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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Big Screen: The Envelope, Please

I LOVED these two movies and for very different reasons. I Ubered in the rain by myself last week to see "Phantom Thread." And tonight, we rented "The Florida Project" OnDemand.

Just one rich image from "Phantom Thread."
Top 10 reasons I loved it:
  1. The soundtrack...full-on Philharmonic...orchestra....notes rose and fell with the heart of this dark story.
  2. The vintage wallpaper....I often write about wall coverings. These were rich, textured, dressy. Want.
  3. The hair. Daniel Day-Lewis's hair. It has a life of its own. Beautiful and powerful enough to transmit passion, frustration, deep talent, anger and submission without a word.
  4. DDL's tightly wound performance. I hung on every sideways glance, every wandering eye. He pours himself into his work. As a writer, I want you to be where I have been, to see the coral lipstick color, taste the lemon tart, spoon into the fluffy cap on my cappuccino, feel my pain and strain as a legal guardian, experience that soar of joy at a mail delivery of orange Tory sandals from Poshmark for 30 bucks. I want you to feel my feelings overall. As an actor, DDL masterfully took me--slowly, then brashly, then tenderly--to another time and place. I felt his feelings, felt the steely pins in his hand as he fitted a dress....
  5. Lesley Manville as his sister. Incredible. An arched eyebrow said so much. Her crisp walk in the style salon was all business.
  6. The army of seamstresses, with their sewing boxes, their needles and thread, their creative gifts and their discipline.
  7. 1950s London. 
  8. Breakfast. Tea, toast, porridge. Bacon, sausages, eggs cooked just so. A tea kettle that looks so heavy to lift. Every tense bite, every spoonful.
  9. Portrayal of a gifted artist. His sketchbook. His inability to really separate his role as a man [and especially a lover] from his role as a high-society dress designer.
  10. The messages hidden in the dress seams..such as never cursed.
Take a peek at the vintage wallpaper.
We just watched this in our living room. Would not have wanted to if Punchy were home, but since she is off happily on a sleepover......

This is heavy. This is real. This is beautiful. Willem Dafoe is incredible as the manager of a garishly painted Florida hotel that is home to many welfare families.

Director Sean Baker, who co-wrote the script with Chris Bergoch, went for the heartstrings but not in a sugary or syrupy way. The big actions are written sparely; it's up to you as the viewer to extrapolate. The story can seem slow at first, but that's because it is so closely observed.

Brooklyn Prince is captivating as young Moonee...with her spunk, humor, gift for making friends and brunette ponytail, she reminds me very much of our Punchy...and their situations are similar. Child Protection Services stepping in,'s heartbreaking.....on both sides, and for everyone.

The view of children left to their own devices to explore their world without adults....putting a fish in the hotel swimming pool to see if it lives; being fascinated with a sunbather's boobs; wanting for waffles and berries and soda. Most of what they do is ok but some of it is downright dangerous and even criminal when not under a parent's eye. Calling the place where they live with their mother or grandmother home--even if it is a room in a motel and they eat pizza slices in bed--that is real. That is tender and true. Home is where your parental figure is, no matter how flawed your day to day is.

That really blew me away, Dan said. So we agree on that. He has written about foster care/children at risk for The New York Times Magazine. Yet we don't see the message of this movie in quite the same way. He has a hard time with even a neglected child being taken from an unfit mother.

Even if the child has to stay in the bathtub in the hotel room while the mom has sex with men to make money for the rent? I asked.

She should be given money so she doesn't have to do that, he said. [He means from the government.] Foster care can screw up people's lives.

Bleeding heart liberal here in my midst.

It's a long story.

Good night.

  1. I took the morning bus into the city to see Kim, a sunny blonde friend* from Georgia whom I met through my blog. Kim found my blog after I published an essay about Dad and the Cape Cod house in Coastal Living Magazine. Kim and her sister-in-law, Kristi, who lives in Virginia, were here for a few days and I was so happy to see them. We had hot chocolate and talked...we looked at the skaters at Rockefeller Center and zipped into Saks Fifth Avenue, where we were promptly spritzed and sprayed with fragrances.
  2. Walked back and forth between Saks Fifth Avenue and the Port Authority.
  3. This evening, Dan and I went out for drinks and tacos in Montclair with our dear friends Anne and Michael. So nice.
*I have two sunny blonde Kims in my life. You know the other Kim from Brooklyn! xo


  1. I couldn’t get past the jerkiness of ddl’s Character and thought their coping mechanism for marriage eye-rollingly bad, but agree as to general gorgeousness of PT. And Florida Project would have been my Best Picture for the year. Loved the performances, the child view setting, the nuanced view of humanity.

    So fun you meeting blog friends in person each month this year! Glad you had some fun this weekend after a dreary week.

    1. Hi Liz...right the jerkiness of his character....tender at times, though I guess the extent of that is carefully ordering breakfast in a flirty way when he meets waitress (his bacon order makes her blush) and also walking on beach he says something romantic...otherwise jerky....good word choice. and yes, coping mechanism for marriage was sick, ill-advised.

  2. I LOVED Florida Project, agree with Liz Best Picture. But so close to home for you, must have evoked complex feelings and thoughts. Much that needs to be fixed in our country so certain situations don’t arise. But when they do, hard to work out what is the right thing.

    This is theory for me, real life for you. God bless you.

    Love, Nan

    1. and I just said to Dan--he saw a tragic scene, a family with no toilet paper and the several kids (with birth mom) had to wipe using the shower curtain.....I just said, you're saying that is right, that kids should stay in a situation like that? "Oh, that's totally different," he said. He believes we have saved a single life with Punchy but as I mentioned at our brunch, he has endless compassion for her mom. It is really not healthy because the behavior and lifestyle is not above board.....but Dan had a complicated childhood, too....

  3. oof, another FP fan here. My best pic, too. We waz robbed.

  4. Hello my friends! thanks for reading the movie reviews. I just edited the Florida Project one--because I am not judging when a dear child considers a motel room home., eating pizza in bed. I see and understand that. I see that unclose. The situation is so complex. I don't know what the answer is. "Children do better with their birth parents"--that is the party line our class was told in our foster parent training. The DYFS people wanted us not to get our hopes up about adopting one of the foster kids in our care......I grapple with this. Is it really ok for a child to stay with a mother who is taking in men/customers for money, using drugs, lying, disrespecting authority.....remember the scene in Florida when Moonee's mom turns her butt to the manager, takes out sanitary pad, sticks it on hotel window? truly....tell me...what is best......yes, Moonee's Mommy loves her....

    1. typo....I meant I see that upclose, not unclose!!!!

    2. Boy this movie is really getting me riled up and ready to talk.....even yesterday, Saturday, when I got a bus at 10 a.m. to NYC to meet Kim and Kristi and returned to my home at 3 p.m. (because I missed the earlier bus by 1 minute, wanted to be home by 2 p.m.), Punchy kind of ran wild. Dan was in his 2nd floor office crunching on a book writing deadline. He and she checked in with each other, of course, he made her breakfast, she ran out to play and hop on bikes on the block with two neighborhood pals (boys from nice families/around her age). Yet, yet.....Dan said she had on a long T-shirt but did not have on shorts/pants...when he noticed, he made her come in and put on shorts.....but see what I mean? the impulses.....the need parents to be present.....I can't be in a sugar coma....neither Dan nor I can be too engrossed in work....we need our sitter sometimes...Figgy works all day Saturdays and Sundays.....

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