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    Knight at the Movies: Tangerine; Tig; Mr. Holmes; Edith Lake Wilkinson
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

Back out on the streets after 28 days in lockup, Sin-Dee ( Kitana Kiki Rodriguez ) celebrates Christmas Eve by buying a donut to split with her best friend, Alexandra ( Mya Taylor ). But when Alexandra lets it slip that Sin-Dee's pimp boyfriend, Chester ( James Ransone ), hasn't been faithful while she's been away, she goes ballistic.

A female buddy picture of life on the hardscrabble streets of Hollywood ensues as the two transgender hookers attempt to find Chester and his new favorite, Dinah ( Mickey O'Hagan ), to exact revenge. Bitching each other out mercilessly one moment, having each other's back the next, Sin-Dee and Alexandra are fast, funny and tremendously moving as they crash through life.

A subplot involving an Armenian cab driver—whose complicated life eventually connects with the duo—is less successful, and the over-the-top climax that brings all the characters together back at the donut shop is a large misstep. However, for the most part, Tangerine crackles with verve and energy. Writer-director Sean Baker's movie, which mixes professional actors with newcomers ( including both Rodriguez and Taylor ), gained instant notoriety when it debuted at Sundance because it was shot entirely on an iPhone—a technical marvel that is quickly forgotten as one become wrapped up in Sin-Dee and Alexandra's world.

Opens exclusively at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., this Friday, July 17; http:// www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/tangerine


Read more story below....

Lesbian stand-up comic Tig Notaro had been working the club circuit for years with a fair amount of success when, in 2012, a perfect storm of personal catastrophes hit her: A severe intestinal illness was followed by a painful romantic breakup and the unexpected death of her mother. Then came the news that she had breast cancer. When the latter happened, something clicked inside Notaro's head as she headed onstage one night soon after. "Is everybody having a good time? I have cancer," she asked the audience.

What followed was a Richard Pryor-esque set that quickly became the stuff of legend and transformed not only Notaro's career but her life—all documented in Ashley York and Kristina Goolsby's film, Tig. The movie, which opened the Outfest LGBT film festival in Los Angeles, is premiering on Netflix beginning Friday, July 17. Notaro is now cancer-free. http:// www.netflix.com/title/80028208

Mr. Holmes

In 1998, the teaming of out director Bill Condon and openly gay actor Ian McKellen struck lightning with Gods and Monsters, a fictionalized portrait of the final days of legendary gay movie director James Whale, who helmed Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein and a much-admired musical version of Showboat. McKellen's performance earned him a Best Actor nod and Condon the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. Both men went on to a series of increasingly high-profile movies ( Dreamgirls and the Twilight series for Condon, and both the Lord of the Ring/Hobbit and X-Men series for McKellen ).

Now, with Mr. Holmes, these two giants of queer cinema have finally reunited. McKellen plays the now-retired Sherlock Holmes, who is living a quiet life in England in 1947. In ill health, Holmes travels to Japan to track down a rare plant with restorative powers and witnesses the devastation caused by the dropping of the atomic bomb. Back at his secluded farmhouse—attended only by his housekeeper ( Laura Linney ) and her small son—Holmes reflects on his life and begins to re-examine his one unsolved case, quietly determined to see its resolution. Expect another tour-de-force performance from McKellen, masterful direction from Condon and perhaps more Oscar love for both as well. http:// www.mrholmesfilm.com/

Edith Lake Wilkinson

Out writer-director Jane Anderson has had great success writing for movies and television, with everything from The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, to Normal to last year's critically acclaimed HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge. Throughout her career, Anderson has been spiritually guided by the example of her great-aunt Edith Lake Wilkinson, an artist whose paintings decorated the home in which Anderson was raised.

Sadly, in middle age, the financially independent Wilkinson, who had a burgeoning career living in Provincetown, had ended up in a mental asylum. Anderson became determined to find out what happened. Her sleuthing efforts are revealed in director Michelle Boyaner's Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, which debuts on HBO on Monday, July 20.

Among the revelations: Wilkinson lived in Provincetown with a close female friend, traveling with her to Europe and to other exotic locales. Was she committed to the asylum for being lesbian by an unscrupulous lawyer after her fortune? The film explores that and other provocative questions as Anderson proceeds on her journey into the past.

http:// www.hbo.com/documentaries/packed-in-a-trunk-the-lost-art-of-edith-lake-wilkinson.html

Black Alphabet Film Festival

Mark your calendars: The Black Alphabet Film Festival ( BAFF ), which is dedicated to showcasing Black LGBTQ cinema, returns for the third year on July 23-26 with screenings on the campus of the University of Chicago and the Center on Halsted. More than 35 features and shorts will be showcased during the festival, many of them Chicago premieres. Highlights will be discussed in my next column. Visit the fest's website for complete line-up and to purchase advance tickets. www.blackalphabet.org

Upcoming movie calendar

Highlights from films opening in Chicago, July 17 and July 24 ( or available digitally )

The Tribe ( open now )—Myroslay Slaboshpytskiy's audacious feature debut, the winner of multiple Cannes Film Fest awards, takes us inside a Ukranian high school for the deaf in which all manner of vice are carried out by the corrupt faculty and their all-too-eager, bloodthirsty charges.

Filmed entirely in sign language without benefit of subtitles or a single word of spoken dialogue, the movie's visual sweep and aural soundtrack—not surprisingly—traps the viewer within this hermetically sealed, bleak and very violent world from which there is seemingly no escape. Although the film is lacking in depth, its gritty surface is something the viewer never forget. http:// www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/tribe

Boulevard ( 7/17 )—Robin Williams, in his last movie role, stars in what is reported to be a very somber drama as a closeted gay man whose chance encounter with a street hustler leads to changes in his life. Kathy Baker, Bob Odenkirk and Roberto Aguire co-star. The film has been released theatrically in New York and Los Angeles with other major cities ( including Chicago ) suggested, followed by a VOD release on Starz Digital. http://boulevardmovie.com/

Tangerine ( 7/17 )—See listing details above.

Tig ( 7/17 )—See listing details above.

Mr. Holmes ( 7/17 )—See listing details above.

A Murder in the Park ( 7/17 )—Shawn Reich and Brandon Kimber's eye-opening investigative documentary delves a sensational murder case on Chicago's South Sde in 1982, a reversal of a miscarriage of justice after an investigation by a group of Northwestern law students and then … a series of questions about what exactly happened and who was truly innocent. It's a film that stands your expectations on its head. http:// www.siskelfilmcenter.org/murderinthepark

Marvel's Ant Man ( 7/17 )—Gentle funny man Paul Rudd steps into comic-book hero territory in this big-budget action flick that focuses on a heist that will save the world. Evangeline Lily, Hayley Atwell and Michael Pena co-star.

Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson ( 7/20 )—See listing details above.

The Black Alphabet Film Festival ( BAFF ) ( 7/23—7/26 )—See listing details above.

Southpaw ( 7/24 )—Jake Gyllenhaal bulked up for this portrait of a boxer whose personal life falls apart as his career gains momentum.

FILM NOTE: The Music Box Theatre presents the Chicago Premiere of Kris Swanberg's new film Unexpected. Kris will be in attendance and will be participating in a post-show Q+A moderated by film editor of The Chicago Reader, J.R. Jones, Friday, July 24, 6 p.m. for a pre-reception in the Music Box Theatre lounge. Light snacks and beer will be provided by Corridor Brewery and Provisions.

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