Review: Before RuPaul, the documentary ‘Paris Is Burning’ illuminated drag.
Jennie Livingston’s landmark 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning,” boosted by “RuPaul's Drag Race,” gets a timely re-release.
If you’ve never seen “Paris Is Burning,” you’re only getting half of what “Drag Race” has to offer, so a new restoration and theatrical re-release of the film courtesy of Janus Films is the perfect opportunity to catch up.
Livingston’s wildly entertaining, deeply humanitarian and fundamentally educational film has been restored and digitally remastered by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with the Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and though it’s nearly three decades old, it feels as vibrant and bracingly honest as it has always been.
Livingston dives into the ball scene of 1980s New York with an anthropologist’s eye and a big beating heart. White block letters on black backgrounds announcing a new teacher or subject serve as blackboard lessons. Here are the legendary house mothers Pepper LaBeija, Angie Xtravaganza and Willi Ninja. Here are lessons in “categories,” “reading,” “shade” and “mopping.” — Katie Walsh/@RuPaul