Monday, 28 July 2008

A Dirty Shame

I watched for the second time the other night John Water's film "A Dirty Shame - The Neuter Version" and enjoyed myself immensely. Bottle of wine, some dried apricots, nuts and dates, all helped me to kick back on the Chesterfield and be amused by Waters particular brand of depravity. The best thing about John Waters is that he is really a prude in so many ways, so his interpretation of sex always kind of sides with the good natured Aunt who doesn't mind after a cheap red or two a bit of *nudge-nudge* musing at the straight and domestic family gathering.

Virtually all of John Water's films end in some sort of celebration, a celebration of liberties without too much emphasis on any serious quandary into the matter of censorship or conservatism. I guess, John's films are going to be cinematic Mardi Gras, and that's how they should be perceived.

Chris Isaac is very watchable in "A Dirty Shame", on par with the fine job John Ritter did pulling faces in "Bad Santa". Lucky that this film did have some balance with subtlety otherwise it would have blown out and been difficult to watch. At times you have to breath a little, like the slow patches on a Roller Coaster ride.

Although the first time 'round of watching "A Dirty Shame" I did find the text overlays to seem like post-production band-aids for the narrative, as if parts might be too confusing or not thoroughly stitched and so explanation was needed to help the viewer follow the story. Yet, in its own way, it is perfectly John Waters, and no other director could get away with it without seeming "art student" like in their approach.

Tracey Ullman does a fine job in her central role as the ongoing victim of thumps on the head, transforming her from Neuter to Sex Addict in one foul swoop. Sometimes the bumps on the head seem lazily thought out, I think more creativity could have been had with this, but on the whole it seemed to work. Suzanne Shepherd as Big Ethel managed her role superbly. I believe she was nervous about taking on the role, being that it was a John Waters film and all, but in the end she said she had a great time and let's face it, John isn't a gritty controversial director, he's more a pop-centric conductor of sexual mythology.

This of course is a John Waters film that slots in between "Cecil B. DeMented" and "Pecker", a candy bag film, full of big gestures, obvious innuendo and visual puns. The acting is larger then life, and the narrative kind of driven casually as if some degree of "making it up on the spot" was to be had. Unlike say, "The Shining" where Kubrick invented the script everyday but made it seem like he had shot in stone what was carved out on the page, Waters makes little effort to conceal the run-away plot and capacious scenes that fill up with busy dialogue and movement.

I have to admit that as much as I admire John Waters immensely as a filmmaker, I haven't seen many of his films. His next film "Fruitcake" features Johnny Knoxville who was in "A Dirty Shame" and Mink Stole one of John's regulars. It also features Parker Posey a Hal Hartley regular recruit. Why not goto Dreamland and get your fill of John Waters or wet your Waters tastebuds at the "A Dirty Shame" page.


scituate said...

I couldn't really get into this one. I liked Pecker but I much prefer his earlier stuff (but not too early) like Polyester and Female Trouble.

Rups said...


I know what you mean, the first time I watched it, it didn't really catch my attention but liking John Waters I decided to kind of appreciate the attempt, it actually took me a second viewing and a bottle of wine to really get into it. Still, it doesn't linger like a good Waters film should.


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