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

Locke
Film Review: Locke

Taut, disturbing and unique drama about a man racing toward his destiny, providing Tom Hardy, literally, with a vehicle to flaunt his acting chops. More »

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. 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