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Movie Review: “The Fabelmans” Brings out Michelle Williams Best Performance Yet

We already knew that Steven Spielberg hadn’t lost his touch after his remarkable remake of “West Side Story”. But in his newest drama, “The Fabelmans”, he pulls from his own personal experience as he digs at the family roots that helped shape him into the iconic filmmaker.

If I am being completely honest, as a little kid, the only director I knew of was Spielberg. His films are such a huge part of my upbringing. I don’t think I even understood completely what a director did until I put a face to the creator of “E.T.” and “Jaws”. As we all know, he has an amazing resume of monumental films. So, to get a chance to peep into what started his craft and an insight into his family, is a true honor.

In “The Fabelmans”, we follow Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) from a young boy through college as he navigates family drama while chasing his dream of making movies. Without giving too much away, the biggest drama stems from Sammy’s mother, Mitzi (Michelle Williams). She’s naturally the more melodramatic member of the family. She’s an artist/pianist who encourages Sammy to embrace his creativity. Her children adore her free-spirited, performative behavior, while also admiring their father’s (Paul Dano) intelligence. They actually come off as the perfect family, until Sammy takes a closer look through his lens and sees flaws in his parents’ marriage. This and other trials and tribulations will prove to mold Sammy into a stronger man and help him find solace in his films.

The story is told through fantastic performances by the entire cast.  The standout is LaBelle, who I expect we will be seeing plenty more of after such an authentic and vulnerable portrayal of the young director. And easily one of the best performances of the year, Williams as Mitzi. Your feelings about her may be conflicting at first, but by the end, she’s the one you won’t be able to stop thinking about. Such a layered character we have the pleasure of diving into. Mitzi is a loving, and at times erratic mother whose behavior is “unique”. However, she’s absolutely mesmerizing. Williams deserves an obvious nomination, if not a win for this role.

Now, I may sound like a broken record with this one negative, but the film could have been about 30 minutes shorter and been just as effective. However, the characters are engaging enough to distract you from the runtime.

“The Fabelmans” serves as an ode to the power of filmmaking. Movies have the ability to make people feel what you want them to, and through that you can ignite emotions of laughter, fear, joy, love, and so much more. Spielberg was gifting us with his movie-magic, while also using his art as a therapeutic escape. “The Fabelmans” is a rare gem for movie buffs and an enjoyable film for the whole family.

Rating: A-

Top 10 Best Films of 2020

10. Soul

“Soul” follows, Joe (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who has lost his passion for music and sense of purpose. But when he is transported into another realm to help someone find their spark, he discovers a new appreciation for life.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this movie. Whether you have a dream you haven’t accomplished yet, or you feel as though your life hasn’t amounted to anything; take a second to reflect on all the good you already have. Your health, your family, your friends; our life is not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. And remember to appreciate all the little things, even if it’s as small as a good slice of pizza.

9. Words on Bathroom Walls

“Words on Bathroom Walls” follows Adam(Charlie Plummer), a passionate cook who appears to be a typical teenage boy until an incident in his High School reveals he has schizophrenia. He is expelled, and forced to finish out his senior year at a Catholic High school. It’s there he meets, Maya (Taylor Russell). Their relationship in the film is tender and sweet, but the beauty of “Words on Bathroom Walls” is getting to see perspective on a mental illness that isn’t shown often, especially through a romance. This is something else that deserves representation and understanding. And though the film centers around Adam and Maya, the relationship between Adam and his mom is just as powerful. Her tenacity shows us a mother’s love is unconditional.

8. Let Him Go

After the death of their son, Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) have held on to the light in their life, their grandson, Jimmy. But when their daughter-in-law (Kayli Carter) remarries to an abusive man, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), he takes both her and Jimmy away to his family’s secluded home in North Dakota.  Margaret and George leave their ranch in Montana, and go on a mission to save what’s left of their family. Some may not find this movie special, but it transported me back to the theaters with how well it was shot and the incredible performances. You can’t help but feel for this couple, and want them to do whatever is necessary to get their grandson back.

