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For fans of John Waters' films, "A DIRTY SHAME" will be a dream come
I saw this at the Provincetown premiere last night where John Waters was there in person giving a Q&A after the film had finished.
Tracy Ullman plays a sexually conservative and uptight suburban housewife who works with her husband (Chris Isaak) at his mother's convenience store. Their daughter (Selma Blair) has huge mummies (and I emphasize "HUGE") who works at a strip joint but has been sentenced to house arrest after being indicted on several accounts of "public indecent exposure".
Her husband's mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd) is against all kinds of sexual perversions and is consistently disgusted by the shameless vulgar acts of sex committed by the residents of her community. Those who are against these acts are labeled "neuters", and once and for all, Big Ethel decides to lead an uprising against all of the deviants in her community, with a little help from Marge (Mink Stole) who noticed the "shaved" crotch of a pervert whom she caught masturbating on the public bus!
Soon enough, Ullman is sexually liberated by Ray-Ray (Johnny Knoxville) after her car breaks down and she is struck against the head by a tool in the back of his tow truck. Her concussion causes her to discover her "inner whore" and she begins a new mission to sexually liberate those around her, by using none other than her vagina!
Many of John Waters' fans will recognize many actors he has used in his past films. Patricia Hearst ("SERIAL MOM", "PECKER", "CECIL B DEMENTED" as a recovering "sex addict" in a 12-step program, Jean Schertler ("PECKER") as a disgusted bus commuter and Jean Hill ("DESPERATE LIVING") as an angry wife who fends off Ullman's sexual advances towards her equally horny husband with a rolling pin in hand!
"A DIRTY SHAME" is funnier than "PECKER" and the abysmal "CECIL B DEMENTED" and finally gives Mink Stole a role that offers more than just a "walk on". Unfortunately, John Waters has alienated himself from the mainstream audience (which is a good thing AND a bad thing) yet again. I feel that the only people who will admire and appreciate this film are either exclusive John Waters fans or gay men!
Some interesting points that John Waters raised during the Q&A session was how he fought the MPAA for an "R" rating but lost in a 7-4 vote. He also seemed to be mystified by the "NC-17" rating and tried to defend it by saying that most of the nudity was in the context of "comedy" and not "porn", but I would say after seeing this movie that that is hardly the issue! There is a very STRONG theme of sex, especially where it concerns the more "alternative" side such as "defecating", "felching" and "public ejaculation"! Not that there's anything wrong with it!
Many of the things that are said are very sexually laden, like when Ullman declares, "Now that's what I call sneezing in the cabbage!" or, "My pu**y's on fire!".
He also mentioned that the community he filmed "A DIRTY SHAME" in was very friendly and that they all posed next to the trees with prosthetic vaginas and sphincters with their families for photos!
He said that Jean Hill was very ill during her small cameo in this film and that in her scene, there were three men behind her propping her up and that there was an oxygen tank and mask just off-screen.
Sitting in the screening right next to me was Max Mueller who played baby Noodles in "PINK FLAMINGOS".
This film has everything. From gay bears and horny squirrels, to food fetish and "upper deck" floaters (watch the movie to find out what this means), to a less-than-embarrassing cameo appearance by David Hasselhoff that involves him and an airplane toilet!
Everyone applauded when the film ended. It was John Waters' return to disgusting trash, and we all loved it! Unfortunately, I don't think ANYONE outside of the above-mentioned demographic would want to touch this film with a 10-yard pole, and that is what I meant in reference to where I think that the alienation of the mainstream audience was a bad thing. I think everyone should see this!
The perverts have invaded the neighborhood and we're not going to take
it anymore! Gays and lesbians are everywhere as well as all kinds of
disgusting lewd behavior. Well, what are the righteous citizens to do?
Organize and try to get rid of them, but they're outnumbered!
Thus seems to be the premise for this hysterical John Waters picture. The promise for an irreverent take on pornography in suburbia dissolves as soon as it starts. Mr. Waters shows a milder side to himself, as it's been the case in his latest movies. But with that said, even a minor Waters is a hilarious one. Sure, the jokes get a bit stale, but the film has so many funny situations that anyone with an open mind will appreciate this kind of humor.
Tracey Ullman blends the perfect amount of seriousness and insanity playing her Sylvia Stickles, the woman who comes alive as she is hit in the head! Her scene at the nursing home playing the Hokey Pokey will become a classic Waters moment. Chris Isaak, Selma Blair, Suzanne Shepherd and Johnny Knoxville are also good.
Waters does a great job at expressing how absurd our government and social efforts to repress sex have become. In a zombie type world where the zombies are the "crazy" people who actually enjoy sex and the "normal" people are the prudes who think all sex is dirty, Waters offers his typically absurd social commentary. I loved it and laughed at times more than I have in months. If you are a prude, conservative, or don't get satire, do yourself and other movie fans a favor and stay home. No in fact, go support the film so Waters can make more of the same. DISCLAIMER: Disregard the above if you don't want the opinion of an open minded, non bible beater.
