• ERIC BUTLER

How Depp is your love?

Not gonna lie, I was a bit stumped on what to write today. My weekend was tied up with the opening of the NFL, writing some new material, and trying to figure out how to structure the first Ephraim story into a coherent novel. But I did spend an hour and a half watching a movie I hated when it came out in 2004...one I found pretty good in 2020. Add that with a couple of movies I've watched with the wife over the last couple weeks with the same actor and I figure, why not give some quick suggestions to fill out the Monday post.


While it's no big thing to be a fan of Johnny Depp after his run as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates Franchise, I go back to his earlier films Nightmare on Elm Street and Platoon as well as his work in 21 Jump Street on FOX. Of course, this post could be pointing to his work in Cry-Baby, Dead Man, or From Hell. I could spotlight his animation work - Rango, The Corpse Bride, or Sherlock Gnomes; or his horror work in Nightmare on Elm Street, Tusk, Sleepy Hollow, or Sweeney Todd. I might point to his crime dramas - Blow, Public Enemies, Donnie Brasco, or his takes on the Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, or Ed Wood.


I want to focus on 4 movies that Johnny Depp stars in that deal with books-be it from or about. The first is the movie I mentioned watching this weekend and can be found on Amazon Prime.

The Secret Window is based on a Stephen King story. The premise is pretty basic; a successful writer in the midst of a painful divorce is stalked at his remote lake house by a would-be scribe who accuses him of plagiarism. While I distinctly remember leaving the theater disappointed and unimpressed, watching it 16 years later has changed my mind.


The cast is spectacular: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, and Charles S. Dutton make up the bulk of the main characters. Written and directed by David Koepp, the man behind several well received screenplays - Jurassic Park, Toy Soldiers, Stir of Echoes, Panic Room, and Angels and Demons. Here, we get a director who understands how to nudge his actors in the correct direction while allowing their talents to take over the characters. The interaction between Depp and Turturro steals the movie and allows for a natural slow-building tension that makes the movie work very well.


Next up is a pet project of Depp's. The Rum Diary is a novel written by his hero Hunter S. Thompson - the mind who's work inspired his movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While he was forced to wait years to get this movie made, it finally got made in 2011. While I have not read the novel, I find myself wondering if it wanders as much as the movie. While there is a straight-forward central theme in the movie, there are so many ideas sprouting off that by the end you aren't sure if you can believe anything about the story presented.


American journalist Paul Kemp takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1960s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there.


See it's all right there, but not really as this movie is more about the characters and their effect on each other than their effect on the story itself. Probably explains why it didn't do well in the theaters. However, now that you can stream in on Netflix, you can take the time needed to be enveloped by the nuances and underplayed performances of the cast. The camera work is beautiful, and the cast makes up an interesting group of characters and opinions found in the mid to late 60s.

Side note - this is the movie where Depp met Amber Heard and ruined his life.

This movie is based on a popular series of comic thriller novels from the 70s. This movie focuses primarily on the first of those, Don't Point That Thing at Me. It also brings director David Koepp and Depp back together. This movie is over the top silliness with stereotypical characters and English snootiness done in a picture-perfect way. It does a very good job reflecting a 70s vibe without ever telling you when it takes place and the casting is perfect.

There's just something about this movie and Depp's portrayal of the main character that hits all the right notes for me. You can find it on HULU.


Finally, we shift from silly facial hair to sinister facial hair as Johnny Depp plays a rare book dealer. He is commissioned to seek out the last 2 copies of a demon text to compare it to the one his employer has just purchased.


The movie has an otherworldly feel as Depp moves through the back alleys of exotic book dealings. It's beautifully filmed, and Depp does a great job refocusing the quirky traits his characters almost always have from silly to slightly off-putting.


Polanski the person is a dirtbag, but this is one of his best works. You can find it on Prime and HULU.


All four movies also deal with love in their own way. Secret Window looks at lost love, The Rum Diary shows us the effects of forbidden love, Mordecai revolves around the traps love can set for people, and The Ninth Gate shows us the traps of self love and obsession.


2 more reviews in for my first horror Novel, The Shadow Within. It's available on kindle and Paperback...get it here.



 

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