Get ready Donut Time. Your 15 minutes of fame is right around the corner. The old school donut shop on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Highland Ave. is the beginning and end point for Sean Baker's triumphant drama “Tangerine” and the Sundance breakout is about to turn it into an LA cinematic landmark.
Executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, “Tangerine” follows one particularly dramatic day in the lives of transgender hookers Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and her BFF Alexandra (May Taylor). It's Christmas Eve and Sin-Dee has just gotten out of a stint in LA County Jail. She's looking for her boyfriend/pimp Chester (“Treme's” James Ransone), but the day gets off to a rocky start when Alexandra slips that he's been cheating on her with another girl (a “real” fish). What then transpires is a roller coaster of drama and comedy which mostly takes place over a 2.7 mile stretch between Donut Time and the Metro station at Vermont and Santa Monica (with one touching detour to Hamburger Mary's in West Hollywood).
Baker and co-cinematographer Radium Cheung shot the entire film on iPhones and that provides it with an intensity and intimacy that few films can match. (And, yes, they did play with filters both during the shoot and in post production to give the film a distinctive look). What really drives the movie, however, are the incredible performances from newcomers Rodriguez and Taylor. They are simply incredible and deserve some serious Independent Spirit Award love when nominations are announced in December.
Keeping all that in mind, check out the red band trailer embedded at the top of this post.
“Tangerine” opens in limited release on July 10. Don't miss it.