The Fabelmans

Loosely based on the life of reclaimed director Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans follows the story of Sammy (Mateo Zoryan and Gabriel LaBelle) as he grows up in a post Second World War era with his parents Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt (Paul Dano), as well as his sisters. From witnessing a train crashing into a car on his first visit to the cinema, Sammy couldn’t help but wonder why this was and wanted to take control of the situation. After learning to use a camera, the films he creates enables him to understand not only his upbringing, but also the family secrets he never realized were there before.

I wanted to enjoy The Fabelmans so much more than I actually did. Where I will say it excelled in was its performances. Williams was the star here. If she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this, then I don’t know anything anymore. Her portrayal of Mitzi Fabelman was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I was also impressed with Dano as the family patriarch. He complimented Williams nicely and it was awesome to see him in something different. The surprise for me, however, was with Seth Rogen. I’m used to him playing the goofy, comical character, so I appreciated this more serious tone.

Although it was interesting to see how Spielberg got his start in making movies, I have to admit that I found the whole idea to be kind of self indulgent. This may be an unpopular opinion and while I understand that it wasn’t an exact retelling of what happened, the fact that he felt the need to tell it at all, especially now, didn’t feel necessary to me. Perhaps later in the future would have fared better. That seems to work well with most biopics.

Another reason why The Fabelmans did not entirely land for me was in its pacing. It was incredibly slow and struggled to go anywhere. The fact that the film was more character driven than anything else definitely played a part in that, but I wasn’t a fan of it this time around. It’s as if I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. I’m still glad that I took the time to check this out since it has been sweeping at various awards ceremonies. I guess it just wasn’t for me.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️

West Side Story

Adapted from the 1957 musical, West Side Story has been reimagined for a new generation. Following the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two street gangs in New York City, everything changes when Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) fall in love. They’re willing to give it all up to be together regardless of how their friends and family may feel.

I surprised myself when I added this new version by Steven Spielberg to my list. While I am a huge musical lover, I was never a fan of the original. There was something about it this time around, though, that captured my attention and I had a feeling I would regret it if I missed out.

My mind was blown by some of the performances. Rachel Zegler was the perfect choice for Maria. Her breakout role was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and I bet she is going to be everywhere from here on out. Rita Moreno, who starred as Anita in the original, had a special role this time around. I love how she was the guiding light for many of the characters and she even got her own song! The standout for me, however, was Ariana DeBose. She was so impressive that I hope she’ll get some award nominations.

At the end of the day, I am so glad that I took another chance on this musical. Something about it was different and really touched me. I even cried when it was all over and the people in my theatre room clapped. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Who would have thought?

Rating: ♥♥♥♥.5