Paris Is Burning - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Paris Is Burning Reviews

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May 4, 2017
Paris is Burning is an insightful and often moving documentary of the 80's drag balls that breaks stereotypes and offers a glimpse of a whole underground - and beautiful - culture.
½ February 20, 2017
This documentary captures the fascinating and extravagant world of drag in late 80s New York. Anyone who, like me, is addicted to/obsessed with RuPaul's Drag Race will revel in this education on the origins of numerous phrases and words with which the show has made us familiar.
The film casts the spotlight on a selection of big personalities and influential characters from that scene, with the central focus being the infamous "balls" that were thrown to show off the best outfits and emulations of a range of categories of drag. Despite the extremely fabulous modelling, dancing and general attitudes of the featured individuals, the overriding narrative is melancholy; these were people who felt like outcasts with no future and little hope, making the best of what they had and finding comfort and support in their community.
In the years immediately after the film came out, many of the major 'stars' of the documentary sadly passed away, and one was even tragically murdered whilst filming was still ongoing. The enjoyment of watching the performances and interviews is muted slightly by realising how vulnerable they were, and I can understand why a lot of the cast felt quite angry and exploited when the documentary's success failed to improve their own situations.
February 3, 2017
Work, chantÚ, reading, throwing shade, vogue-ing etc. It is sad how eight seasons of Rupaul's Drag Race can make you forget that everything was born in the grimy 70's New York scene and was not conceived inside sanitized TV studios in Los Angeles. The drag queen culture was given birth in the poverty stricken inner city African-American, Latino, transgender, and homosexual communities.

What is more amusing while watching this film is when you realize that this was shot during the combined 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. With the Christian Right's Moral Majority setting the direction of the entire nation, this beautiful subculture persisted and bloomed. 26 years later, heterosexuals have co-opted much of it, making what was once a niche culture mainstream.

"We as a people for the past 400 years is the greatest example of behavior modification in the history of civilization. We have had everything taken away from us and yet we have all learned to survive."

In the age of Donald Trump, "Paris is Burning" is showing us hope will never dim if you keep fighting.
½ December 29, 2016
It explains everything. EVERYTHING!
October 31, 2016
What was shocking to me is how every single person in this documentary had a way with words. Today we can't express ourselves as well as people could a short while back.
June 14, 2016
This documentary is somehow fascinating because it shows a minority being able to express itself through Voging, fashion, makeup, attitudes and friendships. The ball seems to be the only place in the world where these people find a way to express who they are inside. The gallery of characters interviewed is colorful to say the least and it's definitely the type of documentary where everyone can relate to one of the stories, gay , straight, or whatever you call yourself. The inner battles lived by these flamboyant characters echoes too well the many struggles that most people go through in life which makes the film, even more endearing. I wish there was a little more place for the Voguing numbers but overall the film is a story of classic, cult, underground treat that has inspired countless other artists to explore and push the boundaries.
July 9, 2015
Bonus: history of vogueing. ­???­??╗
June 28, 2015
Fascinating, a seemingly perfect time capsule.
March 15, 2015
A film that taps into gay and Trans culture and its influence on pop culture. This is also a film about the very human need to fit in and to also, paradoxically, stand out.
February 18, 2015
Brilliant documentary portraying the ball gay scene in NYC in the late 80s. A crash course in gay culture history.
½ December 16, 2014
Eye-opening and sad-makening.
September 21, 2014
a really interesting exploration of a diverse and thoroughly underrated subculture. i was so often surprised to find that women that not only looked like women, but looked like extremely beautiful women, were actually transgender. it was kind of tragic in its own way, to see how close they were to what they wanted, and yet unable to ever attain it. the only thing i'd say could have been better, was the rather hectic editing style.
½ August 20, 2014
an engrossing look into a sub-culture that could only exist in America. Also I never knew that Madonna co-opted her entire 90's style from African-American drag queens. well worth the time spent watching it...
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2014
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.
½ August 7, 2014
Probably a little late in discovering this movie but everyone should watch it right now on Netflix. Seems like a quintessential LGBT movie but of course it also explores race on top of sexuality so well done <3 <3
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2014
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).
May 30, 2014
Oh my! It took me so many years to see this, and, at last, what a pleasure and education it was.
March 18, 2014
Through acting like a certain part of society, these drags reveal the framework of all of society.
January 20, 2014
Its format is scattershot, but "Paris Is Burning" offers valuable insight into one of the most needlessly harassed and hated subgroups of modern culture.
December 29, 2013
A must see. An incredible documentary.
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