Thursday, May 6, 2010

193. Ed Wood

Ed Wood (1994)

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp
Martin Landau
Sarah Jessica Parker
Bill Murray

IMDb Rating: 8
My Rating: 8.5

"Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams."

Edward Wood Jr. (Johnny Depp) is a down on his luck theater director and producer who's aspiration to become a filmmaker is easily his greatest passion. When Wood reads an article about a film based on the life of Christine Jorgensen, the first person known to have gender reassignment surgery, he feels like he would be the perfect director. You see, Wood himself is a transvestite. He is not homosexual, he just likes to wear women's clothes. Through the help of his girlfriend Dolores Fuller (Sarah Jessica Parker) he sways the head of the studio and lands himself as the director of the film, eventually titled Glen and Glenda. When the film is released, it is panned by both the critics and the studios.

While working on Glen and Glenda, Wood meets childhood idol and Hollywood horror icon Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). The two instantly strike up a friendship, and Wood offers to put Lugosi in his film after he learns that Lugosi cannot find work. Through his next few projects, Wood gains an eceletic group of friends, which all leads up to the trials and tribulations of the production of his masterwork Plan 9 From Outer Space. The film really only focuses on Wood's life through the 1950's, which stood as the beginning and groundwork for much of the filmmaker's legendary cult status.

When it comes to film, Ed Wood is a prime example of "the right man for the job." When watching the film about director Edward Wood Jr.'s life, there is no doubt that Tim Burton was the obvious choice. Wood's life was littered with the strange and bizarre which lends to Burton's personality and talent perfectly. Burton gives us a view without judgement of the cult director who was constantly judged through out his life by friends, critics, and colleagues. While there may have been better directors working at the time of the film's release, the story and tone of Ed Wood only seems fitting in the hands of Burton.

My favorite part of this film is the relationship between Edward Wood Jr. and Bela Lugosi. It's a different twist on the classic mentor and student relationship, as it's often difficult to tell who is helping who the most. Lugosi's wisdom and advice give just as much as Wood's desire to see Lugosi kick his drug habit so that his star can once again rise. Both Johnny Depp and Martin Landau are excellent in the film. Landau won the Academy Award in 1994 for his performance, which was indeed well deserved. The focus on the friendship between the two was unexpected, but proved to be the film's best feature.

I really enjoyed Ed Wood. Even though the subject is about "the worst filmmaker of all-time", this film is absolutely wonderful. Martin Landau and Johnny Depp are excellent, as they bring life to two extremely interesting men. Tim Burton was an obvious choice to bring this story to the screen. By far one of the greatest works of his career. Overall, I give Ed Wood a very strong recommendation.

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