The Florida Project

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kevinknapman
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The Florida Project

#1 Post by kevinknapman » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:51 pm

Once I'd got over the fact that tonight's Odeon Screen Unseen was a film I had a free ticket for tomorrow night (and had also swapped my late shift at work to see it), I bloody loved The Florida Project, Sean Baker's follow-up to Tangerine.

Precocious 6 year old Moonee lives with her mother Halley in a shabby motel called The Magic Castle. Halley struggles to make ends meet, often going to questionable lengths to get by, but Moonee is just having fun spending the summer days hanging out with friends Scooty and Jancey, causing trouble and annoying the long suffering motel manager Bobby.

As well as the slightly false advertising of the motel's name (as one honeymooning couple arriving discover to their disappointment), there are reminders of the World of Disney everywhere, from cheap merchandise sold in stores along the highway, to a Seven Dwarfs Lane roadsign and the fireworks Halley takes Moonee and Jancey to watch from outside the park.
Even the film's title is a reference to the top secret code name given to the amusement park before it was built. Though here it also suggests the low-rent accommodation that people have no choice but to live in.
Despite the proximity, Disney World might as well be a million miles away from the motel and its slightly seedy surroundings.

A little more money and being clearly shot on something a bit fancier than an iphone doesn't seem to have affected Baker's knack for capturing those that live on the margins of society in a loose and unsentimental fashion.
Those wanting a clear linear plot should go elsewhere (as the twitter reactions from the average Screen Unseen viewer after the film prove) but if you settle into it's episodic rhythm, there are plenty of treasures within.

Beautifully directed and shot, capturing the often garish and unique Florida architecture in bright colours, the film is visually interesting throughout.

While a great, mostly unknown, cast impress.
Like Tangerine before it, The Florida Project shows Baker's ability to get amazing performances from inexperienced actors.
Brooklynn Prince steals the film as Moonee, rebellious and out of control but still very much a kid, it's a wonderful and very funny performance. Bria Vinaite is also very good as Halley, more a big sister to Moonee than a mother and prone to some pretty disastrous choices when it comes to making money, she also clearly loves Moonee and the two actresses have fantastic chemistry with each other.
Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera also make fine debuts as Jancey and Scooty.
The casting of a name actor amongst the unknowns could have been jarring but Willem Dafoe is utterly convincing as Bobby, a man who has clearly seen his fair share of Halley and Moonee's come and go in the motel but can't help but be protective towards them, no matter how frustrating they can be.
Blue Ruin's Macon Blair and Caleb Landrey Jones also have brief but memorable roles.

Overall this is a beautifully made film that manages to remain true to the harsh realities of fringe living, whilst conveying the almost magical and carefree way kids have of dealing with it. Another glorious and unmissable feature from Sean Baker.
Last edited by kevinknapman on Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Florida Project

#2 Post by The Sparrow » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:59 am

I hated this and certainly won't be watching it ever again.
I can see brats misbehaving in real life along with their self absorbed, selfie taking, irresponsible mothers. If ever I wanted to play a game on my phone during a film, this was it. There were even annoying spelling mistakes which drove me nuts. Insure instead of ensure and dwarfs instead of dwarves. If that's a genuine road sign I'd be shocked.
I did enjoy Willem Dafoe, boy is he looking fit and toned. Loved the short scene with the 3 birds. It got interesting towards the end but out of all the options available, the actual ending was stupid.
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Re: The Florida Project

#3 Post by stuartboy » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:48 pm

US-A-DHD!

Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary with a token film star.
Most abrupt ending ever.
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Re: The Florida Project

#4 Post by D-Fens » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:24 pm

I've never been to a movie with 16 walkouts before. And that was prior to one of the more unsanitary incidents.

Was unsure about attending myself but saw the trailer before the last preview and was interested in the locations, skies and colour palette which didn't disappoint. La La Land was supposed to be bright and vibrant but it wasn't a patch on this, even with stingy, dull projection.

The trailer also gave a good sense of the skint story which skirts the line to becoming troubling but doesn't quite go there.

The ending was
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a bit Mickey Mouse and felt more like a creator not knowing what to do because it broke the rules and spirit already established by the movie.

