Two transgender hookers walk into a donut shop in Hollywood…that’s not the start of a joke, but it’s the start of this pretty funny movie. The raucous and raunchy high energy comedy Tangerine centers on Alexandra and Sin-Dee, played respectively by the non-actors Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Sin-Dee takes them on a quest to track down her wayward pimp/boyfriend, and, although Alexandra makes her promise “no drama”, you know that’s not gonna happen. Alexandra is focused on her own goal – her singing performance tonight at a local club. We also meet the Armenian cabbie Razmik (Karren Karagulian), who has his own secret. And did I mention that it’s Christmas Eve?
The two leads are wonderfully appealing and their misadventures are very funny. A confrontation between an Armenian mother-in-law on the warpath all the main characters and a pimp is wonderfully madcap. The movie’s ending is surprisingly moving.
Tangerine was shot on an iPhone. This is not a gimmick. The intimacy and urgency of this character-driven movie is a good fit with the iPhone. There really isn’t any call for helicopter shots or the like. The richness of the colors has been enhanced in post-production, so the iPhone cinematography isn’t any distraction at all. (See the shot below.)
You can stream Tangerine on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play and some cable/satellite PPV. (Or you can buy the DVD from a retailer.)
To follow the beginning of the film, it helps to know that “fish” is transgender slang for a person born with female anatomy.
There’s also an extremely funny cameo by Clu Gulager(!) as a loquacious taxi passenger.
Tangerine is written and directed by Sean Baker, who made Starlet, another indie about marginal Angelenos that I admired.
Tangerine is available to stream from Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.