8 items from 2017
23 May 2017 7:46 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Aside from having an exceptional gift for finding beauty in disenfranchised outsider existences, director Sean Baker also has a special feeling for female friendship — tracing the unlikely connection that develops between a porn actress and a lonely octogenarian widow in Starlet; the scrappy loyalty of two transgender prostitutes in Tangerine; and now in The Florida Project, the infectious joy and shared summer adventures of a pair of 6-year-old girls living in neighboring budget motels, who create their own magic kingdom across the poverty line from Walt Disney World, Orlando.
The two sparkling recruits playing those roles, Brooklynn Kimberly Prince »
- David Rooney
There are surely few sweeter delights in this troubling world of ours than seeing Willem Dafoe politely escort a group of storks off a motel driveway. It is, perhaps, the best of a number of striking visual flourishes in Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, an aesthetically rich but narratively slight film that sees the writer-director (along with cinematographer Alexis Zabe) switch from the saturated and much-celebrated iPhone camerawork utilized for his last film Tangerine to the crackle and unmistakable warmth of celluloid.
Indeed, it proves a perfect tool for capturing the bizarre imitation-Disney hotels in which the film plays out, but could it be too beautiful for its own good? Baker indulges just a little too much time shooting his young hyperactive actors in off-key locations and perhaps not enough on their character development or narrative arcs.
- Rory O'Connor
Protagonist Pictures, which is in its 10th year, has a stable of auteur thoroughbreds, including two films in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight. Recent festival hits include “Lady Macbeth,” “God’s Own Country” and “American Honey,” with upcoming fare including Clio Barnard’s “Dark River” and Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War.” Mike Goodridge, CEO of the U.K.-based sales outfit, talks to Variety.
What are the highlights of your Cannes slate?
We have two American films in Directors’ Fortnight, one is Chloe Zhao’s “The Rider,” and the other is Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project,” starring Willem Dafoe. They are both really exciting filmmakers.
[“The Florida Project”] is Sean’s sixth film; “Tangerine,” “Prince of Broadway” and “Starlet” are his most famous films, and this is the next step up if you like. It is really exciting that he has joined the Cannes fraternity because “The Florida Project” is a really accomplished piece of work. »
- Leo Barraclough
“The Little Rascals” meets “The Little Fugitive” in Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project,” a loose, endearing followup to “Tangerine” and another deep dive into impoverished America from the inside out. Baker has staked his filmmaking career on coaching vivid performances from non-traditional actors, and “The Florida Project” features a six-year-old girl in a freeflowing narrative and largely inhabits the limitations of her perspective, with mostly winning results.
Where “Tangerine” took place across the across the busy streets of Los Angeles, “The Florida Project” unfolds almost exclusively within the constraints of a budget motel on the outskirts of Orlando. The purple-hued Magic Castle Motel exists in Disney World’s decrepit backyard, and provides a very different sort of playground for the kids who live in its confines.
These include Moonee (Brooklynn Prince »
- Eric Kohn
Though he’s a New York City native, Sean Baker’s last two films — 2012’s “Starlet” and 2015’s groundbreaking, iPhone-shot transgender comedy “Tangerine” — were quintessentially Californian life studies. His fifth feature, “The Florida Project,” carries his warm observational skills across to the Sunshine State; following a precocious 6-year-old girl (Brooklynn Prince) through an eventful, sometimes blissful summer, it boasts Baker’s highest budget to date, and an unpredictable ensemble including Willem Dafoe. It unspools in the Directors’ Fortnight strand at Cannes.
Congratulations on your first Cannes selection.
It feels like I’m definitely playing in a different arena. The lineup this year is so exciting for a cinephile, especially in Directors’ Fortnight. I actually feel like I’m living a weird little dream, because I’m in the same section as Abel Ferrara and Bruno Dumont — both directors who had an influence on this particular film.
“The Florida Project” is »
- Guy Lodge
Variety‘s chief film critics Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman look ahead at the Cannes festival lineup and tell us what they really want to see when the festival kicks off May 17.
Peter Debruge’s Picks
It’s not like the world was asking for a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic, based on the Thomas Cullinan novel about a wounded Union soldier who bewitches an entire boarding school of lonely Confederate ladies — although now that it exists, consider me intrigued. Certainly, we can expect Sofia Coppola to repair the gender balance, which is the most backwards thing about director Don Siegel’s otherwise intoxicating testosterone-fueled fantasy.
It’s about time Cannes took note of one of America’s most exciting indie voices, inviting “Tangerine” director Sean Baker into the fold. Apart from a general fascination with strange contemporary subcultures, and a capacity to translate »
- Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman
Sean Baker is going south. The lauded indie filmmaker of such La-centric offerings as “Starlet” and his breakout “Tangerine” has turned his attentions to the magical, weird, and magically weird environs of Florida for his newest film, appropriately titled “The Florida Project.”
The film will make its debut later this month at Cannes as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section, a starry berth for Baker’s follow-up to the boundary-busting (shot on an iPhone!) Indie Spirit award-winning “Tangerine.” The film is one of the few hot titles available for North American buyers at this year’s festival.
When we spoke to Baker last year for an exclusive first look at the project, the filmmaker clarified the meaning of the film’s title, as our Chris O’Falt explained, “The film is not, »
- Kate Erbland
There is nothing on the surface of “Live Cargo” that would suggest anything more than a cookie-cutter relationship drama: A young couple struggles with the trauma of their stillborn child, escaping to an exotic island to work through their problems; in the process, they’re swept up in island life, and given a second chance to appreciate their shared existence. Fortunately, the black-and-white debut of writer-director Logan Sandler is just sharp enough to complicate its clichés with strong performances and a mesmerizing tone that pushes the mopey proceedings into psychological thriller territory. Despite some clunkier moments, it’s a notable effort to avoid some familiar traps.
“Live Cargo” mainly follows Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Lakeith Stanfield) as they arrive at the unspecified Bahamian island that Nadine’s family visited in her youth. It’s there that she introduces Lewis to Roy (Robert Wisdom), the island’s mayor and stern patriarch, »
- Eric Kohn
8 items from 2017
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