The Fabelmans: This really should be called The Spielbergs, because it is more or less the autobiography of a young Steven Spielberg with his family as they move around the country before the parents divorce. Directed and produced by Spielberg, this was released at TIFF back in September. It is a very personal story, from the eyes of a young man as he comes of age as a young Jewish man surrounded by Christians in various places including Phoenix and California. Dad (played by Paul Dano) is an engineer of note who has cutting edges about computers and networks. His artistic wife (played by Michelle Williams) was a very talented concert pianist, but gave that up when her husband and children came along. Young Steven, named Sammy Fabelman (played by Gabriel Labelle) from a very young age was interested in movies and getting images onto film. In the movie one of the earliest scenes has him watching a train wreck. He then looks to duplicate it at home, which his Mom recognizes and Dad was oblivious.
Like any family, there are challenges, but Sammy’s filming allows him a greater eye in viewing the comings and goings of his family. As he edits a short film to cheer up his Mom, he sees something that was unexpected. It changes the family dynamic. One of the themes in the movie is the power of film, and the editing of the film. A film made later at the high school as a Senior Day Off at the beach in California is editted such that some fellow students are made uncomfortable. The short, nerdy, filmmaker gets to wield a great of power in that position. The film follows the family, their moves as the children go through their formative years.
I have to admit that I was never a big fan of Michelle Williams, from the days of Dawson’s Creek with Katie Holmes to her take on Marilyn Monroe and as various long suffering housewives, like Brokeback Mountain. I begrudgingly admit that I think that she did an admirable portrayal of the wife who we see in her vulnerabilties while she puts a brave face in front of her family at the same time sacrificing much of who she is. As a child, one doesn’t see that in a parent. They’re not people, that is your MOM and DAD! As we age, they are people who have their own thoughts, dreams, hope and ambitions. They’re not always coming true. For Mom in the movie, she is deeply distressed in the move to California. We learn more details, as Sammy struggles himself in this new high school. I liked this more than I thought that I would. It was engaging. I did think that Judd Hirsch who plays an Uncle was really good, adressing those who are so fixated in their art that the rest of their life can suffer. it seems that this stuck with Spielberg and seems to be very true for him and his life. I also think that Seth Rogan was effective as a family friend, who seems to be everywhere where the family goes. This has been nominated for a Best Picture Golden Globe. It won the People Choice Prize at TIFF, which usually guarantees at least an Oscar nomination and often a win. So expect to see more awards for Mr Spielberg who has taken his love for movies to reshape the Hollywood landscape. From here you get to see, with a wink every now and then, the origins of this ambitious career which Spielberg has taken to heights that even he could never have dreamed! Well worth seeing.
RRR: I have heard some bizz about this movie on some Best Of lists, and it was on Netflix. I haven’t ever watched East Indian/Hindi movies which were very long musicals, usually involving a love story with an extravagant wedding. But the buzz was such that I wanted to check it out. It didn’t disappoint.
I won’t delve deep into the plot other than to highlight that the story generally involves the oppressive British rules, with accompanying ruling class treating the native Indian people horribly. A young girl is taken by a nasty British baroness, being bought for a token from her family, and the rest of the movie focuses on getting her back into her small village.
There are some stunning scenes, with a dance sequence is a marvel to get on film, no matter how unbelievable some of the visuals, especially involving animals. The animals are of course all CGI, but it shows you just how far the technology has come, and how it can be utilized. The movie is long. The British are as offensive as you could expect them to be. Some of the scenes are over the top in how much punishment an individual can take, but think of it like WWE wrestling with plenty of jumps and punches and very little bruising. There are plenty of religious imagery included too. Rather than try to explain it all, it’s best to view fresh and just to experience. This is dubbed into English, which for such an action filled movie is helpful so you don’t miss the action for reading the dialog.
With the holiday season here, and some time off, I hope to see The Whale, with Brendan Fraser and also the 3 hour, 10 min Babylon. Why can’t they make a two hour movie anymore?! Hell, Avatar had 30 full mins of previews and commercials before the 3:10 screening which makes for a long time to have your ass go numb.