At The New Inquiry, Kaila Philo reflects on what she terms the “New Proletarian Cinema” of a handful of young indie directors in the US. Philo’s piece focuses on The Florida Project (2017), directed by Sean Baker, but also mentions Baker’s previous film, Tangerine (2015), as well as Moonlight (2016), directed by Barry Jenkins, and Good Time (2017), directed by Ben and Josh Safdie. What all these films share, according to Philo, is that they “serve as a farewell to dreams.” Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
Rather than postponing the hyperconsumerist dystopia to a few years down the line (as in Blade Runner) or arguing that technocratic utopia is right under our noses if we just worked hard and believed in ourselves (as Tomorrowland does), Baker grapples with the loss of this 20th century dream by distilling it through our reality, via children who’ve ceased to dream and started making do with what’s right in front of them.
This New Proletarian Cinema serves as a farewell to dreams the way the old Proletarian Cinema of post-WWI Germany served as, as described by Lotte H. Eisner, “a collapse of the imperial dream.” Moonee appears too content to dream in this life she’s always known; while in the old house, she admits to her new friend Jancey (Valeria Cotto) that she wants a home all to her mother and herself, but does so with the insouciant tone of play, as if dreams are to be dabbled with rather than taken seriously. Alexandra meanwhile spends all of Tangerine advertising her show to friends, clients, and passersby on Hollywood streets, all while pressing her friend Sin-Dee to attend, only to perform to an emptying bar.
Image: Still from The Florida Project. Via A24 Films.