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Non-Review Review: The Florida Project

The Florida Project is a beautifully made and deeply condescending film.

Director Sean Baker beautifully captures the sense of listlessness that defines an unlikely community of Tampa residents clustered in the motels that adorn the Strip. Painted in bright colours and christened with familiar-but-non-copyright-infringing names like “Futureworld” or “Magic Castle”, these motels come to embody a purgatory for residents of the area who live in spaces originally designed to accommodate tourists. These characters live in the shadow of Disneyland, but never seem to arrive.

Somewhere over the rainbow.

The Florida Project is an impressive piece of work from a technical standpoint. Baker assembles an impressive cast, drawing out a quiet and moving performance from Willem Dafoe and establishing relative newcomer Brooklynn Prince as a face to watch. Baker’s compositions are impressive, lots of static shots that provide a sense of scale for the characters who seem tiny in comparison to the themed gift shops and giant motels that threaten to swallow them whole. In particular, Alexis Zabe’s cinematography beautifully captures this sun-drenched limbo.

However, there is a patronising cynicism at the heart of The Florida Project, and its portrayal of childhood poverty. The Florida Project is candid in its exploration of the horrors of poverty, of characters who have been failed by all the institutions around them desperately trying to stay afloat. However, it is also very calculated in how it chooses to present family life in the midst of these failures and compromises. The Florida Project tries to mesh a romantic and wistful sketch of childhood with a brutal depiction of live on the margins, and the rest feels disingenuous at best.

Wilderness years.

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Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Delta and the Bannermen originally aired in 1987.

Hey, this doesn’t look like Disneyland.

No, well, according to my reckoning, it seems to be somewhere in, er, Wales.

– Murray and the Doctor get in touch with the “real fifties”

Delta and the Bannermen is quite terrible. That said, it’s not terrible in the same way that, say, Timelash or Attack of the Cybermen or The Twin Dilemma is terrible. It doesn’t offer a demonstration of everything intrinsically wrong with this era of the show, and the frustration isn’t compounded by the sense that nobody producing the show seems interested in watching it and maybe learning from their mistakes.

While that is certainly a promising thing from the perspective of the show, it doesn’t really do the viewer that much good when they are watching it.

Large ham, incoming!

Large ham, incoming!

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Non-Review Review: Snatch

The wonderful folks over at the Jameson Cult Film Club were polite enough to sneak me into their screening of Snatch. It was my first time attending a screening organised by the team, and I was genuinely impressed. seriously, if you live in Ireland and are a film buff, do yourself a favour and pop over to sign on up. They transformed the Tivoli Theatre into a series of sets from the film, with an open trailer park out the back, a boxing ring inside and lovely bit of flavour throughout. It really was a fantastic evening, and the crew deserve a huge amount of kudos for pulling it off in such style. Hell, they even got actors impersonating the characters to introduce the film, with a Brad Pitt impersonator telling us to turn off our phones with the help of subtitles. I honestly think it might be the closest I’ve ever been to living inside a film, and I’ve been to Disneyland.

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