yesterday i saw someone’s ‘best films of 2017’ list and the florida project was on it. the list didn’t give too much away about what the story of film (which i like — i hate knowing too much going into a movie and creating expectations for it) so jenn and i watched it last night. i thought it sucked. but guess what, i read afterward that everyone is cumming in their pants about it, hailing it as great piece of cinema. well, nuts to that.
“a bunch of random people have given it lots of stars so it MUST be good”
let me first give praise where praise is due though: willem dafoe is fucking fantastic in this film. that man is a god damned professional. when he acts, you don’t know he’s acting. it feels real and organic — that’s what a good actor should do. so my hat’s off to him. bria vinaite was pretty convincing as well.
aaaaaand that’s about it. the kids came off as kids being directed to act like kids. yeah i know, they’re just kids, what can i expect? listen, i’m not trying to tear them down. i think that most children will naturally have a limited capacity for acting due to their lack of understanding of the craft. considering that, you can’t expect top notch performances from them, so i don’t hold it against them. i’m just saying that part of the nature of most child actors is sub-par acting. it’s not their fault, that’s simply the nature of the beast, but it does have an impact on the films they’re in. so let’s be honest and as critical of the kids and the overall film as we would any other actors or film: their acting wasn’t believable and that detracted from the rest of the film.
moving on: mela murder, aka halley’s friend ashley, was absolutely horrible. every time she spoke, it sounded like she was learning how to read and was practicing doing it out loud. she was that stiff and unnatural in her delivery. 0/10.
the LA times called murder’s performance “underappreciated,” “raw,” and “perfectly endearing.” i guess those must be the new industry buzz words for “terrible,” “film-destroying,” and “reminiscent of my grade 3 xmas pageant performance.”
something that particularly bothered me: the scene near the end when child protection services shows up to take moonee away was complete bullshit. i’m sick of totally unrealistic depictions of professionals as being completely inept and bumbling. people whose job is to remove kids from bad circumstances understand the gravity of their work. they anticipate and are prepared for the difficult scenes they encounter. they have extensive training in that particular field. they have a fucking clue what they’re doing. they don’t stand around like buffoons while situations escalate to a fever pitch, and they sure as hell don’t helplessly watch as the kids in their care just run off down the street to god knows where. that scene was insulting to the audience, and to people who work in that profession.
the story was shitty too. ‘film spends almost 2 hours showing kids entertaining themselves over the summer and illustrating what trash the mom is, kid gets taken away by CPS.’ it’s weird because there was enough coherent stuff going on that some of the film had a normal, linear story, but there was just as much stuff that was random and seemingly unimportant or unrelated to anything else (like bobby’s son getting angry with him while moving shit into the elevator) which made the film seem more like a character sketch of the hotel and its various inhabitants. these two approaches felt disparate to me, unfocused. maybe that was the director’s intent. don’t know, don’t care. i thought it sucked.
but i get the feeling that one idea the director really wanted the audience to think about with this film was the dual nature of halley: “she’s such a despicable piece of shit…but she truly loves her daughter.” i think that’s a really annoying and pretentious devil’s advocate position to take. why not make a film about hitler’s softer side? i know, that’s a bit of a stretch, but it illustrates my point — a film about hitler’s softer side is a dumb, offensive idea. similarly, suggesting people be more understanding of neglectful parents who do lifelong damage to their kids, intentional or otherwise, is also a dumb, offensive idea.
to sum the florida project up: unfocused; lots of terrible acting; pretentious; preachy. just another piece of shit (dafoe and vinaite’s performances notwithstanding) being lauded by the sycophants and phony industry twits.
business as usual in the entertainment world.