19 June 2018

The Florida Project

Back in the late '70s and '80s Woody Allen made a bunch of lame movies about, I can only suppose, *chic* New York pantywaists.  These movies were critical and somewhat commercial successes, but I thought while watching them: what fucking country are these movies taking place in?  Allen's New York seemed like a foreign country, populated by a horde of four-eyed simpering navel-gazers dressed in Faggot Life clothes and eating in anorexic restaurants where the food covered about 1/4 of the plate. . .

They weren't movies about people who got paid by the hour and ate Stouffer's frozen lasagna. . .

But back then white America had a middle class, and I guess enough of them figured that Woody Allen's soft pantywaist lifestyle was their future, that's what their expected upward mobility would lead to, so they bought just enough tickets to keep Allen in a director's chair while he was molesting his wife's kids.  

But, in truth, Allen's movies were just Fairy Tales for 99% of Americans.  The future for them was economic decline, and for their children the kind of derelict lifestyles first glimpsed in Larry Clark's late '90s gothic crypto-kiddie porn flicks.  Reagan-era movies that depicted America and Americans as repellent and pitiable were few and far between.   

But now in 21st century America most white Americans are broke, and their children's souls have been polluted by the so-called *rap* or *hip-hop* culture, leaving them with black America's disdain for education, work and proper English. Back in the day, Marshall Mathers tried to put a Happy Face on white ruin with 8 Mile, a syrupy, wigger's Rocky.  

Fifteen lean years later, we have The Florida Project, an honest and thorough-going cinematic depiction of white American decline, the gutter drop to the no-melting-pot-to-piss-in America, where whites have fallen to the Motel Hell lifestyle of raggedy-ass browns and blacks.

They say the current unemployment rate in America is 4%, as if all the millions of whites who lost jobs in the late '00s suddenly found gainful employment. . .but no, they just gave up looking for work.  Do you ever wonder what the new white deadbeats do, how they manage to scrape along without decent jobs?  Defrauding an Innkeeper, Defrauding the System, Defrauding Each Other.  In the New America of The Florida Project, waiting tables full-time at a waffle house is a career capstone. 

In telling the story of six-year-old Moonee and her barely more mature 20-something wigger mother Halley's squalid life on the wrong side of the tacky tracks of Disney World, The Florida Project is masterpiece of truthful cinema featuring a near-tedious compendium of scenes of contemporary American domestic dysfunction.  What keeps this grim look at red, white and blue poverty and child neglect from being a soul-wearying journey is the rhapsodical spirit of Moonee and her little motel rat pals.  They're fetal alcohol syndrome Little Rascals causing mischief up-and-down a decaying tourist town strip.  From the opening scene, when Moonee calls a fat slovenly woman a ratchet bitch, the viewer is treated to two hours of Extended Stay punk hijinks.   The grubby brats torment Twistee Treat ice cream girls, taunt sunbathing exhibitionists, burn down abandoned time shares and cause countless headaches for motel manager Bobby (played by veteran heavy Willem Dafoe, about the only *professional* actor in the cast, and the only one whose performance looks false, despite the critics' fawning reviews).

Moonee's mom Halley is one of those sad ugly pretty white girls raised to fail on the so-called *rap* or *hip-hop* culture, a potty-mouth loser with an African-American's disrespect for everybody even moderately more successful, with success for her meaning getting over on the next loser, a Courtney Love without Kurt Cobain's money.  She's more buddy than mother to Moonee, not nearly as concerned about the effect the sight of her sucking cock in their motel room might have on her daughter as she is about keeping her entertained.

You know from the get-go that Halley's *life choices* are doomed to end in tragedy for this half-nuclear disaster of a family, and the tears in Moonee's eyes are the predictable-but-necessary ending to keep this tale of broken-down America grounded in truth.  A searching and fearless moral inventory of the nouveau American skid row, The Florida Project is a resounding refutation to the current Make America Great Again fantasy. 

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