectory from this is pretty standard for this type of film.  Douglas has a crush on a Grace (Bella Heathcote), and he’ll win her over through the band, he has disputes with the frontman Eugene (Jack Huston), the culture shock of the late 60s doesn’t sit well with his father (James Gandolfini), and on and on.  Despite the familiarity, the performances and the writing breathe a lot of life and subtlety into even the most cliché developments (Heathcote is especially good).  Beyond that, though, and the real treasure of Not Fade Away is it’s peculiar style.  It’s not easy to get into in the beginning, but somewhere around the first band rehearsal it begins to click: this is all about rhythm, and not a tight one at that.  The editing is incredibly elliptical – scenes seem to wander off and then bleed into another.  There are gaps in the narrative, and not so much in the sense that it is disorienting but that this is a progression of moments and memories.  That word “memories” is important, because I can’t remember a time where a film has felt more like a series of memories that were happening in the now.  The present-tenseness is key, and in that sense, virtually every scene becomes its own mini-pop song.  It’s all part of the whole narrative, sure, but also self-contained.  In its final scenes, the reality bleeds into hazy myth, and the disembodied sometime narrator becomes corporeal and demonstrative of the power of music as an engine for living.  There are very few films that understand rock and roll quite like this one. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Films of 2012: Part I

January 13, 2013

After last year’s overly indulgent Top 30 countdown, I had fully intended to cut back this year.  If I didn’t reduce it to a Top 10 and maybe an Honorable Mention list (placed alphabetically, of course), then at most a Top 20.  However, as nobody probably noticed, neither my blogging partner nor I have posted very much in the last four months. Indeed most of the films that made it on my list I never wrote about here.  So I’m keeping the thirty film format this year, but I swear, next time around I’ll keep up with the writing a bit more and that way you can see what I thought of individual films and the ranking of the End of the Year list just happens to be a fun diversion rather than me trying to express thoughts on the movies I actually liked throughout the year.

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November 21, 2009

Poor Roland Emmerich.  The man is in a war of escalation with himself, and I think he might just have ended it, destroying himself in the process.  He, along with his ex-partner Dean Devlin, revitalized the disaster picture with Independence Day, a film that in some ways gave birth to the mega-blockbuster summer period we’re still in today.  After some moderate successes and downright failures, he split with Devlin and came out with his best movie to date, The Day After Tomorrow, one of my favourite boneheaded blockbusters of the decade.  As Mr. Emmerich has tapped into that natural desire to see everything you know completely destroyed in a 9/11-would-have-been-so-awesome-if-it-wasn’t-real way, the next logical step after destroying major cities, and then a healthy chunk of every continent, was the entire world itself.  He must be preparing to follow it up with a CERN-made black hole that is eating up the entire solar system as a scrappy band of survivors make their way to Alpha Centauri and deal with their family issues along the way. Read the rest of this entry »