SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Often the subject of a documentary is so fascinating that no manner of inept filmmaking technique can stop you from enjoying the show. Other times the technique is there, but who really cares about the subject? Dirty Work doesn't fit in either category - it fits firmly in both. The filmmaking isn't terrible enough to poke fingers at, but it isn't great, while the subjects of the piece - a make-up artist for the dead, a septic tank technician and a bull semen collector, are just plain boring. If you want to read on from here, feel free, but it's only going to be another 400 words telling you that this film blew.This film blew. Look, I can totally get behind the mission statement in Dirty Work - find three guys with jobs that most people couldn't stomach and follow them about their business - but once you've followed them around for a few minutes, you begin to realize that these guys just aren't interesting. Their jobs just aren't interesting. The film just isn't interesting.
...There seems to be a problem with 'interest' here.
On the plus side, it only runs for an hour. On the minus side, I don't need an hour of flying bull semen to make me feel like I've explored a part of the world that is normally ignored. There's a reason these jobs are ignored, and that is they suck. Sure, maybe those that do them take great pride in how many condoms they can pump out of your septic tank or how a red grocery bag shoved up your dead grandmother's crotch will pad her death shroud out rather nicely. Bt no amount of video tape is going to convince me that these people aren't living in a delusional world where routine has become the best they can hope for out of life.
Watching our bull semen collector building a fake cow vagina is mildy informative, but at the same time elicits audience comments such as "I've put my dick in worse," which surely aren't the intended aim of the director. The bilge pumper is barely legible, let alone interesting, seeming to have no other reason to be included other than he once recorded a song about sewage pumpers. And as for the mortuary artiste... if I should die anytime soon, please just burn me and save me the humiliation of having a dude like this abuse my body so the relatives can convince themselves that I "looked peaceful."Did I learn anything watching Dirty Work? Yeah, I learned prostitutes are not to be messed with, that a Saigon whore can bite off our nose as quick as look at you, and that revenge is the best option. But then... that wasn't THIS Dirty Work, it was the better, funnier, more interesting Norm McDonald movie co-starring Artie Lang. You see, the prostitutes have to help them earn money to buy Pops a heart transplant...