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Johnny Depp's SECRET Magic

Why Johnny Depp is the shit, as well as reason to check out SECRET WINDOW.

I have always considered myself a rather straight individual. I mean, sure, my resin-saturated mannerisms and personality may be flamboyant at times, but in this metrosexual age of Repulsion and Ambivalence, I have remained unabashedly heterosexual. But there’s something about Johnny Depp that throws convention out the window and makes me want to play with his long tendrils of brown hair and stare into his inexplicably beautiful and dense almond eyes…even if it means that my head will explode from the power of his most subtle and short-lived glance.


From his break-out role as Tom Hanson on the deliciously Mod Squad-esque 80’s television series 21 Jump St. to his pale and cartoonishly innocent portrayal of Edward Scissorhands right on into his consummately kitschy and flamboyant turn as B-movie director Ed Wood, John Christopher Depp ---as the people of Owensboro, Kentucky, might remember him--- has thrilled us and shocked us with his range, diversity, strangely asexual beauty, and depth. And this is to make no mention of the sensual Don Juan De Marco, the bumbling Hunter S. Thompson with eyeliner gypsy pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (see: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), or the Buster Keaton understudy Sam (see: Benny & Joon).


Forget what the Right Wing middle-class crusaders and pick-up truck driving suburbanites will say about his “dissident” attitude toward his country of origin (Something about teaching his son that America is like a dumb toy). Forget the Conservative extremists who chew your ear off about how much we’ve done for those goddamn Froggies. Because Johnny Depp is unequivocally one of the best things to come out of America (or France) since…well…Hunter S. Thompson…or Abbie Hoffman. He is guided by his own principles, chooses roles based on their substance or his own loyalty to the people for which the work is based off of (,i.e.: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Before Night Falls). He is always convincing, always a pleasure to look at, listen to or talk about, and his methods (moving in with Dr. Thompson on Owl Farm to steal his essence and allow the Good Doctor to shave his head; wearing angora) are unique and unparalleled.


But enough dick-sucking. Let’s get to the point of this goddamn screed. I went into Secret Window with very low expectations, as I greet much of what Hollywood has to throw at us. But in the back of my mind, I think a part of me knew I had to see it just by virtue of who was filling the lead. J.D. or “The Colonel” (aka Ray), as he is known to his friends, is playing Mort Rainey, the conflicted anti-hero with writer’s block, and the TV spots have actually kept my interest…longer than those annoying commercials for H & R Block.


As fate would have it, the movie kicked ass and proved very fruitful in the plot device department. A movie in this vein (i.e.: The snow-bound Stephen King/Lake out in the Woods genre) is always best the first time around because of its celerity. The whole thing contains tons of quick cuts and fast pans and it’s all over with a spurt in under 90 minutes. The viewer leaves the theater very pleased with what they have seen, but something occurs to them hours later when they are sitting on the can reading fetish magazines or mowing the lawn on crystal meth. “Wait! If the killer took her keys, then how did she open the door to get into the house?” Or, “If her uncle was the one that molested her, then why did the blood tests show her boyfriend to be the father?”


In Secret Window, one is left with their mouth hanging open for the better part of fifty minutes and only toward the end do things really start to hit us full-bore. Fortunately for those of us who have self-employed relatives who work in the slums of Brooklyn, we can always score a bootleg video or DVD screening copy. This was the case about four days after I first went to see David Koepp’s chilling Johnny Depp enigma.


After a long night of drinking, I finally got around to falling back into a recliner, swigging the last of my Ronrico and hitting the Play button on Secret Window (based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King). In a situation such as this, it is easy to say that a movie is predictable because you already know the outcome, but part of the fun the second time around is picking up all the shit that slipped through the ocular cracks on your first go.


For those of you who hate surprises and always like to ruin a movie for your friends, here are a few spoilers for when you go to see Johnny Depp’s latest nuance-saturated blockbuster:


  • During Mort Rainey’s (Depp) second confrontation with John Shooter (John Turturro), the intense farmer accusing him of plagiarism, Mr. Shooter asks Mort if he should get the magazine that the story originally appeared in from Mort’s wife and even says he knows where she lives (in Riverdale, NY). How would John Shooter know this when Mort hasn’t told him that she has the magazine?
  • Mort wears his wife’s old bathrobe throughout the film, the same one she is wearing when she discovers the secret window. Pay attention to each scene and you’ll see one in which a tear in the bathrobe’s shoulder pops up, indicating that Ole Mort is still carrying the memories of the wife he is now separated from.
  • Mr. Rainey enjoys Doritoes a whole lot. I wonder why that is? (see: “…as he helped himself to another ear of corn…”)
  • At one point, John Shooter threatens Mort, saying that his wife might get in a bad accident with “a chainsaw you keep out in the shed.” Now how would John know what Morty keeps in that there shed, hm?
  • Mort hides his cigarette smoking from his housekeeper. Later on, when he is in a local shop, he stares all befuddled at a carton of Pall Mall cigarettes (the ones that John Shooter smokes). After a beat, the counter clerk kid asks him if he wants a pack. Mort tells the boy that he does not smoke. The boy stares at him quizzically.
  • In the Third Act, Mr. Shooter says, “You have my hat. I want it back, one way or the other.” Where is the missing scene in which John left his hat with Mort? Is Mr. Rainey carrying some baggage we don’t know about quite yet?
  • And what’s with “Pilgrim”.


You’d do kindly to ask yourself these questions when you go to see the movie because you have to see the movie! You just have to! How much more Shame and Degradation must I take to get you to see this movie! SEE IT!!!!! Otherwise I just might find a place for you in the corner by my barn, kid.


“…I’m sure, in time, her death will be a mystery…even to me.”




©Bob Freville - Get Underground

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