Saturday 4 April 2009

Two thumbs!

As I flashed my ticket for Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson to the attendant and entered the auditorium, I was determined. Regardless of how much scrabbling around I had to do, nothing would stand in my way. My heart was full of joy. Come hell or high water, I was sitting on the balcony. Take THAT conformist members of society! You, who settle for sitting in the dank pit at the bottom of this magnificent structure, you can give me as many dirty looks as you like, but I'll simply laugh them away, casting off the dull shackles of self-consciousness, yelling at the top of my voice "LOOK AT ME!" I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger... a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.

So, anyway, I couldn't find the door upstairs. So I considered my mission a glorious failure, and sat back down.

In two minutes, I was back on my feet again. A goatee'd gentleman, seeming to be doing his utmost to fit the cliche of 'Aging Hipster' walked up to me and proclaimed his congratulations.
"That's all very well," I said, "but what, may I ask, is the occasion?"
"You're sitting in my seat," he replied.
I looked around. There were roughly seven people in the theater, including us. I stared back blankly at the man and the shaven lemur hanging off his right arm, and quickly considered the outcome of this scenario of I were to say "No." I could probably take him in a fight, I thought, before noticing the oh-so-slightly menacing boots he was wearing. There was no part of my body that survive an impact created either of those things. And even if he wasn't a kicking person, he could still chase me outside, chucking roll-up cigarettes, Moleskine notebooks and copies of the Guardian at me.
I conceded. A good ninja always knows when to retreat. And then often just poisons his enemies late at night, but that would have to wait for another time. After the film was finished.

And after I'd had some dinner.

Oh, and the film was okay. It covered just about every aspect of Hunter S. Thompson's life and got interviews with all the right people (save Richard Nixon, but he's dead, so I'll let that slide), but is completely uncritical of the man, even claiming his suicide (spoiler!) as some sort of heroic act.
My question, however, is this: does this film serve any purpose? As a journalist, you could argue that Thompson always led his life in full view, so surely the best way to understand the man and learn more about him is to simply read his work? Indeed, the only truly entertaining parts of the film (with the grand exception of his funeral) were the quotes from Hunter himself, as read by Johnny Depp. Director Alex Gibney clearly has a talent for making confrontational documentaries (i.e. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side), but doesn't seem to have anything to add to what is more or less a standard biography.

Still, the music was nice.

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