There was a period in the 90’s when every movie had a more interesting back story. The way the movie was made was more interesting than the actual movie. The filmmakers shot the whole thing in a closed convenience store, it was paid for on credit cards, it cost $12.50 to make.
It seemed like every Sunday The New York Times had another feature about a maverick indie movie. I went to all of them.
“My LIfe’s in Turnaround,” “Fear of a Black Hat,” “Clerks,” “Go Fish…” I came into the city just to see the film. Most of the time the movie was ok and the behind the scenes story was great.
I feel the same about “Tangerine.” It was shot on an iPhone! Not even a 6, but a 5S! They used real locations! I couldn’t wait to see a movie shot in my old neighborhood about the transgender hookers who were always on the block.
Being shot on an iPhone, doesn’t make it a good movie. My friend Owen Smith (name drop?) promotes his new comedy special as the comedy special shot on 8 iPhones, that he later returned. Is that enough to watch a stand up special? It happens to be funny too, but does it have to be? Well, yes. the iPhone is the gimmick to get you to rent the special. The quality is what gets you to finish it and recommend it.
The movie is two stories. One is about two sex workers who fill their day with drama and a frequent customer and his home life.
Tangerine has a lot of great things going for it. The acting by the leads, who are non actors is really good and believable. There are a couple of great cameos from really good experienced actors that elevate the movie.
But there a tons and tons of traveling shots. The leads taking the bus, taking the subway, walking the street (that’s why they call them street walkers!) and the cab driver driving his cab. It felt like filler between scenes. I would have rather had a shorter movie or a third story line.
Maybe the movie would have been better if it was written on text messaging.