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What’s the T? The Best Movie of 2015 You Didn’t See

Produced by the Duplass Brothers, Sean Baker’s fifth film Tangerine is a rip-roaring, relentless comedy that stars newcomers Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor as two black transgender sex workers hustling in the streets of Hollywood.

 Shot entirely on an iPhone 5s with an anamorphic lens adapter created by Moondog Labs, Tangerine is nothing short of a technical marvel.  The cinematography is surprisingly lush and exudes an exquisite, sun-baked warmth that immediately transports viewers to the heated streets of Hollywood.  Each scene plays out like a moving work of art, and it is a world to bask in as events occur on screen.

 On Christmas Eve, Sin-Dee Rella (Rodriguez) gets out of jail after 28 days and stops for a donut with her best friend Alexandra (Taylor).  Alexandra accidentally informs her that Sin-Dee’s pimp and boyfriend Chester has been cheating on her with a “real fish” – aka a white woman whose name starts with the letter D.  Sin-Dee will stop at nothing to scour the city, find the girl, and exact her own form of revenge.  Seamlessly woven into this story is the life of an Armenian cab driver, Razmik, whose actions become irrevocably tied to the world of Sin-Dee and Alexandra with a surprising reveal that slowly unravels as the film progresses.

 Tangerine succeeds because of the rawness and honesty of both the story and the incredible performances of Rodriguez and Taylor.  Unlike other comedies, it doesn’t try to sugarcoat life with a veneer and instead explores street subcultures in a documentary-esque film that functions more as an ethnography and less as a work of fiction.  All of the characters are deeply flawed and yet are unabashedly and unapologetically themselves.  Tangerine doesn’t shy away from sensitive subjects or mature content, because that’s not how the world works, and the film is so much better because of it.


When I first heard that the Duplass Brothers were producing a comedy about black transgender sex workers, I had some initial concerns with the potential direction and representation.  All of these anxieties quickly dissipated as the narrative unfolded, and I found myself not only drawn into the lives of these complex characters but also reflecting on my own existence and preconceived notions.

 Tangerine is such an empowering film to watch because the filmmakers have created a story that provides a positive and honest portrayal of transgender sex workers.  Underneath the main story is a compelling social commentary on homophobia, drug addiction, and the illicit sex trade.  It never feels condescending or stereotypical but instead humanizes a part of reality that is often skewed in a negative light.

Rather than take brutality to the max for sheer shock value, Tangerine instead focuses on the characters’ inward sense of self-respect and how they try to remain strong in the face of adversity.  In one particularly hilarious exchange between Alexandra and Sin-Dee while walking down the boulevard, Alexandra remarks, “The world can be a cruel place.”  Sin-Dee responds: “Yeah it is cruel.  God gave me a penis.” Tangerine is at its core a beautiful story of friendship, compassion, and love.  Try not to cry as you become enraptured by the experiences of these intriguing characters.  I dare you.

 In the 2015 Studio Responsibility Index, which analyzes the number, caliber, and range of LGBTQ+ representation in 2014 films, GLAAD notes that out of 114 releases from major studios, none of them had characters that identify as transgender.  Although continual progress has been made in including more LGBTQ+ diversity in television and film, especially with the widespread critical acclaim of shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black, there is still a severe lack of both transgender characters and positive representations in popular media.   Not only is it important that there are more opportunities for transgender identifying and gender nonconforming individuals to work behind the scenes and in front of the camera in all types of roles, but we also need a more true-to-life portrayal of the diversity of the transgender experience that moves beyond stereotype or satire.

 Only when the full spectrum of gender and sexual identity are on the silver screen can individuals begin to see their own experiences reflected back at them, which shows them that they are not alone in the world.  With a recent Oscar campaign push for Rodriguez and Taylor, I can only hope that more people will see this incredible film, and it will leave a lasting impression on their lives just as it has left on mine.

Dialogues on Race & Culture: Boko Haram

Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram — which has caused “havoc in Africa’s most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations, and abductions — is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.”

Join us for a timely discussion Wednesday, November 11 with University of Kansas faculty Beverly MackEbenezer Obadare, and Stacey Leigh Vanderhurst, about the local and global effects of Boko Haram’s extremist views. 7 – 8:30 PM in the Library Auditorium.

Sponsored by The Langston Hughes Center, the Kansas African Studies Center, and the Department of African & African-American Studies. Image and text source.

Genre Book Club: Mystery

If you like suspense and clues to unravel (and want to meet other readers like you), we’re your spot.

We’re discussing mysteries this Sunday at 2PM and getting to know the genre better by exploring a few key works and their authors. Book recommendations is another perk you get for showing up to Genre Book Club.

IMAGE: The Drawing Room at Tyntesfield, a Victorian Gothic Revival house and estate near Wraxall, North Somerset, England. Photographed in 1878 by Bedford Lemere.

Japan Foundation Film Festival

Through four documentaries, we’re exploring nationality, identity, and diversity in contemporary Japan.

This 2-day event kicks off on Saturday, November 7, with Lonely Swallows (1PM), a film about young Brazilian-Japanese immigrants and the challenges they face. Following that is Hafu (3PM), a film about what it means to be half Japanese.

