Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

18 May 2008

Fame, dir. Alan Parker (1980)

NIKKI says:
My first choice in "Awesome Movies on the Big Screen Week". I haven't watched Fame in a while, so it was good to have a revisit. I still love it. I still think it's first-class filmmaking. I still think Alan Parker is a God. And, you know what? For something so totally steeped in '80s-ness, its '80s-ness is really not that distracting. We found ourselves picking on the fashions and phrases more when we watched the pilot episode of the TV show (which we did directly after this, because -- why not?).

Fame is about kids starting their lives, deciding what they want to do, and finding out who they are. The movie follows them through their four years at the performing arts high school and along the way they learn about themselves and each other through good times and bad hair days. Every single one of these kids is likable, and easy to relate to. Everyone is just trying to figure their shit out, and they make mistakes and they fix those mistakes, and eventually they graduate, prepared (mostly).

One thing I noticed, though, when watching this was that every time a new character was introduced, I felt my heart break a bit. As soon as you see Doris on the stage trying to sing "The Way We Were", oh God, all the memories just come flooding back. I feel so strongly for everyone in this movie. It's like they're real people you've known and hung out with. It's weird. I was so glad that even Steve appreciated just how good the kids were, as actors and characters.

And the music is awesome. It was so easy to tell which Mega-God songwriter (*cough* Dean Pitchford) was not involved in the TV show as soon as New Coco opened her mouth to sing the tragic "Take Me" song, or whatever it was. Ugh. The songs in Fame -- "Red Light", "I Sing the Body Electric", "Fame" -- are just so great. And Irene Cara on the piano doing "Out Here on My Own" (which I believe was written by Lesley Gore) is just soul-melting. I'm shocked Irene Cara isn't up on a Whitney-height cloud of reverence in the Pop World. She's just got the most pure, beautiful voice.

Anyway... so Fame. It loses a half-point for its structure, which I find leaves some unanswered questions. But it's still a classic, still a great dance movie, even better when largified on the screen.


STEVE says:
They should have called it Lame.

No, I'm kidding, but that pun was just too deliciously bad to pass up.

Actually, no, really, Fame wasn't that great a movie. The songs were great, the acting was phenomenal (for people, 90% of whom weren't actors), and the dancing was... interesting, but as a movie it was sorely lacking something.

Plot, maybe?

I'm sitting there watching people come in and out of auditions, waiting for an inciting incident, when suddenly it's 20 minutes in, auditions are over, and we've hit the turning point. The hell? So maybe the audition sequence was the inciting incident, kids getting accepted, that sort of thing. But 20 minutes of it?

The rest of the script is no better, giving all the other plot points - pinches and the ever-important midpoint - completely a miss and just plowing through the four years of high school. We're given snapshots instead of development, and it's annoying. Leroy and Coco are apparently an item, but when Leroy is stolen away by rich-bitch Hilary, Coco hardly seems to notice. Suddenly we're in Junior Year, Leroy and Hilary are headed up to her place to do "homework", and that's the last we see of them until Senior Year when Hilary is getting an abortion. Does Leroy know? Does Leroy care? Moreover, why should I?