|Index||6 reviews in total|
I just watched an early screening and this film really works as the story of a visionary artist of his time, using animation and interviews the film zips along his timeline with humour and insight.Johnny Depp plays it straight brilliantly and some of the music really works with the pace of the film. i really recommend this film for anyone who is interested in the whole Gonzo idea. Richard E Grant-add words of insight Terry Gilliam and Jan Wenner add their bit but the real star of the film is Ralph himself. Telling stories and memories the great artist guides us through sometimes difficult observations of the way we have been conducting our lives, his savage pen perfectly accompanies these raw words of truth about poverty, America and his friends, a really entertaining watch.
Review: I really enjoyed this documentary about the extremely talented
artist, Ralph Steadman, who has a very unique style of
painting/drawing. A lot of people have seen his work on the Withnail &
I and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas covers, but he hasn't really became
an household name. After seeing his amazing work in this documentary,
which shows Ralph Steadman being interviewed by Johnny Depp who was the
main character in Fear & Loathing, you can't help thinking that he is
extremely under rated which is probably due to his personal political
views. This movie gives an in depth look about the thought process
behind his work and the strange but wonderful relationship between
Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson. I think that the director done a great
job with this documentary, and for someone that had never heard of
Steadman before, I will definitely look out for his previous and
present work. Enjoyable!
Round-Up: The way that the director was able to use Ralph Steadman's work to put it into mini cartoons, was brilliant and to see Steadman create a painting from just flicking the paintbrush onto a blank piece of paper, really does show how talented the man really is. The different techniques that he uses to come of with some amazing paintings, was an eye opener, but it's a shame that no one has really heard of him. In the art and movie world, he does seem to be well known and respected but I really didn't have a clue about his work before I saw this documentary. Anyway, it's worth watch if your interested in this type of thing, but I'm sure that some people would find it boring if they were looking for entertainment.
Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $67,500 (Deserved more!)
I recommend this movie to people who are into documentaries about art and who have seen some of Ralph Steadman's terrific work. 6/10
Johnny Depp, who is intriguing himself, seems to collect other
intriguing people as friends. This documentary is about his friend
Ralph Steadman, the artist who collaborated with Hunter S. Thompson and
did a range of other fascinating work including illustrations for
Steadman demonstrates his creative process, discusses his love/hate relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, and talks about what he was and still is trying to achieve with his art.
If you enjoy explorations into the intimate, fascinating details about artists and their work, you will love this film. If you've read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it will be all the more interesting.
I appreciated that Johnny Depp remained as invisible as possible, making sure Ralph Steadman took center stage. By the end of this movie, I was fascinated by the artist, and I am planning to view some of the books he has illustrated.
Detailed documentaries about artists and their thought processes are not for everyone, but if you are fascinated by this type of film, you will not be disappointed in this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most recognized artists of a generation whose artwork has
sparked debate, protests, and change is still very alive and well.
Coming across as the horror version of Michelangelo, Ralph Steadman is
still producing great artwork and has allowed a husband-wife
producer/director team to film a documentary on his life and art.
Steadman is now 77 years old and lives with his family in a nice villa
in the countryside of England where his fellow friend Johnny Depp came
over and played the role of interviewer during this 80 minute
Steadman is perhaps best known for his work with his long time friend and collaborator - Hunter S. Thompson, where Steadman would illustrate his gonzo- journalistic articles with his big splashes of ink on every canvas. You would perhaps immediately recognize his work from 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. The documentary is called 'For No Good Reason' and is a quote from Thompson, as this story unfolds more like an examination on Steadman's art rather than his life.
We see Steadman paint as Depp asks him fanboy questions, other celebrities pop up including, Terry Gilliam and Richard E. Grant, and of course some archival footage and interviews with William S. Burroughs, Steadman, and Thompson. But what lacks in this documentary is a true look at the man Steadman himself, as nothing is covered of his political, social, or religious issues that his artwork has shown over the years. Even his depression is not covered and Depp doesn't dive deeper when Steadman gives him a hint of something of any real value. Steadman's family and friends who are over most of the time, are not interviewed or even rarely seen on screen here either.
