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1 item from 2000

Film review: 'Divine Trash'

3 April 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

It may not exactly be fodder for one of those HBO "Making of" specials, but this documentary chronicling the career of iconoclastic filmmaker John Waters includes an extensive segment detailing the rehearsal and shooting of one of the most notorious scenes in screen history, Divine's ingestion of dog poop in "Pink Flamingos". For that alone, "Divine Trash" is worth the price of admission.

Made by Waters' longtime friend Steve Yeager and winner of the Filmmakers Trophy documentary award at Sundance a couple of years back, the film is receiving its New York theatrical premiere at Anthology Film Archives.

The low-budget effort concentrates on Waters' early years, up to and including the 1972 release of "Pink Flamingos", with only a brief coda showing him shooting "Pecker" to represent his more mainstream work. It includes current and vintage interviews with the filmmaker himself, as well as interviews with seminal figures in his life and career. Most amusing of these chats are with his parents, who admit that not only have they not seen "Pink Flamingos" (even though they provided the financing), they probably never will. Among the figures represented are filmmakers who influenced Waters (George and Mike Kuchar, Herschell Gordon Lewis), filmmakers he's influenced (Jim Jarmusch, Steve Buscemi, Hal Hartley) and such members of the Waters stock company as Edith Massey, Mink Stole and, of course, the late Glenn Milstead (a k a Divine).

Although the film unfortunately can't be considered a comprehensive portrait of Waters' career, it does provide fascinating information about his early years, beginning with his highly successful childhood puppet shows -- his talent for marketing apparently came early -- and continuing with his first films, shot on 8mm. One particularly interesting tidbit concerns the obviously enlightened minister who allowed Waters to hold the premiere of his first film, "Roman Candles", at his Baltimore church. Most amusingly, there is an interview with Mary Avara, now 84, who was the head of the Maryland Censor Board. Even today, the elderly woman becomes apoplectic at the mere recollection of Waters' work.

The centerpiece of the film is the segment concerning the making of "Pink Flamingos", with fascinating footage of Waters shooting his acknowledged masterwork. "Divine Trash" also serves as a tribute to Divine himself, who is revealed here to be a gentle and talented soul whose partnership with Waters was one of the most resonant director-performer matchups in screen history.

Divine Trash

Winstar Cinema

Producer-director:Steve Yeager

Screenwriters:Kevin Herrernan, Steve Yeager

Co-producer:Cindy Miller

Executive producers:Caroline Kaplan, Jonathan Sehering, Tim Kahoe, Brooks Moore, Thomas W. Yeager

Directors of photography:Jeff Atkinson, Jim Harris, Steve Yeager

Editors:Terry Campbell, Tim Kahoe, Steve Yeager

Music:Don Barto


Running time -- 97 minutes

No MPAA rating


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