Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Florida Project (2017)

When Allison Anders was looking for a cinematographer to lens her film Mi Vida Loca, lots of candidates tried to impress her by talking about the “gritty” looks they were capable of getting. Anders opted for Rodrigo Garcia instead, because he recognized that the whole point of the movie was to be from the POV of Echo Park residents who see their neighborhood as the most beautiful place on earth. A quarter century later, Sean Baker and his team seem to have taken the same approach to their film - The Florida Project.

Just because the budget is small, the actors are non-professional, and the locations are functional, doesn’t mean the film has to look like garbage. From frame one, The Florida Project has more style than 90% of the crap out there. Cinematographer Alexis Zabe and Production Designer Stephonik Youth are able to turn a couple motels and a few restaurants into a child’s wonderland that is on-par with the amusement park around the corner. This movie can seriously stand toe to toe with Killer of Sheep and Pather Panchali as a romantically subjective depiction of impoverished living, featuring non-actors, that still bluntly acknowledges the brutality that can encroach from any and all directions. And then there’s that ending!

How was this not a Best Picture nominee and Three Billboards was? This world is a cruel place. But it’s also beautiful.

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