Paris Is Burning (1991)
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Critic Reviews for Paris Is Burning
One emerges from this film not only with a new vocabulary and a fresh way of viewing the straight world but with a bracing object lesson in understanding what society "role models" are all about.
The directness and honesty of moment after moment strike back at peppily 'cheerful' white America's model-world. Blazes forth the importance, for a marginalized community, of adopting a fervid, fiery attitude all its own.
Livingston is smart enough to realize that her subjects are best equipped to explain themselves.
This landmark docu celebrates the resourcefulness of a group that's subcultural but not truly countercultural--its denizens long to become members of the society they imitate, operating at its periphery.
The beauty of the film is Livingston's nonjudgmental, accommodating camera.
Audience Reviews for Paris Is Burning
This documentary is a beautiful time capsule of the "ball" culture of late eighties drag culture. Not only does it show the performance aspect of these intricate and flawless drag shows, but also the AIDS fueled hysteria of the time, discrimination against gay people, and the fears and doubts of these one of a kind people. Since the film was released, many of the performers have died of AIDS related illnesses, and many of their trade secrets and views on life are only evident on the celluloid that this film was printed on. The subjects of this two year documentary are fascinating because of their candor and reverence for their craft. The film is both insightful in its depiction of ball culture and thoroughly entertaining for its depth and scope.
A revealing (and sad) portrait of this subculture of the 1980s, it documents the balls, "houses" (or "families"), "voguing" and a "realness" competition that raises fascinating questions about what it is to be real (gay men even appear teaching women to behave like "real" women).
A timeless, classic LBGT film. Quite bold for its time...which I guess means it isn't exactly "timeless"....still....
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