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David Chase’s directorial debut NOT FADE AWAY suffers from a lack of one of the things he was able to use to his advantage during THE SOPRANOS – time. During the show’s run of six seasons on HBO, Chase had an hour at a time to slowly progress through multiple character arcs over the course of a season, drawing you further and further into this world of crime he created for the airwaves. With a film, it’s a different ballgame, and putting so many balls in the air, so to speak, aiming to try resolving each of them in under two hours is a tall task, and one that in NOT FADE AWAY doesn’t end successfully. While it’s easy to credit Chase with some interesting ideas told as a coming-of-age story against the backdrop of rock and roll’s evolution and certainly a few characters, there’s just too much going on within the same movie, making these various story threads, all centered around John Magaro’s Douglas, disjointed and disconnected. At different periods, I found myself questioning whether or not Chase had an actual point to his film, or if it was simply an exercise in depicting a stream of consciousness to one’s entire existence. What NOT FADE AWAY does have going for itself is a cast of interesting characters that continue to intrigue at every turn, as you wonder what Chase has in mind for their futures, so, in the moment, you can tolerate and forgive the overtelling of what should be a fairly simple story of rock music influencing and shaping its fans through adolescence into adulthood at a time when music was far less commercial than it is now and served more as a voice for an entire generation.

Douglas is nothing more than a wallflower in his high school days. If he weren’t one of your closest friends, you’d hardly notice him as anything more than that kid in you chemistry class. To his family, he’s the good kid who does what he’s told, perhaps following his father’s wishes for him to sign up for the military one day, with plans to join ROTC in college. There’s nothing about him that would be rock the boat of what might be considered the societal norm at the time as a fairly conservative personality. And then rock and roll happened to him – the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, etc. – and everything changed rather suddenly with Douglas returning for Thanksgiving during his freshman year with long locks, Cuban heels and some rather vocal opinions about the United States’ military force. It’s as if the music suddenly caused an awakening within, allowing him to think for himself and question the establishment… and his future would then be defined by this sudden shift from doing what he was told and being trapped in this shell of what he thought a person should be to someone all too happy to become someone far more unique in his own right.

What helps drive that individualism is a chance encounter with a local friend, much like one that occurred between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the creation of the Stones, only this local band would go onto much lower heights in the grand scheme of music history. That meeting led to Douglas becoming a drummer for a local band that covered the songs of some of their favorites, with a heavy leaning towards the Stones, which allowed Douglas being seen in a much different light than ever before. After all, people in a band are cool, with their on-stage personas allowing them to be whomever they want to be, seen however they want others to see them. The uncool can quickly become cool, with their music being the dialogue they share with those who now view them through a new prism.

NOT FADE AWAY shows us how Douglas’ ideas of having this band become his life affects his relationships with others, namely his new love interest (Bella Heathcote) and his fellow band members (Jack Huston and Will Brill) who want different things from their musical endeavors to come – one being happy remaining a local icon with the other wanted artistic credibility with no commercial success whatsoever. What Chase manages to do remarkably well is disguise this coming-of-age story as a simple by-product of the blues, in a similar way that rock and roll was influenced by the genre. Douglas is living the blues, something he couldn’t imagine, because during the time, it was associated with only African-Americans, who adopted it and really dominated it musically. There just weren’t many white blues musicians then. But Douglas has to battle through jealousy and tension in the band? Those are the blues. Douglas learns information about his girlfriend’s history and has trouble reconciling it? Blues. Douglas has trouble with his father’s expectations for him? More blues.


For Chase, the blues comes in many forms, which overwhelms the film at times, by piling on with conflict without ever really dealing with what’s on the table (for example, a whole examination of Heathcote's family dynamic that seems out of place). These problems are never dealt with; they’re just multiplied. So two issues becomes four becomes nine and so on and so forth, which doesn’t serve the story or the characters well, as the fluidity doesn’t lend itself very well to telling a story, simply moving from one scenario to another without any hope, after awhile, for resolution.

There’s no question that Chase is an incredible storyteller, but, if his future remains in feature films, he’s going to have to adapt his creative process a bit to fit the format. Gone are the days when he might have 13 hours to really get into the meat and potatoes of multiple character arcs. NOT FADE AWAY would have worked a lot better as a miniseries or a full series of its own where it was given ample time to see the progression of rock and roll juxtaposed with its lead character. However, as a feature film, there’s just too much going on to make it work. 

-Billy Donnelly

"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"

Follow me on Twitter.

