TIFF 2006 Preview: Real to Reel: This Filthy World/Radiant City
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TIFF 2006 Preview: Real to Reel: This Filthy World/Radiant City

(This Filthy World and Radiant City are entirely seperate films showing at this year’s TIFF, but as the Radiant City review has what you could consider a spoiler [“In a documentary?” – Ed.], it’s been placed behind the jump.)
2006_09_0_this.jpgThis Filthy World: Torontoist loves John Waters. Who doesn’t? Well, obviously people who don’t revel in bad taste, but who would want to know those people anyway?
This Filthy World is almost an astoundingly hard film to give a review of any length to. Really nothing more than a set of autobiographical stand-up, in which Waters tells, in an incredibly entertaining fashion, tales from his long career with many digressions, there’s absolutely nothing cinematic about it. That it’s directed by Jeff Garlin, an executive producer and director of Curb Your Enthusiasm means less than nothing; there’s no more than about 2 cameras used and it cuts about once every 15 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, though. We’re not complaining. In fact, this is brilliant piece of work; almost painfully funny at points, it makes you wish Waters was your creepy uncle. Much like the rest of Water’s oeuvre, it offers nothing to people who don’t revel in bad taste, but who would want to know those people anyway? 4.5/5

2006_09_07_rad.jpgRadiant City: Directed by Gary Burns and Jim Brown, Radiant City explores the topic of suburbia. As it’s rather hard to be positive about suburban sprawl, this is a film that takes a very critical look at suburbs, with the talking heads eloquent in their deconstruction of suburban living, and a perfect suburban family to show just how empty that life can be.
The problem is, of course, that (here’s that spoiler…) the family is fictional. The film doesn’t announce this, it’s only after a few scenes you click on to the fact that the family is just too perfect (and theatrical) to be real. On one hand, you can look at this as a clever twist to help expose the fake suburbia people are sold, on the other hand…
Well, in a documentary the viewer usually understands the situations as real, and can trust or distrust what they see at least understanding that it happened in some form. In Radiant City, the scenes that occur are all fictional. While similar situations could very well be true in real life, there’s nothing explicitly stating this. It’s a crucial flaw, and one which makes the film ring hollow, particularly as the plotted section ends with something so utterly absurd that we couldn’t lay the blame on suburbia alone.
Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction and failing to make a point while doing it, Radiant City is an abject failure. It’s almost as if the filmmakers realize that, too, as they have the cast members trot out for a lengthy end sequence in which they describe their own distaste for suburbia. Makes you wonder why they didn’t just do that in the first place. 1/5