We talk writer/director John Waters with Richelle Charkot – The Programming Director at The Royal Cinema and the curator of the upcoming This Filthy John Waters Retrospective.

For more information on the retrospective check out: newsite.theroyal.to/movies

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Where to start with John Waters?

Polyester (1981)

“A suburban housewife’s world falls apart when her pornographer husband admits he’s serially unfaithful to her, her daughter gets pregnant, and her son is suspected of being the foot-fetishist who’s been breaking local women’s feet.” – IMDB

Female Trouble (1974)

“A spoiled schoolgirl runs away from home, gets pregnant while hitch-hiking, and ends up as a fashion model for a pair of beauticians who like to photograph women committing crimes.” – IMDB

Hairspray (1988)

“A teenager teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.” – IMDB



Tyler wrote to the podcast this week to ask:

“I find it amazing when you both talk about becoming avid movies fans at such young ages. I am 29 and just started to give into my love of cinema over the past few years. The sheer volume of great or important movies gives me choice paralyses at times and I can waste hours just trying to decide what to watch!

So – are you both able to put together a top 10 (or top 5) list of “starting point” movies? Movies that will start someone down various paths of discovery? Hopefully, this is different from a favorite movie list in some meaningful way.”

For more information on this topic, listen to the letters section of the ‘This Filthy John Waters’

Will’s List 

This is an off-the-top-of-my-head list, which is longer than the listener is asking for. Sharing with you so we can avoid overlap.

  • City Lights, The General – introductions to silent/classic cinema
  • Aguirre: The Wrath of God, The Seventh Seal, A Man Escaped – entry-points to European art cinema
  • Rashomon, Chungking Express, Drunken Master – entry-points into Asian cinema
  • Black Girl, Sholay – entry-points into other parts of the world
  • Eraserhead, Female Trouble – as entry-points into the avant-garde (this could lead you to Warhol, the Kuchar Bros., new queer cinema)
  • Rio Bravo, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Within Our Gates, Duck Soup, Ms. 45 – miscellaneous entry-points, each opening their own worlds of discovery
This list is very male-centric. I might suggest the listener consult our episodes on female directors.


Richelle’s List

-WATERSHIP DOWN – entry point into animation: at times mixed medium, could lead down a more experimental route
-ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS/THE SWIMMER – entry point into melodrama: palatable stories and not quite as heavy-handed which might be off-putting
-STOP MAKING SENSE – best concert film ever obviiiioooooouuuusly
-THE SHOOTIST/HIGH NOON/THE LAST SUNSET – entry point into American westerns, super captivating and sometimes strange stories that don’t flounder like some other westerns do
-MOTHER JOAN OF THE ANGELS/POSSESSION – whacky Polish cinema that’s nothing if not fascinating and heartbreaking


Justin’s List 

I picked 10 films that are a little lesser known to represent a whole bunch of diverse topics I enjoy, principally because I think there’s a stress that comes associated with watching ‘the classics’, and I would often put them off because of their stature. Sometimes it’s the side-entrances that are more accommodating than walking through the cavernous front doors.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)- 
A firm example that early cinema can be as inventive and awe-inspiring as anything today- and it’s a feature-length animated film directed by a woman – an unfortunate rarity to this day.

Further Research into Silent Cinema :

F.W Murnau’s Faust

The Phantom Carriage

King Vidor’s The Crowd


Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960) – The French New Wave may seem intellectually daunting, but almost all of those films have a playfulness in their form – plainly seen in Zazie – a precursor to the Zucker Bros comedy.

Further Research into the French New Wave (ish):

Celine and Julie Go Boating

Cleo de 5 a 7

Chicken with Vinegar.


The Big Clock (1948)  – A gateway film noir. Slick, self-contained, but creaky enough for it to add an extra layer of charm.

Further Research into Noir:

The Last Seduction

Night and the City

A Bittersweet Life

Godzilla vs the Hedorah (1971
) – The Outliner Godzilla that has all the classic elements at their weirdest.

Further Research into Godzilla:

Shin Godzilla

Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

Godzilla: Final Wars


Dirty Ho (1976) – A good gateway to the rhythms of Shaw Bros martial arts and Hong Kong Action Cinema

Further Research into Hong Kong Action:

Heroic Trio

The Prodigal Son

The Blade


Last Year at Marienbad (1961) – A good entry into ‘art’ cinema that proves that you don’t have to ‘get it’ to find it dazzling.

Further research into the Art-house Canon:


Red Desert

The Cranes are Flying


Paris, Texas (1981):  Harry Dean Stanton’s masterpiece and a great damn road movie.

Further Research into the Road Movie:

The Sure Thing

Two-Lane Blacktop

Something Wild


The Great Silence (1968) – The revisionist western at its most serious and artful.

Further Research into the Revisionist Western :


The Quick and the Dead

Tears of the Black Tiger


Save the Green Planet (2003) –  One of the most eccentric and dynamic debut of the 2000’s – emotional, fantastical and never not captivating. South Korea still produces new movies all the time, but no one talks about them enough.

Further Research into South Korean Cinema

Die Bad

The Chaser


Watermelon Woman (1996) –
Cheryl Dunye’s meditation on the role of Black women in cinema is a vital piece of work that never got its due. A surface level CLERKS, as they both share the video store setting, but this one is much more satisfying and thoughtful.

Further Research into Cinephilia Cinema

The Bad and the Beautiful

Irma Verp

Crime Wave (1985)

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