An Oscar-nominated film and an animated miss are among this week’s new entertainment options.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
New on DVD and Blu-ray
“The Fabelmans” Grade B-: The reflective tale set in post-World War II written by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner revolves around young Sammy Fabelman – played in various ages by Gabriel LaBelle and Mateo Zoryon Francis-Deford – who is introduced to the world of movies when his parents take him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth.” His mother, Mitzi (Michelle Williams), helps Sammy find a way to create his own visual memories when she gives him a camera.
Sammy’s passion for movie making thrills his mother but frustrates his serious-minded father, Burt (Paul Dano), who believes all of the filming is a waste of time and energy. He would prefer his son find a more serious avenue of interest.
This is the part of the film that carries the movie as Spielberg loads up the production with sequences that are reflective of the kind of ingenuity he had to show as a young filmmaker himself. Sammy’s skill with the camera grows as he goes from simply using a camera to document everyday moments to making it a tool to capture and express emotions.
Spielberg does meander a bit with his messages about the place of cinema in the world especially when Sammy must deal with high school bullying. The fact the focus returns quickly keeps that part of the film on track.
It is the family story that comes across as more of a distraction than the attention holder it should have been. Dano’s performance as father and husband is so colorless that he looks more like a black-and-white character in Spielberg’s Technicolor world. The father is reduced to being little more than a catalyst for moving the family to new locations.
What is always clear is that Spielberg is saying that everyone is the director of their own life story. How that is told is what makes life so interesting.
“Strange World” Grade C-: It always seems more dramatic when a company like Walt Disney Animation Studios fails. Their worst is often the best for other companies.
But, having set such a high standard means the miscues stand out and in the case of this film, it is outstanding in how it stands out. From chaotic settings to unoriginal characters, the film misses the mark constantly.
The story of the Clades, a legendary family of explorers, sets out on a trek through a weird world. Weird can be good if used properly but in this case it casts a heavy shadow over the story elements of family, pride and acceptance.
“House Party”: Two best friends who work as house cleaners decide to use the home of a celebrity to host an epic event.
“There There”: Seven strangers come together in search of a bond while in isolation.
“Nothing Is Impossible”: High school janitor decides to try out to be part of a professional basketball team.
“Life & Life”: Musician Reggie Austin goes on a journey to redeem his life following a murder conviction 40 years ago.
“Project Wolf Hunting”: An escape attempt on a ship turns even more deadly when an evil is released.
“Lenor Will Never Die”: Fantasy and reality begin to blur for a woman in a coma.
“Savage Salvation”: Man recovering from addiction goes on a mission to avenge the death of his fiancé.
“One More Step to the West is the Sea: Ruth Weiss”: The film looks at one of the first artists to develop the joint genre of Jazz & Poetry.
“The King of Laughter”: The great comic actor Eduardo Scarpetta wages a battle for the art he loves.
“Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: The Complete Series”: The 8-DVD collection contains all 50 episodes presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
Available through digital platforms
“Legend of Gatotakaca”: Yuda stumbles upon a secret prophecy long concealed by powerful people after witnessing the shocking murder of his best friend by a masked assassin with terrifying superpowers. Will be released on DVD March 21.
“Remember Yesterday”: Diner owner Jenny Hill has her life turned upside down when her childhood sweetheart returns home to direct a new film project.