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 21, 2012, 2:59 p.m. CST


    by Shangatron

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 3:02 p.m. CST

    Um, Douglas looks like a chick in those making out pictures

    by FreeBeer

  • I heard Steven Van Zandt interviewed with David Chase on NPR about the music coordination for the film. Sounded pretty cool.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 3:29 p.m. CST

    The Kidd really, really sucks.

    by golden tribw

  • They tells you pretty clearly whether or not scrolling to the top and reading the whole thing is worth your time. Some rules to follow (feel free to add to them): Rule #1. If the film is violent, with at least a modicum of cleverness, you can read the whole article. He'll love it. Rule #2. If it is an art or an indie film, you can read the final paragraph and learn everything you need to know. He'll generally hate it. Rule #3. If it's a romantic movie, skip straight to the talkbacks. Even the final paragraph will be a waste of time. He hates all of these. Rule #4. If it's a comedy, unless it's a violent comedy, see rule #3. --- I can't wait to see how he savages Parental Guidance, but that's almost a gimme anyway. Capone's Road Trip review is already serving the wind-up.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 4 p.m. CST

    Thought it was too women kissing.

    by MoistMuskyCamelToe

    That has to be the least masculine man I've ever seen. I mean Paul Reubens is a fucking roid monster in comparison. Pussification of men continues.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 4:22 p.m. CST

    ...plans to join ROTC

    by mr. tree

    What, "Revenge of the Clones"? But, what I really wanna know is: Is that Ari or Uzi?

  • Once more, with feeling: VS., or versus, implies that you are either comparing yourself to the movie in some way, or are about to engage in some sort of confrontation with it. You are doing neither, and it makes you look as stupid as Biff did when he said "make like a tree and get out of here". If only we could have a 2015 version of yourself come back to now, hit you on the head, and tell you that "you look like a damn fool when you say it wrong".

  • Every time Harry posts something, there are countless posts about how unprofessional he sounds. That generates more buzz than the stories/reviews themselves. ALL AICN "writers" experience this in one way or another. I know of no other site online where this happens. Not one. You would think that Harry would take more pride in his creation and set some standards for everyone.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 5:29 p.m. CST

    The Kidd vs AICN

    by alpha

    I still dont get why The Kidd gets to constantly inundate us with sub-par reviewing. I just don't find much in his work that enlightens me in any way about the films he reviews. Sorry man but I think you really need a lot of work before you're ready to be taken seriously.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 5:33 p.m. CST

    The Kidd vs Halitosis

    by Jones Jonez

    Fighting a loosing battle

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 5:37 p.m. CST

    shit stains

    by MainMan2001

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 5:41 p.m. CST



  • Dec. 21, 2012, 5:49 p.m. CST

    One of the worst reviewers on the interwebs. God I miss Drew.

    by dahveed1972

  • Re-read what you wrote, buddy. When you say, "Every time Harry posts something, there are countless posts about how unprofessional he sounds." you also write the answer to your statement about Harry's pride in his work. In short, Harry gets more hits from his TB's than if he'd written thoughtful, coherent essays. Perhaps traffic might increase if he were to exercise more journalistic rigor, but I think he's afraid to take that chance. Look, I don't hate Kidd, but I think he has a very narrow band of interests. He tries to pretend he has a broad interest in film, and perhaps he does, but from all of the reviews I've read he comes across as just another geek who loves action films a lot and dramas and musicals not much at all. But Harry has to have someone write the reviews that the sponsors pay to have written on AICN, and Kidd is the low man on the totem pole.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 6:05 p.m. CST



    You're welcome!

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 6:16 p.m. CST

    Re: Paul Reubens is a fucking roid monster

    by Danny Boil

    That is very funny, but honestly, rock and roll is filled with men way too girly for their own good and women who just eat that up, for some inexplicable reason.

  • I still read the reviews. I still respect him for saying his peace and I still think there are a lot of people in these talkbacks that behave like moronic fucking children but...yeah... ...he doesn't like much of anything.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 6:37 p.m. CST

    Hate Kidd less, hate mediocre movies more.

    by Baked

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 6:58 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Cant we hate Kidd AND hate mediocre movies. At least we can all agree on that!