On Sunday, November 8, we’re back with Children of the Woods (1PM) in which preschoolers learn about risk from their unconventional preschool teacher. The festival ends with Campaign (3PM) where a political unknown runs for office and navigates the obscure waters of Japanese politics.

All films will be shown in the Library Auditorium. IMAGE & TEXT SOURCE

Meet Author E.K. Johnston

According to her bio, “when she’s not on Tumblr, E.K. Johnston dreams of travel and Tolkien. Or writes books. It really depends on the weather.”

Emily Kate Johnston is a forensic archaeologist by training and author of our Teen Summer Reading pick The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim. Her protagonist Owen Thorskard, Dragonslayer-in-training, and his bard Siobhan must battle algebra, legacy, and of course, dragons. All without lighting themselves on fire.

Hear about the author, her writing, and her next books including A Thousand Nights and Exit, Pursued by a Bear. A self-proclaimed “bookseller by trade and grammarian by nature,” Johnston says she’s certain that someday she’s going to, “get the hang of this whole ‘real world’ thing, but in the meantime she’s going to spend as much time in other worlds as she possibly can.

More info here: CALENDAR EVENT


On the Radar: What the Book Squad is Reading

Our Book Squad is poring through books like nobody’s business.

Polli and her crew either just finished reading these or have them on their radar.

It’s possible that your next great read is one of these recommendations. Fingers crossed.

  • William
    • I just finished Jewel’s memoir, Never Broken, which I kind of gushed about here. Now I’m currently reading the witty and fun YA novel, You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison. Another teenage love triangle, but with a guy and girl going after the same guy. Filled with fun adventure and music references!
  • Kimberly
  • Eli
    • I’m reading The Hidden Hand for a class, but it’s actually pretty crazy for something written in 1859.  I also picked up the fresh release Waste-free Kitchen Handbook; I expect the lives of many bags of baby kale will be saved as a result. Next on my list: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, which promises a spooky, Hitchcock-esque tale of crime.
  • Kate
    • Last month, I read All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews and it took me at least a full week to recover. SUCH a beautiful book – equal parts devastating and hilarious. Currently going through a Louise Erdrich phase, zoomed through The Round House (nailed it! So good! Instant fan!) and now working on The Beet Queen, which I should finish shortly so you can check it out yourself!
  • Fisher
    • I am almost finished with The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.  It is the best book I have read this year!  Highly recommended if you are a fan of Norse Mythology, a sarcastic and witty protagonist who loves Doctor Who and falafel, and if you are interested in the image of Loki eating pop tarts.
  • Ilka
    • I am currently in the beginning of what is looking to be a marathon-esque reading of Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. It is the book that inspired the 2014 film, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. It is an incredibly lush biography about one of the most important and, unfortunately, looked over icons of the 20th Century. Needless to mention, a mountain of periodicals, pile of cds, and dvds that also lie in wait. I need a time machine.
  • Polli
    • I’m tearing through Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and holy smokes, it’s good! Worth getting on hold for! I’ve got my eye on Carry On by Rainbow Rowell  as my next read. I love everything she’s written.  And, as always, I have a something romantic going on the side… right now it’s When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare.
  • Shirley
    • Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear … This is the most recent book in the Maisie Dobbs series. The heroine is resolute in a setting of world conflict in the 1930s. The first chapter quickly advances through several years and sets the mood. The core of the mystery begins with chapter 2 and an element of espionage. In spite of this being the 11th book in the Maisie Dobbs series, you need not begin with the 1st in the series. Spirit Rising by Angelique Kidjo … I recently discovered this singer-songwriter. Her Grammy-winning music is powerful and upbeat. Kidjo is an activist and humanitarian; she works to empower women and girls. This album was recorded live and includes Dianne Reeves, Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Josh Groban and Ezra Koenig. Kidjo writes and sings her own music, but also performs songs from influential artists like James Brown, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Carlos Santana.

Tech help to the rescue!

We’re here every Tuesday to help troubleshoot any and all tech gadgets giving you trouble.

Swing by meeting Room B between 5-6 PM for Tech Drop-in. All ages welcome. More info here.

Time to finish that sweater!

First-timers and seasoned pros welcome.

Bring work in progress, and if you don’t have yarn or needles, borrow from us to get started knitting or crocheting.

More info here.

Show Your LPL Love with Pints & Pins

Our popular pint glasses are back!

We’ve also added these sweet lapel (or fishing hat, trucker cap, felted vest) pins to our merch mix. Thanks to Lauren, our new full-time Youth Services Assistant, for modeling on the fly.

LPL merchandise is located at the Accounts desk.



Vote Now!

Voting is open now for the November 6th teens-only after hours movie. Drop in to the Teen Zone to cast your vote OR you can vote online here.

The selected movie will be screened starting at 7:00pm on Friday November 6th. The rest of the library will be closed so be sure to be there before 7:00 (and remember, the doors will be locked so if you leave, there’s no coming back!)

There will be snacks and drinks and the large auditorium screen for all to enjoy. Hope to see you there!