Fade To Black

"OK"

Fade To Black Review


In 2003, Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z (a.k.a. Shawn Carter) called it quits after an eight-year career. Compared to most rap artists, he ruled the charts and the airwaves for an eternity. His final album, "The Black Album" (2003) was meant to be a farewell to his fans, and now this feature film documents his final concert, a huge, sold-out affair in Madison Square Garden.

"Fade to Black" presents the show itself -- with guest appearances by Beyonce (Jay-Z's highly publicized girlfriend), Mary J. Blige, Ghostface Killah (from the Wu-Tang Clan) and Missy Elliot -- as well as behind-the-scenes footage during the making of the album.

A concert can be filmed in only so many ways, and directors Pat Paulson and Michael John Warren go with the usual technique, using way too many shots of the audience rapping along with Jay-Z's lyrics. On the big screen, however, they manage to capture the hugeness and excitement of this grand show. The sound is bold and intoxicating, but the words are often muffled; it helps if you already know the songs.

Unfortunately, at 107 minutes, the concert tends to lag, especially since Jay-Z slips offstage from time to time for costume changes.

The film's studio footage is far more interesting. Watching Jay-Z in action commands a certain respect. When he visits legendary producer Rick Rubin (who virtually started the rap industry with the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC), Rubin marvels at Jay-Z's ability to "write" his rhymes without actually writing anything down. Another technician boasts that the rapper can keep up to 30 songs in his head at once, like a human iPod.

One of my favorite recent CDs is DJ Danger Mouse's remix of "The Black Album," which replaces all the backing tracks with music from the Beatles' "White Album." Dubbed "The Grey Album," it adds a certain autumnal finality to the music, as if ghosts rising up from rock 'n' roll's past have scooped Jay-Z up and carried him off into the dusk.

In a way, "The Grey Album" goes farther in explaining the rapper's retirement than this film does. In all his time on camera, Jay-Z never reveals his feelings about retiring. He never seems sad, conflicted or relieved. We have no idea what made him want to retire or what he plans to do next.

If he never comes back, which isn't likely, this film will be a reminder of his talent. But if he does, "Fade to Black" will serve merely as a souvenir for those who made it to the big show.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 14th October 1980

Distributed by: American Cinema

Production compaines: Dakota Films, Ealing Studios, Endgame Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Pat Paulson, Michael John Warren

Starring: as Orson Welles, as Tommaso Moreno, as Lea Padovani, as Brewster, as Aida Padovani

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Advertisement
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.