Archive for September, 2009

Heartless ‘Fame’ remake just lame

Friday, September 25th, 2009
Naturi Naughton in "Fame" Denise (Naturi Naughton) performs “Get on the Floor” in a remake of 1980’s “Fame.”

As I drove away from a Chicago screening of Kevin Tancharoen’s “Fame” Wednesday night, I turned on 100.3 FM on the car radio and guess what I heard?

Irene Cara belting out the title song to the original 1980 hit musical “Fame.”

In that moment, I realized Cara packed more passion and talent into a single song than Tancharoen could squeeze into an entire shallow, vacuous remake.

His “Fame” uses the same plot and character types as Alan Parker’s original film, except that Tancharoen blunts Parker’s pain and realism, diminishes the drama’s heart by at least two sizes, and steps all over the cast’s sheer joy of performing.

The showcase scene from Parker’s “Fame” was an impromptu “concert” performed by students at the (then) New York Academy for Performing Arts. Every student in the school spontaneously breaks into a jubilant musical number, with dancers and musicians merging in a joyful celebration that spills into New York streets, snarling traffic, yet delighting everyone.

In Tancharoen’s “Fame,” a keyboardist, drummer and dancers start groovin’, but the scene fizzles out and shifts over to a couple of characters who could use a few lessons from their acting teacher Mr. Dowd (Charles S. Dutton). (Read more…)

Local Opening Acts for “Fame” premieres

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The Noble Fool Theatricals Youth Ensemble will perform from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday (Sept. 25) to pump up the crowd before the local premiere of “Fame” at the Charlestowne 18 Cinema Theatre, 3740 E. Main St., St. Charles. Extra bonus: A Noble Fool instructor will teach “Fame” dances.

Not to be outdone, the Elk Grove High School Grenadettes will perform Friday (Sept. 25) at the Elk Grove Theatre, 1050 Elk Grove Town Center, Elk Grove Village, to pump up another crowd before the 7:15 p.m. showing of “Fame.”

Mini-review: “Disgrace.”

Friday, September 25th, 2009

In Steve Jacobs’ cinematic version of J.M. Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace,” former Chicago actor John Malkovich effects a slightly sinister South African accent that sounds way too much like Count Dracula as a college lit professor.

He plays David Lurie, an unrepentant white who uses his academic position to have sex with a vulnerable student of mixed heritage. Not Rated (for mature audiences). 120 minutes. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Pipers Alley in Chicago.

Mini-review: “Paris”

Friday, September 25th, 2009

“That’s Paris,” says Pierre, a dancer with a bummer heart. “Nobody’s happy!”

Cedric Klapisch’s valentine to the City of Lights is an infrequently beguiling, mostly dull, social and cultural lattice of characters, among them a middle-aged history professor (Fabrice Luchini) who sex-texts his pretty student (Melanie Laurent), a dancer (Romain Duris) awaiting a heart transplant, his single mother sister (Juliette Binoche) who moves in to take care of him, and other characters flitting around them in subplots of varying amounts of interest. In French with subtitles. Rated: R (language and sexual references). 130 minutes. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Century Centre in Chicago.

Mini-review: “The Providence Effect”

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Rollin Binzer’s doc “The Providence Effect” blows a big, slurpy kiss to Chicago’s impressive Providence St. Mel school, which has sent 100 percent of its African-American graduates on to colleges, including Ivy League ones.

As a recruiting film, “Effect” couldn’t be more effusive in its admiration of the West Side school, its faculty and its founder, Paul Adams III, who bought the building from the Catholic Archdiocese and heroically created a model independent school from scratch. Rated: PG. 92 minutes. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Century Centre in Chicago and Skokie’s Village Crossing.

“Dann & Raymond’s Movie Club” outing

Friday, September 25th, 2009

“On the Banned Wagon: Cinema’s Forbidden Films”

Dann Gire and Raymond Benson Join Dann Gire (film critic of Chicago’s suburban newspaper THE DAILY HERALD, as well as the founder and president of the Chicago Film Critics Association, and adjunct instructor at Aurora and Harper Colleges in Illinois) and Raymond Benson (novelist, author of 20 books, former official author of James Bond books, film historian, and Film History instructor at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois) as they discuss “On the Banned Wagon: Cinema’s Forbidden Films,” a look at the most censored movies in history. Clips from “The Miracle,” “Carnal Knowledge,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “The Life of Brian,” “Birth of a Nation” and 10 others. See Schaumburg Township District Library for more details.

Cost: Free

THURSDAY, Oct. 1, 7:30pm
AV Wing
Schaumburg Township District Library
130 S. Roselle Road
Schaumburg, Illinios

Karen Allen – Area Appearences

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Illinois native Karen Allen appears in person for fans of her biggest hit, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The film will be screened at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Friday (Sept. 25) and Saturday (Sept. 26) at Ted Bulthaup’s brand-spanking-new Hollywood Palms Cinema at 352 S. Route 59, Naperville.

Sunday (Sept. 27), Allen will also appear at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. for “Raiders” screenings at Bulthaup’s nearby Hollywood Blvd. theater, 1001 W. 75th St., Woodridge.

Speaking of Karen Allen, she’ll also be part of the closing night attractions at the second annual Naperville Independent Film Festival on Saturday (Sept. 26) around 7:45 p.m. in the exquisitely detailed Mayan auditorium at the Hollywood Palms theater. Chicago film critic Roger Ebert will join Allen after his book signing from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Call (630) 514-4204 or go to for details. (Read more…)

Elgin Short Film Fest

Friday, September 25th, 2009

More than 50 entries will compete for cash prizes during the very first Elgin Short Film Fest Saturday, Sept. 26. WGN’s Dean Richards, broadcast’s hardest-working entertainment reporter, serves as master of ceremonies. (Read more…)

Go to for details.

Cost $5.00

Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:00 p.m.
Hemmens Cultural Center
45 Symphony Way

Thankfully, real life often just ‘like a movie’

Friday, September 25th, 2009

“Like a movie.”

That’s how a West Chicago woman described the scene when escaped fugitive Robert Maday’s carjacked automobile raced past her in a desperate attempt to escape pursuing police cars last week.

“Like a movie.”

That’s also how many New Yorkers described the nightmare scenes of 9/11 eight years ago.

“Like a movie.”

In fact, a great many witnesses to calamities and violence often fall back on this simile, which has, at least in press circles, become somewhat predictable. Like when reporters ask people to describe the psycho killers revealed to be living next door to them, and they all say the same thing:

“He was quiet and kept to himself.”

It’s actually a compliment to the film industry that people compare real disasters and violence to movie scenes. Filmmakers spend lots of money and time and effort so their movies project the look and feel of real life. (Read more…)

Reel Life review: “Amreeka”

Friday, September 18th, 2009

A familiar fish-out-of-water plot gets a poignant, anti-prejudice treatment by Nebraska-born director/writer Cherien Dabis, who whisks a single mother Muna (Nisreen Faour) and her teen son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) from their desolate West Bank home into America’s heartland, Smalltown, Illinois. (OK, it was filmed in Canada, too.)

Muna is qualified to be a banker, but can only get work at a local White Castle. Fadi’s teen rebellion phase kicks in, and Muna has her hands full dealing with him, her lack of money, living with her patient relatives and a group of racist hooligans at Fadi’s school. Rated: PG-13 (language, drug use). 96 minutes. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Century Centre Cinema in Chicago and the Renaissance Place in Highland Park.