NOT FADE AWAY
Telling the Story
Making a great movie, like making a great band or song, is not easy.
The chance to work with a true storytelling artist like Chase is what attracted veteran Producer Mark Johnson whose long list of credits include DINER, the Academy
Award-winning RAIN MAN and the TV series BREAKING BAD to NOT FADE AWAY. "David is somebody I've admired for a long, long time," says Johnson. He's an extraordinary writer, and what he does in this movie is he writes great characters. You don't go to a David Chase television show or movie, to go see how well the bank robbery worked out, or the car chase. It's interesting because David's technically a first-time feature director, but he's directed a lot of television. He directed both the pilot and the last episode of THE SOPRANOS. So it's not like he didn't know what a 35mm lens was, but he's had a lot of questions. Often I find out that he already knows the answer, but he was just curious if there's another answer. So for me it's been a great partnership working with David."
The movie that they made is a kind of box set for every great band that never quite was - every great expectation that is never quite met. It's a subject that Chase knows very well. "My band, we didn't do the hard work. We got together in my friend's basement. We played every once in a while, we pretended we were playing, we jammed with some other band, but we did not try to get a manager. We never found a name. Some people quit at crucial times and then came back. It was a whack off. Yet we took it very seriously. In our minds, we were the great--one of the great bands in America, but we weren't doing anything."
Still, music has shaped Chase's life and his art, much like it has for countless others of his generation and those who have followed. So it's no surprise that the music heard in NOT FADE AWAY takes us on an amazing journey - from Joey Dee & The Starlighters performing "The Peppermint Twist" to The Sex Pistols playing Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lover's "Road Runner" - basically from innocence to something else entirely. We witness the struggles as the band try to find their own voice and make their own mark with their own songs. We even get to see the band touched, however fleetingly, by the sort of greatness they desire, if only for one song. Written and produced by Steven Van Zandt with vocals performed by John Magaro and Jack Huston, "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" is a stunningly romantic epic rocker that reflects the sort of white hot, wild eyed, poetic ambition of ever young musician in the mid to late Sixties who ever wanted to express deep thoughts like Bob Dylan or like a Rolling Stone.
We are even there as the band meets with the man who they believe can make them stars -- Jerry Ragovoy, the very real life Sixties songwriter-producer behind such timeless gems as "Time Is On My Side" and "Stay With Me," memorably brought back to life here by Brad Garrett.
As producer Mark Johnson notes, "In many ways this is about a band that doesn't make it. It's a very good band, and they're good, but they're not great. And they're, not willing to make themselves great, and that's what I think ultimately defines these characters."
Most rock & roll movies are about surviving being great - NOT FADE AWAY is about surviving being merely good, and how to carry on to find a new dream. Like a lot of lasting rock & roll songs, NOT FADE AWAY is a musical statement about home truths, about fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, lovers and friends, and the people closest to us who simultaneously fuck us up and ultimately make us who were are. And at its heart, it's about how great music provides the best soundtrack to the good, the bad and the ugly our lives.
"What I hope is that the people who see the movie will discover that the journey is everything," says David Chase. "And that playing music is a tonic for just about everything."
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