Astrology: Film: ‘Not Fade Away’ (2012)

Paramount Vantage

“Not Fade Away,” directed by Sopranos’ creator David Chase in his feature film debut, is about the power that music wields on a group of male teens growing up in the New Jersey suburbs in the ‘60s. The participation of Steven Van Zandt, the movie’s music supervisor and one of its executive producers, ensures that the movie’s soundtrack is as hypnotic as a Siren’s call. But what remains to be seen is how much Douglas (John Magaro) will risk (Uranus) to prove his love (Venus) of music (Neptune).

For Chase, who grew up in New Jersey, the Garden State literally becomes the psychological and geographic barrier to realizing their bliss –it’s the “over here” compared with Manhattan’s enticing “over there.”

Douglas’s traditionally Italian dad, Pat (James Gandolfini), debunks his son’s dream, favoring, instead, the security of a humdrum existence with a woe-prognosticating wife (Molly Price). When Douglas’ edgy wardrobe upgrade includes a pair of Cuban heels, Pat throws a fit and tells him to go to Cuba, which is probably an easier trip than the one to the island of Manhattan. Says Pat: “Real life is too much of what it seems.”

Doug’s mates are similarly conflicted. Pompous Gene (Jack Huston) considers himself the band’s leader, while Wells (Will Brill) waxes unrealistically philosophical. The film doesn’t shy away from showing what befalls at least one ill-prepared and too-fragile visionary.

The most heartbreaking scene in “Not Fade Away,” which debuted at this year’s New York Film Festival, isn’t youth-centric, however. It involves Pat, who watches the movie “South Pacific,” as the character Bloody Mary sings “Bali Ha’i.” The song’s lyrics evoke life’s calling and joy, embodied “on your special island” – the one that Pat has never had the courage to reach for or inhabit.

Ultimately, Chase addresses one of life’s most painful decisions: knowing when to risk and free oneself from the herd, even if it means forming a band no one will ever hear. For anyone pondering the cost of a new set of life goals, the line starts here.

Astrology Film Rating: ♀/♆ and ♅ (Venus/Neptune and Uranus)

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