Cecil B. Demented

Kel and I ordered pizza and Pepsi and sat down in my tiny apt to watch this rental last night. I’ve never met a John Waters I didn’t like.

Cecil is the story of guerilla film-makers operating in Baltimore (of course), who kidnap a major star and force her to act in their film. The film-within-a-film is called Raging Beauty, a radical Death To Mainstream Cinema screed, told with violence and broad declarations. To film it, the crew and stars stage actual terrorist acts against the Hollywood machine and film them. For some reason everybody has a gun.

The outcome of this convoluted plotline is a scream. Melanie Griffith is not my favorite person, but she was pretty darned good in this. She needs to go underground more often, as that’s where her best work (as in Something Wild) is done. The director and film crew (including a bearded woman as a producer) are suitably commited to extreme acts. Each of them has the name of a director tattooed on a body-part, and the entire crew is under enforced “celibacy for cinema” until the production is wrapped. They’re willing to die for their art–and many of them do. The film contains some hilarious bits, including the repeated rescue of the crew by sympathetic movie-goers, and the multi-drug addiction of Lyle, played by Adrian Grenier.

If you’re a Waters fan at all, definitely pick up this film. If you are at all a film snob, pick up this film. If you like the unusual, pick up this film. If you don’t fit any of those categories, watch it anyway, but consider yourself forewarned.

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