Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Depp


Into the Woods’s Biggest Surprise

Chris Pine singing “Agony” in Into the Woods.

Chris Pine singing “Agony” in Into the Woods.

When I walked out of the new film version of Into the Woods on Christmas Day, I couldn’t believe what I was thinking: “Chris Pine, of all people, just outshone Johnny Depp.” While I was most looking forward to seeing Depp skulk around the woods in his Big Bad Wolf zoot suit and lasciviously sing “Hello Little Girl” to Little Red Riding Hood, he came and went so quickly (and sounded so much like a serpent-breathed Rex Harrison) that I thought he was… just…OK.

On the other hand, the audience seemed to want to break out into applause after Chris Pine’s big musical number, “Agony,” as he preened, strutted, and basked in his own glory as Prince Charming. Pine seems to be in on the joke that transcends this specific character and bleeds into his overall onscreen persona: at best, he’s handsome and likable (the Star Trek movies, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and at worse, he’s vapid and all-surface (as apparently are some of his choices of movie roles). However, maybe like with Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Channing Tatum in Magic Mike, I’ve come to the party late.

Pine has the acting pedigree, experience, and recognition that belies my initial oversimplified view of him. His parents and maternal grandmother were actors, and he studied English at Berkeley and acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. In addition to his extensive film and television work, his stage credentials includes Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig and Beau Willimon’s Farragut North, for which he won a Los Angeles acting award in 2009.

So, I’m not sure I would qualify as a “Pine Nut” (what his fans call themselves) yet, but I stand somewhat corrected.


The Bathroom in the Museum

Roddy McDowall's bathroom at the Hollywood History Museum

Roddy McDowall’s bathroom at the Hollywood History Museum

In the Hollywood History Museum is a bathroom. This “half-bath,” which includes a sink and toilet, sits in the midst of “Old Hollywood” movie costumes and props. The bathroom’s walls and surfaces are plastered in framed photographs, mostly of friends of the bathroom’s owner. Some of these friends happen to be Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews, Johnny Depp, and other famous names. The bathroom’s owner is a talented photographer, although that’s not his “day job,” which is acting. As you stand in this bathroom in the middle of this museum, close your eyes. Now, open them. Now, open the door. When you walk out the door, the museum has turned into a house, and you find yourself in the middle of a party, and at the center of it is the bathroom’s owner: Roddy McDowall.

A child actor from England, Roddy made an amazing comeback as an adult actor in the 60s and 70s, most notably in the Planet of the Apes series (1968-1973) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972). He got a front row seat to the adulterous affair between his good friend Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during the filming of “Cleopatra.” Roddy was known as a trustworthy confidante to Liz and other female stars looking for a sympathetic yet fun ear. However, Roddy died in 1998 never having shared with the world that he was gay.


Roddy photographing Julie Andrews

Roddy photographing Julie Andrews

My Top Five Roddy McDowall Movies

Lord Love a Duck (1966)

Fright Night (1985)

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Cleopatra (1963)

Honorable TV Mention: Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” (1960)

Taking a break during shooting of one of the Planet of the Apes films

Taking a break during shooting of one of the Planet of the Apes films


Attack of/on the Nuclear Family

Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques

I’ve finished my goal of seeing horror movies that I should have seen a long time ago.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Interesting concept of dream and reality blending together, so that something as comforting as sleep can suddenly transform into a danger. However, I wasn’t so scared or amused by Freddy. Some intriguing play with gender in that the men, including Johnny Depp, were for the most part utterly useless, falling asleep, getting killed, and/or standing by, while the female heroine attempts to defeat Freddy.

2. The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – Like Night of the Living Dead (1968), this is an assault on the nuclear family by the ultimate nuclear family (literally nuclear, since these cannibal freaks live inside a military installation). A former police officer, the father of the “normal” family stands for law and order, relying on guns and encouraging the adherence to rigid gender roles by the rest of his brood. These gender disparities become prevalent as the women either die or emotionally break down as the situation progresses (although the teenage daughter does have her moments of clarity, like Susan in NoLD). The men actively fight the killers to differing results, but the point is that they fight. Even the family dogs reflect this: the female Beauty dies, but the male Beast not only lives but seeks revenge on his mate and helps his masters defeat the cannibals! A young woman from the cannibal group rebels against her “family” though and saves the “normal” family’s baby, breaking the gender stereotypes promoted by the “normal” family. Overall frightening because it’s a scenario within the realm of possibility, although one beyond comprehension.

3. Les Diaboliques (1955) – This French movie, starring Simone Signoret, was very creepy. I figured out the twist about halfway through, but that didn’t devalue the satisfaction of the film, as well as its strong acting, subtle storytelling and direction, and atmosphere. I haven’t seen the Sharon Stone remake, but do I really want to?