Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Gonzo: The Review

Johnny Depp fronts this affectionate look at the life of the late great Hunter S Thompson, gun freak, motorcycle freak , drugs freak and one of the great writers and commentators on American life in the late twentieth century.

Directed by Alex Gibney, who won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side and also made Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, Gonzo took two years to make and includes interviews with Thompson’s son, both wives, artist Ralph Steadman and the famous editor of Vanity Fair Graydon Carter (who also produces). It ends with Thompson’s funeral (bankrolled by Johnny Depp) which involved firing his ashes into the atmosphere from a huge rocket launcher. Some of the more unlikely contributors to this documentary include Pat Buchanan and Jimmy Carter.

Anyone who hasn’t read the novels and journalism of Hunter s Thompson will almost certain go away wanting to do so. But it isn’t just about his writing. Luckily there’s a good deal of footage of Thompson all the way through his working life from the late 1950’s, with his beginnings detailing the way of life of the then unknown Hells Angels, briefly counter-cultural heroes, to his most remarkable work covering the 1972 campaign trail as Jimmy McGovern ran for President for the Democrats. There are clips from the Johnny Depp film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Like many brilliant people, Thompson wasn’t that easy to live with, and he draws occasionally harsh criticism from his first wife and weary, philosophical acceptance from his long-suffering only son. But the main thrust of this film is celebratory, and it’s a must-see for Thompson fans, and those who likes to see what Johnny Depp likes.

Serious Hunter fans should check out this and this

*** Three Stars out of Five

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