Despite his best efforts, Ed Wood's name has become synonymous with terrible filmmaking, but now, Tim Burton gives the quirky and ambitious director his moment in the spotlight! ED WOOD is both sad and uplifting, and shows the best and worst sides that Hollywood and stardom have to offer. The comedic tale follows poor Ed as he struggles endlessly to live out his dreams of directing movies that are filled with action and imagination. His biggest failings lead him to chance encounters with genre legends Bela Lugosi and Orson Welles, who continue to inspire him even when all hope seems lost. On top of everything else, his love for angora sweaters and cross-dressing continue to set him back both professionally and personally. If enthusiasm had only equaled talent, Ed Wood may have become the world's greatest director, and Tim Burton is sure to show it throughout this heartwarming tragedy.
Johnny Depp stars as Ed Wood in a stylized but highly entertaining exaggeration of the character. He delivers many subtle nuances to the role that make him pitifully naive and endearing at the same time. Depp is joined by a talented cast, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Arquette as his two love interests, Jeffrey Jones and Bill Murray as his kooky cohorts, and Martin Landau in an Academy Award-winning performance as the tattered old Bela Lugosi, with whom Wood would share a close friendship throughout his final years. Landau is fully deserving of all critical praise, as he is impeccable in the role and completely indistinguishable from the real-life Lugosi. Wood and Lugosi share many common bonds, particularly in their endless aspirations, but also by the fact that they are each critically flawed in many ways.
The characters are drawn together in a colorful story as Woodbrainlessly cons investors into supporting his artless productions. Their adventures lead them into unbelievably funny situations where they are run out of studios and left out to film in the dark without sound or working props. Burton capitalizes on the most outrageous moments of Wood's career, but creates an equal balance between the silly humor and the dramatic lulls that serve to ground the film back in to reality. The uncanny reproductions of films like GLEN OR GLENDA, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, and (of course) PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE are pulled off flawlessly, as are the casting decisions for side characters like Vampira and Tor Johnson.
ED WOOD is essential viewing for all movie fans whether they are familiar with the character or not. It encapsulates the entrepreneurial spirit of the independent filmmaker and the inherent difficulties that can be found along the road to Hollywood, and always with a hint of loving satire.
If you liked ED WOOD, check out:
AMERICAN MOVIE, GODS AND MONSTERS, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, BRUTAL MASSACRE, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD.
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