Ed Wood [1994]

Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Edward D. Wood Jr. was an actor writer-director-producer, occasionally in drag, who combined meager bursts of talent with an undying optimism to create some of the most bizarrely memorable "B" movies to ever come out of Tinseltown. Though Wood died in obscurity as an alcoholic in 1978, his films have been considered cult classics for years. He is consistently voted the worst director who ever lived. You would think this an odd subject, but director Tim Burton harnesses the undying hopefulness that made Wood such a character. Shot in black and white, just like Wood's creations, this stylized, witty production captures the poetic absurdity of Wood's films and his unconventional life. Burton's recreation of Wood's wonderfully awful Plan 9 from Outer Space looks much better than the original low-budget quickie. Burton tackled an extremely strange subject matter for a biopic, but Wood is presented as naive almost to the point of delusion, so the story works. The pace sags in the middle, as the weirdness starts to wear thin, but Depp proves himself an adroit actor, even while wearing angora and a blonde wig. Wood's unconventional repertoire company is faithfully reproduced, including an Academy Award-winning Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. Landau is pathetic, droll, and charismatic as the elderly junkie who made his last screen appearances in Wood's films. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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