U.S., 1996, 103 min, DCP, Dir. Hugh Wilson, Rated PG, Paramount Pictures

The First Wives Club

Saturday, July 9

"It's a glamorous revenge romp, a 9 to 5 mixed with Auntie Mame, and it gives each star the opportunity to do her best work in a long, long time." —Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle

"The film is played as witchy, all-star vamping with a lethal sting. What makes its premise especially funny is that, at heart, it's no laughing matter." —Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

This screening includes an introduction by Flaming Classics and a live drag performance by Karla Croqueta before the feature.

This delightfully devilish comedy, based on Olivia Goldsmith's best-selling novel of the same name, deftly balances three Hollywood legends giving some of the best comedic performances of their careers. Since its original release in 1996, it has become a cult classic that spawned stage musical and TV series adaptations almost two decades after its original release.

My sister and I completely wore out two VHS tapes during our childhood, both films featuring Bette Midler (and to a lesser extent Sarah Jessica Parker). One was obviously Hocus Pocus, but the other formative work was the 1996 comedy classic The First Wives Club. The film united three comedic powerhouses—Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton—in what has to be the feminist equivalent of The Godfather or Heat. The chemistry between this trio (and an exceptional supporting cast including Parker, Maggie Smith, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Garber, etc) made the film a huge hit and forever favorite of audiences.

Today, I wonder what about these 50-year-old women resonated so strongly with that queer adolescent in the Midwest and understand that Elise, Brenda, and Annie were outsiders. They were expected to be quiet and fade away. No longer deemed relevant, desirable, or useful by society, they united together to declare they will not be ignored. It’s a film about revenge. It’s a film about justice. It’s a film about empowerment. These women prove it gets better.

-Trae DeLellis

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.

Check out the rest of our In Exhibition With: Flaming Classics - Summer Camp Redux program!