Of the Beats and The Beatles: On the Road and Not Fade Away

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2012 12:27 pm
Of the Beats and The Beatles: <i>On the Road</i> and <i>Not Fade Away</i>

Two pop culture artifacts from the '50s and '60s serve as the jumping off point for a pair of low-budget dramas that are slipping into theaters this holiday weekend amidst more high-profile fare. On the Road is the long-in-the-works movie version of the seminal Jack Kerouac novel of the same name, the book that has launched a thousand soul-searching road trips in the five decades since its publication in 1957. Set a mere seven years after Kerouac's Beat Generation anthem hit shelves, Not Fade Away -- the feature film debut of The Sopranos mastermind David Chase and the first thing he's made since that show went off the air five years ago -- begins with the arrival of the British Invasion on these shores and the immediate impact groups like The Beatles, The Yardbirds and, particularly, The Rolling Stones has on the life of a suburban Jersey boy, modeled loosely after Chase himself. While both films do a fine job recreating their respective eras, only one really gets past the period trappings and tells a universal story that will resonate equally with viewers who were alive at the time, as well as their descendants.

David Chase Talks the ’60s, the Stones and Not Fade Away

by Ethan Alter December 19, 2012 11:25 am
David Chase Talks the ’60s, the Stones and <i>Not Fade Away</i>

How do you follow up a pop culture phenomenon like The Sopranos? Well, if you're David Chase, you take a healthy chunk of time off and then return with a small, intimate and semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a '60s New Jersey teenager (John Magaro) who is inspired by the British Invasion to start his own rock outfit. Unfortunately, fame and fortune prove elusive as he contends with inter-band tension (especially with the jealous lead singer, played by Jack Huston), as well as an angry father (James Gandolfini). On the other hand, he does win the heart of his high school crush (Bella Heathcote), so a career in music does come with some benefits. As strong as Chase's script and the performances by the young actors are, the real star of Not Fade Away has to be its incredible soundtrack (assembled with the aid of Chase's old Sopranos colleague Steven Van Zandt), which is packed with familiar '60s songs and a few deep cuts. On a recent press tour through New York, Not Fade Away's cast and crew discussed the process of bringing that era to life.

Five Great James Gandolfini Movie Roles

by Ethan Alter June 20, 2013 9:55 am
Five Great James Gandolfini Movie Roles

For obvious reasons, James Gandolfini's legacy will be forever tied to Tony Soprano. It's the role he played the longest and which left the deepest impact, both on viewers and within the industry at large. But the late actor, who died (too soon) of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday, had a gallery of memorable movie characters as well, particularly after The Sopranos transformed him from a struggling supporting player (he had small, but memorable turns in films like True Romance and Crimson Tide in the run-up to the 1999 debut of The Sopranos) into a sought-after character actor who appeared in a rich variety of films, from the sublime (Spike Jonze's lovely adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are) to the absurd (John Turturro's intriguing, but problematic musical Romance & Cigarettes). And even when the films themselves stank (Surviving Christmas anyone?) Gandolfini's mere presence made them less painful than they otherwise might have been. Here are five Gandolfini movie characters we'd place alongside his towering turn as a New Jersey don.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

by Ethan Alter April 30, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"So Jennifer... how much does an Oscar weigh, anyway?"

The Top Ten Movies of 2012

by Ethan Alter December 27, 2012 9:56 am
The Top Ten Movies of 2012

The Moviefile puts a bow on 2012 with our official Top Ten list, plus a bunch of honorable mentions.

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