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Background movie double feature today: slices of struggling lower-class life with THE FLORIDA PROJECT and NEVER GOIN' BACK
THE FLORIDA PROJECT is a great as everyone says; where every character in co-writer/director Sean Baker's previous project TANGERINE was an absolute asshole, here he pulls back to show people desperately hanging on to the edge rather than people who've toppled over it.
Willem Dafoe is the manager of a motel where most of his guests are barely staying clear of residency laws, Bria Vinaite is a single mom with a belfry full of issues, and Brooklynn Prince is her mischevious daughter building a normal childhood in a dysfunctional environment.
In an era where Hollywood mostly makes movies about, and actors line up to play, people who are rich and/or smart, Baker stands out by making movies about people who are poor and heartbreakingly dumb, & casting actors who fearlessly commit to looking human, desperate, & foolish.
Dafoe is amazing as the responsible person in a world of wildly irresponsible people, doing what he can to keep some semblance of order in the face of tragedies all around him. Vinaite disappears into her part no perfectly it brings to mind some of the best work of William Hurt.
And Prince is lovely and naturalistic, with a truly remarkable performance. She's not a Hollywood movie's idea of a little kid; she's just a little kid, and you cheer for her, even as your heart breaks to see her stuck in that world.
Augustine Frizzell's NEVER GOIN' BACK is a much less-accomplished film -- it has the common debut feature problem of every scene going on at least a full minute too long -- but has charm and some winning moments.
Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone are drug-loving high-school dropouts who want nothing more than a birthday trip to Galveston, but have to scramble for rent money after one's brother squanders it on an yet another ill-fated effort to become a drug dealer.
NEVER GOIN' BACK has kind of a weird mismatch between script and filmmaking: the script *really* has a Kevin Smith vibe but the film has a very realistic and polished cinematography to it.
There's a lot of stuff in NEVER GOIN' BACK that could have landed much, *much* better if the pace had been picked up quite a bit.
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