[EXPRESSO] The Fabelmans (2022) | Cut n Spliced

Spielberg is back after last year’s excellent remake of West Side Story with The Fablemans, a romanticized semi-biographic retelling of his upbringing, especially the Arizona period of his childhood, following Sammy Fabelman, a boy that grew in a post-WWII jewish family and developed a deep love for cinema thanks to his mother.

He then further seeks refuge in cinema and making it after learning a shocking family secret, finding in the seventh art a way to process the uncomfortable truth he stumbled upon, alongside the many challenges he faces growing up, also due to his specific religious upbringing.

To state the obvious and to corroborate what Spielberg already explained in a very small pre-movie introduction, it is and indeed feels like the director’s most personal film yet about family and cinema, this kind of insight could have been autogenerated more than written.

What’s more important is that you easily kinda forget this is a semi-fictional story about Spielberg’s own childhoood and how his love for cinema blossomed, because you quickly become invested in the troubles of the Fablemans as a whole, the characters are that good indeed, the cast (which also includes David Lynch in a fantastic small role) it’s amazing, the themes are dealt with maturity, realism, the drama and comedy perfectly balance out each other, etc

I could use some more trite expressions, but i prefer to just go straight to the point with this one: it’s really, really good, exactly what you’d expect (in the positive sense) from the celebrated director, just Spielberg knockin it out of the park again, proving – if proof was needed to begin with – that he has more than “still got it” and that 2021’s West Side Story wasn’t a fluke.

Just go see it, even in a law abiding fashion.

[EXPRESSO] Dante (2022) | Not Produced by EA Games

One of the advantage of being Italy-based is being able to easily see new movies from old italian directors that will never make the jump overseas, even on streaming, like this new romanticized retelling of the life of Dante Alighieri, released in theathers here in late September, simply called “Dante” and directed by Pupi Avati (famous for The House With The Laughing Windows, and also 2019’s Il Signor Diavolo).

Don’t ever say i don’t strive for variety, because i can assure you even here this is a niche release.

Regardless, it’s a period piece set in Reinassance Italy and fittingly follows Giovani Boccaccio’s ( the author of the Decameron and the first biographer of Dante, essential for cementing The Divine Comedy’s influence over time) efforts in redacting a piece about the life of the tuscanian poet, roughly 30 years after Dante’s death in 1321, coming in contact with people that were close to the poet and gathering new insight as he journeys to Ravenna in order to give Dante’s daughter monetary compensation on behalf of the city of Florence.

…it’s actually pretty good, as it goes for a realistic, grounded approach, does not shy away from the many unsavory aspects of the period or Dante’s life as a whole, be it the aftermath of the black plague, the political and religious intrigues in Florence leading to Dante fighting on the field and being exiled by the pope, the later years of extreme poverty, and not just quoting passages from his opus or his love for Beatrice.

All with a great italian cast, good costumes, some weird visuals, making for a good movie with a very niche target audience, even more since it’s definitely not an oversimplified digest of Dante Alighieri’s life and legacy made for audiences not versed in literature.

[EXPRESSO] The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021) | Gospel Canonicus

Kinda had to review this one as it drops here just now… and it’s the only big international release in theathers. Incredibly slow week.

I will preface i wasn’t really familiar with the subject itself… because we aren’t obliged to know every cultural phenomenon America experienced, and the idea of “televangelist” it’s pretty odd, maybe it’s just that i happen to live in the country where the Pope has its own enclave state.

I just knew it was a biopic fashioned out of a previous documentary (as the movie itself says) about this couple of televangelists that between the ’70s and 80s created a media empire by estabilishing the most popular religious TV broadcasting network in the world, with all the rivalry, obstructions and scandals that are bound to happen in the television business.

At the center of it is Tammy Faye, portrayed as a woman with incredible natural charm that genuinely wants to spread joy to all people but ends up used and attacked by people that want to bring her down.

On the plus side the cast it’s great, with Jessica Chastain in the title role, Andrew Garfield as her husband (and Vincent D’Onofrio)… but it’s clearly a case where the movie was entirely built on the singular premise of “Jessica Chastain is Tammy Faye”, there’s really nothing else to this obvious surface level selling point, it’s structured as a very by-the-numbers biopic, with no intention to dwelve to any depth into its own themes.

It’s a movie that feels made to make the cast and costume designers win awards more than actually saying anything of substance about the true story and people it’s based on.

It’s not boring or awful, but it’s definitely a movie held together by the admittely amazing performances more than any real vision.

[EXPRESSO] My Name Is Dolemite (2019) | Rat Soup

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Time for me to get some use out my Netflix subscription, and this wasn’t gonna screen in Italy anyway.

Shame, because the idea of a biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, the comedian better known to film buffs as his character Dolemite, starring in the eponymous movie and the sequel The Human Tornado (and many others), is a great idea. Especially the first Dolemite is a legendary and beloved piece of blaxploitation cinema, one of the few films where the boom mic is visibly in the movie more than the villain, and with overall quality rivalled only by stuff like The Guy From Harlem.

Telling the story of Rudy Ray Moore, an aspiring 70s Los Angeles comedian that manages to finally find success with his alter-ego/character of Dolemite, a foul mouthed motherfucker in pimp attire, leading to do some comedy records, which brings him some fame and money, all risked to make a movie about the character, in spite of everyone’s advice and good ol’ common sense (like a 70’s black version of Ed Wood, in a way), but Rudy is not gonna have it any other way.

While it’s even better for film buffs that already knew of the story, it’s an amazing portrait of a man struggling to make his name known, to realize it’s dream, and his ambivalent relantioship to the Dolemite persona he doesn’t really identify with after all, but can’t also give up. And isn’t exactly a flattering portrait, but it shouldn’t be, and the script has a perfect balance of goofy and serious, with space for more somber (and not somber) self-reflection, but also to lovingly recreate ridiculous scenes from the first Dolemite movie, with a top notch cast (which includes Snoop Dogg/Lion), especially Eddie Murphy who is killing it as Rudy/Dolemite.

He ain’t lying.

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[EXPRESSO] Tolkien (2019) | Warlocks & Dragons

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Preface: i didn’t read any of the novels of mr. Tolkien, i didn’t knew what
his actual life was like, i watched the Lord Of The Rings movies. That’s it, that’s how much i knew before seeing this in theathers. That, and how the Tolkien family didn’t approve or endorse the motion picture.

So i didn’t exactly know what to expect, besides the obvious. And frankly you just get that, the expected from a dramatized biopic of a fantasy author. We start in media res when J.R. Tolkien is figthting in the trenches of WWI while searching disperately for one of his friends, and he struggles to survive we get to see his life with his brother and mother living in slums, then as orphans in the foster home of an Ofxord aristocratic lady that took them in, his romance with Edith, another orphan already under her wings, and his circle of friends made at the Ofxord university.

Tying this all together is Tolkien passion for creating stories, legends of magic and fantasy lands, great dangers and journey, even going so far as to create a new alphabet and language specifically for his tales, which carries over in significant event of his life and here is made to create parallel with his fantasy creations, and the struggle to make the unevitable truths of life better with the power of art, and how it lead to him writing the Hobbit, etc etc.

It’s got a decent-good cast, a very good scenography, likeable characters, it’s heart it’s in the right place, and it’s not like it undermines its own point or anything like that.

But it’s also a very standard romanticized biopic of a creative’s troubled life, it’s decent, fairly enjoyable, but, you’ve already seen this before, and done better.

It’s alright.

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