Quite simply a straight-up record of helmer-actor-pope-of-trash John Waters doing his stand-up routine for a Gotham aud, docu “This Filthy World” is a surefire laff riot for anyone who delights in Waters’ particular brand of willfully perverse humor. Mixing old and new material, eclectic topics covered here include Waters’ career, both as a filmmaker and a criminal-trial groupie, being gay and the many strange things people have asked to autograph. Pic premiered at 2006 Toronto fest and has already had a very limited theatrical release Stateside, but long ancillary afterlife among the filth-friendly of all ages is assured.
“When I was a teenager I wanted to be Visconti, but now I realize that my career is becoming similar to Paul Lynde’s,” quips Waters early on, self-deprecatingly acknowledging he’s now known almost better — especially for a younger generation — for his raconteur skills versus his filmmaking. Indeed, pic sometimes feels like a Waters’ primer for the uninitiated. As if to underscore the educational theme, he suggests aud should never sleep with people who don’t have books in their houses and make it a policy to give schoolteachers oral sex whenever possible.
Waters’ helming high- and lowlights are briskly covered, from his first cinematic forays aping such experimentalist heroes as the Kuchar Brothers and Andy Warhol, through “Pink Flamingos” (yes, the dog turd eating scene is discussed), and then on to the more commercial successes such as “Hairspray” and “Serial Mom.” A little dig at the MPAA for assigning last feature “A Dirty Shame” an NC-17 rating brings the retrospective roughly up to the present.
Other whimsical and topical digressions include: what people should wear when they’re about to be electrocuted; how, if Michael Jackson had been sentenced for child abuse and sent to the same special unit as Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, it would have been like “The Breakfast Club” for criminals; and how great it would be if the U.S. had an all-volunteer lesbian army (“they could find Bin Laden”).
Longstanding fans will have heard a good chunk of the older spiels before, particularly on Waters’ DVD commentaries and in his various books, but the pic is still a kick. As a performer, the star seems a little less relaxed on-stage here than he does usually on talkshows and the many other docus in which he’s appeared over the years, but with material this good, who’s complaining?
Tech package is meat-and-potatoes basic and print caught was projected on DigiBeta, but still looked fine.