Patton Oswalt: My Life in 10 Movies

The comedian and author of 'Silver Screen Fiend' charts his rise from young cinema junkie to successful stand-up via 10 gamechanging films

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'Female Trouble' (1974)

"I knew a little bit about underground filmmakers like Ken Jacobs and Andy Warhol and the Kuchar brothers at that point, only all that stuff was happening in New York , so it felt like this whole other world. Seeing the way that Female Trouble — even more than Waters' Pink Flamingos, which is much better known — does all this outrageous stuff that looked kinda like the bland suburbs in Virginia where I had lived…I mean, you could do something this fucking crazy in your own backyard?!? And what's most shocking is how this exceedingly polite, impeccably dressed man with a pencil-thin mustache doesn't act like it's shocking; he essentially films these horrible, subversive things as if they were just another scene in any other movie about a girl growing up. Even when you compare something like Blazing Saddles or Eating Raoul to this…I mean, I love those films, but this shit is genuinely edgy.

"Most comedies or comedians, you can see how they gear up to throwing something taboo or dangerous at you: 'Okay, people, here it comes!' What Waters did that influenced me so much was that he just acted like, well, why wouldn't you have someone murder their family over a pair of cha-cha heels? There's no punk-rock scream to his work; it's almost like a nice country & western rhythm, which makes it 10 times as startling. I loved it."

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