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« Looking Top to Bottom: How to Get Fucked | Main | Beauty vs Beast: Legend In Blue Jeans »
Monday
Jan262015

Sundance: "Tangerine" The Best Trans Hooker Christmas Comedy You Might Ever See!

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Indie writer/director Sean Baker (and recently his co-writer Chris Berloch) specialize in portraits of characters on the margins of society. Baker's previous slice-of-life film was the still underappreciated Starlet (2012), which traced an unlikely friendship between a young porn star and an old woman she meets at a garage sale.  Their very worthy follow up is TANGERINE (not to be confused with the Estonian drama currently nominated for Oscar's Foreign Film Category called Tangerines). Again we find Baker looking at places others haven't thought to look — or at least haven't looked at with anything like the same affectionate humor and nuanced humanity.

In this case that place is a Hollywood block filled with ex-con trans hookers who still have their penises, their lonely trade, immigrant cab drivers, and the colorful seedy neighborhood they all share. Tangerine is filled with memorable scenes in busted-ass laundromats, car washes, cheap motels with "party rooms", and of course Donut Time. The movie tells the story of a single event-filled day and night (Christmas Eve) in the lives of Sin-Dee Rella (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez) and her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) who treats her to half a holiday sprinkled donut in the movie's abrasively funny opening scene. 

"Merry Christmas, bitch."

Remember that claim that Wolf of Wall Street used the most "f--ks" ever uttered in a movie? I hope Tangerine makes that claim for "bitch". [More...]

Alexandra, who has other things on her mind including a performance at a bar that evening, chases after her begging her for "no more Drama". But we already know, giddily, that Sin-Dee will not comply. And so the comedy is off with a bolt in its high heels, dirty fishnets and bad weaves, to find the pimp or, possibly, the white girl. The film's soundtrack makes hilarious use of music to signify Sin-Dee's passions. At one point she nearly calms down at a bus stop, classical musical blaring as she waits, but a moment later the house music interrupts, roaring back to life, and she snaps back into full woman-scorned revenge mode.

The rest of the film, which was incredibly shot entirely on the iPhone 5s but looks pretty great considering, is Sin-Dee's hilariously crude comic search for the pimp mixed with Alexandra's evening show and eventually a hot-blooded collision between all the characters and their various story threads. I won't ruin any of the funny surprises. Despite the seediness and inbetween the huge laughs, the biggest takeaway is the film's sweet and salty tribute to an enduring trans friendship. These women have each other's backs... and weaves when the need arises. Tangerine may well be the world's all time best indie Christmas trans hooker movie (give or take John Waters' Female Trouble, 1981, if it can be so categorized)

May Tangerine find theatrical distribution as quickly as these ladies make a business transaction. 

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Reader Comments (7)

Oooooooooh, this sounds fun. Hopefully it'll either play in Chicago or go the VOD route.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Very interested to see this as Starlet was, indeed, criminally underrated. The film flowed so effortlessly, and had a sense of "nothing going on", but the connection between the 2 leads felt very real by the end of the film, and the ending was one of the most heartbreakingly somber endings I've seen in awhile, all while maintaining it's simplicity.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSebbers

I looooooooved Starlet so I'm super excited about this one.

Meantime though, dying to hear your thoughts on Strange land

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGoran

Is anyone going to see/has seen Going Clear? And if so, is it as strange as it sounds?

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

For some, they know that they are activities/chores that need to be achieved, however contemplate them obscure or seemingly too complex to speculate their time in; on the different finish of the spectrum, some SME homeowners actively spend time analysing their financial statements and associated administration info, not solely to track performance but also to exploit the info to periodically update and revise their business plans, tactics and strategy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4gcjqhB6Mk

February 7, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterkamentz

I saw this last night and am still smiling from ear to ear. It's such a spirited and fun movie.

July 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

It's coming to the Melbourne International Film Festival after lots of buzz in Sydney! Can't wait.

July 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJam

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