It would have been nice to see some interviews from his close family. Instead, get a glimpse of his artwork - old and new. It was quite cool to see him start a piece from scratch and finish it, and to see just how free form it all is, as he paints in his garage. A good chunk of the film covers the relationship between Steadman and Thompson who famously had a rough and rowdy relationship, even up until Thompson's suicide in 2005. But their teaming up together over the years certainly made for some excellent work.
It was nice to see that Steadman allowed the filmmakers to keep in his and Thompson's last conversation in which Thompson berated Steadman for succeeding in his career. Not all of Steadman's work is covered here, for instance we don't get any info or visuals on his Sigmund Freud work, but get to see some of his vulgar Leonardo Da Vinci art. A lot of the film is over-layed with an indie rock soundtrack, which at times drowns out the dialogue from the interview subjects. It was a strange decision to use this technique, as if the director's didn't want us to hear what Steadman was saying.
There is some great animation of his artwork throughout and it is just fun to see Steadman still working. Depp being in the film will certainly turn on the main-stream crowd into seeing this, but I think the film could have been better without him it. This is certainly not the ultimate take on a brilliant and great artist by any means, but 'For No Good Reason' is a visually stunning documentary that is entertaining and fun to see the old interviews of Thompson and Steadman yelling at one another. And yes, Bill Murray does show up here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
11 Ways to Look at For No Good Reason
1. Charlie Paul's film is about the life and work of Gonzo cartoonist Ralph Steadman. To make his case as an artist the film cites Picasso and Bacon, but his real progenitors are Hogarth and Grosz. Maybe Paul didn't trust his audience to know really old art history. 2. In his seminal partnership (see below) with Hunter S. Thompson Steadman pioneered the new style of journalism in which the reporter becomes the story. That begat today's newspapers where personal opinion columns drown out hard investigation. The new extreme is the internet where everyone can air an opinion however tenuously connected to fact or to history with equal authority. Check the debates on Gaza to see how hopeless this miasma of bigotry, misinformation and righteousness has become. (That's not in the film but neither am I.) 3. It's a fascinating demonstration of the process of art making. Still cartoons become animated. We watch a complex work grow out of a few improv splatters. For Steadman, the artist shouldn't know where the work will end up. He just starts something and follows it to its peculiar end. Making art is making a discovery. Or it should be. 4. It celebrates the freedom of art. Steadman violated every convention in the book, not just in art but in the manners of culture. Thus a gentle mild-mannered man could unfurl a massive attack upon bullying and the suppressive whims of authority. Nixon was a ripe subject. 5. That rebellion is specifically masculine here. For the splatter artist the ink is like the urine or semen the macho strut will spray at the world. Hunter and Ralph are the Butch and Sundance of especially the 70s countercultural scene. The couple are so tight we're surprised to learn Thompson had a wife, who was on the phone when he shot himself. Talk about a hangup. The film celebrates the artist as dominantly male, an obsolete but continuing myth. 6. It's incidentally about the nature of wildness or madness. Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner surprisingly concludes Steadman was wilder than Thompson. The former's imagination took him to further out and darker places than the latter's pranks could. 7. It's an album of those heady 70s when William Burroughs wrote gonzo literature and presided like an Athenian god (of opiate dignity) over the counterculture. 8. It's about Johnny Depp's friendship with Steadman. The film is structured as the two friends' visit. Maybe pretty boy Depp will broaden this arcane documentary's box office. But he's a legitimate participant. Having played Thompson in a film his presence signifies Thompson's mythic afterlife, as his arms full of tattoos embody Steadman's ink paintings. In both senses Depp brings the idea into flesh. Well, into the image of the flesh. 