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Adam M. Goldstein
Fueled by a raging libido, Wild Turkey, and superhuman doses of drugs, Thompson was a true "free lance, " goring sacred cows with impunity, hilarity, and a steel-eyed conviction for writing wrongs. Focusing on the good doctor's heyday, 1965 to 1975, the film includes clips of never-before-seen (nor heard) home movies, audiotapes, and passages from unpublished manuscripts. Written by
This is an absorbing doc not only of the good doc but the whole counterculture that he championed in many ways. For all his excessive lifestyle that became almost a parody of the drug culture, he remained a true intellectual and anti-corruption/hypocrisy crusader. He embraced the vision of a new world not ruled by greed and war-mongering, and as early as 1971 proclaimed his great sadness that the movement and the moment of flower power had passed and with it the chance for sane politics. This moment was captured well in "Where the Buffalo Roam" starring Bill Murray as HST, which is given kind of short shrift in this documentary in favor of scenes from "Fear and Loathing Las Vegas" with Johnny Depp as HST. Considering that Depp produced and narrates the film as well as financed the grandiose send-off that Thompson envisioned for himself, it's not strange that Murray's portrayal would be downplayed, as excellent as it was (and Peter Boyle's as the Samoan lawyer.)
All in all, it is a well-balanced account of Thompson's life and work, with many pertinent interviewees like his two wives and son, Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone, Sonny Barger of the Hell's Angels, Jimmy Buffett, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan, Tom Wolfe, and various Aspenites. His passion and wit were undeniable, and his addiction to guns, booze and dope were in many ways forgivable. But his absence in today's disastrous political scene, his voice against war and corruption is sorely missed, and lamented by several of the interviewees. The parallels between Nixon and Bush are easily drawn, and "Gonzo" does this without hammering the point home except to exhort the audience to take up the fight that the Good Doctor waged in a seemingly crazy, but noble and honorable way for most of his life.
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