There's the Florida folks dream of from the grip of a New England winter and the Florida of the Disney World website.
Then, there’s a Florida I knew from years of covering crime for Florida newspapers, living in rundown apartments in the early ’90s, hanging with the white-booted shrimpers and day laborers and a guy we called “Gary The Chicken Man,” because his job was clipping the beaks off chickens at an egg farm.
The film’s name, an apparent nod to the Twitter feed @_FloridaMan that links to news headlines featuring “Florida man” (“Florida Man Lists Occupation on Arrest Report as Drug Dealer,” “Florida Man Arrested For Trying to Circumcise Nephew With Kitchen Knife”) tells viewers little about what they are seeing. In fact, the movie itself tells viewers little about what they are seeing. There are no titles, no credits, no “special thanks to” hat tips.
Without narration or introduction, “Florida Man” features a stream of guys most visitors won’t run into inside the manicured confines of Disney and Universal Studios.
But this stream of consciousness oddity gives a mic to the tipsy, brawling, rambling legion that buys beer by the can at nameless convenience stores, pontificates in sweaty laundromats and cruises neighborhoods hidden away from the beach and the amusement parks on beat up, one-speed bikes.
Reminiscent of the classic documentary “Salesman,” there’s no story line or guideposts for viewers to follow, it’s just a slice of life from a part of the world most never see.
But it’s a part of the world that’s there in those same destinations so popular with visitors: Orlando, Cocoa, the Tampa Bay area, where director Sean Dunne directs his camera, giving voice to this alternate universe.
Blue Collar Musings? Or Just Blue Beer Cans?
Are the tattooed, tank-topped, toothless, boozy braggarts and bigmouths spouting the wisdom of the working man? Is this Faulkner from Florida? Naw. It’s just interesting. And I remember it well. Throughout, I could virtually smell the old cardboard boxes from the cheap liquor store and feel the swampy night air.
“Once you get to Florida, you don’t ever want to go back north,” says a grizzled guy in a Navy hat from his bar stool perch.
Nearby, a man in a gray ZZ Top beard slugs a can of Bud and tells the waitress, “Get me another beer” before looking into the camera, “This is reality, huh? This is real life. Life is good.”
DID YOU KNOW: Director Sean Dunne credits a mushroom trip for inspiring his 49-minute documentary “Florida Man.”