7. On the Rocks

Bill Murray plays, Felix, a playboy art dealer who, long ago, walked out on his wife and children for the first of many women. He’s selfish and self-centered, yet you can’t help but love the guy. When he hears his daughter, Laura (Rashida Jones), is concerned about her husband’s many work trips, he assumes the worse and encourages her to look into the matter with him.  This film is such an easy and humorous watch. This is in big part due to the natural chemistry between Murray and Jones. Felix is trying to make up for lost time by taking this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter, who he genuinely cares for. “On the Rocks” highlights a sweet, yet unconventional father/daughter relationship, while also shedding a light on marriages that could use a little refresher.

6. Irresistible

I know politics is a touchy subject, but the beauty of “Irresistible” is that it really doesn’t try to sway you on either side. They focus more about how ridiculous a campaign can get and how much it costs. It’s not about conservatives versus liberals. Instead, the film makes you question the two party system. The all-star cast which includes Steve Carrell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, and MacKenzie Davis all give top-notch, hilarious performances. The banter between Carrell and Byrne alone makes this film such a delight. “Irresistible” is the insightful, laugh-out-loud comedy we needed during this election year. Putting into perspective what is truly important in any leadership role. 

5. The Kid Detective

To all my fellow “Harriet the Spy” lovers, this movie is what I imagine happened to the male version of Harriet. Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) was a once celebrated kid detective. Even adults used his services. But after he fails to solve the mystery of a kidnapping of a young girl/friend, he is no longer the same quality detective. Fast forward to his 30’s, he’s a washed up drunk, taking any minor case he can get to make end’s meat. That is until he is presented with his first murder case. I know a lot of you probably haven’t heard of this film, but it’s a really fun watch. Brody carries the movie with his wit and charm, but the story is just as engaging. “The Kid Detective” is truly the hidden gem of 2020.

4. Onward

I’m surprised by how high I have this film on my list, but since January I can’t get this movie or the ending out of my head. It’s one I get emotional just thinking about. On the day of Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and his older brother (Chris Pratt) are given a gift from their late father. Turns out it’s a spell that will bring their dad back to life for 24 hours,  giving Ian a chance to finally meet his father. But the spell doesn’t go exactly as planned. At first glance, this seems like a possibly boring, one disaster after another road trip that will end predictably. It’s safe to say that’s not the case. Although this is a film about a son seeking a relationship with his father, it also recognizes those in our lives who unexpectedly became a father figure and shaped us into the person we are today.

3. Palm Springs

Not since “Groundhog Day” has any film with the similar formula been worth raving about (Except for maybe “Happy Death Day”). That is until “Palm Springs”. It manages to put a refreshing spin on the romantic comedy genre and time loop narrative. Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are two wedding guests reliving the same day. Samberg and Milioti are a dynamic duo with amazing chemistry. The film is heavier than you might expect. Nyles and Sarah are stuck together without even death as an escape. A romance grows, and soon they are partners in crime making the most of their care-free new existence; even if it comes with a rapid loss of meaning. “Palm Springs” is funny, sweet, and has a surprising little twist. 

2. Uncle Frank

If I could give anyone the Oscar right now, it would be Paul Bettany for his powerful and gut-wrenching performance in this film. I really hope this movie doesn’t go under the radar during award season, because it deserves recognition for its performances alone. Set in 1973, the film follows a teenager named Beth (Sophia Lillis) who leaves her rural Southern home to study at a New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Bettany) teaches. While there she discovers Frank is gay, and has been living with his long time partner, Wally (Peter Macdissi) – a secret he’s been keeping from his family for years. After the passing of his father, the three of them take a road trip home to North Carolina, and Frank is forced to face the worries and trauma he’s been running from. This film is my biggest tear-jerker of the year. I’m talking ugly crying. Watching Bettany play a character who has to hide his true self from his family in fear of how they might react is heartbreaking, and sadly, still relevant. “Uncle Frank” is a film everyone should watch.

