For 40 years, John Waters has been synonymous with bad taste movies, turning out schlockers such as Pink Flamingos, Polyester and Pecker, as well as 1988's Hairspray.
Now the filmmaker who rejoices in the soubriquets The Sultan of Sleaze and The Baron of Bad Taste has revealed he actually loves arty European movies. Asked by Art Forum to list his top 10 movies of 2009, Waters named such eclectic titles as Ulrich Seidl's Import Export, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Lorna's Silence, Uil Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex and Pedro Almodóvar's Broken Embraces.
The Baltimore denizen also cited Lars von Trier's Antichrist (“If Ingmar Bergman had committed suicide, gone to hell, and come back to earth to direct an exploitation/art film for drive-ins, this is the movie he would have made”); Larry Charles' Brüno (which he rated as better than Borat, a minority opinion; Woody Allen's Whatever Works; and Armando Iannucci's profane satire In the Loop.
More predictably, he nominated World's Greatest Dad, Bobcat Goldthwait's flop starring Robin Williams (“appallingly rude, decidedly family unfriendly, this autoerotic-suicide tale of a hateful son and his clueless father left the viewer gasping in surprise”); and Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman (“bleached hair, hit-and-run accidents, in-laws with hepatitis? Huh? I didn't get it, but I sure did love it”).
But let's not think Waters, who hasn't directed a movie since 2004's A Dirty Shame, the comedic tale of a frazzled Baltimore housewife turned raving nymphomaniac, has gone all respectable.
He's trying to raise the funds to make Fruitcake, the story of a kid who lives with a family of meat thieves. As Waters tells it, “On Christmas Eve, Fruitcake gets greedy and gets caught trying to steal a fruitcake, and he gets separated from his parents, and teams up with a little black girl whose bad gay parents are forcing her to have 'gay Kwanzaa,' and they run away together, and then try and fight their way back home through the slush in Baltimore to their parents.”
And we can expect more sleaze and high-campery with the publication next year of his book Role Models. Billed as a “self-portrait” as opposed to a traditional memoir, it promises to shed light on the man through various friends and acquaintances, ranging from Miss Esther (“owner of the scariest bar in Baltimore”) to singer Johnny Mathis. According to the publishers, the tome will “hopefully inspire readers to their own devious hero worship and appreciation of the power of subversive inspiration.”