“In his first feature, David Chase, creator of THE SOPRANOS, returns to the New Jersey suburbs to cast a bittersweet glance back at the rock-fueled restlessness of the Sixties. One of the many attributes that made The Sopranos such epically great American television was its idiosyncratic use of music. So it’s both unsurprising and entirely fitting that for his first feature, Chase has made a movie not only stacked with inspired music choices (and starring the series’ James Gandolfini), but fundamentally about the formative influence of music on a generation. It’s a warm, funny, poignant scrapbook that evokes a spirit of youth still relatable in later eras. Drawing directly from Chase’s youthful experience as a drummer in a Garden State band, the central character is Douglas (John Magaro), who plays covers of Bo Diddley, the Stones and the Kinks at local parties in a group led by his friends Gene and Wells. While Douglas shoots dreamy-eyed glances at high-school beauty Grace (Bella Heathcote), she seems to be more jock-inclined. That changes when lead vocalist Gene has to skip a gig after swallowing a lit joint and Douglas steps in, proving himself the superior singer. Politics and the civil rights movement are part of the movie’s backdrop, but its depiction of the fumbling search for personal and artistic freedom is shaped as much by pop culture.”—David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter. R. 112 Min.
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