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Episode 81: ED WOOD

  

91 members have voted

  1. 1. Does ED WOOD belong in The Canon?

    • I Wood put it in
      74
    • I Wood not put it in
      17


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The wonderful Jonah Ray joined us live at UCB Sunset for a special episode of The Canon focusing on Tim Burton's ED WOOD. Is this story of an underdog filmmaker, often known as the worst of all time, worthy of canonization?

 

Watch the film, listen to the show and let us know!

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No brainer yes. A one-of-a-kind Johnny Depp performance that gets better with each viewing. A reminder of how great Burton was when he was at the top of his game. Importance message about the beauty of making art, even if your art is terrible. One of my all-time favorite films.

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100% yes, always loved this movie and been fascinated with Edward D Wood since my mid-teens. Even did a project on him for English class and introduced the whole class to Plan 9. I digress, it's a yes.

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This is 100% a yes. Among every other factor of the film's quality it's also the only story I can think of with a message like this, that you don't need to be skilled to follow your dreams and that's a pretty unique and freeing idea to put in a movie.

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ED WOOD is an absolute YES. It's Burton's best film--it contains all of his weirdness but it has genuine heart. Amazing cast, beautiful photography, and is a snapshot of what low budget Hollywood was (probably) like at the time. It single-handedly rescued Ed Wood from the Michael Medveds of the world, and it should get into the Canon just for that.

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Definite "yes" for Ed Wood. I was a bit confounded, though, that all of the discussion of possible other best Burton films throughout the episode managed to completely overlook Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. It's his best movie, IMO.

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HELL YES! This is by far my favourite Tim Burton film (although probably not the best representation of Burtonness).

 

I also like the idea of putting this in the canon and not Plan 9. Ed Wood a great tribute to terrible cinema, so we don't have to put any actual terrible cinema in the canon.

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How could you not say yes to this movie? Easily my favourite Burton movie, and quite possibly his best.... also I am pre-emptively voting FUCK NO on Edward Scissorhands.

 

 

and Devin, transvestism and being transgender are two very different thingssssss don't conflate them

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I love this movie but never would have thought that it was a movie other people would put in the Canon. But of course it is a yes for me. I have been fascinated with Ed Wood for a few years and gave a speech in high school about him where i showed the trailer for this movie. Also sorry but i think this show is a bit tough on Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (recent events excluded). Maybe it's just because i grew up on their movies, but i would like to see more of both of them in the Canon.

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I think it's a fun meta take of filmmaking, and there's a wonderful friendship between Ed and Bela, but I don't think it's strong enough to be placed into the Canon.

As they said in the podcast- the girls kind of take a back-seat in the film with simplistic, boring, literally supportive roles.

It was lovely to hear how connected they felt about the films take on art and the creation thereof, but sorry, I'm a wet blanket on this film.

 

I'm going soft no.

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Easy yes for me.

 

This is my favorite Burton film, and probably my favorite Depp film. It's a fascinating little look at passion, and the need to tell stories. As someone who would love to do nothing more in life than tell stories, and am not doing a good job at that, this movie is incredibly powerful and moving. One of the best movies ever made about movie-making and creativity, it hands-down belongs in the Canon.

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I enjoyed this live show very much -- MORE PLEASE. Like Amy, I am a "soft" yes because I feel like it is Canon-worthy although I don't actually love it or think it is a truly great movie. But unlike Amy...I can't nitpick this one! ;-)

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I'm conflicted on this one. On one hand, this is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's a fantastic film, and I always love going back to watch it every time. It has great rewatch value (or, as Jonah would attest, re-listen value). The performances are dynamite, as is the production design and cinematography. However, I have a few problems with putting it in...

 

I also like the idea of putting this in the canon and not Plan 9. Ed Wood a great tribute to terrible cinema, so we don't have to put any actual terrible cinema in the canon.

Plan 9 is a very important piece in cinematic history and deserves to be discussed (and I think many would vote yes on it). And this reminds me of my first problem: I'm not sure if we should put in a tribute to something else. That's not to say that tribute, homage, or remake cinema shouldn't be considered for the Canon, but it just feels off.

 

Then there's putting it within the personal canons. There is an oddly semi-autobiographical element to the film for Tim Burton, but this isn't the film I'd first think of when I think "Tim Burton movie." Is it one of his superior works? Yes, but is it him? Not really. The script isn't usual, the production design doesn't scream him, and Danny Elfman doesn't even score the film. Howard Shore does a great job, but just imagine how amazing Elfman would've been for this kind of movie. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is a damn near perfect film *and* it is trademark Tim Burton. Edward Scissorhands. The Nightmare Before Christmas. Even Big Fish is another subdued Burton picture that still captures the trademark elements of Burton better than Ed Wood. And then there's the Johnny Depp canon, which again this is one of his superior works but not necessarily a piece indicative of his filmography. There are three Depps: teen idol, disappearing artist, and weird characters. This falls into the second category, but is it really the best example of how Depp can do that? I actually think the first Pirates movie, despite Jack Sparrow being an over-the-top crazy character later on in the series, is much more him disappearing into a role than him hamming it up as he does as, say, Willy Wonka or Mortdecai.

