This Filthy World is a documentation by Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) of John Waters’ (self labelled) ‘vaudeville’ act. The film runs for 86 minutes and consists of John Waters talking about his films, repertory group and obsessions. For hardcore Waters fans the DVD doesn’t really offer anything new as most of the material has been used in his books or in his movies. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t a good watch though. My ultimate sum up of the film is that it is a commentary of his films and philosophies, and if you have followed his career, read his books, watched every single one of his movies, then you know most of this stuff already. But hey, it’s not like it is a waste of money, it’s better than his last film, so if you are choosing between this or that…go with This Filthy World.
In places the film did seem to run on a little and the transition between topics felt a little hasty and rushed. Maybe if there had been a little bit of cinematic change throughout the show instead of focusing on John live on a stage decorated with black flowers and trashcans for 86 minutes, the show would not have seemed so rushed and boring in places. When I heard this was a documentary, I expected to see a variety of footage: live footage, driving around Baltimore, footage of John at work or at home, similar to the many features accompanying his films in the Very Crudely Yours: John Waters Collection. So even though John Water is very engaging, honest, sardonic and his usual limit pushing self, the act does become a bit dry, due to seeing nothing but him and a stage, and the odd shot of the audience.
It’s obvious that if you don’t like his films and find John Waters or his films disturbing then you probably won’t enjoy this as he does talk about many topics that may be uncomfortable for some such as tea bagging, blossoms, womb raiders (which once again have been used in his films) so I felt these lost a bit of the impact he was going for but for those who don’t know about these things, then obviously he will have you cringing, laughing or vomiting. As well as the bizarre, insane or morally repulsive topics, Waters shares a more insightful side of himself as he talks about his opinions on capital punishment and censorship, but never one to take himself too seriously, these monologues are reduced to a joke of some kind e.g.- the most fabulous way to die- gas chamber or lethal injection.
There are a few Special Features on the disc, including an On the Road with John Waters Featurette, in which he allows a cut away shot of his child Bill, and an Audience Question and Answer segment, which is boring as hell and no interesting questions are asked, although Waters does give interesting and memorable replies. All in all a must have for hardcore Waters fans, and a must see for new John Waters fans who want to understand this misunderstood Pope of Trash, so if you lie somewhere in between you will have to make up your own mind.
John Waters: This Filthy World is available on DVD from Dokument Films.