Ed Wood

1994, Movie, R, 127 mins


It's ironic that one of the best films of 1994 told the story of one of the worst filmmakers of all time. Tim Burton's ED WOOD is a delightful, off-the-wall, and ultimately moving portrait of a young man trying to claw his way up into Hollywood from the bottom.

Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) produces awful plays in LA with various friends and hangers-on, including his girlfriend, Dolores Fuller (Sarah Jessica Parker), and transsexual wannabe Bunny Breckinridge (Bill Murray). Ed himself is a secret cross-dresser, and when he learns that schlock producer George Weiss (Mike Starr) intends to make a film based on notorious transsexual Christine Jorgensen, he pitches himself as the best man for the job. A chance encounter with his idol, Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau), leads Ed to cast the now drug-addicted actor in his picture, and a deep friendship begins to develop between the two.

Typically, Burton's storytelling is sometimes erratic, but his emphasis on humanizing marginal characters--a project that seems central to his artistic agenda--is as strong as ever. Wood and his entourage may be bizarre, but they're sympathetic and likable; one roots for Wood to succeed despite his evidently complete lack of talent. Indeed, Burton, a true devotee of bargain-basement pop culture, probably intends to question whether "talent" is not just a cultural shibboleth, as misleading and overdetermined as "taste," or even "art." leave a comment

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