Life in the time of camera

I think the work of Steve Spielberg speaks for itself as in ladies and gentlemen here is a person who needs no introduction. At a point in cinema history the same could be said for Cecil B. DeMille and John Ford, two directors who are specifically referenced in “The Fabelmans.”
Spielberg has fashioned a biographical narrative that contains the elements that shaped his life.
Two of the most entertaining scenes have appeared in interview snippets with Spielberg: a meeting with Ford where the horizon line was discussed and how high school Spielberg gained the begrudging respect of a bully who earlier in the semester punched him out.
Like DeMille (and Ford and Hitchcock for that matter) Spielberg is the name above the title. His first movie experience was in a theater showing “The Greatest Show On Earth,” a 1953 potboiler then and a potboiler now although it’s a best picture winner. After seeing the technicolor scene of a car being hit head on by a train and the resultant thunderfuck wreck you may want to seek this DeMille gem out yourself.
Young Spielberg, here called Sammy Fabelman, reverse engineers the train wreck with his Lionel train set and an 8mm camera. Like his dad, a successful executive at what were then the main high tech companies (G.E. & I.B.M.), Sammy has a knack for deconstruction. In another scene with his Boy Scout buddies Sammy rallies the lads to capture scorpions, the bounty of which he uses to buy a movie camera. I’m pretty sure if you hold a scorpion by the tail you will get stung. Recreations of the 1950s and early to mid-60s are slick and smooth from costumes to set design. The period detail to Sammy’s record collection of soundtracks is spot on. He keeps rearranging them like toy soldiers so in every one of his bedroom scenes they occupy different shelf space.

Spielberg the director finds a way to give veteran performers like Judd Hirsch and Jeannie Berlin brilliant stand-alone scenes for a few minutes as he weaves them in and out of the picture. Likewise he gives Michelle Williams space to display a positively effervescent motherlove for her son. Williams radiates magic with her turn as Mitzi Fabelman. Perhaps not oddly this may the first film where Seth Rogen, playing a close friend of the family, doesn’t do his signature laugh. Rogen and Williams played a couple in Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz.”
Spielberg can stage huge set pieces on par with any filmmaking spectacle. A closing high school dance, where the intermission is Sammy’s newest low-fi epic filmed at a high school beach function, resembles the similar ending school dance in “Back To the Future.”
“The Fabelmans” creates waves of nostalgia that just ripple over the audience.

- Advertisement -spot_img


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here