Cecil B. Demented (2000)

Captain Phillips (88)

“Power to the people who punish bad cinema” – that remains one of my core mantras after seeing this very weird film. John Waters took perhaps his most courageous leap of faith with this film – it wasn’t about trailer trash or suburban life in Baltimore. Instead it was a satire on the film industry and the idea of celebrity. Waters never tried something like that before, or after, this film. That worked for him and against him in several ways, and that’s why so many people are divided on this film. I personally loved it.

The fact is that it is an enjoyable film, but being a cinephile just adds a little more to the experience of this film. If you can recognize the names of the directors tattooed on the SprocketHoles, it isn’t imperative but it just makes the film that much more exciting – each of the characters’ personalities relate to the director they have chosen to have tattooed on their bodies. It doesn’t drive the plot, but does supplement it surprisingly well.

Waters has always had a knack for bringing out some very strange performers and giving them the opportunity to shine. This wasn’t the case here. All the main roles were occupied by established stars and little-known character actors, with the Dreamlanders occupying cameo roles (like Mink Stole, who had a wonderful appearance near the beginning of the film). However, this is John Waters 2.0 – he had begun to explore other territories of filmmaking, and he was no longer the taboo director on every critic’s hit list – he was now a major force of independent cinema, and everyone wanted a piece of him. So therefore, can we blame a man for trying to get some big stars in his films because he has a budget? I don’t think so.

Being a film fan may cause some irration to one – people constantly asking for recommendations, you overhearing someone who liked a really bad film. But sometimes, you are rewarded by having a film such as this come around, when our whole culture is thrown up on the screen, torn apart and mocked, and it is absolutely hilarious. Waters has crafted a wonderful and profoundly hilarious meta-satire, and continues his run of being a very influential and sadly all to often overlooked genius.

Cecil B. DeMented


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