A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Sean Baker
Produced By: Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou
Written By: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Revenge is a dish that is best served heated, aggressive and full of sass. Or at least that’s how Sean Baker sees it.
Navigating through the grimy streets of Tinseltown, 2015’s Tangerine follows transgender streetwalker Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) on her search for the pimp that cheated on her during the 28-day period she served in prison. With urgency in her step and an attitude that conquers all, Sin-Dee, along with her fellow-employee/close friend Alexandra (May Taylor) storms through the streets of Hollywood, encountering seedy cab drivers, sarcastic bouncers and unfaithful procurers along the way.
With enough profanities to challenge Jordan Belfort and a set of exaggerated stereotypes to follow, Tangerine is a satirical riot unlike anything else to be released this year.
Street lingo, donuts and leopard print. Tangerine is part documentary, part soap opera and part reality TV. The street-level tone is brought to life through the decision to shoot the film on a series of iPhones with a anamorphic lenses, giving it a raw and inconspicuous aesthetic that extends the already hyperbolic but fully believable characters.
The choice of mobile technology to shoot the film proves to be the right one, primarily because although the unobtrusive nature of the production itself allows for a naturalistic view of the streets and those who occupy them, certain shots are very in your face, invasive and uncomfortable, sometimes even voyeuristic.
Unknowns make up the cast, which furthers the believability of their story, whilst the interactions and antics that take place aren’t too dissimilar to what you would see on a bus at 10:30pm on Christmas Eve. There is vibrancy to the images within the film, even though the exposure of the shots through the iPhone seem uneven and poor at times.
Not being able to cope in sunset shots like an industry grade film camera can (of course with the assistance of studio lighting) the silhouetted look of characters against a harsh, overexposed sunset actually works in the films favour.
With the assistance of a vibrant, saturated colour grade in post-production, the colour scheme and rich contrast adds depth to not just the characters, but also the streets they walk; which is arguably a character in itself.
Utilising an everyday mobile device to create a piece of cinema, Tangerine is not only a fantastically wild story; it’s encouraging for any aspiring filmmaker with next to no money.
Crazy, tense and amusing throughout, Tangerine is one to admire for many reasons, most of which stem from the uniqueness of the overall production. 2015 is not all superheroes and sequels, some independent gold can still be found if you look hard enough. Tangerine is not just an example of this, but hopefully it encourages a new batch of street-level features to emerge as a result.