Red Rocket (2021)

Red Rocket
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss, Suzanna Son, Ethan Darbone, Judy Hill, Brittney Rodriguez, Shih-Ching Tsou
Seen on: 19.4.2022

Content Note: grooming

Plot:
Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) used to be a rather successful porn actor, but the tides have turned for him recently. Not knowing where to turn, he ends up in his Texas hometown, on the steps of the house where his (ex-)wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) and her mother Lil (Brenda Deiss) live. Despite knowing better, the two allow him to stay, at least for a while. Mikey immediately tries to find his footing again, but only really comes to life when he meets 17-year-old Raylee, called Strawberry (Suzanna Son). In her, Mikey sees the possibility of a new start.

Red Rocket may not have won me over quite as much as Baker’s earlier films, but it is astonishing in how it manages to show all of Mikey’s despicable qualities and not excusing his actions, but still keeping him kind of likeable. It’s a difficult balance to pull off, and Red Rocket does so exquisitely.

The film poster showing a naked Mikey (Simon Rex), his hands covering his dick, stuck in a giant pink donut around his midriff.
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The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Malik, Josie Olivo, Valeria Cotto, Edward Pagan, Bria Vinaite, Patti Wiley, Jasineia Ramos, Willem Dafoe, Caleb Landry Jones
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2017
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Plot:
Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a motel at the edge of Disney World. As Halley struggles to just get by, Moonee has a lot of room to roam the premises, always half-watched by the motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe). Together with her best friend Scooty (Christoph Rivera) and newcomer Jancey (Valeria Cotto) and some other kids, they spend the summer out in the world, discovering everything.

The Florida Project is a film that perfectly captures the children’s perspective and through their eyes, tries to figure out how much space children need and how much is too much. It’s pretty damn wonderful.

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Tangerine (2015)

Tangerine
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O’Hagan, James Ransone
Seen on: 22.1.2016

Plot:
Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) just got out of prison and meets up with her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor). As they catch up, Alexandra wanting to make sure that Sin-Dee turns up that evening for her singing show, Alexandra lets slip that Sin-Dee’s fiancé has strayed while she was in prison. And not only that, he is fucking a white, cis woman. Sin-Dee is outraged and decides to seek out the other woman to stake her claim.

Most of what you hear about Tangerine is that it was shot with an iPhone (and here I go, too). But that is honestly the least awesome and least important part (although it is awesome and important) about this film. Tangerine is funny and full of energy and damn wonderful.

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Starlet (2012)

Starlet
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Asa Akira, Manuel Ferrara
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Jane (Dree Hemingway) and her dog Starlet live in the spare room of her best friend Melissa’s (Stella Maeve) and Melissa’s boyfriend Mikey’s (James Ransone) house. Since Mikey needs Jane’s room for shoots from time to time, she can’t really decorate it. So instead Jane heads to a couple of yard sales to pick up some smaller things. At Sadie’s (Besedka Johnson) she finds an old thermos that the old woman grumpily sells to her. As she gets home, though, Jane discovers a whole lot of money inside. As Sadie doesn’t accept returns, Jane tries to make up for it by running errands for her. And despite Sadie’s objections, she stays insistant and starts to get through to her.

Starlet was a wonderful film. Cast, characters, story, setting and cinematography all come perfectly together into a very touching and sweet film.

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