Long after I watched it, I still think about The Florida Project from 2017 staring Willem Dafoe. The small budget sleeper which received many acting nominations and awards for Dafoe was recognized by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year in 2017.
Set in Florida the story centers on six year old Moonee who with her mother lives at the Magic Castle, a faded pink stucco two story motel located along a busy freeway. Without helicoptering parents to squash their freedom Moonee and her friends from the motel are free to roam which also means there is no one to protect them when their curiosity and creativity can have dangerous results. A visually captivating film, the single shot of a sign advertising the proximity of Walt Disney World to Magic Castle is not lost on the viewer.
Dafoe with his weathered face has seen many lives pass thru the motel he manages which serves as housing for poor single mothers who resort to any way to make the rent money from reselling fake Disney World tickets to prostitution. Meanwhile the looming threat is family services will discover these desperate acts by Moonee’s mother and she will lose her daughter to foster care. Dafoe is the stability in the lives of the motel residents both children and adults. But for how long can he protect the children and their mothers from making bad choices. As consequences unfold the viewer is left to wonder what truly would be the best outcome for Moonee.
Recommendation by Katie
If there is only one thing that readers take away from my review, let it be this:
This is essentially what the big Oscar-bait film boils down to, but it is so much more about the nuanced journey than the destination. Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz feature in this jet black loosely historical comedy based on the reign and life of Queen Anne. During the midst of war with France, all the ailing monarch can focus on is her own pain and pleasure. Every person that serves her from the lowest chambermaid to the nobility clamors for her attention. The favor of the queen is the most valuable asset a person can claim, even if it is fleeting.
Abigail Hill (Stone) comes to court a destitute young maid who was gambled away by her father. Wide-eyed and covered in filth, she stumbles into this grandiose world with only her naive charm and a seizable bag of ambition. Abigail lies in wait surveying the politics of her new habitat and observes the massive influence that her cousin Sarah Churchill (Yes, that Churchill) has over Anne. Anne is a terrible Queen. She has the most mercurial temper, she is very self conscious, and she would prefer the company of her 17 rabbits to affairs of state. Lady Sarah (Weisz) is Anne’s lover and more importantly the woman behind the woman. As the queen’s favorite she is given unparalleled influence and effectively rules the country. Abigail wants that power and the course of this movie is the rabbit race for supremacy.
This movie is exceptional. Even though there are a lot of dramatic moments throughout I found myself laughing uncontrollably. Having watched three Yorgos Lanthimos films, the absurdist and often unnatural-sounding dialogue works really well as a source of comedy. This is what I think makes The Favourite and The Lobster enjoyable when I found The Killing of a Sacred Deer painful to sit through.
Despite how much I have been propping up the comedic aspects of this film, it also has some jarring moments of pathos. Even though all of these people are terrible and weird, the acting of the three brilliant leads causes you to root for them both as flawed individuals and as couples. (Team Sarah!!!!) The Favourite made me reflect on the nature of love. Sarah is not frost-cold and unfeeling toward Anne, but she does have to be the heavy a lot of the time and tell her when her makeup looks terrible or not to overindulge in sweets. Abigail is superficially more kind to Anne but everything she does has an ulterior motive. Will honesty and sense win the day or will Anne be blind to Abigail’s flattery?
Disney’s new live action reboot of “Dumbo” is fun for the whole family, but I feel it lacks some of the key elements that deemed it a “classic.” Some of the parts from the original have been edited out to make it more appropriate for modern times, which is great, but I think deviating from the original storyline took away from the film as opposed to adding to it. All in all, it was a great film, but the original animated version from 1941 will always be THE classic. – Children’s Room Staff
“Recommending First Man feels a little like giving a gift at Christmas. It’s a great film with almost real action scenes, skillful camera and cinematographic work that supplies its’ own drama, and a script tethered tightly to the film. The in-cabin perspective makes the experience palpable and believable, shining a light on the Gemini/Apollo missions to reach the moon. Steve recommends the film with four rockets and two boosters out of 5 rockets! Click on the image to find this item in our catalog.