 

... But again, I want to emphasize how great this movie is. It's one of the few movies that never gets old for me no matter how many times I watch it. I'm going to give this a day or two to digest a little more before voting, but I'm begrudgingly against my own love for the movie leaning towards a soft no right now.

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...Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. It's his best movie, IMO.

 

Not just your opinion. Pee-Wee in his prime, young and inspired Elfman (long before his "drooooooooone [piano plink] [piano plonk]" period), Burton unleash, and Phil Hartman working on the script; just all the perfect elements at once.

That said, "Ed Wood" is still a strong yes for myself.

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I was a moderate no coming into this episode. I remember it stirring me the first time I saw it, but I was kind of unmoved this time. I adore the 50s sci-fi homage direction, and I think it has a fun and well written supporting cast helmed by a great Depp performance. Ed Wood, this time, felt like a fine movie instead of a great one. I see that several commenters shared that opinion, and don't I disagree.

 

Film discussion has, yet again, won me over. Listening to Jonah and Devin's personal reactions to the film clued me into the movie's power. I agreed with what they said, and by the end I had a weird little quandary on my hands: Is it valid to vote a movie that I didn't have much of a reaction to into the Canon if others did? Phrased that way, it's an easy "no." A person shouldn't reject one's own reaction to art just because it's different. However I really empathized with their reaction; in essence I was "convinced" that it worked at a Canon-worthy level separate from my own reaction. And since I don't work in an artistic field, I came away feeling like the movie - as Jonah suggested - "found its audience." It won the reaction it wanted from the people it was speaking to. So do I cast my vote based on my personal reaction and ignore my newfound respect of the film's artistic successes? Or do I vote on some kind of "objective" stab at a movie and downplay the validity of my reaction in its evaluation?

 

Well, like a good Law & Order episode, I side-stepped the genuinely interesting question I presented by making up something at the end that reveals it to have been an open-and-shut murder case after all. It's two days later and I'm with the gang on Ed Wood. I understood their opinion when I listened, but now I feel like I share it. Kind of weird. I didn't have that strong emotional reaction to many of those beats, but after hearing about them from others I find I'm having them now. Sometimes I get anxious when someone changes my mind - especially on something subjective. Makes me worry that my own reaction wasn't valid if it just fell away to another's. However it isn't that my whole opinion has been replaced, its just that the discussion of the hosts and guest and commenters have helped me experience the film more fully.

 

W/e, TL;DR: This is why film discussion is so much fun. A yes for me.

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Not just your opinion. Pee-Wee in his prime, young and inspired Elfman (long before his "drooooooooone [piano plink] [piano plonk]" period), Burton unleash, and Phil Hartman working on the script; just all the perfect elements at once.

That said, "Ed Wood" is still a strong yes for myself.

 

And, to boot, this is one of the classic films studied in film schools. It was brought up just in my intro to film theory class in college. The script and plot are perfectly plotted and a fantastic example for new filmmakers. Pee-Wee as a character is established, he has a conflict, he goes on a journey to resolve the conflict, and he succeeds all the while improving himself and developing his character. Every scene is both a vignette and integral to the plot of the film (which puts it above The Shawshank Redemption). That's not even considering what you mentioned regarding Burton's direction and cinematographic & design mastery, and the debut film score by one of the seminal composers of the current film age, the then-New Wave punk Danny Elfman. If this had been a Burton versus between Pee-Wee and Ed Wood, this would be an easy decision for the former.

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Beware, for Tim Burton, this is the only film, until Big Eyes, that was a story about someone or something in the real world. A film that takes full, over-the-top advantage of his Burton's style and personality, and yet is still based in a real world and about real people.

 

WAIT!!!

 

PULL THE STRING!!! PULL THE STRING!!!

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Beware, for Tim Burton, this is the only film, until Big Eyes, that was a story about someone or something in the real world.

What about that documentary he made, Planet of the Apes?

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I had only seen this once before, and thought it was just OK, and had I not watched it again this week I would have voted a firm no. I'm glad I was able to watch it again this week. I found it to be an inspiring and heartbreaking piece of cinema examining the way we idolize the creative process, but only when it is successful - if it is not, if it is crappy or cheap or boring, we dismiss it and make fun of it, never remembering that there was just as much passion put into something like Plan 9 as there was Citizen Kane, and that for the passion alone it is worth remembering and celebrating.

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I liked it when it was released because it was odd and I was sucked into the idea that Tim Burton was a guy with a fairly unique viewpoint. I think that my disappointment with almost all the subsequent Tim Burton movies has made me like this less. Though I'm happy that Martin Landau got some acclaim so late in his career. (for this and the Woody Allen movie.)

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