Paris Is Burning is the Pick of the Week

A fearless, influential 1990 LGBTQ documentary headlines a new week of great releases.
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As a member of the LGBTQ community, I'm always trying to find documents that depict our lives, especially with honesty and accuracy. There have been major ones about our hopes and struggles, including The Celluloid Closet, The Times of Harvey Milk, and How to Survive a Plague. However, the one I always seem to think about often is Jennie Livingston's brave and vital Paris Is Burning (1990), which depicts New York City's African American and Latinx Harlem drag-ball scene during the 1980s. It's a powerful and insightful look at the warmth and acceptance of people on the outskirts of a society that is filled with AIDS panic, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and discrimination that unfortunately continues to exist now. 

The new Blu-ray and DVD editions from Criterion include a new restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and some promising supplements: a new conversation between Livingston, ball members Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis, and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris; over an hour of never-before-seen outtakes; a 2005 commentary with Livingston, F. Pendavis, ball member Willi Ninja, and film edition Jonathan Oppenheim; new interview with LGBT film historian Jenni Olson; a 1991 episode of The Joan Rivers Show with Livingston, and members Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, F. Pendavis. and Ninja; and a trailer. This is obviously a must-have addition to any collection!

Other releases:

Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (Criterion): A box set that includes three landmark live-action and animated fantasies: an adventure of prehistory (Journey to the Beginning of Time), a Jules Verne-like tale of flight (Invention of Discovery), and an exotic tall tale (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen) from the legendary Czech filmmaker.

Knives Out: director Rian Johnson's delightful and humorous murder mystery centering on the investigation of a wealthy patriarch of an eccentric, pugnacious family. Read Matthew St. Clair's review.

Color Out of Space: Nicolas Cage stars as Nathan Gardner, a man, along with his family, find themselves fighting an exterrestrial organism that corrupts their minds and bodies. Read David Wangberg's review.

The Maya Deren Collection: A collection of subversive works from one of the greatest American experimental filmmakers of all-time. Includes her most famous short, the 1943 classic, Meshes of the Afternoon.

Quai des Orfevres: A 1947 classic from legendary director Henri-Georges Clouzot about an inspector's investigation of a crime, in which the jealous husband of a nightclub peformer is the prime suspect of the murder of a slimy movie financier who has been pursuing her.

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