I first saw Pink Flamingos when I had just turned 14, and it changed my life. There was a sensibility to it and a humor that had existed only in my head before that, and seeing it externalized was a revelation. Its influence on my teenage life was enormous, and has a huge role in my sense of humor and who I am today. It’s also almost singularly responsible for my obsession with movies. Naturally, John Waters was my favorite filmmaker for years, and even now, I’d say no other artist is as important to me. So basically, devoting a month to watching his films (June Waters) was unnecessary because I had already seen them all, most of them multiple times. But it’s good for me to revisit those favorites every few years, and this was an excuse to do so, as well as revisit the ones I hadn’t seen so often, like his last two films (Cecil B. Demented and A Dirty Shame), and Hairspray, which had been too saccharine for me in high school, but I was now able to appreciate as one of his best works. I had also never watched each of his films in a short period of time, in order, which is always a fascinating way to explore the arc of a director’s career. So that’s what I did, starting from the surprisingly entrancing Mondo Trasho, and including every documentary made on Waters, special features, audio commentaries (his are among the greatest I’ve ever heard), and even some movies he didn’t direct that feature Divine or Edith Massey. Continue reading
Cover of Role Models
I’ve known people who don’t really like John Waters. To those people, I can only play the “I accept your lifestyle choice, even if I believe it is wrong” card. I just think he’s great — his films are delightfully trashy, but — and here’s the big thing — they’re WELL-MADE. His writing, too, just speaks to me; his voice comes through with everything he’s written. I suppose it’s a cliche about “he writes like people speak!”, but that’s OK, as it’s not quite true with John Waters. He doesn’t write like PEOPLE speak, he writes like HE speaks; casual but erudite, with a wicked sense of humor that’s dark without really being mean. For him, “freak” isn’t an insult — it’s just an apt description of some people. Nothing’s wrong with it — and, honestly, a lot of times the freaks have it all over the “normals”.
10. Monster (2003, Jenkins)
It may seem a little off to start this list with a film about a serial killer, as that may not be considered an especially positive portrayal of a lesbian. But I think the film handles that particular aspect of Aileen Wuornos very well, as merely incidental and not directly related to her mental instability, and just in general, the film actually paints a fairly sympathetic portrait of her character (almost to a fault, honestly). The most important thing about the entire movie, though, as far as I’m concerned, is that it boasts an incredible scene of Wuornos and Christina Ricci’s character discovering their lust for one another in a roller rink, set to Journey’s epic Don’t Stop Believin’, which is easily one of the most romantic love scenes ever put to film. Click here to watch the scene on youtube.