John Waters: This Filthy World

Synopsis: Dubbed “The Pope of Trash” and branded “O for Offensive” by the Catholic church, filmmaker John Waters made his reputation by turning bad taste into high art.

In This Filthy World, the writer-director of such cult classics as Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Polyester and Hairspray address a live theater audience in a hilarious and completely uncensored one-man show.

Part confession, part Vaudeville act, This Filthy World takes on such taboo topics as Catholicism, gay marriage and drug use while Waters waxes rhapsodic on the joys of saying inappropriate things to children.

John Waters: This Filthy World 8.0

eyelights: the unhinged raunchiness. the stage design. John Waters’ wicked moustache.
eyesores: the sketchy career overview.

I know very little about John Waters. As with most people, the first movie of his that I saw was ‘Hairspray’. It played on a friend’s TV, via The Movie Network and, although I found it entertaining enough, part of me wasn’t especially enamoured with it.

Later on, I saw ‘Serial Mom’. I don’t remember any of it other than I watched it because I had fallen for Kathleen Turner in a big way following ‘The War of the Roses’; I suspect that this one didn’t do anything for me.

Then I saw ‘Pecker’ – but mostly because I was binging on films while working at the video store. And because Edward Furlong was in it. That one also left me wanting. It was okay, but iy was nothing outstanding at all.

I haven’t seen any of John Waters’ other films.

Oh, I’ve heard of them. Since my innocent dallying with ‘Hairspray’, I’ve heard many rumours about some of his earlier works, and it left me with a icky feeling – the mere thought of a John Waters film makes me want to take a shower.

Which brings me to ‘This Filthy World’.

I picked up this DVD from the library when I was… um… binging on films (recurring theme, perhaps?) and decided to give it a go. With no expectations going in, and no sense of John Waters’ personality, I was suddenly overwhelmed with laughter.

He was rude, crude… and unbelievably funny.

I never would have anticipated this, but… I really got a kick out of his one-man show. Not enough to go check out his films, mind you (I’m still not a convert), but it was enough for me to see him in a very different light: as a sharp, but devilishly twisted individual.

Admittedly, much of his humour hinges on shock: he discusses a wide range of fringe elements that will no doubt make some people ill ,and punch others right in the gut. Of course, there are those of us who find outrageousness entertaining and, if he’s anything, it’s most certainly outrageous.

His show consists of a brief overview of his filmmaking origins and then goes on a breeze-through of his films up to that point; it’s all anecdotal, with minor detours in order to throw a little bit more filth on the fire. This is followed by a no-holds-barred Q&A period with members of the audience that, for whatever reason, was relegated to the DVD’s special features.

All in all, it makes for a fascinating trip into the mind of one of counter-culture’s most beloved icons. I still don’t feel drawn by his films at this point, and I highly doubt that I’ll venture very far in his filmography (I’ll stick to his most innocuous stuff, thank you very much), but I’m very pleased to have a different perspective on the man behind the legend.

Date of viewing: November 23, 2012

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