LSJ Media and StudioCanal have 10 double tickets to give away for the new Steven Spielberg film The Fablemans. A deeply personal portrait of a 20th century American childhood, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans is a cinematic memory of the forces, and family, that shaped the filmmaker’s life and career. A universal coming-of-age story about an isolated young man’s pursuit of his dreams, the film is an exploration of love, artistic ambition, sacrifice and the moments of discovery that allow us to see the truth about ourselves, and our parents, with clarity and compassion. Watch the trailer here.
The Fablemans is in cinemas this January 5. To enter, please email your name and address to [email protected], with the subject line “The Fablemans” by Monday 19 December at 5pm
Post-Christmas woes kicking off? Do you need a break from your time with the family? Or are the summer days overwhelmingly hot, so that a dark theatre offers a temptingly cool retreat? Certainly the cinema is usually where you will find me while everyone roasts at the beach. If you want to join me, here are LSJ’s recommendations for the next couple of weeks of viewing. All these films will be reviewed upon release, so check in again to see our final thoughts about each of them.
15 December – Avatar: The Way of the Water
There’s a saying in Hollywood: never bet against James Cameron. People thought that Romeo and Juliet in The Titanic would be a bad idea. They also believed that a 3-hour-long Dances with Wolves set in space would fail. And yet, every time, the American who live in New Zealand delivers long, epic, unashamed entertainment. This new film is, as usual, a technical wonder, and while many may doubt whether the original deserves a sequel given its cultural impact, I repeat: at the end of the day, you don’t bet against James Cameron.
22 December – Triangle of Sadness and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
What’s more festive than a film about the destructive excess of the 1 per centers? Triangle of Sadness, Ruben Östlund’s second Palm d’Or winner, is an acerbic critique of the super-wealthy and of the way their privileged access to power means nothing when the social structure blurs. It’s funnier than The Square, not as dark, and less subtle, which I appreciate. Woody Harrelson plays a dejected ship’s captain who quotes Marx to a microphone. If that’s not enough to convince you, halfway through the film there’s a sequence so notorious and disgusting that it will be engraved in your mind for a long time.
On Netflix, Rian Johnson brings back Daniel Craig in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery as Benoit Blanc in a new classic whodunnit with solid socio-political commentary. This time Johnson is taking aim at the likes of Elon Musk, with Edward Norton playing a blatant variation of the multi-millionaire, surrounded by the full gamut of clout-chasing sycophants, from politicians to social media personalities and reality show characters. As in every whodunnit, what makes this film is the writing, and Johnson’s is, as usual, terrific. While Knives Out had its political message written between the lines, this time Johnson cuts out the subtlety and goes for the jugular. Little of the filmmaker’s moral agenda is left to the imagination, but this film is more focused and entertaining than its predecessor. The cast this time includes Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn and Janelle Monáe.
26 December – The Banshees of Inisherin and The Lost King
Martin McDonagh follows the award-winning triumph of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with a return to his native Ireland for Banshees. I had reservations about Three Billboards, so a back-to-the-source project is a welcome turn, especially when it reunites the writer/director with his cast of In Bruges, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. I wasn’t expecting this tremendously sad film about the emotional boundaries of friendship and the pain of getting old to affect me so much. It’s the funniest, bleakest film of the year, but also comforting, like a fireplace — adding warmth to some areas, but likely to combust with repercussions everywhere if you splash with whiskey.
The Lost King is a competent movie that’s perfectly suited to a Boxing Day screening. It’s directed by Stephen Frears, a veteran of the profession, who can pull this off with his arms tied behind his back, and well acted by Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan. It tells the story of the woman obsessed with finding the remains of the much-maligned Richard III in order to clear his name in history as the usurper of the throne who murdered his nephews. It’s a thoroughly British affair, made with the charm of a BBC production, to be enjoyed with biscuits and a cup of tea. If Banshees is too bleak and Irish for a post-Christmas project, The Lost King will do the trick.
1 January – A Man Called Otto
Based on Frederik Backman’s joyless novel A Man Called Ove, in the American adaptation the grumpy protagonist is called Otto, played by Tom Hanks, the nicest and warmest man in the industry. Hanks proves that he can do everything, including convincingly playing his version of Clint Eastwood. Still, the film is perhaps a little too sappy and sentimental. Those who liked the book should probably stick to the 2015 Swedish version. Still, everyone else, especially Hanks fans, won’t complain much. Marc Forster, who directed the picture, is a younger version of Ron Howard because his style is practical, unintrusive, and tailor-made to resonate emotionally. Perhaps a bit too much. It depends on the viewer.
6 January – The Fabelmans
The Fabelmans may or may not be Steven Spielberg’s last film, but it looks like a swan song anyway. It’s an account of Spielberg’s childhood from the moment he saw Cecil B. DeMille’s Greatest Show on Earth, an experience that completely changed his life. The cast includes Paul Dano and Michelle Williams as father and mother and Seth Rogen as a family friend; even David Lynch stops by with an hilarious cameo. But the star is Spielberg’s ego, romantically unrestrained for all of us to see. It’s one of my favourite films of the year, this love letter to those little slices-of-life scenes that have made Spielberg one of the century’s most influential filmmakers.