Tuesday, November 29, 2011

on Hunter S. Thompson - 1/3

I thought it was about time that I took a peek into the phenomenon that is Hunter S. Thompson. I have read so many of his great quotes around the place. I’ve seen a few portrait photos of him looking super cool. I knew he did stuff with Rolling Stone magazine and is pretty much the king of substance abuse. I knew that he had something to do with Jonny Depp and that he was intensely American, and that he was the guy that the cool kids like.

That’s it. Until two days ago, that was the extent of my knowledge of Hunter S. Thompson.

I had the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas DVD in my optical drive for at least three weeks before I finally sat down with some sandwiches and watched it. Why had I waited so long? Because I was expecting the movie to be taxing. I was expecting it to be a difficult and involving watch. Was it? Short answer – yes. Long answer – fuck yes. At the risk of sounding silly, I’m going to use the perfect word for the visual impression of this movie. That word is ‘yuck’. So yucky that it’s difficult to sit through. The trouble is, it’s also a little bit of brilliant. The obvious movie comparison to make would be to Trainspotting. I’ve read that book and seen that movie, and anyone else who also has, also knows what I mean by ‘yuck’ and yet ‘brilliant’. Don’t mistake me, I think Fear and Loathing misses the mark a lot of times. It doesn’t approach the brilliance of Trainspotting, but you can see the potential.

I mean, there is just so much drug taking. SO MANY DRUGS. It’s like a movie version of an encyclopedia of drugs. I hadn’t even heard of half that shit before, and these guys were taking crazy combos of three at a time. I spent half the movie wondering how they weren’t dead. If I drank as much as Duke did I would probably be hospitalised, not to mention the cocaine and then mescaline and then the crazy vial of pure adrenalin stuff (adrenochrome?) ? I just. I mean. I dunno. Speechless. Just think of the mothers. Think of their mothers!

No, I’m kidding. I didn’t think about their mothers at all. There was no time. It was one thing after another, and yet nothing happened. Getting serious for a second, you should actually know that the movie has absolutely no discernable plot and really only two characters. One of whom is essentially Mr. Thompson himself played by Mr. Depp, and the other his ‘attorney’ who is such a disgusting and gross dude that looking at him made me feel sick, let alone seeing him vomit repeatedly. So much throwing up. AGH. I know, I know, its all insane. Nobody is denying that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is insane. 

It almost pioneers that classic status of was-a-box-office-failure, but now-has-a-massive-cult-following. In other words, they made more money selling their posters and ‘directors cut’ DVDs than at the cinemas. Apparently it was originally advertised as a ‘wacky comedy’. HA. HA. HA. Those poor, unsuspecting ticket-buyers…

It is filled with good music references. Yes. It has some inventiveness. Yes. But if truth be told, it’s just not that good. I was a little bit bored, and I don’t think that was a unique response of mine. It is childish in the way it selfishly expresses itself and sits there demanding you pay attention, regardless of whether it’s actually interesting or not. I’m going to leave you with the mental image of massive human-like reptiles in a blood-filled orgy in a Las Vegas casino bar. Yeah.

Do I feel bad for choosing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as my first Hunter S. Thompson experience? Yes, yes I do. I have The Great Shark Hunt sitting here on my desk, and I could (read: should) have at least read some of his written work before watching the movie. It’s too late to dwell on it now though. 

I'll get back to you when I'm a little way through it.

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