USA, Jeff Garlin

You know — or should know — John Waters as the director of some of
the dirtiest low-art movies ever made. If Pink Flamingos, Polyester
and Female Trouble aren’t in your repertoire, it’s high time to update
the Netflix queue. But Waters is also an able speaker; his lectures
are more like stand-up comedy routines as he skewers typical film
assumptions and conventions while extolling the virtues of society’s
dirtier classes.

As a representation of his speaking performance, This Filthy World is
quite good. The stage set is minimal, as are cuts away to the
audience, and Waters looks perfect in his late-model Addams Family/child molester mode.

But Filthy isn’t a slam dunk. While all the material is technically
‘new’, for the Waters fan there’s not a lot of surprise in store. It’s
like sitting in on a lecture given by an old friend, more comforting
and familiar than deeply satisfying. You might not know every Divine
story he tells or be familiar with the mondo film history he relates,
but the general feel, the overall vibe, feels very controlled and, if
not predictable, then at least dependable.

No surprise, I suppose. John Waters has been around; his persona has
solidified like an old stain. He isn’t about evolution. If anything,
Waters represents de-evolution in the same way DEVO meant to all those
years ago. But the world isn’t kind to people like that. It seeks to
undermine the underminers, and This Filthy World proves that the best
of us can be processed.

Like the thrift store clothes he reminisces about stealing, Waters has
been left behind by a culture that has begun to internalize porn and
filth through the internet and the cinema he influenced. He’s become a
Grand Dame of filth, and while I hold the utmost respect for everything that means, at times I wanted the less refined taboo
breaker of old to cut through the mannered speech and fling dildos
into the eyes of every uptight college kid in the audience.

7.2 out of 10