Posts Tagged ‘John Waters’

John Waters: This Filthy World

April 12, 2017

I mentioned over a year ago that I spent a lot of my childhood living in a house not far from where John Waters lived (and probably still lives). I do not live there anymore so I do not mind saying that I lived in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood and it was maybe a five-minute walk to where Waters lived. The whole time I lived in the neighborhood, I never saw him. The adults told us that was where he was. When we went trick or treating, his house always just had a bowl out front. We were always told he was a recluse and not to bother the guy which we always respected. Now I know that’s not entirely true. After seeing Crybaby and Hairspray (his more kid-friendly films) I was a fan and I did not want to get on his bad side. Later, when we were chased out of a large apartment complex’s garden, we were looking for a place to play. One of our parents asked John Waters and we ended up playing in his back yard for a long time. It is still a fond memory.

John Waters was the king of stories about outsider culture. He talked about the cool or terrifying thing happening just beyond the borders of the establishment. That track record has influenced me for a long time in my life. Especially lately, I have been pushing the borders of what I know and exploring culture new to me. While Nikki Minaj may not have been new when I discovered her, her work was new to me and I was glad I found it. That spirit has also guided me to push against boundaries. John Waters created truly nasty (yet funny) films and was unafraid to get dirty, gory or to draw outside of the lines. It makes me less afraid to check out stuff that I might have been nervous about revealing I watched. I listen to pop music, I watch all ages cartoons and I enjoy some traditionally “girly” entertainment partly because of Waters’ displays. He also contributed to the dark and campy parts of my sense of humor.

This movie is John Waters’ one-man show from a few years ago, a show he toured but this performance was in New York City instead of Baltimore. While I would have loved if the footage on Netflix was in Baltimore, it actually worked out better. A large part of his show is him explaining why he loves my hometown of Baltimore and I could not agree enough with him. He talks a lot about the charm that Charm City has even though we are some of the craziest people. He talks about trying to be a rebel in Lutherville, the age old problems of trying to rebel against the suburban machine. I also found it funny that he pushed literacy since he’s from The City That Reads. Like Waters, I love Baltimore for all of its weird quirks and interesting people. His joy at talking about the city is the way I felt when I returned from New Jersey to the land of my birth and how I feel about the 410 every day that I wake up.

The majority of the rest of the show is about John Waters’ career which I have followed ever since I discovered him in the nineties. Of course, that is not remotely when he started. John Waters and his friends got started in film as crazy independent filmmakers. They made movies expressly made to screw with people. They were shown at midnight. Inspired by filmmakers like William Castle and Kroger Babb, he wanted to viscerally affect the audience. That is why Pink Flamingos ends with a drag queen literally eating crap and also why Eat Your Makeup has the same drag queen playing Jackie Kennedy during the infamous assassination. He hired an elemental drag queen named Divine and a band of misfits and they shocked the world. That attitude filtered into his later career as he brought so-called ‘real’ actors into the fold and made them into misfits too. Stars like Johnny Depp, Melanie Griffith, Edward Furlong and Kathleen Turner got to show different sides of themselves.

Overall, I loved this movie. While John Waters is not exactly a stand-up comedian, that was pretty much where his delivery was. He has a lot of fun standing on stage to tell some great stories and deliver funny one liners. He moves at a fast clip so you barely have time to recover before the next laugh, outrageous statement or gross out moment comes. There is nobody on Earth quite like John Waters and it is clear that he knows it. He is delighted by each reaction he gets even if it is revulsion, maybe especially if it is revulsion. He plows ahead at full steam and the crowd loves it. I am so proud that I come from the same city as this man.


Media Update 12/15/2016

December 15, 2016

Hairspray Live!

John Waters is a legend in Baltimore and a great filmmaker beyond my hometown. The original Hairspray is a film I remember fondly from my childhood. I grew up among diversity in a liberal school so racism was a boogeyman that I found hard to really grab a hold of. People like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were heroes to us but we never saw what they faced growing up. The racial issues raised in Hairspray seemed like a no-brainer to me. Looking back, the movie really represents Baltimore which has one of the highest populations per capita of black people. I had never seen the musical before but I have always wanted to. I have only seen a few of these Live events but I have liked them so far. The sets and effects were amazing for a live performance. I loved the backstage access they gave with interviews and shots of actors rushing about backstage. The singing and acting were fantastic. Harvey Fierstein was really fun. I already liked Ariana Grande and Dove Cameron who were perfect casting choices for a high profile production like this. I was really impressed with Maddie Baillio and Ephraim Sykes. Maddie played Tracy Turnblad with a bubbly energy very similar to Ricki Lake’s original performance. Sykes played Seaweed Stubbs and really was an excellent dancer and he also had a great voice. I could see how the energy of this version came directly from the original and this version definitely had Waters’ campy sense of humor. It also kept the original social message of the original. I prefer the original but I definitely recommend this version to all of you musical theater fans out there.

Sum of All Fears

I have long wanted to watch this movie because a lot of it was filmed in Baltimore. It is also the only Jack Ryan movie that I had not seen until this week. The Jack Ryan franchise is an interesting animal. There have been four different actors in the role now and, in that way, it is a little like James Bond. However, they have rebooted it twice so it is a little bit of a mess. Affleck’s star was starting to fade at this point because of his appearance in Pearl Harbor however, it was before his nosedive started with Gigli. I like Affleck a lot. He is charming and a really good actor. Some directors did not know how to use him and he probably mismanaged the huge push in popularity that Hollywood gave him. This movie is more tense political thriller than it is an action movie. So the movie is trying to be a little more Hunt for Red October than Clear and Present Danger. Much of this movie’s charm for me is the play between Morgan Freeman and Affleck and between Liev Schreiber and Affleck. All three are great actors with different strengths and weaknesses. The plot has to do with the threat of nuclear war, Neo-Nazis and using a tense political atmosphere to play countries against each other. Unfortunately, Neo-Nazis are still very relevant to our country. There is a cameo by our former football team, the Baltimore Stallions, our CFL team that we had between the Colts and the Ravens. However, we thankfully never had the hideous domed “Baltimore Forum” stadium that makes an appearance. It was nice to see the Super Bowl being held in Baltimore even if it was a fictional scenario. This movie was actually way better than I thought it would be. It got a lukewarm reception initially at best but I liked it for what it was. It plays on a lot of old wounds between the US and Russia which are cropping up again these days along with new wounds.

