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.
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.
The Moviefile puts a bow on 2012 with our official Top Ten list, plus a bunch of honorable mentions.
"So Jennifer... how much does an Oscar weigh, anyway?"
The New York Film Festival turns 50 this year and is appropriately throwing itself one heck of a birthday bash. The golden anniversary celebration kicks off tonight with the world premiere of Ang Lee's Life of Pi, an adaptation of the best-selling novel that ranks among the fall season's big Oscar hopefuls. Over the next two weeks (the festival runs from September 28 to October 14) a plethora of big-ticket films and events will be unspooling at the festival's headquarters at Lincoln Center on New York's Upper West Side. You can visit the official NYFF website for the full schedule and ticket information. In the meantime, we've gone through the festival line-up (and have even seen a few of the movies) to highlight some of this year's key titles.