'The Music Never Stopped': On the cutting room floor [Exclusive]
If rock 'n' roll movies were to be broken down into musical genres, "The Music Never Stopped" would have the slow reveal of a ballad and the storytelling sensibility of a '60s troubadour. Based on a published case history by bestselling author Oliver Sacks, "The Music Never Stopped," out on DVD on Aug. 2, refashions a strained father-son relationship as one that can only be healed through rock 'n' roll.
A feel-good story, yes, but one that cleverly underscores how music can shape a personality and stand as a generation dividing line in the sand. Lou Taylor Pucci stars as Gabriel, the once freewheeling hippie whose been long estranged from his father, Henry, portrayed with touching coldness by J.K. Simmons. A brain tumor renders Gabriel unable to form new memories, and sends him home to reconnect with his family.
With the help of a music therapist, Henry and Gabriel have the opportunity to bond, but only by allowing Gabriel to explore the music that shaped his life -- the songs of Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and more. One problem: Pops hates rock 'n' roll, and the songs not only provide a cinematic soundtrack, but cut to the core of the film's tension.
In reviewing the film for The Times, Robert Abele wrote, "In key spots, thanks to Simmons' brilliantly wounded gruffness and Pucci's nimble toggling act between vacancy and awakened spirit, 'The Music Never Stopped' achieves an admirable poignancy about our emotional, healing relationship to the songs we love."
The home video editions will come equipped with the requisite deleted scenes and interviews. Among them are clips that showcase Gabriel's inability to hold a constant thought, as well as those that flash back to his '60s recklessness. The deleted scene below is of the latter, yet it also provides a brief foreshadowing of the illness to come.
It's worth noting that "The Music Never Stopped" isn't the first time Pucci took part in a film in which rock 'n' roll played a central character. In 2008 he had a costarring role with Zooey Deschanel in "The Go-Getter," a film that has gone down in indie rock lore as the movie that paired Deschanel with musician M. Ward, ultimately leading the pair to form She & Him.
Part road trip film, and part dissertation on loneliness, "The Go-Getter" begins with main character Mercer (Pucci) deciding to hijack a car and look for a long-lost half-brother. And while he has a mission of sorts (to inform his half-brother of the passing of their mother), what finally pushes him over the edge is the sight of a band, and makes him feel like more of a loner. It isn't long into the film before his character says, "Did you ever wonder if people started bands to make the rest of us feel like crap?"
The film's director, Martin Hynes, was attempting to capture music's more solitary attributes. So if music is used to connect in 'The Music Never Stopped," it's used to place the main character as an outsider in "The Go-Getter."
Perhaps, then, it's time someone asked Pucci for his own thoughts on rock 'n' roll. Among the many interviews on "The Music Never Stopped" DVD is the one embedded below, where the mid-20s Pucci discusses the music that shaped his own life. "I was always into music as poetry," he said, while also name-dropping a forgotten West Coast act.
As regulars at Largo may know, the San Franisco-bred power-pop band Pucci mentions above, Jellyfish, was led by Jason Falkner, who later worked with L.A. staples such as Beck and Aimee Mann. Falkner's post-Jellyfish band the Grays was formed with Jon Brion, who's made Largo something of a second home over the years.
-- Todd Martens
Photo: J.K. Simmons in "The Music Never Stopped." Credit: Lionsgate