  • You're just a big meanie.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 7:12 p.m. CST

    So this isn't about U2?

    by Crobran

    I've only ever heard U2 sing that phrase before, but now that I look it up, I see that they weren't the first.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 7:46 p.m. CST

    why does the "The Kid vs" thing bother you guys so much?

    by Mikey Wood

    Seriously. Just shut the hell up about it. Jesus.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 7:49 p.m. CST

    I would NOT want to attend a movie screening with The Kidd

    by SifoDyasJr

    He'd be punching towards the screen the entire film, trying to inflict damage to a projected image. It would be sad to watch someone try and fight something that can't be fought. And distracting.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 9:40 p.m. CST

    That was funny, sifodyasjr.

    by Cotton_Mcknight

    I have been laughing for about a month now. But really, that was funniest post I have read on here all night.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Enough with the "The Kidd vs complaints

    by ray a

    First of all, like it or not, he is a reviewer for AICN and that his been his M.O. for quite sometime now and regardless of your constant bitching on every review that The Kidd does he clearly is not going to abandon it. Don't like, then FUCK OFF! There is nothing you can do or say to change his M.O. In fact, if it was me, even if I were to consider dropping it, I would do it merely to irritate you winy cunts. Here is a novel idea: Keep your dumb asses out of his treads if it pains you so much. For those who think he is a terrible writer, again, keep your dumb asses out of his treads. Anyone who thinks someone is a bad writer yet continues to read that person's writing is simply a dumb asses. But here is the thing: many of you cunts are just complaining because you think it's cool or the in thing to do. You little psychos probably come on AICN daily just to see if the latest Kidd review is up so you can bash him regardless of the quality of the review because you think you are making a name for yourself. Its not clever nor is it funny. All of you who do this reveal yourselves for the little pretentious faggots that you are. My only complaint about the Kidd is that he doesn't delete any post that doesn't add to the discussion of his review. You dumb asses aren't even qualified to criticize anyone's writing anyway so just go away and stay the fuck out of any article posted by the Kidd.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 9:43 p.m. CST

    The problem with the Kidd's reviews ...

    by alpha

    It's impossible to even guess if it's a good or bad film from his reviews. He doesn't like much and he really doesn't provide any real insight into why he doesn't like things. So many films he's disliked have been good that I kind of just ignore anything he says now. Most of the other people who review on here give well reasoned reviews and even if i dont agree with them I understand why they dislike what they dislike. With the Kidd it's more a mystery. He seems incapable of truly conveying a reasoned film critic style review. His tastes seem narrow and his writing syle is pretty stilted. He might develop into a great reviewer in time but right now he's pretty bad and he's posting so many sub par articles that I see his name and just kind of go in knowing it's probably going to be dross. It's fine to write in your own style and your own opinions but if you are going to do it on a popular site like this you had better have a style that is better developed than the Kidd's is right at the moment. Otherwise you are going to get slammed for it.

  • Dec. 21, 2012, 10:23 p.m. CST


    by ray a

    Not that I agree with all of your comments but if a person is going take the Kidd to task for his reviews then your approach is the correct one. At least you are providing constructive criticism and I can respect that.

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 12:02 a.m. CST


    by alpha

    Thanks. I dont particularly enjoy slamming people, films or anything else without at least some attempt at balance. This review stood out for me because it followed four straight Capone articles. After reading those four pieces from Capone reading this from the Kidd threw the flaws in Kidd's style into sharp relief. The thing I found interesting is The Kidd mentions that in regards to Chase "if his future remains in feature films, he’s going to have to adapt his creative process a bit to fit the format." I tend to think the Kidd needs to actually do that himself. His reviews feel more like what the rest of us post in the reply area rather than what we've come to expect from the article posters. His work lacks the depth of Capone or Quint or Herc. With time he might find a better balance and be better able to articulate his views. Right now they come off a bit shallow and lacking insight but I don't necessarily think the guy himself is shallow or lacking in insight just a bit lacking in an ability to communicate. I'm sure Capone, Quint or any of the others didn't emerge fully formed as a writer and their early work is probably similarly flawed. If the Kidd is smart he will hopefully work out what he needs to tweak to get his work up to a higher standard. I'm sure in a few years time he'll look back at something like his Les Mis review and cringe because he'll have progressed. He might still dislike that film but he'll be able to convey that dislike in a manner that doesn't make his sound like a 14 year old with ADHD and with no understanding of the source material. Criticising that film for being long is just showing an ignorance of both the book and the stage musical that you really cant get away with as a reviewer. You aren't getting a 90 minute version of that book or musical that feels right or makes any coherent sense. Same with this film, in a few years the Kidd would probably be able to communicate why it doesn't work for him with a lot more clarity that he did in this review.