1. Promising Young Woman

If you’ve heard me talk about this film, it should come as no surprise that it would make the top of my list. The movie has romance, comedy, mystery, revenge, and an all-star cast. “Promising Young Woman” features Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a med-school dropout who seeks revenge on a traumatizing past event. Not since “Hard Candy” have I enjoyed such an enticing revenge story. Mulligan is at her best, showing such complex emotions. She varies from cold-hearted to heartbreaking. This is a cautionary tale that would serve well in high school and college classrooms. Especially geared towards men who don’t seem to understand what consensual sexual activity means. The film goes beyond the actions of the men responsible for the sexual assaults. It also highlights those who turn a blind eye, and even the parties responsible for defending the guilty. “Promising Young Woman” is funny, dark, unforgettable, and for me, it’s the best film of the year.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Black Box

12. Shithouse

13. A Secret Love

14. Yes God Yes

15. The Trial of the Chicago 7

16. The Mauritanian

17. Da 5 Bloods

18. Freaky

19. Another Round

20. The Broken Hearts Gallery

Top 5 Worst Films of 2020

5. The Rhythm Section – I except more from Jude Law and Blake Lively at this point in their careers.

4. Underwater- A Knockoff underwater version of “Alien”. But bad, so bad.

3. The Sunlit Night- Terrible movie with the most forced and awkward sex scene.

2. The Prom – Had no idea James Corden was a bad actor until this film. Honestly, I couldn’t pay attention anything else.

1. The Witches (2020) – I almost forgot this movie happened. I’d like to keep it that way.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. Yes God Yes
9. Sonic the Hedgehog
8. Freaky
7. The Mauritanian
6. Palm Springs
5. The Old Guard
4. The Kid Detective
3. Promising Young Woman
2. Irresistible
1. Uncle Frank

29ROOMS: Expand Your Reality is coming to Dallas

REFINERY29 TO BRING ICONIC “29ROOMS: ‘EXPAND YOUR REALITY’” EXPERIENCE TO CHICAGO, DALLAS, ATLANTA, TORONTO AND WASHINGTON, D.C.

Tickets for 29Rooms 2019 Tour are Now On-Sale

NEW YORK – MAY 22, 2019 – Refinery29 has announced it is taking its annual immersive festival of style, culture and creativity, 29Rooms, on a five-city tour including its first international showing, in partnership with IMG. The 29Rooms: Expand Your Reality experience will bring the iconic immersive event to new audiences with tickets now on sale for the event’s return to Chicago, IL from July 18 – 28 and for the first time in Dallas, TX from August 9 – 18; Atlanta, GA from August 29 – September 8; Toronto, ON (Canada) from September 26 – October 6 and Washington D.C. from October 18 – 27.

The 2019 tour will complement 29Rooms’ hugely popular marquee events in New York and Los Angeles, which have welcomed more than 100,000 visitors from around the world since the event series first launched in 2015.

The Expand Your Reality experience will create new, bold and thought-provoking moments that bring Refinery29’s mission and multi-sensory spaces to life in collaboration with global artists, creators, visionaries, meaningful causes, and brands. Each room will put visitors at the center of the event with hands-on activities and several phone-free experiences, sparking engagement and igniting self-expression, storytelling and dialogue.

29Rooms will also feature city-specific collaborations with local artists from Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Toronto and Washington D.C. Additionally, some audience favorite rooms including: Teenage Bedroom, a technicolor fur bedroom that transports you back to the 90s teenage years and Inner Beauty Ball, a dance party where guests are invited to express, celebrate and dance will be included in the experience.

“We can’t wait to invite new guests to experience our vibrant, immersive event in these five cities, all of which have their own unique style, culture, and creativity,” said Piera Gelardi, Refinery29 Executive Creative Director and Co-Founder. “Our goal for 29Rooms is to create spaces that ignite wonder, spark conversation, and dare people to dream bigger, in collaboration with brilliant local, international artists and partners. Within our walls, guests will be encouraged to tap into their creativity and open themselves up to new ideas, connections, and unforeseen experiences.”

29Rooms is proud to be working with a dynamic line-up of partners for the 2019 U.S. Tour stops, including SheaMoisture, Transitions Optical, Bitten Dressing and Panera.

Tickets for each of the five cities are available now at 29Rooms.com starting at $30. There will also be a variety of opportunities leading up to the events to win free tickets through Refinery29’s platforms and partners.