Willem Dafoe in person THE FLORIDA PROJECT! With decades of roles ranging from pure-evil villains to tormented antiheroes to Jesus Christ, Willem Dafoe has emerged as one of the most consistently surprising and deeply committed film actors of his generation. In THE FLORIDA PROJECT, he plays the gruff but lovable manager of a low-rent hotel bordering Disneyworld; in the fictionalized SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, he plays a real-life bloodsucker hired to star in Murnau’s silent classic NOSFERATU. Discussion between films with Willem Dafoe.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT
2017, A24, 115 min, USA, Dir: Sean Baker
Set on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World, this deeply moving look at childhood follows 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her rebellious mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), over the course of a single summer. The two live week to week at a budget motel managed by Bobby (a terrific Willem Dafoe), whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion. Despite her harsh surroundings, the precocious Moonee makes each day a celebration of life, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and grand adventure. But her delicate fantasy is reliant upon the toil and sacrifice of Halley, who is forced to explore increasingly dangerous possibilities in order to provide for her daughter.
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE
2000, Lionsgate, 90 min, UK/USA/Luxembourg, Dir: Elias Merhige
This fictional meditation about F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) and the making of NOSFERATU is based on the conceit that the director was so determined to make the most authentic movie ever that he employed a real vampire, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), to play the title character. Attributing Schreck’s weird behavior and ghastly appearances to “Method” acting, Murnau indulges his leading man’s every exigency, shooting only at night and at the remote locations the “actor” calls home. But Schreck hungers for human blood, and as cast and crew fall ill at a terrifying rate, Murnau races to finish his film before Schreck finishes him. An exceedingly witty exploration of creation, in which demanding artist and demanding star – the genius and the monster – reveal their uncontrollable, potentially destructive but unusually seductive compulsions.
Screening formats: DCP (THE FLORIDA PROJECT), 35mm (SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE). | Tickets: $15 General, $13 Members. No vouchers.