Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Fame High

Conventional but involving documentary follows four teens hoping to make it in the performing arts.

June 5, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1378218-Fame-High-Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An ordinary look at four extraordinary kids, Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Fame High sticks firmly to convention but will please viewers who can't help but want the doc's sympathetic teens to escape the heartbreak most would-be artists face. Small screens are the most appropriate venue for this look at a performing-arts high school in Los Angeles.

Following four students through a single school year at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Kennedy offers a satisfying balance of student and parent interviews with fly-on-the-wall looks at classes that barely resemble those in conventional schools. His subjects are remarkably driven, whether that drive comes from parents—freshman pianist Zak seems almost forced into performing by his father, who sees jazz stardom as a means of escaping borderline poverty—or in spite of them—like Grace, whose Korean-American parents say they'll only keep supporting her ballet dreams if she's accepted to Juilliard after high school.

Singer/instrumentalist Brittany's parents, touchingly, believe in her talent so strongly they've temporarily split up to support her—Mom moving from Wisconsin to live with Brittany in L.A. while the rest of the family stays behind. They keep in touch with daily phone calls while trying to figure out how the budding songwriter can go pro. Compared to this, redheaded actress Ruby—whose parents are both performers themselves—seems to have it made.

All four are likeable kids who demonstrate impressive gifts, and it's easy to imagine any of them succeeding. Though the year holds no major disasters for them, little challenges show how easily a budding career might flounder—even voluntarily, as when Ruby lands a professional theatre gig only to hate how it forces her to spend time away from friends.

A couple of the subjects flirt with failure, offering minor but compelling drama, but the most involving narrative strand here is Grace's longing for a romantic life her parents won't allow. The parallels with challenges she faces as a dancer, tending to be stiffly perfect instead of freely passionate, are so clear you'd think a screenwriter sketched them out.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Fame High

Conventional but involving documentary follows four teens hoping to make it in the performing arts.

June 5, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1378218-Fame-High-Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An ordinary look at four extraordinary kids, Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Fame High sticks firmly to convention but will please viewers who can't help but want the doc's sympathetic teens to escape the heartbreak most would-be artists face. Small screens are the most appropriate venue for this look at a performing-arts high school in Los Angeles.

Following four students through a single school year at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Kennedy offers a satisfying balance of student and parent interviews with fly-on-the-wall looks at classes that barely resemble those in conventional schools. His subjects are remarkably driven, whether that drive comes from parents—freshman pianist Zak seems almost forced into performing by his father, who sees jazz stardom as a means of escaping borderline poverty—or in spite of them—like Grace, whose Korean-American parents say they'll only keep supporting her ballet dreams if she's accepted to Juilliard after high school.

Singer/instrumentalist Brittany's parents, touchingly, believe in her talent so strongly they've temporarily split up to support her—Mom moving from Wisconsin to live with Brittany in L.A. while the rest of the family stays behind. They keep in touch with daily phone calls while trying to figure out how the budding songwriter can go pro. Compared to this, redheaded actress Ruby—whose parents are both performers themselves—seems to have it made.

All four are likeable kids who demonstrate impressive gifts, and it's easy to imagine any of them succeeding. Though the year holds no major disasters for them, little challenges show how easily a budding career might flounder—even voluntarily, as when Ruby lands a professional theatre gig only to hate how it forces her to spend time away from friends.

A couple of the subjects flirt with failure, offering minor but compelling drama, but the most involving narrative strand here is Grace's longing for a romantic life her parents won't allow. The parallels with challenges she faces as a dancer, tending to be stiffly perfect instead of freely passionate, are so clear you'd think a screenwriter sketched them out.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Citizenfour
Film Review: Citizenfour

Documentary account of how Edward Snowden leaked intelligence to the world press. More »

Glen Campbell I'll Be Me
Film Review: Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me

Alzheimer's is given an unforgettably human face here, and that face belongs to a music legend. More »

White Bird in a Blizzard
Film Review: White Bird in a Blizzard

A clichéd indie about a girl’s coming-of-age amidst her mother’s disappearance that, despite a sturdy lead performance by Shailene Woodley, is undone by hackneyed, go-nowhere plotting. More »

Exists
Film Review: Exists

Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez returns to the faux-found footage well and hauls out a bucketful of Bigfoot in this derivative but creepy shocker. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here