U.S., 1996, 120 min, 2K DCP, Dir. Baz Luhrmann, Rated PG-13, 20th Century Studios
“Relentlessly inventive and innovative." – Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Luhrmann and his two bright angels have shaken up a 400-year-old play without losing its touching, poetic innocence." – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
This screening includes an introduction by Flaming Classics and a live drag performance by Viola Putx & Lady Paraiso before the feature.
Baz Luhrmann and William Shakespeare are as perfect a match as, well, Romeo and Juliet. The Australian director, best known for his lavish costumes, eccentric set design, and penchant for music brought the Bard's most famous tragedy to the silver screen in 1996.
As a, dare I say, geriatric millennial, Baz Luhrmann’s take on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is forever burned into my cinematic memory. It was the first film I saw with friends, all together in our JNCO jeans, free of parental supervision. My parents would drop me off at an ornate theater in downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois. It was decorated in a southwestern motif in a decidedly midwestern town; the interior covered in dramatic murals and constructed to feel as if you were watching an open-air screening in a small town outside Santa Fe, complete with stars on the ceiling. There were even taxidermied animals perched in certain spots watching you watch the movie. Once the film was over, I would call collect to secure my pickup pre-Uber, and plot my eventual return. My parents, frustrated, could not understand why I would want to watch a movie over and over again, but I’m sure I saw it at least five times during its original release.
The ornate setting of that theater was the perfect match for Luhrmann’s maximalist take on the classic tragedy. The kinetic energy of the first sequence sent an adrenaline rush through my adolescent body. The visuals, the sounds, the drama; it was a drug. It felt highbrow, yet grimy. It proposed that angsty teen romance was universal and timeless, while at the same time, being quintessentially 90s. All of its aesthetic sensibilities, from the music to the costuming, captured the zeitgeist. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was CINEMA.
- Trae DeLellis
With the release of Baz Luhrmann’s latest film Elvis last week, we wanted to look back at this gem within his career. I am unreasonably fond of his gaudy motion pictures, especially when he’s in adaptation mode (The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece!) and Romeo + Juliet remains, to me, the definitive version of this tale (much as I love West Side Story too). His aesthetic sensibilities are decidedly camp, as is the juxtaposition of Shakespearean dialogue delivered by colorfully-dressed gun-toting youths jamming to Garbage and Radiohead. But as ridiculous as it all is, there’s something all too irresistible and romantic about this movie and the way Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes look at each other, trying to find love in a world that wants to keep them apart (and what’s more queer than that).
- Juan Barquin
This July at After Hours, Flaming Classics invites you to dive into the aesthetics of camp with a program of favorite films inspired by a nostalgia for the 1990s.
A note from Brenda Moe
In Exhibition With is my series where I invite a friend to build a film program for our audience. If you know the Miami cinema scene, you know Flaming Classics, the curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances. Flaming Classics is masterfully led by Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis, both crucial voices in film and cinema. Reading their works is a masterclass in film history and cinema appreciation. Although familiar with Flaming Classics for years, I first met Juan in mid-2021 and immediately wanted to find ways to work together. I conceived of this program in part to make that happen. As the former creative director at Bill Cosford Cinema, Trae has been on my professional radar, which makes this program exciting and meaningful. I'm thrilled to welcome you to Summer Camp Redux!
A note from Flaming Classics
Upon being invited to take part in Coral Gables Art Cinema’s new In Exhibition With series, we couldn’t help but think back on our first program, Summer Camp, and the colorful collection of films we showcased with it. As such, we wanted to revisit this series through Summer Camp Redux: an expansion of our past series that dives into the aesthetics of camp (and the malleability of how we define it), this time particularly inspired by a nostalgia for the 1990s. These are favorite films discovered during our adolescence, consumed endlessly on VHS until the tapes wore out, now being screened for old audiences to revisit and new audiences to discover.
One of the driving forces of Flaming Classics was to create unique event screenings, prompted by our discovery that we had only ever watched many of our favorite films alone or in small groups, rather than the pleasure of experiencing them with a collective audience. We wanted to challenge the casual convenience and consumption of “content” offered by the streaming revolution, foregrounding the theatrical experience, seeing the excess of these camp classics on the big screen with surround sound, and getting to laugh and scream with everyone alongside us.
In addition to sharing these films as a community, we are pleased to give them a Flaming Classics spin. Each feature will be accompanied with an introduction foregrounding the film, its production, legacy, and queer elements, along with a commissioned essay by celebrated queer critics. And, as is our tradition, we will be inviting local performers to celebrate and recontextualize each film through their unique prism of drag before each feature.
The selected films all represent varying takes on camp during the 1990s. Some were instant hits while others were flops that have taken decades to become cult classics, but today, they are and will forever remain timeless treasures that have, in a very weird way, defined a generation. Join us, won’t you?
Click above to read program notes.