  • The worst part about it is that he thinks he's being cute by insisting on using it even when pretty much everyone he's ever met has told him it's ridiculous, and now he probably only does it to piss people off. It makes you look unprofessional, and like you don't know what you're doing. For someone whose stock in trade is supposed to involve knowing how to use language well, fucking up such a straight-forward expression and then using it as your calling card is many many concentric circles of dimwittedly dumb.

  • Nobody would be that passionate about the criticism a complete stranger is getting, especially when it's fairly legitimate. What do you care, anyway?

  • Maybe you don't like his style of writing but I do respect his opinion towards movies. I don't think any writer on AICN should have to put up with the level of hostility that is directed at Kidd and I'm fed up with that level of bullshit personal attacks that are polluting the talkbacks.

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 2:37 a.m. CST


    by ray a

    Yes I think that you and everyone else should stop with the criticism of knocking the "The Kidd vs." M.O. that he uses. So I guess that means Fuck you right back.

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 3:28 a.m. CST

    Totally agree with dontsaygay ...

    by 2bitkubrick

    So fucking sick of the "Kidd VS" hate. You people seriously have nothing better to do? At least alpha came up with legitimate criticism about the guys writing style, that i can respect. I come to this site to see cool shit and be entertained by talkbackers. Your perpetual hate over something so insignificant isn't cool or entertaining. I know there's some nasty folks out there and i've read more than my fair share of it on this site. Sometimes i chuckle, sometimes i get mad, but mostly i keep out it, and try to only post constructive stuff that actually furthers a discussion. But seriously guys, either shut up about it or stop coming here! I'll never understand why people go to places on the internet they know they'll hate. Are you guys the pain/pleasure type? Are you cutters? What gives? And as far as cotton_mcknights statement Nobody would be that passionate about the criticism a complete stranger is getting, especially when it's fairly legitimate", well 1) its not legitimate, and even if you think it is, shut up about it already 2) i cant understand how someone can be this passionate about hating such a simple thing, but keep coming back for more.

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 6:08 a.m. CST

    The Kidd vs Anal Probles

    by Darth_Scotsman

    The Kidd v a Real Job

  • If that is his schtick, that's fine. It's annoying, but fine. The problem is that I really don't think he understands what the word "VS", or versus, really means. My proof? His writing style is rambling, sloppy and unprofessional. The same goes for practically every contributor on this website- with the owner being the absolute worst offender of the lot. If Harry had any standards or journalistic integrity at all, would he allow something like this? Maybe, maybe not. When I criticize The Kidd, I am using it to point out the lazy, half assed way that this site is run. Nobody talks to each other (I believe it was Capone that said that), and this site hardly ever breaks any kind of news at all. All it does is post stuff from other websites. " reports that"... etc. I do not believe that The Kidd knows what "VS" means, or that he is using it incorrectly. That's a big problem.

  • ...then it's perfectly valid to criticize the reviewer's style, methods, opinions, and how they wield that power. If you can't comprehend that, then keep getting pointlessly butt-hurt over criticism of 'Kidd'. I can only explain it to you. I can't understand it for you. Although his writing is reasonably articulate, it's become pretty clear at this point that his personal tastes are far too narrow to adequately serve a reviewer's needs. It's like watching a food critic being offered a wide variety of different flavors from throughout the world, only to have him poo-poo them all thumbs down, because it's not hot dogs and chocolate milk. A little curt? Maybe. But time and again it's as if he's not even seeing the same films the rest of the world is. There's having conflicting opinions, and then there's being so negative, so often that you wonder if the extraordinarily un-funny 'vs' thing is the hint to some sort of ongoing not-so-practical troll joke. Don't miss Drew. Just read him at his new address.

  • I cannot argue any of the points that you made and certainly if Harry would take your remarks to heart there could be a lot of improvement in terms of journalism and I would love if the site would actually offer breaking news. The one defense I would offer is that some of the lacking elements of AICN is what gives it a certain down to earth character. The site's environment is similar to me and my friend sitting around being geeky in our discussions of certain movie, t.v. or comic book news. That's a quality that I would never want it to lose. But I agree with you that certain standards could be raised without losing the original appeal of the site. Good comments!

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 10:40 a.m. CST

    When people hear the title "Not Fade Away"....

    by jpowell180

    .....They are supposed to think of the Angel finale - Chase should not be stealing Joss Whedon titles. Just because Bobby Baccala was in an episode of Angel does not mean Chase should take liberties. Still, Chase did Kolchak and The Sopranos, so he gets a pass, I guess...

