Strangely neglected for way too long, Jose Rodriguez Soltero's Lupe is an underground classic of the stature of Flaming Creatures, Scorpio Rising, Hold me While I'm Naked, or The Chelsea Girls.
It is ostensibly a biopic of Lupe Velez inspired by Kenneth Anger's sketch of the Mexican spitfire in Hollywood Babylon and, stylistically, by Von Sternberg's Marlene Dietrich vehicles. Rodriguez Soltero takes some liberties with the facts and produces a color-saturated, gorgeous dime-store baroque that tells of Lupe's rise from whoredom to stardom, her fall into fractured romance and suicide, and her ascension into the spirit world. It is consistently inventive and surprising, and wrapped in a dense soundtrack that combines, Elvis, Cuban boleros, Spanish flamenco, The Supremes, and Vivaldi. It features some of the main players of the Ridiculous Theatrical Playhouse (Charles Ludlam plays a keen lesbian seducer and Lola Pashalinsky, Lupe's maid). Mario Montez never looked better; no wonder this was his favorite film. Whether they know it or not, Pedro Almodavar, Vivienne Dick, and Bruce LaBruce have a grandfather in Jose Rodriguez Soltero. –Juan Suarez