Indie films have always been one of my favorite genres of film. Also known as, Independent films this genre, more often than not, offers a more genuine and raw experience than larger box office flicks. I find that the lower budgets make the story, plot line and character development seem less forced. Sure, some Indie films have unparalleled cinematography, however, expensive equipment isn't’ needed to achieve great shots. And, without the professional camera and editing equipment, the production team is forced to rely on pure talent and skill. Since these films aren't usually released in local theaters, it can be difficult to find them. Thankfully, websites like Netflix offer an exceptional indie film selection.
Dope stars three likely friends who live in a run-down Los Angeles neighborhood. The film, being effortlessly relatable, revolves around three self-described 90’s Hip-Hop geeks: Malcolm, (Shameik Moore), a flat top bearing, straight A student, who dreams of attending Harvard. Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), an androgynous lesbian, who despite her family's religious endeavors has yet to convert from her lady-loving ways. Jib (Tony Revolori), a quiet kid, who loves comic books and, just like his friends is obsessed with 90’s culture. The trio are counterstereotypical in their neighborhood, outcasting themselves by getting good grades, and other “white shit,” as Malcolm describes. The friends are invited to a party which turns violent. The drug dealer who initially invited them, stashes Malcolm’s bag with ecstasy, in an attempt to evade police. An exuberant adventure ensues as the team tries every possible method to get rid of the drugs. This film is fascinating in the way that it addresses racial stereotypes and social acceptance, especially in young people. Director, Rick Famuyiwa, continually keeps the audience guessing; panning from scenes that are hilarious and awkward to scenes that are, violent, scary, and emotional. I won’t give away any spoilers, but what I will say is that any indie lover will most definitely be consumed in this story.
Tangerine stars two brash individuals, hustling in a rough neighborhood in the Los Angeles area. The film follows transgender prostitutes, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), and Alexandra (Mya Taylor). The film begins with the two sharing a donut to celebrate Sin-Dee’s recent release from jail. During the meeting It’s revealed that Sin-Dee’s boyfriend has been cheating on her with an unknown girl; and so, begins the quest to find her, and Sin-Dee’s boyfriend. A subplot to the story follows an Armenian cab driver named, Razmik (Karren Karagulian), and his struggles to not only support his large family but also combat his lingering feelings towards the main character, Sin-Dee. Tangerine is subtle in its approach to trans issues and lifts us out of the poor urban setting with a mainly classical soundtrack. What’s most shocking about this film is that it was shot on an iPhone, which is the pinnacle of the indie comedy/drama. Without all the bells and whistles of usual production, the film is shot in a raw version of the Los Angeles urban area, with real people, not extras, walking in the background. Despite its shoestring budget, Tangerine is an emotional journey, telling us, if you’re different and you happen to forget, the world will be sure to remind you.
Other People features a burnt-out comedy writer who is struggling to make it in New York City. David (Jesse Plemons) moves back to Sacramento to help care for his mother, who has cancer. The beginning of the movie is not subtle in any way, starting out with the small suburban family crowded around their deceased mother’s bed. Other People backtracks about a year before the mom’s (Molly Shannon) death. David, a gay man, returns to his conservative home, only to be reminded of his estranged relationships to his family members. It’s revealed to us that his parents' reaction to his coming out wasn't ideal, as his mother has opened up, his father has remained stagnant in the subject. The comedy is an emotional rollercoaster, there were scenes when I found myself crying, and I had no idea why. This post coming of age movie is incredibly earnest, and hilarious in it’s approach to acceptance and grief. Reminding the audience that anything can happen to anyone, it may seem that certain things only happen to other people but, as the movie observes, “You’re other people, to other people.” ✉
article by: sawyer dixon
visual by: other people, tangerine, + dope