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Review: All Things Must Pass

The most remarkable aspect of Colin Hanks’ documentary All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records is how unremarkably the story at its core is truly. The record store opens, becomes a huge success, continues its success, but fails to anticipate new technologies, and is forced to shut down, accompanied by George Harrison’s beautiful melody.

But the film seems to be about more than Tower Records and its history is that just about anything, including the biggest monolith can one day be relegated to the dustbins of history, including the record store, (scenes of shoppers lining up to purchase a piece of music seem both normal, but at the same time, incredibly antiquated). The director Hanks, (yes, that Colin Hanks), hits the right chords and never makes this documentary seem ostentatious or over the top. His score is almost perfect, befitting a film about the music, and the film seems suited to play to its core audience at one point or another, (its core audience being the record-buying public, or really consumers of any kind).

While appearances by Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and founder Russ Solomon are nice, it’s the footage of record buyers, in large numbers that seems to have a pull on the heartstrings. We can still remember Toronto’s Tower Records standing proudly at the corner of Yonge and Queen St. in the Eaton Centre. The focus by that point wasn’t on records, but on the early stirrings of memorabilia, but it’s surprising to think that Tower Records wasn’t focused on the future of music purchasing, (there is one scene that is incredibly prescient, or lacking it, with Solomon remarking that CDs will be around for a long time).

But perhaps it did not matter that iTunes and Songza and Spotify and Tidal and Pandora are the new distributors of a musical experience. Maybe the communal experience of going out and experiencing music and commerce together is what Hanks’ film is truly lamenting. Is this kind of togetherness a done deal?

[star v=4]