Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tangerine (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Sean Baker (Starlet, Greg the Bunny) directs a rollicking tale of foul-mouthed streetwalkers along Hollywood in "Tangerine." The film is madcap, glib and very entertaining, similar in tone to the work of Harmony Korine.

Two transgender sex-workers: Sinn- Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) are inseparable. Together, they have a rapport like a modern Abbott & Costello, and the two are the spirit of this film.

Sinn-Dee has recently been released from prison. During a break, Alexandra tells her that her boyfriend / pimp, Chester (James Ransone) has been cheating on her. Sinn-Dee goes ballistic.

She is bent on revenge.

While the plot is nothing new, the one-liners come at you full throttle. Both Rodriguez and Taylor are first time actors who are actually transgender and they deliver a pulse that carries the film throughout. Together the two create a subversive orbit that is percussive and manic but not without its warm center.

Rodriguez is a diva through and through. As the camera tilts in space, her fingernails alone make her a lioness, stealthy and rough as a cat's tongue and beyond reproach.

Taylor by contrast is cool and icy, almost removed from the fleshy plateau. Although more realistically drawn, the pair have a juicy fantastic quality with an edginess akin to the late Edith Massey and Divine, the famous duo from the great John Waters.

James Ransone, is sharp as well as the pimp you may well love to hate, or at least cringe over.

There is also the zany yet philosophical addition of a self-righteous cab driver with secrets, one Razmik (Karren Karagulian) who resembles De Niro's  Travis Bickle, even to the point of a birthmark on his cheek.

Above all though, the film has a circular freshness in brilliant color, all the more remarkable because the film was entirely shot with two iPhones. Not one conventional camera was used.

This is a film where we really sense the weird day-glow land of Hollywood. Rodriguez and Taylor loom larger than life as two hunted felines and vengeful giantesses in this amphetamine-eyed tale.

The characters are wacky with speeches that wobble upside down and right side up.

"Tangerine" stands out for its sour orange spirit that is never bitter. In its vitality and feeling it owes as much to author Charles Bukowski as it does to other edgy filmmakers who once ruled the day.

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