A DIRTY SHAME is the new film from John Waters, and arguably his
funniest film yet. And by funny, I mean laugh out loud hilarious, start
to finish. The only way you would not like this movie, is if you are
easily offended. But, if you've ever intentionally gone to a John
Waters film, my guess is that you are not, in fact.
The plot is pretty simple. Small town America is invaded by a bunch of sex addicts, each of their sexual quirks (from shelf humping to dirt worship) brought on by an accidental blow to the head. The whole town starts to convert, as the neuters (normals) lose the fight for decency.
John has lined up a stellar cast for this raunchy romp, my favorite being chronic masturbation lady. You'll see what I mean.
The great thing is, even with over the top sexual humor, there is still a underlying message of tolerance for everyone, as long as their beliefs and actions don't negatively affect anyone else.
My favorite John Waters film by far. See it! (9/10)
I can't say I've seen many of John Waters' films, but I've seen enough
to get an idea of what he's about; and A Dirty Shame would appear to be
a typical John Waters film. All of the jokes in the film come from
sexual perversions, and it's not hard to see why a number of people
don't like it - as if you thought Serial Mom was a difficult film to
get along with, wait until you see this one! To be honest, I'm not
completely sure of whether I liked it or not; on the one hand, I
respect the director for daring to go further than many directors would
dare...but on the other hand, it's amazingly silly and the central
ideas behind the plot don't hold much weight. There are some really
good one-liners in the film, however, and the surreal nature of the way
the plot plays out is a delight. The story follows a prudish housewife
named Silvia who hates sex, and the fact that her daughter is a sex
symbol named 'Ursula Udders'. However, after hitting her head one day;
she comes into contact with a man named Ray Ray, a 'sexual healer', and
it's not long before she discovers that she is, in fact, a sex-addict.
I'm sure that the main reason why John Waters has so many fans is because of his willingness to take risks. This film is full of risks; some of which work. The cast list isn't typical, with popular American comedienne Tracey Ullman taking the lead role and performing well in the more lurid scenes. Selma Blair stars alongside an enormous pair of fake breasts, while there are support roles for the likes of Chris Isaak and Suzanna Shepherd. The biggest risk where the cast is concerned is undoubtedly Jackass' Johnny Knoxville, who is a lot better than you would think. Waters has seen fit to have a lot of scenes play out to music, and this works well some of the time. The way that certain words (such as 'Whore') pan out across the screen is good, but personally I didn't like the use of CGI. The film gets off to a really good start, and I laughed more in the first half hour than in any film I've seen recently; but it takes a bit of a downturn in the middle, and never fully recovers. The film is good because you never really know where Waters is going with it, and the full on orgy of the last twenty minutes is bound to divide audiences. Overall, this film is in extreme bad taste; but it's also a great laugh. However, if you haven't liked whatever Waters' films you've seen so far - I wouldn't recommend seeing this one.
After seeing "A Dirty Shame" twice, I was awed at how far John Waters has pushed the envelope with his trademark trashy fun. Also, whenever I hear the Ray Anthony classic "The Hokey Pokey" any more, I now think of what Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) did...not to give the story away, but it involved a water bottle. That scene has to be up there with Divine's eating doggie-doo-doo in "Pink Flamingos". "A Dirty Shame" will be a classic, in the same league as Waters' pre-"Hairspray" films. Still, the concept of getting horny just by banging your head is weird, to say the least. Especially as the movie goes on, more and more people are realizing that "fact". I would highly recommend "A Dirty Shame". Can't wait for the DVD to come out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"A Dirty Shame" probably won't win John Waters any new fans, but it
should definitely satisfy those who are already familiar with his
particular sense of humor. Those easily offended should stay ten miles
away from this one.
Tracy Ullman is excellent as Sylvia Stickles, who is irritated by the seemingly growing number of "sexual perverts" she sees in her working-class Maryland neighborhood. Uptight and generally unpleasant, she suffers a concussion and suddenly becomes a raging nymphomaniac, specifically a "cunnilingus bottom" who craves constant oral sex.
Typical of John Waters films, his plot here is nothing more than a sketch; even the notorious "Pink Flamingos" had an identifiable plot with which the viewer could become involved. However, "A Dirty Shame" ranks up there with "Polyester" and "Cecil B. Demented", films that were nothing more than a series of sketches based on a single idea.
It's a steady barrage of sight gags and one-liners, most of which are based on identifying certain sexual fetishes or categories that may or may not already be familiar to the viewer. Waters has always done this, as he did in "Pink Flamingos" when Connie & Raymond were "shrimping" each other (toe sucking) and even the very early "Multiple Maniacs" featured something called a "rosary job"--an idea that was hopefully invented only for the film. Even more amusing is Waters's collection of curious euphemisms and colloquialisms, such as an "upper decker" (you'll have to see the film to understand this one).
