Tag Archives: Sean Baker

A Tribute to Sean(s) on his Birthday

Today is Sean’s birthday and since I prefer giving experiences to things, we’re in New Orleans, toasting his encroaching death. As if this spectacular city isn’t enough, we’re also here to see Sean’s favourite team defeat the local Pelicans. We’ve seen the Golden State Warriors play numerous times over the years, not bad for people who live 2900 miles away, though never, oddly enough, in the golden state itself, though we have been there, for my birthday. Last year we celebrated Sean’s birthday in Hawaii, and the year before that in Whistler, and before that I honestly can’t even remember, which is embarrassing. Mexico, maybe?

Anyway, since I praised the virtues of his particular vintage last year, I thought this year we could celebrate with a tribute to all the famous Seans worthy of the name. Sean is an Irish name of course, and my Sean will be horrified to know it’s derived from the French, Jean, or John as we know him in English. The meaning of the name Sean is ‘Irish God is gracious, or gift from God’, and I’m not even rolling my eyes as I type that (oh wait yes I am).

Sean Bean: Sean has always had an affinity for this guy and I’ve always been suspicious of the fact that his name doesn’t rhyme. Today I’m downright 9992b72c6cacfa598de9845a090eb2c168900a2774a8b5b1cb6aa069ed0727fddisappointed to learn that Sean is just some Hollywood affectation and that his legal name at birth was merely Shaun. He’s an imposter! But he’s been in lots of the exact kinds of shitty movies that my Sean adores – The Lord of the Rings, for example, which inspired a gag in The Martian that my Sean laughed heartily at while simultaneously half-heartedly explaining it to me and basically telling me to never mind. But basically Sean Bean is the guy who dies a lot – tied with Bela Lugosi, with about 0.32 deaths per film. Although, I find it noteworthy that he’s also the guy who (in real life) marries a lot – 5 times so far!

Sean Astin: Fun fact: Bean and Astin have matching tattoos – the number 9 in honour of their being one of the original nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring. For pretend. So far it seems that Seans are quite nerdy. The good news is he’s a Sean for real (although he was born with the last name Duke, being Patty Duke’s illegitimate son, later adopted by her then-husband John Astin) which is a relief because we wouldn’t want our Sean to have to reconsider his stance on The Goonies after all these years. And what better way to rock the 80s vibe than to cast Sean Astin as the goofy stepdad in Stranger Things? Very glad to see him pop up there, and kind of horrified about the rest.

Sean Young: Another imposter of sorts – Sean is a middle name and Mary is her actual given name. Good grief! No doubt she wangled her way into young Sean’s heart by appearing in Stripes, and then Blade Runner (and is credited in Villeneuve’s sequel as an acting coach to the new Rachel) but Sean Young also has a long history gal_cw_sean-young (1)of batshit crazy. Her role in Wall Street was drastically reduced over clashing repeatedly with Oliver Stone. She was sued by James Woods for harassment, and is said to have left a disfigured doll on his doorstep. She lost a role in Tim Burton’s Batman when she broke her arm during rehearsals and tried to win the role of Catwoman with a homemade costume and the stalking of Burton and Micheal Keaton. She also lost a role in Dick Tracy, this time, she claims, because she rebuffed Warren Beatty. Lately she’s been relegated to soap operas and reality TV (she was first to be voted off skating with the stars) so this is one Sean who isn’t living up to the name.

Sean Penn: A legit Sean but also a somewhat nutty one, he’s credited with popularizing the word dude thanks to Fast Times at Ridgemont High and he’s appointed himself ambassador to everywhere, visiting Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Haiti, even New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, and while his diplomacy may be doing some good, he’s not exactly diplomatic. He got in trouble with the UK when he appeared to take Argentina’s side in the Faulkland Islands debate, and he shocked the world by declaring Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez his friend – and condemning those who call him dictator. And of course he’s in hot water with Mexico for his secretive El Chapo interview. That would be enough for 5 political careers, and let’s remember that his actual career is actor – he’s been in 50 movies and earned 2 Oscars.

Sean Gunn: To understand the core difference between Sean and I, all you need to download (2)know is that for me, Sean Gunn is that guy from Gilmore Girls, and for Sean, he’s part of the Marvel universe. His brother is film maker James Gunn, and when James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, needed a stand-in for the part of the wily racoon Rocket, he called up his little brother Sean. It was Sean who wore the green suit and did all the hard work, and Bradley Cooper who gets all the credit for having voiced him. Luckily, Sean also won the part of Kraglin, Yondu’s second in command, so he isn’t left out.

