All Things Must Pass 1.0 stars

All Things Must Pass movie poster

Colin Hanks’s documentary about the rise and fall of Tower Records wants you to understand that it was not merely the digital devilry of file-sharing services like Napster that killed the once-mighty retail chain. But it’s so busy pointing a fascinated camera at founder Russ Solomon’s good-times-good-friends-good-music early days with the company that it winds up rushing through or glossing over a number of the other culprits. We learn that foundational money man Bud Martin — the sober No to Solomon’s giddy Yes — got overwhelmed at one point and “had to be eased out.” A little more detail would have gone a long way, since poor money management and too many expansionary Yeses are cited as big reasons for the collapse. But that would have meant a less reverent, more aggressive approach from Hanks. And given Napster’s undeniable impact, it’s hard not to wish for more about Solomon’s embrace of the CD and its clean digital sound contra record execs’ (entirely reasonable) fears of piracy. Instead, we get a parade of employees with fun stories from Back When, and fond reminiscences from Bruce Springsteen (“It was that place where your dreams [as a musician] met the listener”) and Elton John (“[The closing] was one of the greatest tragedies of my life”). It’s loving and lovely, but goes too easy on the hubris and greed. 2015.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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