Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
There is in show biz something known as "a bad laugh." That's the laugh you don't want to get, because it indicates not amusement but incredulity, nervousness or disapproval. John Waters' "A Dirty Shame" is the only comedy I can think of that gets more bad laughs than good ones.
Waters is the poet of bad taste, and labors mightily here to be in the worst taste he can manage. That's not the problem -- no, not even when Tracey Ullman picks up a water bottle using a method usually employed only in Bangkok sex shows. We go to a Waters film expecting bad taste, but we also expect to laugh, and "A Dirty Shame" is monotonous, repetitive and sometimes wildly wrong in what it hopes is funny.
The movie takes place in Baltimore, as most Waters films do. Stockholm got Bergman, Rome got Fellini, and Baltimore -- well, it also has Barry Levinson. Ullman plays Sylvia Stickles, the owner of a 7-Eleven-type store. Chris Isaak plays Vaughn, her husband. Locked in an upstairs room is their daughter Caprice (Selma Blair), who was a legend at the local go-go bar until her parents grounded and padlocked her. She worked under the name of Ursula Udders, a name inspired by breasts so large they are obviously produced by technology, not surgery.
Sylvia has no interest in sex until a strange thing happens. She suffers a concussion in a car crash, and it turns her into a sex maniac. Not only can't she get enough of it, she doesn't even pause to inquire what it is before she tries to get it. This attracts the attention of a local auto mechanic named Ray-Ray Perkins, played by Johnny Knoxville, who no longer has to consider "Jackass" his worst movie. Ray-Ray has a following of sex addicts who joyfully proclaim their special tastes and gourmet leanings.