A Dirty Shame/Very Crudely Yours (John Waters Box-Set) Directed By: John Waters Studio: New Line Year: 2004 Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (Anamorphic) Running Time: 88 Mins. Rating: NC-17 Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital (English), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English) Subtitles: English, Spanish MSRP: $27.95 Street Date: 14 June, 2005 Review Date: 18 June, 2005 (Ratings are out of five stars) Summary In addition to a single release of John Waters most recent film, New Line is also releasing a new Waters box-set entitled Very Crudely Yours. The box-set contains the six other films that were released as part of the John Waters Collection (Desperate Living, Female Trouble, Hairspray, Pecker, Pink Flamingos, and Polyester), as well as the mail-away John Waters DVD Scrapbook. Seeing as the other releases are the same as the previous DVDs, I will focus my review on A Dirty Shame. Like a lot of other John Waters movies, it’s hard to sum it up into a brief little blurb, so instead I’ll just retype the synopsis from the New Line press-kit. When an accidental concussion awakens the carnal urges of Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman), the people of Pinewood become pitted against each other in an epic battle of decency versus depravity. With her talented go-go dancing daughter (Selma Blair) and her devoted husband, Vaughn (Chris Isaak) by her side, along with tow-truck driver and sexual healer Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville) as her guide, Sylvia finds herself on the road to eternal sexual satisfaction. The vibe of the film is similar to that of Hairspray (my introduction into Waters’ unique style as a kid). I think Waters tried to rekindle that feel with Pecker, but something about that film just never came together. The community presented here definitely feels like the same world as Hairspray (and to a lesser extent Serial Mom). Everything looks very normal, with vibrant colors and a cheery suburban-life soundtrack, but there is lurking oddity beneath everything. Like the best Waters films, the characters actions seem right for the situation, but also very strange at the same time. A Dirty Shame is a return to Waters’ previous form. There is a lot of gross-out humor for the sake of gross-out humor, but there in-lies the irony. Unlike a lot of other filmmakers, Waters has almost created his own genre. It may be a strange comparison, but he reminds me of David Lynch a bit. Setting is almost as important as plot, and the strangest plotlines almost always occur in the suburbs. The family dynamic is very important to Waters, and it’s in line with his other films in A Dirty Shame. I think it most reminded me of Hairspray and Serial Mom. The level of gross-out humor isn’t as hardcore as Waters’ earliest films, but it’s definitely more significant than anything Waters has done since the early/mid 80s. Don’t misunderstand me though; this is a damn vulgar film and completely deserving of it’s NC-17 rating. Film Rating: Video I popped the disc in my computer, and noticed a bit of grain (mostly on outdoor shots), but it wasn’t very visible on my Panasonic 53WX49. There was an occasional bit of edge enhancement, but nothing overwhelming. Aside from that, this is another top-notch transfer from New Line. They’re consistently good with new films, and their restorations are usually fantastic as well. The other films in the box set appear to use the same transfer as the original releases. His early films that were shot on 16mm look rough and grainy, as they should, and the newer releases (especially Pecker) look really good. Video Rating: Audio A Dirty Shame utilizes the soundtrack more than any of the other films in the box-set. Use of the surround and LFE channels is very good, while the dialog sounds very crisp. Music is featured during most of the film, and it sounds great. No complaints considering the source material. This isn’t The Matrix. The other films sound as good as you would expect. Hairspray and Pecker also have Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, but don’t utilize the surrounds nearly as much as A Dirty Shame. Desperate Living, Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos, and Polyester all have DD Mono tracks (with the latter three also featuring DD 2.0 tracks). Considering the source, they sound like you’d expect. Audio Rating: Extras A Dirty Shame contains two commentaries, one deleted scene, the original theatrical trailer, and a featurette entitled All the Dirt on A Dirty Shame. The featurette is broken up into 16 parts, or you can watch them all at once with the Play All feature. The whole documentary runs 1 hour and 22 minutes. It primarily uses interviews with a little bit of on-set footage. Occasionally people can get a little ego-centric about the film, but overall it’s a pretty candid take on the participants’ views on the film. I found the discussion about film’s rating most interesting, but the whole thing was pretty well done. The first commentary is with John Waters by himself. Like his other commentaries, it’s very fun and informative. Waters is a fun guy and always interesting to listen to. Some of his stuff is a little repetitive, but it’s still a very good commentary. The second commentary features Greens Foreman Devra Kitterman, Producer Pato Moran, Production Designer Vincent Peranio, Costume Designer Van Smith, and Prop Master Brook Yeaton.. I didn’t listen to the whole thing, but it seemed a little all over the map. Maybe a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. The other films in the box-set feature solid commentaries from John Waters. The menu design on the DVD Scrapbook is a little tiresome, but the features are very good. Extras Rating: In Closing… John Waters’ films are made for a specific audience. Gross-out humor and disgusting images are the palette that Waters paints his films from. If you haven’t seen Waters other work, or if you’re a bit squeamish when it comes to uncomfortable humor, you might want to stay away from A Dirty Shame. For fans of Waters, by all means, go out and pick up this film. If I recall, reviews were a little polarized when the film was released, but being a fan of Waters’ other work, I really enjoyed it. It’s a little weak in the third act, but Waters’ unique sense of humor is very visible throughout the film. In fact, I can definitely say that this is my favorite John Waters movie since Hairspray. In regard to the box-set, if you don’t already own all of the John Waters Collection DVDs, it’s a must. The price may seem a little steep, but with the current Deep Discount DVD 20% off sale, you can get it for $59.09. That’s a pretty good price for 7 films and a disc full of extras. A Dirty Shame Overall Rating: Very Crudely Yours Overall Rating: Matt Stone 18, June 2005 Edited to add some pictures of the packaging. 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