Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot Documentary: "Gonzo-The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson"

"The Edge... The only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over." 

"It never got weird enough for me."

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's extraordinary and outrageous life ended on February 20, 2005, when he stuck a shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger.  Friends and family were saddened but not surprised- apparently, he'd been talking about committing suicide for years. He felt that his best work was behind him and was plagued with health problems which were undoubtedly brought on by his hedonistic lifestyle.  

Alex Gibney's documentary is narrarated by Johnny Depp (hotness to the highest degree) and paints a loving yet searingly honest depiction of the brilliant and batty writer who created "Gonzo Journalism." 

A rebel of the highest order, Dr. Thompson became an unrepentant miscreant at a young age and spent his high school graduation in the slammer for being an accessory to an armed robbery.  His writing career began shortly thereafter and his big break came when Carey McWilliams, editor of The Nation,  offered Hunter the opportunity to write a short-story about the infamous and much reviled Hell's Angels.  

Hunter took the assignment and after several months with the Angels, suffered a group "stomping" and was ejected from their ranks.  The book was later published and entitled: Hells' Angels-The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.  Hunter's novel took off with the critics and soon he was able to provide articles to well-known magazines, most notably, Rolling Stone, from which he would create his most beloved novels, Fear and Loating in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.' 72.

From here, the documentary takes us on a riveting journey of Hunter's "Battle of Aspen", his attempt to run for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado under the "Freak Ticket."  He promised to decriminalize drugs and rename Aspen "Fat City" in a effort to keep greedy investors at bay. He did not win the election, but wonderful footage of Hunter, bald, bewigged and wrapped in an American flag remains.  

This film was so enjoyable, I watched it twice.  It is chock-full of fascinating and funny interviews with Tom Wolfe, George McGovern, Jan Wenner and Pat Buchanan (!), to name a few.  Hunter's excessive drug use and love of guns are all covered here, in rare film footage captured from his Owl Farm compound in Colorado.   We also get to hear Hunter talk about his limo-ride interview with Richard Nixon in which they discussed nothing but football.  Hunter later stated that though his interview with Nixon was lively and pleasant, he could feel that this was an "evil man."

Beneath the "Gonzo" exterior loomed the heart of a true, yet twisted humanist who had great faith in the '60's counterculture movement but became a casualty of the free-love lifestyle.  He was a curious juxtaposition of rivaling ideologies- an avid hunter, gun and explosions freak who wept when he saw the devastation of the Chicago race riots and George McGovern's loss of the Presidential race to Richard Nixon. 

Dr. Thompson was such an interesting and dynamic character that this documentary should be entertaining to everyone, even those who know nothing about his life and work.  Hunter was a very, very hot man, indeed.  Dangerous, sexy, smart, rebellious and hilarious, Hunter embodies the forbidden fruit hangin' off the tree that causes you to re-think following the rules of the Garden of Eden.  

Be sure to watch Alex Gibney's wonderful documentary and feel free to drool over the pics of Dr. Thompson.

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