This musical fantasy evokes a range of influences—The Wizard of Oz, Spirited Away, Edward Gorey, the Fleischer Bros.—while sustaining a glissando across a whole spectrum of emotions, from goofy to wistful to heartbroken and back again. It's a world of its own, sparkling new but faintly familiar. (Here's Christopher Lloyd, and there's Tim Curry: the cartoon antagonists of decades past.) Jokes and myths, which I suspect may be interchangeable, accumulate into a compact edifice that you can ascend and gaze down from, at which point you may as well clamber back down and watch all ten episodes again.
This starts out as a sloppy, sluggish attempt to fuse Star Wars with The Terminator, then develops into a nocturnal tour of whichever Los Angeles dives and warehouses would let this production use them as shooting locations. An evil space princess chases her innocent sister across the city—it's a little like a no-budget sci-fi King Lear—crossing paths with a hapless bartender and a pair of bumbling cops. Every showdown is interminable and tension-free. Eventually good triumphs over evil. The villains spend the whole movie clad in stylish workout clothes; I wonder if I could track those down on Amazon.
1) About an hour in, the camera descends from the ceiling toward a bed where Lori Petty and Keanu Reeves lie—she asleep on her belly, he awake on his back, their right arms intertwined. Light skin stands out against the black bedsheets while dark hair blends in. Ensconced in this 50-second overhead shot, the couple looks like a pale, androgynous organism, half-tensed and half-relaxed, until Patrick Swayze starts ringing the doorbell and puts an end to the erotic…
Exactly two years ago I drank a lot of coconut rum and ended up lying on the floor of my apartment at 2 AM, watching Paris Is Burning on Netflix. (I threw up all the next day.) Last year I did it again, albeit drinking much less, and now tonight it's the third January 17 in a row I've observed this tradition. I hope I watch it again a year from now, too, because if any movie should be an annual experience it's Paris Is Burning, the documentary I hold most dear.