Sean Baker: Just a small word about a newish director we’ve come to really admire. We discovered him only recently, with Tangerine, a movie strikingly different and incredibly moving. Baker has a knack for presenting the real underbelly of life in a way that’s both authentic and hopeful. He explores that even further with The Florida Project. Whereas Tangerine charms you, sits in your lap and purrs in your ear, The Florida Project takes you by the hand, asks you to become a part of it. It’s very effective film making, and he’s an invigorating director to watch.

Sean Connery: I’ve saved the best for last. This Sean is Scottish of course, and proud of it. He joined the Royal Navy and was a bodybuilder in his youth – he even had the offer to play soccer professionally but understood that he’d have a longer career in acting, and boy was he right. Ian Fleming was originally unconvinced about Connery playing Bond, thinking him too rough and muscular, but was so persuaded by Dr. No he actually changed Bond’s background to reflect Connery’s. But Connery himself was never sure about succumbing to a franchise and eventually grew bored – his 1QcjG02s6ZQG6TdOUS3xmywclose friend Michael Caine knew better than to even mention it at the time. Despite saying ‘never again’ (ring any bells, Daniel Craig?), he came back for one more, wryly titled Never Say Never Again – and he had his wrist broken by a fight choreographer named Steven Seagal. His career spanned much more than just James Bond but here’s a little tidbit for you: he could have joined the Sean club in the Lord of the Ring series and turned down 15% of global receipts to play Gandalf (which would have netted something like $400M). The one thing he can’t do is accents, and oddly enough, neither can my Sean. Well that’s not entirely true, it’s just that no matter what accent Sean is attempting, he always sounds like Penelope Cruz. Connery is happily retired these days, so we salute him, and his impressive movie catalogue.

Happy birthday to my Sean, a Sean among Seans.

 

 

 

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The Florida Project

Thank you New Hampshire Film Festival for bringing this beautiful film to us. We missed seeing it at TIFF and it got huge buzz. HUGE. Director Sean Baker is following up his crazy-good Tangerine and we’ve been collectively, societally waiting with baited breath for his next effort. It feels like Sean Baker is doing important work without all the trumpets and majorettes and fanfare. But I sort of hope that maybe I can blow the horn a bit here, wave a flag or two: The Florida Project is fucking awesome.

6 year old Moonee has the run of the crummy Orlando motel where she and her mother live in “extended stays.” Halley, her mom, can’t get work at Disney and has no other MV5BYjZhMDZmZjItNjcyZC00ZWY2LTkzMzUtZWM0ZDgyYzM2Nzg2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_options, so you can imagine some of the crazy things they do for money. It’s a destitute, desperate kind of life but you’d never know it to see Mooney adventuring around free-range with her comrades.

Sean Baker is a master of society’s fringes, and the near-homelessness of the people constantly scrounging for rent between scrapes with the law or family services is about as marginal as you get. Situate that beside the self-proclaimed “happiest place on earth” where the wealthy tourists stay in much nicer digs and it’s an uncomfortable reminder that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Moonee, meanwhile, is seemingly untouched by her circumstances. Intellectually, you know it’s not true: that of course she’s affected by what she sees and hears and eats and meets and experiences, and that she’ll find it hard to climb above her mother’s station. But for now she’s a happy-go-lucky kid who rarely faces consequences, although that’s largely thanks to the motel’s manager and de-facto babysitter, Bobby, who is the eyes, ears, caregiver and mediator when parents just aren’t up to snuff. And believe me, this is a building where neglect rules the day. I felt real tension watching these kids be unwatched.

Halley, barely more than a kid herself, and scarcely more responsible, is tattooed with bad decisions but not without sympathy. Bria Vinaite, who plays her, really understands Halley’s sharp corners and soft underbelly. Willem Dafoe gives Bobby a complexity and edge that make his character fascinating. He’s like the beating heart of the building he supervises. But it’s little Brooklynn Prince as Moonee who just about steals the whole gosh darn movie. She is so real and raw it often feels like you’re watching a documentary, and that the stakes are indeed life-altering. Child actors can make or break a movie but Sean Baker has found not one but a trio of incredibly spirited, natural, and talented kids that make this movie what it is.

The Florida Project is audacious, authentic, absorbing. And it’s begging to be watched.