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All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records 
Written by: on August 26th, 2016

Theatrical Release Date:
USA, 2015
Director: Colin Hanks
Writer: Steven Leckart
Cast: Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, Russ Solomon, Chris Cornell

DVD Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Approximate running times: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: FilmRise
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99

Those old enough to remember the days when physical media and the communal nature of record shopping will likely dive head first into this documentary by actor-turned-director Colin Hanks. All Things Must Pass is the first full length documentary feature from Hanks, and tells the story of retail giant Tower Records; the inspirational rise and inevitable fall which so often serves as the narrative for these sort of tales.

Hanks does a good job at keeping All Things Must Pass at avoiding the “talking head” syndrome of information overload, although a bit more visual flair probably would’ve went a long way in making the film a bit more interesting from a creative standpoint. This sort of constructional design ultimately pales, of course, to the story at hand; one which may seem fluffy and nostalgic on the surface, but in reality projects a fascinating story about a family, their love for music, growth and community.

Russ Solomon founded Tower Records from humble beginnings working in his father’s drug store, and oversaw the company’s amazing and exponential growth from a “record mart” selling 45 RPM records in a back room to a worldwide media empire which included stores in multiple countries around the world. Hanks focuses primarily upon Solomon’s relationship with his family, employees and business partner/accountant Bud Martin, specifically how different the two men were with regards to their day to day business practices.

Solomon earned a reputation as one of the most genial and laid back men in the retail record industry, but it was this skill in dealing with people which offset Martin’s frugality and sensibility with Tower’s finances which serves as a recipe for the company’s success. All Things Must Pass stays with Tower throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond as the company sees eventual managers and Vice Presidents work their way through the ranks of store clerks, shippers and receivers.

The film also follows Tower’s expansion into countries like Japan, Argentina and Buenos Aires, although it’s this worldwide growth which ultimately assists in digging an insurmountable level of debt for Solomon and his crew. The company’s relationship with the loyal Japanese music market is given a particularly touching focus, however, as Tower deals not only with a shifting market trends towards file sharing and MP3s, but also how certain formats-once thought to be “outdated” and archaic-remain viable in the hearts of those who truly see music as a way of life.

Documentaries may be a dime a dozen these days, but All Things Must Pass achieves its goal through honest and heartfelt storytelling. It doesn’t matter whether or not you grew up buying LPs in a shop, or trading files on your computer: there’s a worthwhile message to be shared here with All Things Must Pass, and it’s to never stop supporting and believing in what you love.

The DVD:

MVD’s presentation of All Things Must Pass is a bare bones presentation of the film, chapter stops and a trailer. The video quality itself is sharp, colorful and easy to watch, while the audio portion is never glitchy or difficult to understand. It would’ve been nice to have included either outtakes or a commentary track/interview with Hanks about WHY he wanted to make this film and how Tower’s history impacted his youth, but this doesn’t derail All Things Must Pass as being a highly recommended documentary.

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