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The Fabelmans (2022)


BetterButter
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I thought the movie wasn't as treacly as the trailer, and that's a good thing.

I saw it with an audience of old people and they laughed like hyenas at the monkey wreaking havoc.  But I got the last laugh, literally, when in the final scene, the camera pans up; I don't think anybody else got it. 

And according to Spielberg, the John Ford scene is absolutely true (although he was a little younger than depicted in the movie when it happened). 

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On 12/6/2022 at 8:15 PM, StatisticalOutlier said:

I thought the movie wasn't as treacly as the trailer, and that's a good thing.

I saw it with an audience of old people and they laughed like hyenas at the monkey wreaking havoc.  But I got the last laugh, literally, when in the final scene, the camera pans up; I don't think anybody else got it. 

And according to Spielberg, the John Ford scene is absolutely true (although he was a little younger than depicted in the movie when it happened). 

The camera panning up — I got it right away!

We saw this today and my husband and I thought it was OK — we did not love it.  It’s gotten so much acclaim and we found it very, very slow and repetitive in stretches.  After we got home, we read about what was autobiographical and what was not; most of it was indeed pretty close to what Spielberg experienced growing up.  I found Michelle Williams’ method of acting and portrayal of his mom very annoying.  But it sounds like Steven’s mom was someone I couldn’t spend five minutes with so there’s also that.  The dad (Paul Dano) and young Sam (based on Steven) were very, very good.  The sets, music, hair and costumes, cars — all A+ fantastic.  

Edited by MerBearHou
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I saw this the day after Thanksgiving.  I almost never say this about a film but I thought it was a waste of time.  It's well produced but beyond that I didn't care about any of it.  I feel like if you don't already know it's Spielberg's semi autobiopic you really wouldn't care about this kid becoming a filmmaker.  Hell, at one point he had even quit for a chunk of the movie and I didn't remember until it was brought up again. Thats how low the stakes felt.  And same for the family drama.  I felt bad on a surface level but it didn't move me.  And I'm sure Michelle Williams did as she was directed but I found her performance very grating.  Dano, on the other hand, was the stand out for me.  And good God, why did it have to be 2 and half hours long? I kept checking my phone the last hour or so.  If this wasn't by Spielberg about Spielberg no way it gets the same critical reception let alone becomes a best picturefront runner.  I'm still mad at myself for choosing this over Glass Onion.  

Edited by kiddo82
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This movie was very disappointing to me.  Just kind of dull.  I found the crazy Jesus girl to be too much.  Did we really need to watch John Ford light a cigar for what seemed like 10 minutes?  I wonder if Spielberg was trying to make a version of Triumph of the Will with his Ditch Day extravaganza. 

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This probably could have been a bit shorter, but I still really enjoyed it. I am definitely going to look more into what parts were real and what parts were added for artistic flair, but so much was so specific, like the meeting with John Ford and kid Sam/Steve being inspired by the big train crash at the end of Worlds Greatest Show, that I bet a lot was true. I thought some of the movie was rather slow, but I was quite moved by the end. 

Michelle Williams is always great, and is a lock for a nomination, but I thought that Paul Dano was the stand out in a much less showy part. 

I definitely caught that camera pan up right away! 

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I saw this last night, and also enjoyed it!  In addition to the camera panning up at the end, did y'all catch that the painting between the two John Ford asked Sam to describe had the horizon in the middle?  There were also lots of little camera tricks like soft focus for the girlfriend and of course graininess for Sam's films.  I have to say, I loved the Ditch Day video with the gulls "pooping" on the students.  That cracked me up!  When they were filming it, I had no idea what they were going for with dropping ice cream on people.  

Paul Dano was definitely the standout in his quiet, understated manner.  

I will also agree that it probably could have been trimmed a little, but I'm not sure what I would cut.  Someone upthread complained about the cigar-lighting scene, but that was such a power play that I wouldn't cut it.  I would bet that had Sam not been there, waiting, John Ford would not have taken so long.  He was just making sure Sam knew that Sam was not terribly significant.

 

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9 hours ago, tennisgurl said:

This probably could have been a bit shorter, but I still really enjoyed it. I am definitely going to look more into what parts were real and what parts were added for artistic flair, but so much was so specific, like the meeting with John Ford and kid Sam/Steve being inspired by the big train crash at the end of Worlds Greatest Show, that I bet a lot was true.

I think this site provides a useful service:

https://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/fabelmans/

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Agree with the few posts who didn’t love Michelle Williams in this. Or who were underwhelmed by the film after all the award noms being thrown at it. Granted Mitzi was very selfish and came across like an attention seeker a lot of the time (that ridiculous dance at the camping site) but Williams performance and dialogue felt like something g out of a stage play. It didn’t seem natural at all. And the big long dramatic speeches and crying scenes just made me hate her character. The scene enroute to California was so inappropriate where she discussed with her teenage son how she’ll stick with Burt and the kids because she’s apparently “NOT” going to be selfish is so awful to watch. And the end when the photos she sends arrive and she’s there happy out with Benny. God, she was terrible. 