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 12:20 p.m. CST

    wrong set, setting

    by john

    the whole, rock changed my life and drove me away from the ones i love...has been done to death the idea that these guys are doing something cutting edge, would make sense if the movie was placed during 55...but not after the stones and other brit bands who were doing blues broke maybe this is a personal film for chase as it is set in jersey, but a more interesting tale to tell might have been a fictional take on the band "love" or "the sunrays" nice that dark shadows didnt destroy heathcoate's career...hopefully very soon we will see her nekid

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Yes, dontsaygay you gussed right. Fuck You

    by Bricklyne

  • And if you don't like that I feel that way or that I have the audacity to state it, well, then, you know the drill.... Fuck You.

  • ...- Chase should not be stealing Joss Whedon titles." Maybe it's an age thing, but I tend to think of the Buddy Holly song 'Not Fade Away' when I hear or read the words 'Not Fade Away'. A movie about rock 'n' roll with a rock 'n' roll title makes more sense than some random 'Angel' finale reference. 'Not Fade Away' was a Buddy Holly title before Joss Whedon was a little gay sperm swimming weakly around in his dad's testes.

  • ...but to continue to do so time and time again would be an example of a troll and a winey prick. So those who fit the description will reveal themselves for what they are. Happy Holiday!

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 4:30 p.m. CST

    My love's bigger than a Cadillac.

    by mr. tree

    Yeah, it was a Buddy Holly song first. One of his best, I'd say. I don't know if his song title is referencing any previous utterance, but I doubt it. I think it's use as the title of this movie is a reference to the cover The Rolling Stones did of it which was very popular in the States. I don't car for it, personally. I like Gary Busey's cover of it in "The Buddy Holly Story" the best. I sing it in the shower a lot more than any other song, with Johnny Cash's cover of "Rusty Cage" being a close second. As far as the whole "Kidd vs." argument, I actually like it. I believe watching a movie can be a very confrontational or interactive experience, & "versus" refers to confrontation & interaction, albeit usually in a negative sense. Even Godzilla teams up with Mothra occasionally, though. I have more of a problem with the name "Billy the Kidd," personally.

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 11:42 p.m. CST

    dontsaygay you're right.

    by Bricklyne

  • Dec. 22, 2012, 11:46 p.m. CST

    What I actually meant to say was....

    by Bricklyne

    Go fuck yourself. This is the first time I'm pointing out what a tired schtick it is so don't talk to me like I'm trolling all of his threads just to tell him that. You on the other hand are almost everywhere implying that people don't have a right to express frustration with that tired catch-phrase. What do you think that makes you? By your own standards, I mean. The fact that people do tell him that in almost all the reviews he posts should tell him, if not you, something, and that is not that they are trolling. So Fuck you, or go fuck yourself, - whichever works for you; either works for me.

  • Dec. 24, 2012, 4:28 a.m. CST

    First time, long time.

    by matt

    Why is it the people that post on message boards are either half-wits or assholes? Discuss.

  • Dec. 24, 2012, 4:35 p.m. CST

    opinions opinions

    by james

    I like the Kidd's reviews, and his effort, even if I don't agree. He's been a good barometer for my "Maybe" or "not interested" lists of movies. Having said that I truly do miss Armond White. Now there was a contrarian lol.

  • Dec. 25, 2012, 8:34 p.m. CST

    embrace the Kidd vs .thing

    by HoraceSkinner

    AICN should run a dueling review. The Kidd vs Gijoe vs HANGUITARSOLO ( some random talkbacker submitted review) They could go out of their way to pick the worst.submitted review and then talk backers could say its better than kidds

  • Dec. 25, 2012, 11:45 p.m. CST

    In all seriousness though, this wasn't a very good film review.

    by TheDarkPassenger

    How does one get to write for this site? Does Harry just hire his friends? I'd wager that there are a great number of talkbackers who could write much more nuanced, thoughtful, coherent reviews than 95% of what is posted on here. Adieu.

  • Dec. 26, 2012, 8:52 a.m. CST

    Those unhappy with the Kidd's style need to know.....

    by DadeOrAlive

    .... nobody is coming here to read your comments. Nobody cares. Kidd has more contests and serves his readers and community better than every writer on here combined. For that, minor writing foibles are excused or ignored. Enjoy your bitter comments in your cold ass town in the middle of west bumblefrack. Have some cocoa.