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

Monk with a Camera
Film Review: Monk With a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland

Enthralling and uplifting documentary about a man of the world turned monk, but one who effects real, inspiring change. More »

The Circle
Film Review: The Circle

Very strong, historically intriguing and important gay document is marred by intrusive real-life interview footage, which seriously breaks up the dramatic momentum. More »

The King and the Mockingbird
Film Review: The King and the Mockingbird

A tyrant pursues a shepherdess across a magical landscape in an animated masterpiece by Paul Grimault. More »

Reach Me
Film Review: Reach Me

Self-help book draws an array of lost and lonely people together in a misguided message drama from writer-director John Herzfeld. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Hunger Games - Mockingjay Pt 1
Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Darker, less action-packed first half of the final installment of the popular franchise moves from arenas to rubble aplenty as Jennifer Lawrence’s super-heroine is called upon to serve her beleaguered and much-destroyed nation as propaganda instrument and leader. Fans of the books and previous two films get a less flashy palette here, but the engaging characters and strong story return to stir interest for the scheduled November 2015 finale. More »

Foxcatcher review
Film Review: Foxcatcher

Character is destiny in this masterfully controlled true-crime sports drama that will likely catapult Steve Carell into the Oscar race. 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