9. It's a reminder that the realism of a documentary is essentially a pretence. This is about Steadman but it's very much a film with a point of view and with as many overlaid themes as any fictional drama would carry (see above). There is nothing objective or purely factual about this film, nor need there be. Just remember that in a documentary as in a fiction there is a calculated purpose, inferable from what is included and what is omitted. Also, some scenes are played with actors. In that spirit Steadman says his drawings distort the subject but remain true representations. 10. Does the explosive unconventional artist inevitably sell out? The master of violent indecorum lives on a posh country estate (that few cartoonists in real life could afford). How he got that pad is framed out. But the film has a suggestive narrative frame. It opens with a small image of a taped Steadman talking about the making of this film. The image swells to fill/become the whole screen. The last image is of a small cut-out Steadman standing in front of a picture of that estate. The image takes him from flat to 3-D but also from an image of the real to an image of the palpably artificial. This follows scenes of Steadman signing huge editions (over 800) of "prints" of his work. They are described as "originals" because they are individually signed and numbered. But that doesn't make them "originals." An original would be a work that is conceived and made specifically for its medium, e.g., lithography stone, silkscreen, woodcut, etching plate, etc. The vaguer "print" suggests these are photographic or digital reproductions of drawings, not originals at all. They are "after" an original, and consequently of reduced value. It's disappointing to see our profound rebel cashing in so cheaply. Not that the "prints" sell cheaply. He's charging for his signature not his art. In some distant cemetery I can hear Hunter S. Thompson spinning but whether he's complaining or applauding I can't tell. 11. Then there's the title. Thompson would invite Steadman on an assignment "for no good reason." But there was a good reason an offbeat adventure that might lead to experience and art and at the very least as they played it both men's swaggering display. But art is made for no good reason, for itself not for any more practical beyond. Unless of course you start selling your signature on its copies for big bucks. That's not a good enough reason. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.
Documentaries About Artist are Not that Common, and They Should be.
Most Artist Linger in Semi-Obscurity Even if They have Attained a
Modicum of Money, Fame, or Admiration and Recognition. A Good Bit of
the Time there are Splashes in the Public Eye, but Unless the Work is
in a Sort of Popular Culture Saturation, it is Unlikely that Any Given
Artist, Outside the Bubble of a Particular Field, Comic Books, for
Example, a Particular Artist Remains Relatively Unknown.
Documentaries Can Flesh Out the Person Behind the Art, at Least a Little Bit, and Can Shed Some Insight and Light While Giving a Platform for the Art to be Exposed in Heaps for Ninety Minutes or So. Aside, from a Coffee Table Book that Includes Pages and Pages of Artwork, a Docu-Film will Most Likely be Seen by More People than Buy the Book.
So Here is Ralph Steadman. Who, You Say? Exactly. Unless You were a Reader of Rolling Stone Magazine in the Seventies, or a Fan of Gonzo Journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Steadman has Remained in the Aforementioned Obscurity. Pink Floyd's Movie The Wall (1982) Featured His Artwork on the Poster and in the Film, via Animation. But that's About the Extent of His Explosion of Exposure.
Not that it is Insignificant, Much to the Contrary, He and the Good Doctor, Thompson, Defined Gonzo Journalism, and Tried to "Change the world!", a Phrase that Steadman Utters at Least Three Times in the Documentary and in the End, at Age 76, Seems Disappointed that Most of What He Tried to Change, Remains Unchanged.
The Fancy Film from Director Charlie Paul is Filled with Enough Interesting Anecdotes and Surprisingly Rare and Old Archival Footage, a lot with Hunter. It Also Includes Interviews with Other Folks who have Worked with Steadman and it is All Anchored with Johnny Depp, Long Time Friend and Fan. Terry Gilliams Movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) is Based on the Book by Thompson that Included Illustrations by Steadman and May be the Artist Link to Moderns with the Most Resonance.
Overall, a Must See Movie for Lovers of Art, the Sixties Counter Culture, Hunter S. Thompson, and to Get an Introduction to One of the Most Bizarre and Powerful Political Artists of Our Time. His Work and Some of His Unique Mystique and Technique, Much on Display Here, can be Admired and Studied.
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