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

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

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.