This Filthy World (2006)
By: Mr Intolerance on December 9, 2010  | 
21st Century Pictures | Region 4, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 86 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jeff Garlin
Starring: John Waters
Writer: John Waters
Country: USA
External Links
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"All young people need somebody to look up to, and I hope I can do that for you tonight. Sort of a filth elder, if you will."

I was privileged enough to experience the Pope Of Trash, John Waters, live at Sydney's Opera House earlier this year, an event that cemented this droll, urbane, witty, intelligent and incisive man in my personal canon of heroes. This Filthy World gets some of that experience across, but is by no means the same as sitting in the same room as this king of raconteurs and watching and listening to him riff with the audience as he tells – as he does here – the stories of how he became the director par excellence he is today.

If you're looking at the name John Waters and thinking, "What, the dude from Rush?", well, no, not that John Waters. We're talking the John Waters who made the world's jaw collectively drop with Pink Flamingos, one of the most trash-tastic films the world has ever seen, introducing Divine, a 300 pound transvestite to the world's consciousness. We're talking the John Waters who somehow managed to convince Kathleen Turner to portray a suburban serial-killing, potty-mouthed sociopath in the downright hilarious Serial Mom. The John Waters who gave kidnap-bizarro Patty Hearst a film career (well, sort of). The John Waters who gave lectures to murderers (their review of Pink Flamingos? "You're fucked up, man!" Oh, sweet irony…). The John Waters who was in regular contact in gaol with serial killers like John Wayne Gacy (who he possesses an impressive collection of art by) and Charles Manson. The John Waters who is an erudite, articulate and absolutely hilarious speaker, and is one of trash cinema's true legends. I will freely admit I was part of the standing ovation that greeted his entrance on stage at the Sydney Opera House (although sadly not by coming out of a closet, as he does here – a cheap laugh, but who cares?) in March this year. This man, in my eyes, can do no wrong. This will therefore not be the most unbiased of reviews. I make no apologies for that.

The basic gist of This Filthy World is pretty simple: this is Waters telling us how he got to where he is, via a range of amusing diversions. As a storyteller, he is without equal. When you see great stand-up comedy (and despite the fact that this isn't billed as such, it does bear a lot of similarities), you can judge for yourself how well the performer can work the room – Waters knows his audience and plays to them. He knows what they want to hear, and so strips the fat from his tales to present the leanest, most acerbic version of his story – and in doing so, engages the audience immediately and wholly. Seriously, it's like watching Richard Pryor, Bill Bailey or Billy Connolly at their peak; he knows when to crank it up a notch, when to ease off, and his measured delivery in that quite distinctive Baltimore drawl is used to maximum effect.

And the topics he discusses? It's rich and varied – his admiration for the showmanship of William Castle and Kroger Babb, how to make a DIY grindhouse, the awesomeness of books and reading, subversion, anti-censorship (his story about Pink Flamingos and the reception it had in different parts of the world is a scream), advice to teachers ("if you've got a kid on drugs, pretend you're on drugs too", "if they're not doing their spelling lessons, throw in a word like analingus…they'll perk up"), womb-raiders (you…don't want to know), the Kuchar brothers and the good old days when cops used to raid art-house cinemas and arrest the whole audience, his own career (slyly mocking Lars Von Trier on the way), his experiences (and those of Divine and Mink Stole) as a shoplifter, mopping and dropping, wanting to own Jackie Kennedy's trash can, the ups and downs of location shooting (an eight hour filming session for Mondo Trasho including Divine crawling through pig-shit – this story is hilarious), poppers and drugs generally, true exploitation filming and the "instant movie", the 9/11 nympho, Michael Jackson and the burn unit in Jacko's house, bears and otters (I'm not talking the one you find in the woods), adult babies, blossoms (bleargh!), death-row etiquette, attending celebrity trials, Odorama and the urge to smell farts, knowing someone who snorted Stiv Bator's ashes (if you're a fan of NY punk rock from the 70s, you'll get it), Rikki Lake, Sonny Bono, an all-lesbian army, saying inappropriate things to children ("I'd be a good uncle, get you an abortion, get you out of gaol"), Traci Lords, juvenile delinquency, Pecker being "a Disney film for perverts", voting, tea-bagging and helicoptering, signing a Tampax, his parents' reaction to A Dirty Shame, Baltimore today ("Travel Today said that Baltimore had the ugliest people"), eavesdropping, Don Knotts and some of the unfilmable films he wants to make, and every-fucking-thing.

Okay, so the gay question does come up in this film, but really it's not an issue unless you're absolutely some kind of homophobic fuckwit. I'm not a gay man myself, but Waters is definitely one of my absolute heroes. A man who's made films as he wants to make them over the forty-plus years he's been directing them – an exploitation legend with a pussy-tickler moustache. Watch this now and love it.
Not too bad, considering that what you're watching could be delivered solely in the audio domain.
Well, it didn't need a 5.1 presentation, but it's still no bad thing.
Extra Features
Fuck all, except from trailers for Partition, I Do and Quest Of The Dragon.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Watch this now. It's that simple. Yeah, the actual disc is lacking, but John Waters is such an enjoyable public speaker that the feature itself is eminently watchable. I give you a 100% ironclad assurance that this film will make you laugh and entertain you immensely. Do it.NOW.

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