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The Music Never Stopped

4.6 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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(Aug 02, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From the author of Awakenings comes this heartwarming tale of a father and son who find a connection through the music that embodied the generation gap of the 1960s. An unforgettable soundtrack features the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and more.

What is it about music that delivers a fully formed emotional memory years, even decades, later--as though you were hearing it for the very first time? The Music Never Stopped examines the emotional power of music in a touching, lovely way that will stay with the viewer long after the film is over. The Music Never Stopped is based on a true story first told in an essay by Oliver Sacks (Awakenings), about a young man who develops a brain tumor that prevents him from making any new memories after 1970. The film opens in the mid-1980s when the boy, now in his 30s (played with subtlety and humor by Lou Taylor Pucci, reminiscent of a young Sam Rockwell), is rediscovered after a long absence by his parents. J.K. Simmons, the veteran TV actor, plays Gabe's heartbroken dad, and gives the performance of his life--true, real, grounded and believable. The Music Never Stopped traces the work of a young music therapist (Julia Ormond, also terrific) who discovers that Gabe's brain can make new memories if it involves learning a new piece of music. So Gabe's dad immerses himself in Gabe's favorite music--the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Cream, the Beatles--and hatches a plan to reconnect with his son. Part of the beauty of The Music Never Stopped is that the experience of watching it mirrors what is happening on the screen; listening to the great music of the '60s instantly brings memories and emotions to the surface, not only in the characters, but in the viewers as well. It's to director Jim Kohlberg's great credit that he achieves this feat, and that he lets the story unfold simply without unneeded schmaltz. Any parent who's felt estranged from a child, any child who's felt at odds with a parent, and anyone who's ever really and truly loved music--which means just about anyone--will find a lot of heart and soul in The Music Never Stopped. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: J.K. Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci
  • Directors: Jim Kohlberg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Roadside Attractions
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2011
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004QL7JTE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,389 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Music Never Stopped" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2011
Format: DVD
Oliver Sacks, M.D. is a physician and professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center. In 2007, he was named the first Columbia University Artist, in recognition of his contributions to the arts. THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED is an adaptation (by Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks) of "The Last Hippie", a short story/essay from Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", a collection of case history stories. Dr. Sacks is a neurologist who has spent his career diagnosing, evaluating, and treating a variety of neurological disorders (and the oftentimes the profound personality shifts that resulted in brain injury or trauma). This information provides a bit of reality ground to the film and makes it all the more important to see and respect. As directed by Jim Kohlberg, this film is a quiet, reverent, at times disturbing exploration of the many aspects of brain function and malfunction and an example of adaptation to these challenges.

Gabriel Sawyer (Lou Taylor Pucci) was a bright youngster in the 1070s when the Vietnam war was altering the nation's perception of right and wrong as expressed in the music of Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Cream, the Beatles, etc. Longing to be a professional musician he foregoes his parent's wishes that he attend college and with regret leaves his girlfriend Tamara (Tammy Blanchard) and takes off for New York's Greenwich Village. Fast forward to 1986 and Gabriel is hospitalized for an enormous brain tumor, surgically removed, but leaving Gabriel without the ability to remember. At this point Gabriel's parents are located and his father Henry (J.K. Simmons) and mother Helen (Cara Seymour) visit him in the hospital, longing to reconnect with the son that has been absent for fifteen years.
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Format: DVD
I saw this film at Sundance and right away it became my favorite for the year. This film has a great and touching story, but so many do. What sets this film apart from so many others, is that it isnt trying too hard. The idea behind this film is simple and it is simply made -- no ultra crazy cinematography, no avant-garde editing. The script is also simple in the fact that it doesnt try to add ficticious elements to real life problems to try and make them ultra dramatic. This film really gets down to the clean basics of film making -- just substance, no fluff.
Aside from production, I really enjoyed this film becasue I am a huge fan of 60's and 70's rock and roll. All of the visible themes of this film are interweaved with being able to indentify with music. Anyone who has ever been moved by a particular song, album, or band will "get" this film. Anyone who grew up while the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, and Hendrix were all releasing music and during the Vietnam War will be able to relate to the emotion of this story. This Film does not take place in the 60's, but relives it.
Without giving away to much of the plot, I will simply say that this film is about the relationship between a father and a son -- both love music and are moved by the music of their day, but dont have much else in common.
This is a must see, at least once.
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Format: DVD
"(Rhythm) is there in the cycles of the seasons, in the migrations of the birds and animals, in the fruiting and withering of plants, and in the birth, maturation and death of ourselves," -Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead)

What is it about music that resonates so much with people? Is it chemical? A part of the brain that responds to the frequencies and rhythm of certain sounds played in a progression? Or, is it just the fact that it makes one "feel" something?

Music, like any other form of art brings out a "feeling" in the one experiencing it. Those feelings will be different for everyone and some will be permanently effected by them. Music can do many things. It can heal, damage, make you dance, give you a headache and even make you "high". According to many music therapists, it can also help recall memories. "The Music Never Stopped" explores this phenomenon beautifully and is a testament to our souls connection with our music. Set in the 80's with flashbacks to the 60's and 70's "The Music Never Stopped" has some of the best music from the bands of that era. The film runs the gamete of emotions and has some powerful performances from the actors and classic bands such as The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles.

Gabriel, a 30 something man with a brain tumor is unable to form new memories. He can remember his life growing up, playing music and following his favorite bands around the country, but he can't remember what his nurse just said to him 5 minutes ago. Lou Tayler Pucci plays the down to earth "hippie" Gabriel graciously and I was very impressed with his performance. He was subtle but beautifully represented those of us obsessed with music and it's meanings.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
This film is based on an article by Oliver Sacks, whose writings also inspired the 1990 tear-jerker Awakenings. Like that film, this one hides an essentially optimistic tale of human redemption behind a superficially maudlin, slow-moving veneer. There’s a fine line between “affecting” and “manipulative” in filmmaking, and which side of that line you see this movie on, depends on what you bring to the experience.

JK Simmons (“Law & Order,” “Spider-Man) plays Henry Sawyer, a burned out engineer whose life apparently stopped in the Eisenhower years. His estranged ex-hippie son Gabriel (relative unknown Lou Taylor Pucci) reappears after twenty years, but a brain tumor has erased all memories formed after 1970. Music therapist Dianne Daley (Julia Ormond) reawakens Gabriel’s higher functions using classic rock on vinyl, particularly the Grateful Dead, much to Gabriel’s reactionary father’s chagrin.

Simmons almost never plays lead roles, and it’s unusual for actors of his age to carry feature-length films, so we’re moving outside Hollywood’s comfort zone on two levels. Kudos for that. As Sawyer, Simmons plays a man who has stopped keeping up with society. His household decor is antiquated, even for the 1986 setting, and he refuses to learn computer-assisted drafting and other trade tools. Sawyer simply rejects all modernity.

Gabriel is supposedly around 35, but looks 18 under layers of beard. He thinks it’s only two years since he fled his father’s constricting suburban world for Greenwich Village bohemianism. Because his tumor also destroyed his inhibitions, his classic rock also lets him tell his father all the secrets he previously bottled up, but because he creates only fleeting, isolated new memories, he never gains closure, persistently revisiting old pains.
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