Step Up

Romantic dance dramas are not really my thing but I had to watch this after learning that is set in Baltimore. Not only that but a large portion of it is shot in the neighborhood right down the street from me. This is Hamden, a neighborhood famous for both drug-related crimes but also for the tight-knit and heartwarming community. For example, it is the sight of 34th street, the biggest Christmas display in Baltimore. It also has The Avenue which has over a dozen great restaurants. The movie has the Maryland School for the Arts which is a stand-in for Baltimore School for the Arts where the other half of the movie is set. My brother went to BSA and so did Tupac Shakur and Jada Pinkett-Smith just to name three alumni. Channing Tatum is a really good dancer. He obviously throws everything he has into dancing and really knows how to use his body. In this movie, he acts opposite his future wife (Jenna Dewan) who does a great job as well. It was actually really refreshing that this movie’s conflict was not exactly rich vs. poor although there is that element present. Dewan’s family is richer than Tatum’s foster family. A lot of the students at the MSA are scholarship students so it is more about putting in an effort. (The BSA is actually a public school and therefore free.) Tatum is pretty good at being a bit of a jerk, a poor Hamden kid with a chip on his shoulder. Of course, I walk and drive the streets of Hamden every day and I think it is a great neighborhood. Unfortunately, these movies always involve the main character doing really stupid stuff until he steps up (pun intended) in the end. Still, I would recommend this movie as it is actually not too bad.

Music of the Week:

Al Great – Star of The Show

Mary Prankster – Blue Skies Over Dundalk

SR-71 – Right Now

Charm City Devils – Shots

The Orioles – Baby Please Don’t Go

Weekly Updates:
– I finished Season 1 of Arrested Development
– I am almost done Luther Series 1
– I started season 4 of The Office
– I finished Season 2 of Parks and Recreation
– I am near the end of Season 2 of Dark Matter
– This week’s theme is “Good Morning, Baltimore!”
– My semester is over this week
– Looking forward to Christmas despite the difficulties that come with it

Media Update 12/31/2015

December 31, 2015

Serial Mom

Long ago in the before times I walked into the living room and my mother was watching this movie. Since I was only 12, the movie was deemed not appropriate for me to hang around and watch. Like any good native son of Baltimore, I was always a fan of John Waters films and the man himself. He lived not far from the house I grew up in and we even played in his back yard once or twice. His movies say a lot with a small budget, great acting and great writing. John Waters also does a great job believably weaving in pop culture references to give you a feel for the world of the characters. With this movie, it felt a little like the world I grew up in and was literally the city I grew up in. Baltimore in the nineties with late-punk and grunge colliding head on with polite suburban society. Kathleen Turner is brilliant as a Baltimore suburban housewife who has gone slowly crazy to a homicidal level. All the other actors do a great job going crazy with her as her madness bubbles to the surface and Towson is scandalized by a killer in their midst. Check it out.

The Raid: Redemption

I saw a trailer a while ago for The Raid 2 and thought it looked interesting but thought I should probably watch The Raid: Redemption first. It was listed as a martial arts film and I like a good martial arts film. I looked into it a little and found that it’s a Pencak Silat film specifically and an Indonesian film. I had no experience with either of those things. I like trying new things when it comes to entertainment so I eagerly located a copy (DVR of late night tv ftw). What I wasn’t prepared for was a dark, gritty crime drama. It’s about cops stuck inside a mobster’s high rise during a failed raid. Does this sound familiar? It was also the plot of the excellent movie Dredd released in the same year and it’s clear they owe a lot to the same creative wellspring. If you’re looking for a well-shot, foreign language film that also has a lot of action and gore then look no further. I enjoyed it but I know these sorts of things aren’t for everyone.

The Wiz Live!

Now, I made the mistake of watching the movie version of the Wiz a while ago. It had a 34 year old Doroth, Michael Jackson and it was adapted by Joel Schumacher. It hit the garbage trifecta. However, at the time I thought some of the music was really good. When I found out about The Wiz Live I was intrigued. I heard the stage version was infinitely better than the movie version. Within 5 minutes it was better than the entire movie. I love theater and this was pure theater (with a huge budget). The sets were so colorful and interesting and the special effects were exactly what the show needed and nothing more or less. The cast (largely unknown to me) was excellent. Shannice Williams (Dorothy) has a bright future ahead of her as she was such a great singer and actress. All of the actors were so expressive and energetic and the show was full of so much life. It was such a joy to watch it as a fan of old school musicals. I laughed, I smiled and I didn’t exactly cry but I felt bad for certain characters. Definitely check it out on demand if you can.

Links of the Week:
Stoner Sloth
Worst Wifi Password Ever
Visual Vibrometry
Sonic Boom Breakdown
Moțrhead РThe Game (RIP Lemmy)

Weekly Updates:
– Not a whole lot to report since it has been the holidays
– Tomorrow is a new year. We shall see what comes
– I’ve been rewatching the original Star Wars trilogy
– There’s so much I didn’t watch in 2015
– Which means there’s so much I get to watch in the future
– The future starts now

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