All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records


All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records is as straightforward as a documentary can be.  But, to be fair, that’s a given considering this is Colin Hanks’ first foray as a feature-length filmmaker.

I’m much more interested in Hanks’ filmmaking than I am with his film.  All Things Must Pass is fine.  It’s basic, but it’s informative and stylistically slick.  I’m glad I watched it, but it hasn’t got much resonance unless you grew up with music megastore Tower Records in an era where MTV still humanistically cared about their artists.  I lived through a transitionary period of this scene, so the documentary didn’t hit me that hard on a personal level.  But, I did get a kick out of all the archival footage the film offers, as well as the interviews Hanks has collected with past employees and musicians (including a sincere Bruce Springsteen) who still have tender feelings for Tower Records.

Colin Hanks (known for his film roles in Orange County and Parkland, and his television roles on Fargo and Life in Pieces) approaches this documentary with blinders and without a bias.  It’s easy to tell what a filmmaker is interested in with the projects they choose.  I’m guessing Hanks’ connection is a nostalgic one, but you wouldn’t know that by how speedy the film is.  Hanks is very interested in going from point A to B as fast as he can.  This is good because he doesn’t emotionally invest too much of himself in his film, but also bad because of how broad the film’s spectrum ends up being.  There’s a longer cut of All Things Must Pass inside this condensed doc.

I like Hanks, and as a first feature-length documentary, he’s made a decent movie.  With more experience, his viable filmmaking will form in cultivated ways.  As for now, if I was a producer looking for a documentarian-for-hire, All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records promotes Colin Hanks in a good way.


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