A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 57 – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – April 26th, 2010

Let’s start this out with an admission: I know next to nothing about makeup. Everything I know I learned in theater in high school and from movies like this and shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis. I own some ancient concealer and some green powder for minimizing redness (okay, and a boatload of nail polish, but that’s different!) and I just never really learned about makeup. My mother doesn’t wear any and I was friends with more guys in high school than girls. But I know enough to know that the makeup changes in the climactic show in the movie are impossible. So there.

Not that I care, aside from being amused. The climax isn’t supposed to be at all realistic. It’s an over-the-top drag show. Of course it’s unrealistic. That’s what makes it super fabulous. And from that little tidbit, one might think this movie is all about shows and the like. And it sort of is, but really it’s a road trip. It’s just that the people on the road trip are two drag queens and a transsexual, and the point of the trip is that the three of them are taking a bit of a break from their hometown of Sydney to do a few weeks as the cabaret act at a resort in Alice Springs.

For the most part it’s a lighthearted movie full of bits and pieces of drag acts. They do a bit where they walk around downtown Broken Hill in full drag, and then they dance on a bar in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and they practice part of their act in the desert in the middle of the night, their music accompanied by didgeridoo. All three of them, Mitzi (also referred to as Anthony when not in drag), Felicia (Adam, out of drag) and Bernadette (who was once named Ralph, but Adam finds out the hard way that it’s unacceptable), are always sewing or playing around with their enormous pile of costumes. There are off-color songs sung, jokes made, and plenty of ABBA played until Bernadette gets sick of it. Even the highly embarrassing scene where they’ve met a guy named Bob who loves drag acts and they do the dance at the bar and get upstaged by Bob’s wife and some ping pong balls? Felicia’s reaction to it makes the whole thing worth it. But then there are a few serious moments. The bus they’re traveling in gets vandalized (prompting them to paint over the hateful graffiti with a lovely coat of lavender) and Felicia, in an ill-thought-out drug-fueled trip to meet some guys in Coober Pedy, gets attacked. That last is a scene I usually can’t watch. Even with Bernadette saving the day (she does that a lot, because she’s awesome). The thing is, even though I don’t personally like watching that scene (or the one with the ping pong balls, aside from the very end, to be honest), they don’t seem really out of place. The point of a road trip movie is the stops along the way. It would be boring if they were all the same.

Yes, even if they were all fabulous drag act stops. The variety makes the trip an interesting one. And it’s full of gorgeous scenery of the Australian outback. I’ve never been to Australia, and I’ll probably never get a chance to go. I’m not a great traveler and it’s a long ways away. But it’s beautiful to look at on screen. And so are the performances. While I mentioned last night that I do enjoy watching Guy Pearce, and he really is fantastic as Felicia in this, there’s also Hugo Weaving as the star of the movie, and Terence Stamp with the best deadpan drag ever. On top of that, the movie is incredibly quotable. So, amazing costumes, awesome makeup, fantastic acting, hilarious writing, great scenery (with and without the drag queens in the shots). It all equals faaaaaaaabulous.

April 26, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert

April 26, 2010

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Tonight is the season finale for RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season Two) so to celebrate we’re watching the most dragalicious movie in our collection: the Oscar winning Priscilla: QUEEN of the Desert! And I’m glad we did because this movie never fails to bring a smile to my face. It’s more than the prize winning frocks and the great musical numbers. It’s the whole package (if you’ll excuse a very bad pun.) There’s a lot of fantastic cinematography that wonderfully displays the gorgeous Australian countryside. There’s a great sense of humor to the film, but also a sort of innocence and vulnerability. What makes the movie most is the fantastic cast.

The movie is a road picture about a trio of drag queens who travel from Sydney to Alice Springs to put on a show. They choose to go by bus, and so have a two week bus trip halfway across Australia. Along the way there are setbacks, adventure and revelations. The three in question are the level headed Mitzi with her mysterious past, the experienced and world weary Bernadette and the trouble maker Felicia. The movie is all about their interactions and depends on these three cast members to carry it, and carry it they do. With distinction.

Mitzi is played by Hugo Weaving who went on to play the evil agent Smith in the Matrix movies and Elrond in the Lord of the Rings movies (so we’ll be seeing him again in our project.) She’s the core of the group who instigates the whole trip and her character has some secrets from the other two which are used to great comedic effect. Then there’s Terrence Stamp as the transsexual Bernadette who has seen it all and done it all. Her husband has just died at the start of the movie and she needs to get out of Sydney and get a fresh start. The whole movie is stolen, however, by Guy Pierce as Felicia. She exists only to cause trouble, and strife, and as a result dominates every scene she is in. Her insane cackle is infectious. And it doesn’t hurt that, as my wife is no doubt pointing out in her own review, Guy Pierce is pretty easy on the eyes.

None of the three leads are true drag performers, and there are definitely some rough edges to their dance numbers, but oh, man the costumes! They very much deserved that Oscar win, especially the great Australian themed outfits from the Alice Springs show. And the famous flip-flop dress. And… just all of them. The music is catchy and the humor is touching, so who cares if there are a few missteps in the choreography and the lip syncing isn’t always perfect.

I love this movie and will watch it any time.

Now it’s off to watch RuPaul. I do hope Raven won!

April 26, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment