Friday Five: John Waters

By Peter SM RSS Fri, June 13, 2014

Now that you've been properly introduced, get ready for some fun.

The "King of Bad Taste", "Sultan of Sleaze", and "Pope of Trash" (allegedly coined with affection and admiration by William S. Burroughs) will be (dis)gracing us with his pleasure this evening for a SOLD OUT Author Event (on Friday the 13th, no less)! If you've never seen John Waters live and in person before, well, it's more subversive than showtunes, that's for sure!

Luckily the interviewing and moderating duties will be under control from fellow author Wesley Stace (a.k.a. singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding).

So what brings Mr. Waters up I-95 from Baltimore to our fair city? Well, the legendary cult filmmaker has been doing a bunch of traveling lately—hitchhiking to be exact. After thumbing a ride thousands of miles, he decided to write a book about his Americana adventures, aptly titled Carsick.

Take a look and listen as Mr. Waters records an excerpt for the audiobook companion.


Usually I would highlight some of Waters' films at this point, but we only seem to have a few of his more mainstream movies in our catalog (Shhh! Don't tell him tonite! Maybe we can rectify this huge oversight in our collections?! I'd even be willing to give the Free Library my copy of Pink Flamingos!)

Instead, here's a "Friday Five" of some Waters' film favs and inspirations, all Criterion Collection selections, natch!

The Naked Kiss The Naked Kiss (1964)

A pure pulp exploitation film here: A former prostitute, hoping to fit into mainstream society, moves to an all-American suburb, but her past comes back to haunt her. Taboo topics are taken and mixed into a gritty and serious looking film, tempered with a good amount of dark humor. There's also a musical number.

Special Features: The original theatrical trailer, interviews with director Samuel Fuller, and booklet illustrations by underground cartoonist and illustrator Daniel Clowes.

The Honeymoon Killers The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

Based on the true crime Lonely Hearts Killers case of 1949, this lurid tale of crazy killer couple Martha and Ray is a disturbing drama showing the ugly side of love (or the illusion of it). The dramatic black and white cinematography and dim lighting keep the mood foreboding throughout and transforms a trashy film into a low budget masterpiece.

Special Features: Interview with writer/director Leonard Kastle, original theatrical trailer, and newspaper clippings and photos from the true crime case.

8 1/2 8 1/2 (1963)

Possibly Federico Fellini's most well-known work, 8 1/2 is a film inside a film about the making of a film. Confused? Sure you are, it's a foreign art film! But trust me, just sit back and watch the beautifully weird dream-like world that unspools from the screen and you'll see what all the fuss is about.

Special Features:
High-definition digital transfer of restored film, documentaries galore, the lost alternate ending, rare behind-the-scenes photos, and even an intro from filmmaker Terry Gilliam.

Sawdust and Tinsel Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)

Another art house film, this time from auteur Ingmar Bergman. The battle of the sexes has never been as unsettling on screen as in Sawdust and Tinsel. The story of the charged relationship between a turn-of-the-century traveling circus owner  and his performer girlfriend, the film features dreamlike detours and twisted psychosexual power plays.

Special Features: Video introduction by Bergman from 2003, new and improved English subtitle translation, and five minutes of material not included in previous U.S. editions.

All That Heaven Allows All That Heaven Allows (1955)

1950's subverted morals play out on screen when a well-off widow falls in love with her ruggedly handsome and much younger gardener (played by Rock Hudson), causing a gossipy scandal with her children and the conservative small town where they reside. Hollywood melodrama in it's highest form.

Special Features: Excerpts from Behind the Mirror: A Profile of Douglas Sirk, a 1979 BBC documentary featuring rare interview footage with the director.

As a bonus "Friday Five", being that John Waters is a never-ending spring of wit and wisdom, here's some sage advice to live your life by:

“It wasn't until I started reading ... that I discovered you could be insane and happy and have a good life without being like everybody else.”
(and trust us, he LOVES books, just check out his personal library!).

“True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks.” - from Role Models

"Get more out of life. See a fucked up movie."

"Cheer up. You never know — maybe something awful will happen tomorrow." - from Shock Value

“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them.”

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