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Re: The Florida Project

#5 Post by McG » Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:00 pm

A fair number of walk outs in Glasgow . . .and not a big audience to begin with.
I agree with stuartboy that it was almost a fly on the wall documentary with a great number of contrasts in how people coped in their situation but a large part was focussed on the children and how their parents and other adults treated them.
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The contrast of the 3 main families was very well illustrated . . .no one had a lot of money but one worked and had ambition for her son, another had 2 girls and tried to have an ordered life with proper meals and then the mother whose life was chaotic. They probably had similar amounts of money but had very different homes for their children
Sadly some of the children were very manipulative of adults they came across because of necessity to survive or just for something to do.
I have probably spent 13 holidays in Florida and did spend some time spotting places I'd seen . . . and it is awful to think of people living in these kind of motels with such fanciful names when a few miles along the road is Disney World . . .the happiest place on earth!
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Although the 2 little girls escaped to the Magic Kingdom there is no chance of anyone managing to get in without p*ying as security barriers are everywhere.
I thought the children were very good and played their parts very well . . .possibly not a huge amount of instruction needed!
I would probably have chosen to see this film given the amount of time I've spent in Florida but I don't think I'll ever watch it again . . .nor would I recommend it.
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Re: The Florida Project

#6 Post by RevKeith39 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:21 pm

Puzzled by hype this film has garnered from critics. Case of liberal guilt trip perhaps? Some have praised it because it shows childhood without sugar coating. Others like its humour (sic) For me it was way overlong and came across as an improvised acting workshop. Indie darling Dafoe could have phoned in his performance. The message of ‘close to wealth are pockets of poverty’ is hardly groundbreaking, the Disney backdrop not adding profundity. 5/10.
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Re: The Florida Project

#7 Post by nosila50 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:28 pm

Well what can you say. Just short of two hours watching kids playing. Reminded me of my younger days, when we had the freedom to go out and about for hours, but film plot.....not sure if there was one. Don't get me started on the ending, it was like they ran out of money and the film just went to the titles.
Saying that, the actress who played Mooney was so believable that you would not have thought she was following a script. Certainly would have grudged p*ying for the experience. No walkouts in Edinburgh, most were probably asleep, like my hubby. 3/10
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Re: The Florida Project

#8 Post by prettyxcool » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:41 am

Both my friend and I loved this very thought provoking film, that felt it could have been a documentary minus the narrative, and only the appearance of the well known actor, Willem Dafoe made it not so.

The story is mostly through a child's point of view. A very watchable and authentic realism of life, on a ramshackled cheap housing complex, on the outskirts of Disney World, and so realistically acted by unknowns. A special mention to the little girl, Brooklynn Prince, who plays Moonee, a very mischievous 6 year old girl, who taunts Bobby, the tough but caring motel manager, played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe. Moonee ruthlessly disrupts the complex where she is living, as we follow her during one summer, while her young tattooed mother, also brilliantly played by Bria Vinaite, seems to be more of a sister than a mother, has issues of her own, with a live wire and rebellious lifestyle, and her daily struggles making ends meet.

The script is really emotional and charming. Everything seems extremely natural, kids being hyper, running around, shouting loudly, and having adventures, oblivious of the adults' harsh realities of life in poverty. The abrupt final scene leaves it open to your own interpretations, but rather beautiful as it reflects the innocence of the children, and perhaps their escape from reality. There is no Hollywood saccharine mush here, but understanding, warmth and humility as the events unfolds. 9/10
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Re: The Florida Project

#9 Post by fanADE » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:42 pm

"Overall this is a beautifully made film that manages to remain true to the harsh realities of fringe living, whilst conveying the almost magical and carefree way kids have of dealing with it. Another glorious and unmissable feature from Sean Baker."

I saw this this morning and i found it truly tough going.. a true representation of living on fringes from the child's eye.. the mixture of riotous living with no boundaries ( apart form financial) and the extreme economic reality that the families were surrounded by

for some of us it was too close to the bone.. a representation of our client base... and it never seem to end, though we felt there was an inevitable moment towards tragedy. Good performance from all those involved.. Willem Defoe was quality
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Re: The Florida Project

#10 Post by elixir01 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:01 pm

No walk outs in the cinema. However, I did feel a little restless at times myself, but there were also moments where I really enjoyed watching the film. Some really great performances. Lots of scenes seemed to capture unscripted interactions between the children, which were memorising. Overall I'm going with 4/10.

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