Tangerine ★★★★

The shot of Sin-Dee's feet strutting purposefully across the Hollywood Walk of Stars may be the most political shot in an American movie of 2015. Maybe not because the filmmakers intended it to be some loaded image, but more so because they didn't. Sin-Dee is a transwoman character played by a transwoman (Kitana Rodriguez), and Rodriguez is a movie star. No qualifying adjectives required.

That lack of qualification or judgment is what really shone through in Tangerine. The viewer is just casually placed in the world and asked to accept these characters and their situation without any handholding or handwringing or rubbernecking. Do they perform sex acts for money? Sure do. Do they do drugs recreationally? Who wouldn't?! It's a shame that this is the case, but it seems radical and subversive that a movie would treat these characters as human beings with rich internal lives and feelings. Or you know, just make a funny, kinda sweet all-in-one night comedy about people who aren't usually represented on movie screens. Mission accomplished.

The other aspect of this movie you'll certainly read about before seeing it is that it was shot on an iPhone5. I braced myself for watching digital mud, but was pleasantly surprised to see a crisp, vivid image that has a character all of its own. The depth of focus is strange, and all of the daytime shots are flooded with light. The tiny cameras are whipped around, zipping through crowds of people, in a frantic, urgent style that, married with the editing, mirrors the mental state of Sin-Dee as she tears through Los Angeles in search of her prey. It's an effective style that has me hopeful for the future.

In many ways, this is one of the most modern movies I've ever seen.

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