As is typical of most of his films, "A Dirty Shame" suffers from running about half an hour longer than it probably should. Some of his films have problems in the third act, and this one just gets a little boring by the time the "perverts" start to take over the neighborhood.
But like the best of his films, "A Dirty Shame" is one that could probably be watched over and over again, and each time you'd find something new to laugh about or quote incessantly. If only Divine, David Lochary, and Edith Massey were still alive to appear in John's films.
John Waters has made a great film with a "A Dirty Shame". I used to
think, how can a director make so many films that have no point other
than to shock, disturb and make people laugh? Well, I soon found out
that it was a bit too simplistic to see them that way. You know, if you
look at Warhol's Cambells soup paintings, you'll see that they are
different types of Cambells soups. Well that's the same thing that's
going on in his films. They may have similar flavors but the content is
different. (well minestrone is different from clam chowder..okay bad
soup analogy) The point is that John Waters has something to say and
although trash is the reoccurring theme of his films, he always adds
something new to the subject.Before, it was just about the freaks
against the normal people and all the tabboos that were broken in the
film as a result. Then there was the trash of films and art versus the
"norm" and here we have sex politicized as the deviant and immoral act
versus the neutered normal people. The irony is that none of the
characters in this or any other Waters film is actually normal. He
pokes fun at just about everything so it is a celebration of being
freakish whether you're from Baltimore or anywhere else. John Waters
knows how to be overt without being too mean about it. He is anything
but pretentious, in fact he loathes it. There is something absurd about
cultural hierarchy and without Waters, we would'nt be able to feel good
about all the filth that exists in this country.
We have to hand it to John Waters. Its a miracle that he can make these films and have large audiences see them. John has brought the underground to the surface of mainstream and allowed audiences to either shake, laugh, think, get sick or all of the above. In my mind, John Waters is a real treasure to the art of American cinema and "A Dirty Shame" is a reason why.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sylvia (Tracey Ullman) is a sexually frustrated wife, but when she
incurs a head injury she becomes a sex addict, through the sexual power
of Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxvile). Sylvia's husband (Chris Isaak) is a flake
and her daughter Caprice (Selma Blair) is a sex addict with the largest
breast you have ever seen. Through Sylvia's sexual revelation, she
realizes there are sex addicts everywhere in her neighborhood. Though
her mother Big Ethel is against all this sexuality that is running
rampant; starting a group to counter act.
This is the first time i have seen a John Walter film, and rightly so. I had to download this film as much like all his other films they aren't released in Australia. This is sick, disgusting and shows many depraved acts - and i fell off my chair from laughing so hard. Masterbating while being choked with a pay phone, sex in public, lesbians, gays, trees and plants that resemble sex organs, and it goes on.
Tracey Ullman was so perfect for Sylvia. Johnny Knoxvile as the "Jesus" of the sex addicts and his twelve apostles that are trying to free people to their sexual awakening is so over the top its perfect. Selma Blair takes the cake, being able to show breast that large must have been a big job. Chris Isaak is good as the husband as well. And all the sex addicts are just awesome and show no shame.
This holds no bars. There isn't much of a message, only a black and white theme; your either a sex addict or your a neuter. From what i had read all John Walter films target the Middle Americans in Baltimore, and it hits hard here in A Dirty Shame.
And of course this film wasn't complete until David Hasselhoff takes a dump in an aeroplane.
Do see this film. But you have to leave all morals at the gate and just get on this roller-coaster of filth.
And thats what i call sneezing on the cabbage.
Here comes "A Dirty Shame", John Waters' last hooliganism. It must be
said: Waters is more a product of a specific time than a good cinema
director. He was in the right place at the right moment to scandalize
the so puritan American society of the 70's with movies such as "Pink
Flmingos" or "Female Trouble" (most of them played by the
unclassifiable Divine and a huge cast of freaks and outsiders).
Disrespect, ugliness, a look worthy of the "do it yourself" punk
slogan... A few movies that, in their own context, were so valuable,
they broke taboos, they spit in the face of that society because the
future was coming.
Well, now the future has come, and Waters left behind the amateur ways in order to make some brilliant pieces ("Cry Baby", "Serial Mom") that were more in the Hollywood style, much more according to the mainstream ways. With "A Dirty Shame" John seems to want to go back to his origins, to scandalize deep America's rednecks, the friends of the Rifle Association, the Mormons... In order to achieve that he's written a rather coarse story about an epidemic of sex-addiction somewhere in middle America, sort of a spicy version of the "Invasion of the Body snatchers". Rough humor, and a few laughing.
Main attractions? Well, we got the MTV-boy Johnny Knoxville and Tracey Ullman that were born to make comedies, and the exquisite taste of Mr. Waters for the music: "S Dirty Shame" has a soundtrack full of fantastic 50's music. In short: maybe with some wallpaper, a camera on the shoulder, and going 30 years back in time this product would make any sense. But we're in 2005, and the man who shot Divine eating canine feces has just made his worst film ever. Let's see if the next time John Waters does it better (I really hope so).
*My rate: 2.5/10
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