She Uses Tangerine [Updated]

Tangerine - poster

Yes, that’s a play on the Flaming Lips.

Tangerine is the most talked-about indie of the year, and for good reason.  It splashes vibrant, ruddy, glowing color all over the gritty urban streetscape of Hollywood.  Then, as night falls on Christmas Eve, that patina is washed away, leaving only the ugly naked truth — and a few more laughs.

I’m going to draw an unlikely comparison to Boyhood, because movies are ultimately about the story.  And the story of Tangerine wasn’t bad, but neither was it great.  The same story with more bland, milquetoast characters would probably get a thumbs down — not just from me but most critics.  The audacious characters of Tangerine drive the narrative.

Tangerine - text blockYou can talk about how different, and how novel, a movie is — and I loved the novelty of Tangerine — but ultimately the story must be there.  So probably the best comparison of all: Beasts of the Southern Wild.  It’s like this whole new world you’ve never seen before.  This is what movies are supposed to do!  So how can you not be over the moon?  How can you not be wildly enthusiastic with your recommendation?  Because story matters.

Every once in a while I wish that some truly profound David Lynch – Inland Empire moment might burst forth to offer true, glowing transcendence — but it was not to be.  Still though, there is something endearing about Tangerine.  Like Beasts of the Southern Wild, my opinion has been raised upon reflection.  But also like Beasts, a more developed story would launch Tangerine into the stratosphere.  7/10

Update: A note I forgot to include: the film was shot almost entirely with three iPhones.  Inspiration to low-budget filmmakers everywhere.


Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Mad Max: Fury Road bears little resemblance to the rough-hewn postmodern indie western introduced in 1979.  The charm of those indie elements is gone, in a way not dissimilar to the progression of the original Star Wars to the more polished versions that arrived later.  Mad Max 2015 is a mostly non-stop bundle of energy, frenetic, entertaining, and, at the end, utterly transient.

Mad Max did not impress me as much as the critics, but I liked it.  It’s straight and to the point, an overt escape film with nothing to complicate matters.  6/10

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FX:  The Verge ran an article showing frames before and after special effects were applied.  The Verge article links to a much more extensive one at, for those interested.  Be aware of possible spoilers.

Mad Max - fx screenshot from The Verge

Holiday Gift Guide from The Verge

A DEPARTURE HERE.  I’ve kept this blog tightly on the subject of movies, and things very closely related to movies.  But often I’ve wanted to draw attention to other stories, and have been on the fence about creating another blog for the purpose.  I keep coming back with the answer that splitting my efforts makes little sense.  If iTunes can support not just music but movies, tv, podcasts and apps, and if sites such as The Loop and Daring Fireball can branch out beyond their tech-centric focus, so might I.

Here is just such a post, which is fun and possibly helpful.  If any of you don’t like seeing non-movie-related posts, I figure you can just ignore them; if you really object please COMMENT below this or another such objectionable post.

The Verge - Holiday Gift Guide

Tarantino’s Deaths

Tarantino's Deaths - text blockDISCLAIMER AND SPOILER ALERT!  This meme came through yesterday on The Verge, and I hesitated to post it.  The reason: I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino, but there is one movie I have not seen: Jackie Brown.  I assume at least one person gets killed in it, but I don’t want anything given away; as such, I have watched only the beginning and end of this video, so as to skip any Jackie Brown clips (it is in chronological order).  And I had another, more personal reason for not posting it yesterday.

So — SPOILER ALERT!  — you may not want to watch this video unless you’ve seen all of Tarantino’s movies.  And DISCLAIMER — I can’t vouch for the quality or value of this video, but I would be remiss to ignore it.  So watch at your own risk, and be prepared for a death-fest worthy Caligula.

The insert below is provided for convenience; click on “Vimeo” to watch in HD at