Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008) movie poster

(2008) dir. Alex Gibney
viewed: 11/26/08

From director Alex Gibney, whose film about the Bush administration’s approach to torture Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) was quite profound, comes this biography of Hunter S. Thompson, with an unwieldy title and a long duration.

The film is sort of “creative” for a documentary, using some reinactments and other stuff rather than just archive footage and talking heads.  For Thompson, whose style was one of tripped out surrealism critiquing the actuality of the world, perhaps this makes sense.  Gibney has Johnny Depp reading excerpts, too.

He actually has assembled quite a cast of characters to talk about Thompson.  Including those particularly close to him, we have Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchannan, George McGovern, and of course Ralph Steadman.  What’s particularly striking, Buchannan shows genuine appreciation for the whacked-out wag and scribe.  Buchannan actually seems like a nice guy.  Kinda scary, that.

Myself, I’ve only read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas of his work, and I’ve seen the Terry Gilliam film version.  I have many friends who are big into Thompson, and I think I gained some more appreciation for the man from this film.  It’s good, not as wonderful as some reviews might lead to believe.  It is kinda long, though.

Gibney does match the work that Thompson did on the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War to the Bush administration and the Iraq War, suggesting that Thompson’s work, though diminished greatly in his later years and ultimate death, still has relevence for today, the type of erudite, manic critiques of America still have value.  It’s possible.

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