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FAME (2009)

SYNOPSIS:
A reinvention of the original Oscar-winning film, Fame follows a talented group of dancers, singers, actors, and artists over four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts, where students from all walks of life are given a chance to achieve real and lasting fame ... the kind that comes only from talent, dedication, and hard work. In this highly competitive atmosphere, each student's passion is put to the test. As they strive for their moment in the spotlight, mentored by the best - and toughest - teachers, they discover who among them has the skills and necessary dedication to succeed at achieving fame.

Review by Louise Keller:
Let yourself go, don't be afraid to follow your dream is the subtext of this vibrant and energetic update of Alan Parker's 1980 musical that traces the path of a group of Performing Arts students. A terrific score coupled with exciting choreography, tight editing and a talented cast make Fame a joyous and upbeat experience. Director (former dancer and choreographer) Kevin Tancharoen knows exactly what he is after and the formula works. Although the film doesn't deliver the kind of emotional impact of the Oscar-winning original, we happily tag along for the ups and downs of the staircase to fame.

Fame costs, we are told. And this, the Performing Arts School where talented hopefuls rush to their first audition, is where they begin to pay the price - in sweat. A bell rings, the lights flash, instruments are tuned, dancers warm up and vocal chords are lubricated. Now it's Freshman Year and the 10,000 applicants have been reduced to a select 200, who learn the discipline of being a performer. As the film skips through the Sophomore, Junior, Senior years until graduation, we get a sense of the work ethic, the rhythm of the school, the dos and do nots, the challenges and the disappointments. There are budding romances, spontaneous jam-sessions and personal issues to be dealt with.

Naturi Naughton is the film's undisputed star, playing Denise, the talented pianist who keeps her sensational voice a secret. (The scene in which Denise sits at the grand piano on a stage in the empty theatre and sings 'On My Own' is a knock out.). There's a subplot in which Denise's parents disapprove of her singing aspirations, and another involving her relationship with the sultry and angry Malik (Collins Pennie), whose mother is unaware he is at the school. Asher Book is charismatic as the tall, dark and handsome Marco, whose voice matches his looks and Kay Panabaker has appeal as the insecure, uptight Jenny, to whom Marco is attracted. The teachers also have key roles and Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton are welcome additions to the cast.

Some of the story strands are more interesting than others, but the singing and dancing always hold our attention. Anyone who has ever dreamed of a career in the performing arts will revel in the electric atmosphere. It's bursting with energy and the zest for life is contagious.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FAME (2009) (PG)
(US, 2009)

CAST: Naturi Naughton, Asher Book, Kay Panabaker, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Paul Iacono, Collins Pennie, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton, Kherington Payne, Debbie Allen, Walter Perez, Paul McGill

PRODUCER: Mark Canton, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright

DIRECTOR: Kevin Tancharoen

SCRIPT: Allison Burnett (1980 screenplay by Christopher Gore)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Scott Kevan

EDITOR: Myron I. Kerstein

MUSIC: Mark Isham

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Eads

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 24, 2009







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