Sunday, 2 August 2015

Review: Ed Wood

I can't believe I haven't seen…

Ed Wood Poster

Ed Wood (1994)
Cert: 15 / 121 mins / Dir. Tim Burton / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Ah, the mid nineties. That magical era when Johnny Depp was just beginning to wind down his actual acting and begin his long-running (to-date, in fact) stint as being Johnny Depp™. Tim Burton's 1994 fact-based biopic Ed Wood catches the Deppster in his transitional period where he's actually doing both. Because as much as you know the events depicted in the film actually happened (with a few artistic alterations and omissions), you never forget you're watching Johnny Depp.

That's no bad thing here, though, and he's the perfect outlet for Tim Burton's über-kitsch portrayal of the eponymous 1950s B-Movie maestro. The film is beautifully assembled, as you'd expect from Burton, but its real strength lies in its script, just shy of comedy but too arch for drama, with a few of the sharpest zingers you've heard since... well, since 1994.

Aiding and abetting Depp are a supporting cast in the shape of Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Bill Murray and Jeffrey Jones, but the scenes are well and truly stolen by Martin Landau portraying the late Bela Lugosi, complete with the foul-mouthed acidic outbursts you wouldn't normally expect from a Touchstone (read: Disney) movie.

Stefan Czapsky's high-contrast cinematography and lighting evoke the era of trashy Hollywood perfectly, and I have to be honest and say that Howard Shore's chintzy score is more at home with the feel of the film than Burton-stalwart Danny Elfman's would have been in the mid 90s.

The only real pause the film gave me is that it's so forcefully camp that I couldn't really connect with it emotionally, which is a shame because there's clearly a more engaging story to be told, here. It's the same sort of disconnect I felt watching Burton's Big Eyes, and it leaves the finger of doubt pointing towards the storyteller, not the story.

That said, the film has at least reminded me that I really need to dig out 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' again. It's been far too long…

Have you really never seen this before?
Really. Not by intent, just poor timing and bad luck.

So are you glad you've finally have?
I am.

And would you recommend it, now?
If you're a fan of 50s trash-a-rama, yes.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Ed Wood stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Lisa Marie, both of whom appeared in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, as did Natalie 'Padmé' Portman.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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