Sunday, December 20, 2015


2015, US, directed by Sean Casey

One of those rare times I watched a film with no prior knowledge whatsoever: the title was familiar from several "best of 2015" lists but I only discovered the content when I selected the film on Netflix. The film chronicles a picaresque day/night in the lives of two black transgender prostitutes in Los Angeles, with the additional hook that the entire picture was shot using a series of iPhones (which, as it happened, did a fine job of capturing LA's unique urban light patterns). It's both funny and humane, sometimes both, though as one commentator noted it's still very much a middle-class straight white guy's version of lower-class black transgender life, however positive and celebratory. In that respect, it reminded me of Sembène's Faat Kiné, which is essentially, as I think the academic Ken Harrow once wrote, an older man's version of feminism -- where feminism is reduced to becoming one of the boys. Despite those reservations, there's a good deal to recommend Tangerine: there's a real sense of the vitality of this particular corner of the world, and
 a striking wealth of observational detail combined with some intriguing and unusual shot choices.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States