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This Filthy World (2006)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary, Comedy  |  24 November 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,075 users   Metascore: 68/100
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Jeff Garlin's documentary on the work of John Waters.



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Cast overview:


At the Harry DeJour Playhouse in New York in the mid-2000s, John Waters emerges from a confessional onto a stage littered with trash. He tells stories. After a few about his childhood and early influences, he roughly follows the chronology of his career as a film director, relating anecdotes about the making of each film and letting those stories lead him to riffs on other topics. Gay references and wry observations about people's foibles and limits are constants. Waters' looks, too, are the butt of his jokes. Written by <>

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Release Date:

24 November 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O! Ti oraios kosmos  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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References Pink Flamingos (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Joyous to see a man proudly dub himself a "filth elder"
1 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Any inspiring film student or anyone who dares call themselves a "cinephile" should feel obligated to watch at least a few of John Waters's films. They're not for everyone without a doubt, but they're a rare breed; well-made shock films. They have a certain style, wittiness, and art that isn't captured enough today. Waters' earliest films, most stamped with an "NC-17" rating, are some of the most wonderfully conducted bad taste films out there. And his style definitely needs to be revived in some way.

We don't have shock cinema like we used to. Now, we have films like Hostel, Saw, and those of the torture porn genre. We no longer have films that don't include sex or violence that still achieve an NC-17 rating. Mostly because I think we've reached a void where we believe we have to include at least one of those to be moderately successful.

Clerks, the film I still cite as my favorite of all time, was originally stamped with an "NC-17" rating just because of its explicit dialog. No sex, violence, or drug use (minor smoking sequences, but nothing extreme). Just very dirty, perverse conversations conducted in explicit and broad detail. Never have I heard such proudly cruel language in such a film. On top of being proudly cruel, just constant and shameless. There was a movie that wasn't afraid to be daring.

But it also captured the way people are in real life. When two men talk about their relationships and sex-life, anything is bound to come up. That is why Clerks is my favorite film. Its captivating realism and its sense of urgency compliment it in a way no film I've seen does before.

I've trailed off course. Most likely because when I think of Waters's cinema, I try and think of how it relates to other films that I've developed an increasing fondness for. We have him to thank for threatening the very limits of people, film, and common, adequate decency. John Waters: This Filthy World is Waters conducting his famous "This Filthy World" lecture/standup routine in front of a full house at The Harry DeJour Playhouse in New York City.

Waters chronicles his early childhood life, going to drive-ins, talking about films he liked as a kid, underrated directors he enjoys, and his early 8mm and 16mm films like Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, Eat Your Makeup, and Mondo Trasho, those of which are often shown at his festival John Waters: Change of Life. To my knowledge, those short films aren't commercially available, except for some very rare, out of print VHS tapes.

He then starts to get into his full length films one by one. But he does them so fast we don't get a very solid understand. It isn't like Kevin Smith's Q&A sessions where we can't possibly leave the room without our question being answered. Though it is more concise than the work of Kevin Smith, it lacks many things I wanted to know.

For instance, how did Waters pay for many of his early films back when it was difficult to get money for films that relied on shock aspects? Also, I wanted to hear more about Waters' opinion on the critics when it comes to his films. All of his films have garnered severely mixed ratings from different critics. Some love them, some hate them. I wanted to know what he had to say.

Not to mention, some of his later films a lot of his fans say derailed in quality compared to his older films. I hear many fans cite Cecil B. Demented and A Dirty Shame as some of his most tragic works. A Dirty Shame was a too little, too late effort from a man who simply doesn't fit in during the present time. The film focused on fetishes, which aren't really funny because the fact is that some people have the strangest, most incomprehensible desires and pleasures in the world that it doesn't come as surprising or shocking. It just comes off as failed comedy.

Thankfully, Waters early cinema was a provocative art form. Somewhere along the way, I believe after Divine's tragic death in 1988 - three weeks after the release of Hairspray, Waters became more focused on serious films that lacked that same sort of shock-art but were still convincing in their role as eclectic and different films. After Hairspray, Waters directed a Johnny Depp film called Cry-Baby which obtained a heavy cult following in later years. After that, many of his films completely abandoned the idea of shock.

John Waters: This Filthy World was directed by Curb Your Enthusiasm star Jeff Garlin. The downside is neither of them are seen together, sitting down for an interview, during any time of the documentary. It would have been great to hear how Garlin was inspired by Waters work (he must've to propose and direct a documentary on his standup) and what he personally thinks of Waters. In that respect, the documentary is empty, but holds enough so it can equip a solid recommendation.

At one point in the film, Waters states he wants "young people" to look up to him as a "filth elder" because he believes all younger people should have one. I wouldn't know a better name or a better person worthy of that title.

Starring: John Waters. Directed by: Jeff Garlin.

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