 

For me Paul Dano and the kid who played Sammy were the heart of the film. Really warm performances. 

In terms of cutting the film they could have shaved ten minutes off Judd Hirsch coming to visit and the scene with him and Sami in his room. That scene lost me a few minutes in. What felt like ten mins watching Sammy learn about the affair through the camping footage and then another ten minutes of Mitzi watching the same footage while that stupid piano plays in the background.

Edited by Avabelle
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Also, Mitzi and Benny - if it really did happen like that? Horrible people. I also found them both really emotionally manipulative and his dad and her children deserved a lot better. 
 

Also I agree with Mrs. Fabelman, Benny wasn’t funny.

Edited by Avabelle
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I’m only about 45 minutes in and so far am enjoying it. I wonder if Spielberg’s dad really DID bore the family (well, they seemed bored) with all they STEM talk at the dinner table (I know I’d be bored!).  And did they mostly use disposable dishes for dinner?  

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On 12/28/2022 at 5:14 PM, Browncoat said:

I will also agree that it probably could have been trimmed a little, but I'm not sure what I would cut.  

I felt the movie lost a bit of steam in the Saratoga section. The scenes with the Christian love interest, especially, were overly broad. (They reminded me a bit of Frank's comic romance scenes in Catch Me If You Can, but not as funny.) However, I was loving the Jersey and Phoenix sections, and I really liked the Los Angeles wrap-up too. I'm glad David Lynch gave in on playing Ford, after Spielberg deputized his and Lynch's mutual friend Laura Dern to close the sale. 

Overall, I had a lot of fondness and admiration for the movie. Unlike some above, I loved Williams's performance as Mitzi, and I think Spielberg and Kushner saw the character with a lot of love and understanding, warts and all. Williams is obviously very good at playing sadness (Brokeback MountainBlue ValentineManchester by the Sea), and this time she's playing a character who tries to conceal it with a lot of superficial liveliness and cheer. It's not quite like anything I've seen from her in the past, and it's a reminder of what a good director of actors Spielberg is, apart from everything else. I hope Gabriel LaBelle gets a big boost from this. He made a very winning protagonist, and he really managed to suggest the young Spielberg I have seen in photos. 

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One question: what was with the strange segment where Mitzi receives a telephone call from her dead mother prior to Uncle Boris coming?  It could have been a dream, but then why present it as if it had really happened?

Edited by Brn2bwild
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@Brn2bwildMaybe that was family lore. It had the feel of something a somewhat eccentric relative would insist had really happened, and here it was just faithfully rendered from her point of view.  

I was thinking that so many distinguished filmmakers have made quasi-autobiographical movies about the environment of their early lives, with a young actor playing an obvious avatar. It's nearly a rite of passage at this point. Off the top of my head: Federico Fellini (Amarcord), Louis Malle (Au Revoir, Les Enfants), Woody Allen (Radio Days), John Boorman (Hope and Glory), Barry Levinson (Avalon), Terence Davies (The Long Day Closes), Spike Lee (Crooklyn), Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Pedro Almodóvar (Pain and Glory...a half credit, because the boyhood flashbacks are only part of the movie), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)...I'm sure I am missing some.  

I like all of these movies, and some of them are among the best for the filmmaker in question. It's interesting to compare them. Some are full of joy and others are more poignant, wistful, or even rueful, because people experience and remember childhood in different ways.

Spielberg's entry, which plays like something he wanted to make while he still could, but had not wanted to do too early in his career, is more focused than any of the others on the character learning to be a filmmaker. The Allen, Davies, Almodóvar, Cuarón, and Branagh films all make a point of showing the young character under the spell of the cinema, but it's not clear that he will pursue this as a calling.  

Edited by Simon Boccanegra
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On 2/22/2023 at 1:44 AM, Brn2bwild said:

One question: what was with the strange segment where Mitzi receives a telephone call from her dead mother prior to Uncle Boris coming?  It could have been a dream, but then why present it as if it had really happened?

At the time I thought they were presenting her as mentally ill, but I guess that wasn't the case.

The one thing that confused me about the movie, at the start it has a title card that it is January, 10 1952. The family is going to see The Greatest Show on Earth. Cut to them in the car on the way home asking Sammy what he wants for Hannukah. If it was January 10, it was just after Hannukah. Now, January 10, 1952 was the release date for the Greatest Show on Earth, so I guess that is why they used that. But if they wanted to cut to it being Hannukah, why not just say "1952" or something generic?

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