Divine Trash

Dir: Steve Yeager, 1998

9/10

divine trash

This 1998 Sundance Festival documentary on trash filmmaker John Waters, is a brilliant, fascinating and insightful look at how the filth riddled mind of Baltimore’s equally loved and loathed son, ticks.

Waters has led vibrant and colourful life. His carefree and couldn’t give a shit attitude to everything, create a pleasant and amusing character who’s time you would love to spend in the company of.

A true cinephile, the director has an array of ideas, seeded by his years as a film going youth. The more obscure and trashy, the better.

John Waters revels in the bad and tasteless. This is what makes him so amiable. It feels good to be bad and right to be wrong.

It’s amazing, how somebody could get so much pleasure and joy from so much mayhem and disaster. But, he does.

The only real gripe I have is that too much time is spent talking about Pink Flamingos. It would have been even more enthralling to have had input about Desperate Living, a film just as notorious, but less shocking.

Reading Waters’ book, Shock Value, there are so many anecdotes about the film that, hearing them, here, would have been the icing on the cake.

As usual, the documentary is strewn with influential filmmakers who, in turn, were influenced by Waters. But, also, as usual, they spend the majority of their time pontificating and ejecting platitudes. The worse culprit for this is arty farty film director, Jim Jarmusch.

Jarmusch, simply looks at the top corner of the screen, wearing his shades on a non-sunny day, talking like a ponce. It’s as if, there’s a cue card that he’s reading off.

Steve Buscemi makes several appearances for some esoteric reason. His inclusion seems a mystery as I don’t see him as part of Waters’ ensemble or, as a particularly great film maker. Living In Oblivion didn’t impress me.

The Dreamlanders come across as very affable and whole heaps of fun. It makes you wish, you were part of the team. Sadly, the only Dreamlanders still with us are Mink Stole and Mary Vivian Pearce. David Lochary, Edith Massey and, of course, the delectable Divine have long since passed. Unfortunately, since the making of the documentary, Pearce suffered a serious stroke and required brain surgery. Thankfully, she has made somewhat of a recovery, but now, has paralysis down one side of her face.

But, this hasn’t stopped her from talking about her career or, as seen in Yeager’s other documentary, I Am Divine about the titular star. She even made a cameo role in Waters’ Cecil B. Demented merely weeks after the operation. She has continued to make cameos in all of her friend’s films, the last one being A Dirty Shame.

26 years after Pink Flamingos, the man with the singing anus, still insists on anonymity, being interviewed in silhouette. And, apart from Waters, nobody still knows his name.

It’s wonderful to see some of the actors and actresses who appeared in the 1972 cult classic. They all speak highly of the film and of the cast and crew. It’s clear that, despite the filming conditions, everyone had a great time.

Fun and fantastic, this is a must see for all fans of cinema, underground or otherwise.

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