Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, James Ransone, Alla Tumanian, Luiza Nersisyan, Arsen Grigoryan, Ian Edwards, Clu Gulager, Ana Foxx
Written by: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Directed by: Sean Baker
MPAA Rating: R for strong and disturbing sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout, and drug use
Running Time: 88
Date: 07/10/2015

Tangerine (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Fruit Force

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Shot entirely on the iPhone 5s, Sean Baker's Tangerine could have been a gimmick film, but it immediately starts to work like a good movie should, and all thoughts of gimmicks slip away as we become involved in the characters. It's Christmas Eve in Los Angeles (the color scheme is orange and pink rather than red and green), and two trans woman sex workers, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor), are chatting over a donut. Sin-Dee has just been released from prison, and Alexandra lets it slip that her boyfriend, Chester (James Ransone), has cheated on her with Dinah (Mickey O'Hagan). Sin-Dee begins a neighborhood-wide search for both the girl and the cheater, pausing only for Alexandra's show at a seedy club. Meanwhile, an Armenian taxi driver, Razmik (Karren Karagulian) would rather engage Sin-Dee's services than spent Christmas with his family. The movie feels very much part of a community, a little enclosed world all by itself within a big city. For all the not-exactly-admirable activities going on, these people have a touching bond, and when the movie finds its moving conclusion, our affection has been earned. Baker's previous film was the equally good Starlet, and he has proven himself a director to watch.

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