Sunday, August 10, 2008

Paris is Burning (1991) R - 3 Stars

While this documentary got pretty high ratings, I found it fascinating but somewhat dragged on. I grew up in Hollywood during the 70's and a lot of my friends were gay and cross dressers so I could identify with the stars of the film. I also remember a whole lot of them of these friends having the crap beat out of them just because of their sexual preference.

Directed by Jennie Livingston , this documentary is an honest look into the gay community in New York, especially the minority drag queens, of the late 1980's. These underground society of boy girls, reveal what it was like to be gay in the 80's and how they all live for the "ball." To these cross dressing gay men, the ball is like the Oscars. They have competitions, representing various "houses," where these men of Harlem, compete for trophies. Categories include just about everything like "realness" how well they can pull off looking like a woman, best "butch", best "voguing," imitating fashion poses from Vogue magazine, "evening wear", the "wealthy" look etc.

Paris is Burning is an in depth look at a society seeking the same things most of us want, like acceptance. These "she males" look for security and self-validation and find it by attending the "ball." Some seeking to look and live like fashion models while others just like the idea of feeling glamorous. I actually did feel bad for Venus Xtravaganza, who was on her way to a complete sexual change but lost her life in a dark sleazy motel probably by someone angered with her male genital.

1989 - Paris is Burning - L.A. Film Critics Association - Best Documentary.
1991 - Paris Is Burning - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Documentary.
1990 - Paris Is Burning - Sundance Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize: Documentary.

Miramax Films
Director: Jennie Livingston
Producers: Nigel Finch, Jennie Livingston, Davis Lacy
I viewed 7/08

1 comment:

elgringo said...

The young girl who *SPOILERS* gets killed *SPOILERS* had a great story to tell.

I also love how long the competitions go. Category after category after category. Hilarious.