Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

The Set of 400: #26 – My Favorite False Teeth

Today! Because this is the one. This is the one I’ll be remembered for –

Ed Wood (1994)

Directed by Tim Burton (x5)

Starring Johnny Depp (x2), Martin Landau (x2), Patricia Arquette, Sarah Jessica Parker (x2), Bill Murray (x10), Jeffrey Jones (x5), Mike Starr (x2), George “The Animal” Steele, Vincent D’Onofrio (x5), Lisa Marie (x2), G.D. Spradlin (x2), Max Casella (x2), Brent Hinkley (x2), Juliet Landau, Melora Walters (x2), Bobby Slayton (x2), Rance Howard (x4), Louis Lombardi (x3), Ned Bellamy

The wife might disagree, but I don’t love all bad movies. Here’s how I figure it – if a movie has exceptionally terrible reviews – your Glitters and Battlefield Earths and Freddy Got Fingereds – I want to see that movie, just to try and understand how it could go so spectacularly wrong. The bigger the movie the better, too, such as, say, the 2015 Fantastic Four. I went and saw that in a mostly empty theater by myself, because I had to see how a potential tentpole/franchise flick could be so purportedly awful. Low budget awful, for the most part, doesn’t interest me. Anyone can make a horrible film given no resources. And mid-range bad also doesn’t hold a ton of appeal – 35%-55% Rotten Tomatoes – who cares? That just sounds boring.

Might be just bad enough to see, but I’d say not

But there are exceptions to this. Tommy Wiseau’s borderline genius disaster of a film The Room is the modern gold standard, clearly standing on the shoulders of the true champion trash auteur, Edward D. Wood, Jr. Plan 9 From Outer Space is so cheap and terrible as to be a thoroughly lovable film. Who doesn’t enjoy Plan 9, for all its cinematic faults? And that brings us to the truly best result of its existence – Tim Burton’s masterpiece biopic. If Wood had only made Glen or Glenda and Jail Bait and Bride of the Monster, his name might still get kicked around in nerdy film circles, but it’s Plan 9 that elevated him to worldwide acclaim – way, way after the fact. And it’s only because it became so embraced as the worst movie of all time that we got this goofy, sentimental movie about movies – my second favorite film in the mini-genre I love so much (next Monday crowns my top movie from this group – stay tuned!).

Wood dying before our time, here is the happy couple with the next best dude

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The Set of 400: #163 – My Favorite Sandy Beer Cocktail

Today! Because we were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold –

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro (x2), Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire (x4), Ellen Barkin (x3), Christopher Meloni, Michael Jeter, Gary Busey (x3), Gregory Itzin, Flea (x2), Lyle Lovett (x3), Cameron Diaz (x4), Craig Bierko, Mark Harmon, Katherine Helmond (x2), Laraine Newman (x2), Verne Troyer, Debbie Reynolds (x2), Penn Jillette, Harry Dean Stanton (x3), Jenette Goldstein (x2)

A prime example of a film that came along at just the right moment in my life to have a lasting impact, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a psychedelic nightmare road trip travelogue comedy, long thought unfilmmable. Hunter Thompson’s true-ish story of heading to Nevada to cover The Mint 400 motorcycle race spirals quickly and wildly out of control, featuring massive hallucinations, property damage, excessive drug use, and Debbie Reynolds. It’s funny, in that quirky Terry Gilliam kind of way, and it’s visually stunning, in a head-trip kaleidoscope pretty much unparalleled in mainstream cinema.

However, this movie, lacking any real narrative drive or logical reason for existing, certainly wouldn’t work for everyone. It’s a large budget art film produced mainly because of Gilliam’s name (pre-Don Quixote mess) and Johnny Depp’s enduring love for Thompson. This was released during my early college years, and I loved this goddamn movie. Hell, I loved the book – did everyone have a Hunter Thompson phase in college? His sentences, man! Even when they didn’t coalesce into a plottable tale (and they rarely did), they were still cutting and incisive and impactful, more philosophy than prose – and this is what made ever translating this to the screen so unlikely. And yet, it sorta works, in a conventional way, here and there. Sorta.

“Let’s get down to brass tacks – how much for the ape?”

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