Alan Parker

Fame (1980, Alan Parker)

It’s sort of amusing how Fame, a film about high school, gets an incomplete. The film is rigidly structured–the four years of high school, plus the auditions at the beginning for the characters to get into said high school, a performing arts school in New York.

The characters’ stories develop throughout the film in a manner far more natural for one year, instead of four, especially in the case of Gene Anthony Ray. In the film’s silliest plot contrivance, Ray is illiterate, something teacher Anne Meara notices right away. She doesn’t really do anything about it–except negatively reinforce him–until a very dramatic moment towards the end of the film (in the senior year). Fame bends reality for impact, with director Parker trying to distract from it. He uses seriousness to distract from narrative laziness.

It doesn’t work. Especially given the film constantly drops characters–both Lee Curreri and Laura Dean, who have big story arcs in the first half of the film, disappear once Fame focuses on Barry Miller. Maureen Teefy and Paul McCrane–the first half’s closest thing to protagonists–are around Miller so they don’t disappear, they just don’t have much interesting to do.

One would think there’s a better, much longer version of Fame, but maybe not. It’s insincere, but rather well-made (the Michael Seresin photography and Gerry Hambling editing is phenomenal), and there’s a lot of good acting.

Miller’s good, Teefy and McCrane are great. So’s Irene Cara.

It should be better.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Alan Parker; written by Christopher Gore; director of photography, Michael Seresin; edited by Gerry Hambling; music by Michael Gore; production designer, Geoffrey Kirkland; produced by David De Silva and Alan Marshall; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Paul McCrane (Montgomery), Maureen Teefy (Doris), Barry Miller (Ralph), Irene Cara (Coco), Lee Curreri (Bruno), Gene Anthony Ray (Leroy), Laura Dean (Lisa), Antonia Franceschi (Hilary), Anne Meara (Mrs. Sherwood), Jim Moody (Farrell), Albert Hague (Shorofsky), Joanna Merlin (Miss Berg), Debbie Allen (Lydia), Eddie Barth (Angelo), Tresa Hughes (Mrs. Finsecker) and Boyd Gaines (Michael).


Jaws 3-D (1983, Joe Alves)

Jaws 3-D is one part advertisement for Sea World, one part disaster movie, one part monster movie, then figure the rest is character stuff. It does really well as the Sea World ad, not so well as a disaster movie, a little better as a monster movie… and shockingly well on the character stuff.

Alves’s direction of the big shark attack stuff is nowhere near as good as his character moments. Obviously, there’s time in the script to develop these relationships between the cast members–there’s a great slight moment with Bess Armstrong and Louis Gossett Jr. who otherwise barely interact. And it’s just better for Armstrong and Dennis Quaid. Jaws 3-D is a silly movie about a giant shark but Armstrong and Quaid are always sincere.

So’s Gossett and, to some degree, Simon MacCorkindale. He’s not good, but he does try. As his manservant, P.H. Moriarty is terrible. John Putch plays Quaid’s visiting little brother who romances Lea Thompson. They’re both fine, they just don’t have anything to do except to quickly make Quaid and Armstrong more likable. The movie’s far from art, but screenwriters Richard Mathewson and Carl Gottlieb know how to make it work.

There are some good effects towards the end. Great music from Alan Parker. Alves does an adequate job throughout but he does have his moments. The way he stages some of the non-shark action sequences is fantastic and he always takes time for the actors.

It’s not bad at all.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Joe Alves; screenplay by Richard Matheson and Carl Gottlieb, based on a story by Guerdon Trueblood and characters created by Peter Benchley; director of photography, James A. Contner; edited by Corky Ehlers and Randy Roberts; music by Alan Parker; production designer, Woods Mackintosh; produced by Rupert Hitzig; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Dennis Quaid (Mike Brody), Bess Armstrong (Dr. Kathryn ‘Kay’ Morgan), Simon MacCorkindale (Philip FitzRoyce), John Putch (Sean Brody), Lea Thompson (Kelly Ann Bukowski), P.H. Moriarty (Jack Tate) and Louis Gossett Jr. (Calvin Bouchard).


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