Friday, July 11, 2008

'Gonzo' review

At The American Spectator:
Neither mescaline nor LSD were available at the concession stand of the theater where I saw Alex Gibney's new documentary, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, so I had to make do with a couple of cold Coronas.
This dearth of hallucinogenic enhancement may explain why the film seemed to suffer from an excess of politics and a shortage of laughter. Or maybe not.
Gibney, who won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, his anti-war film about the death of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, seems determined to force the square peg of Thompson idiosyncrasies into the round hole of contemporary liberal passions. It's an awkward fit. At times, Gonzo seems more like a celebration of George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign than of Thompson's journalism career.
Please read the whole thing. I'm still not sure if there was ibogaine in the popcorn.

UPDATE: Gibney more or less admits to forcing HST to fit his narrative:
"I didn't know what we'd find when we were back there (to the late 1960s), but what we found was this eerie similarity between the conflict over the Vietnam War and the conflict over the Iraq war," Gibney said. "There's a character flaw American policymakers seemed to have -- believing that with a right application of force and a misplaced idealism, you can change the world and make it do what you want it to do."
Both Nixon and Bush "appeal to that aspect of the American electorate that Hunter Thompson understood: fear and loathing. People who are angry. Bush has that ability to manipulate the dark corners of the American id. People who feel they have been displaced, overlooked. Even though his economic policy rudders against them, he manipulates their anger and their fear in ways that don't represent their best possibility. And so, too, did Nixon. He was great at that. Compared to Bush, Nixon looks like an Athenian statesman."
Yeah, sure, fine -- but what the hell does that have to do with Hunter S. Thompson? The man was a reporter, not a political philosopher. And then there's this:
"Wouldn't it be interesting to do a film about a journalist who aggressively didn't play by the rules at a time when the people in power are manipulating reporters by forcing them to play by these phony rules?" Gibney said.
Pray tell, who are these "people in power," and how are they forcing reporters "to play by these phony rules?" Is he talking about publishers?

Frankly, I don't think Gibney knows anything at all about journalism. He's just one of these paranoid people who imagines a rich and powerful (and no doubt, Republican) "them" out there running the world. Which may explain why he's suing the distributor of his Oscar-winning anti-war documentary -- those sinister corporate thieves!

And good luck with that next film deal, after suing the distributor of your last film. Investors just love doing business with a lawsuit-happy crank.

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