Ed Wood (1994)

Wood

Pretty consistently hilarious 50s horror/biography hybrid that’s often difficult to take seriously but is nonetheless enjoyable and entertaining and pretty damn well acted, especially from Martin Landau who I think won an Academy Award for this, and rightly so. A bizarre, over the top performance to say the least, but a convincing one at that. The man utterly inhabits his character. A rare feat. And Johnny Depp is good too, but also really, really bizarre, and way too cool looking at times for someone who is supposed to be this goofy, bumbling, perpetually excited filmmaker doofus. Still, it’s not bad. Just weird. Weirder than usual, at least. And don’t even get me started on Bill Murray. Hilarious. Steals every scene he’s in.

The film itself is very strange, even for Tim Burton. Can’t think of very many other biographies shot in the style of a cheesy 1950s monster film, but here you go, and it works somehow, for the most part. The film is goofy and silly and exaggerated, and though it lacks Burton’s usual wacky German cinematic style, the black and white is pretty to the point where you don’t even notice it after the first 5 minutes. Because the film is so goofy, though, some of the more serious moments, or, at least, what are supposed to be serious moments, come off kind of stilted, almost awkward, to the point where you don’t know whether you should laugh or feel sorry for a given character. I’m specifically thinking of the scene where **SPOILERS** Landau’s character is getting his arm touched up by the makeup guy, and all those needle marks are visible, and this sort of odd, knowing look passes between them for just a moment. **END SPOILERS** It’s off-putting and inappropriate; a good moment, to be sure, but it doesn’t mesh with the tone of the rest of the film, especially considering the hilarious exchange that I think takes place immediately after that between Landau and another member of the crew, with the signing of the script and all that. Funny, yet tragic, but not nearly as serious as the stuff with the needles. Odd.

Overall, a very enjoyable, one of a kind, arguably ground breaking biographical film that is almost too “light” and entertaining for its own good given its occasionally grim subject matter. The film is **SPOILERS** ultimately a tragedy about the pitfalls of fame and the misery that comes from doggedly pursuing one’s dreams, **END SPOILERS** but it’s never treated as such, even during what are supposed to be more serious moments, and it really suffers as a result. Still, it’s a film to be admired for its boldness, and definitely worth a watch.

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