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

Posted July 10, 2008 in Film

Alex Gibney’s documentary skims over the last two decades of Hunter S. Thompson’s life, explaining that he had succumbed to his own mythos, lost his gonzo mojo, and written little of merit excepting a 9/11 piece—penned that same morning—which presaged, well, everything in the next seven years. By that logic, he died decades before his suicide, which even by friends like artist Ralph Steadman was greeted with a resigned “It’s about time.” Gibney can’t decide if he’s making a eulogy for fans or a primer for acquaintances. Though talking heads like Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, and—special guest—Pat Buchanan aren’t effusive in their praise (for that matter, neither are Thompson’s ex-wives or son), that’s to be expected for the man who once remarked that “Most people are surprised I can walk on two legs.” Still, the tone is that of triumph, deserved certainly, but here whose reasons for which are underbaked. Long stretches are devoted to four periods in Thompson’s life: his time with the Hells Angels (so hard they tongue kissed each other for shock), his time with the Vegas tweakers, his campaign for mayor of Aspen, and his passionate political firebranding on behalf of McGovern’s 1968 campaign. The chunky doc would have been better served expounding on only one or two—my vote going for his role as governmental provocateur, knowledge of which I’m still thirsty for, unlike his dalliances with hallucinogenic lizards which have long had the sour staleness of a hangover. (Amy Nicholson)



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