Florida Project, The (2017)

The Florida Project follows a group of kids living in poverty just outside Disney World.  Led by Moonee, played by Brooklynn Prince, the small group of kids explore and wreak havoc on the motel they call home.  As the children play around the motel, they reveal the poverty that surrounds a fairy-tale world, through the eyes of a child.  It inspiring how children can still find the beauty and lust for life even when the deck is stacked against them.

With the exception of Willem Dafoe, as the dedicated superintendent of the motel, every other cast member was an unknown.  The absence of recognizable faces made the experience more immersive and genuine. Sean Baker’s unique style has a grit and genuine nature that makes his films gripping from start to finish.  At least this was true of The Florida Project and Tangerine.

Lady Bird (2017)

Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing? Love and attention?

 

High school is one of those times in our lives that we never forget.  The awkward navigation of puberty, self-consciousness, and tumultuous interpersonal relationships are the baseline for what become our formative years.  Trying to figure out who we are and at the same time, keep up on school work and planning the trajectory of the next phase of our life.  This can be daunting, but Greta Gerwig was up to the task in her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird.

Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan, as she finishes up her senior year in high school.  Her combative relationship with her mother, Laurie Metcalf, causes the primary source of tension throughout the film.  The McPherson family’s low-income status reduces Lady Bird’s post high school options and is a major source of stress for her mother.  With out-of-state college out of reach, Lady Bird is forced to deal with her ambivalent feelings towards Sacramento and the lackluster prospect of city college. 

This authentic portrayal of high school life, has an honest realism that few coming of age movies ever achieve.  It has the quirks and awkwardness reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite while still anchored in reality.

Detroit (2017)

In 1967, a deadly riot in Detroit turned the city upside down.  With city and state enforcement accompanied by the National Guard, an attempt was made to restore order. When local police and National Guard respond to gunfire from around a nearby motel, a terrible incident unfolds between Detroit police and guests at the Algiers motel.  This dramatization of the events are accompanied by contemporary footage from the riots that both emphasize the story of the individuals involved as well as the climate and civil unrest experienced in Detroit at the time.

Dunkirk (2017)

In May 1940, between 300,000 and 400,000 British troops were trapped between German forces and the ocean.  As they attempted to evacuate the beaches of Dunkirk they fell victim to German Luftwaffe, the German equivalent of the American Air Force.  German planes focused on bombing the evacuating ships and gunning down men on the beach.  British battlecruisers were nearby the beach, however, they were unable to land on the  shallow beach to carry the men to safety.  The smaller ships used to shuttle men back and forth between the beach and the battlecruisers were dwindling and this led to the deployment of civilian vessels from England.  This historic endeavor was codenamed Operation Dynamo.

Christopher Nolan’s new film, Dunkirk, follows the struggle of a few groups of men.  The primary group is comprised of a band of men trying to get off the beach by any means necessary, portrayed by Fionn Whitehad, Aneurin Barnard, and Harry Styles.  The second group is a civilian boat on the way to Dunkirk to rescue troops.  The boat’s crew is made up of Mr. Dawson, played by Mark Rylance, his son, Tom Glynn-Carney and his son’s friend, Barry Keoghan.  The third group we follow is a pair of spitfire pilots, Collins, played by Jack Lowden, and Farrier, played by Tom Hardy.  The intertwined storylines conceived by Nolan provides an intense and immersive look at the historic evacuation of Dunkirk that was a pivotal moment of World War II.