TANGERINE (2015) AND BLUE VALENTINE (2010)
The underseen and underprivileged have always piqued filmmaker Sean Baker’s interests (Chinese restaurant workers in NYC; porn stars in the Valley) and here he turns his lens — an iPhone 5S, actually — on transgender sex workers in LA, hustling on Christmas Eve. Streaked with yellow sun and layered with pounding basas, Tangerine is a lean and fierce 88 minutes pulsating with life as fiercely as its characters. Fresh out of jail, working girl Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) hotfoots it down Santa Monica to ream out her boyfriend/pimp who she finds out has been indulging in some fish — aka the forbidden fruit of a cishet woman — behind her back. Despite her objections, Alexandra (Mya Taylor) trails behind like a true best friend. The yin to Sin-dee’s yang they (both played by non-professionals) form the frenzied heart of the movie. The setting shuffles between public commercial spaces — donut shop, laundromat, junkie motel, night club, never straying into their homes, if they have one. An Armenian cab driver, one of the girls’ regular, is the only character with some permanent digs. But domestic life and the American dream have soured for him, too, and outside who also turns to the swept-under-the-rug parts of Los Angeles, which welcomes him all the same. Splendid is the night.
WATCH TANGERINE ON HULU
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BLUE VALENTINE (2010)
Plunge into the ruinous depths of high school love and watch it crumble in BLUE VALENTINE, starring two tabloid appointed-hotties of the oughteens. How wise or cynical you are will ultimately determine your mileage and how closely it hits to home. Moved to tears? Stonefaced and yawning? Suddenly extremely regretful of every decision you made in high school? Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams still remain untouchably beautiful.
WATCH BLUE VALENTINE ON AMAZON PRIME