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Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

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A portrait of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

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(screenplay), (writings)
5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself - Narrator
Joe Cairo ... New York Studio Shoot
David Carlo ... New York Studio Shoot
Victor Ortiz ... New York Studio Shoot
Gilleon Smith ... New York Studio Shoot
... New York Studio Shoot
Melissa Otero ... New York Studio Shoot - Typist
Pierre Adeli ... Taco Stand Shoot
Angela Berliner ... Taco Stand Shoot
... Taco Stand Shoot
... Taco Stand Shoot
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Oscar Acosta ... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself
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Storyline

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1965 to 1975, the film includes clips of never-before-seen (nor heard) home movies, audiotapes, and passages from unpublished manuscripts.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 Anonymous

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and some nudity | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

18 July 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hunter  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$191,942, 4 July 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,250,234, 9 November 2008
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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When the film mentions that Hunter Thompson had a crush on Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, archival footage instead shows the Airplane's first female singer, Signe Anderson. See more »

Connections

Features Breakfast with Hunter (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballad of a Thin Man
Written and performed by Bob Dylan
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User Reviews

 
A Post-Counter Culture Portrait of a Counter Culture Icon
6 October 2008 | by See all my reviews

In the sphere of all the memoirs collected in this post-counter culture portrait of a counter culture icon, narrated by Johnny Depp who played him to some extent in Terry Gilliam's film version of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, there was one issue I found noticeably absent: The reality of the unhappiness and suffering of this comic book character of a painfully vague crustacean. The film finds remarkable approach to the people involved in his life, but not even from his two wives do we get a picture of what he was like the inevitable physiological drawbacks caught up with him. He was plainly, intensely addicted to drugs and alcohol, and after a trance-like sleep not much different than passing out at the right time, he would have awakened in a mess of depression and alienation. What did he say on those mornings and afternoons? How did he act?

Of course, it is said during the film that he would drink all day or take drugs and there was no discernible effect. I don't think I buy that. What if it was a front? The main thing is, he wasn't killed by day-to-day simultaneous intakes of alcohol and pills, which can really tear up your head, which are said to cause a likelihood of seizures. He was killed by himself, which he himself scripted and all of his friends totally assumed would happen. He took every reckless risk there was to take, and he, not time or drugs or people, ended it all because his own agenda was dried out. As a journalist, for instance, he reported that at some point in a presidential primary Edward Muskie consumed Ibogaine, a psychoactive drug given out by a "mysterious Brazilian doctor," information which was entirely fictitious yet was actually learned and passed along as truth. Thompson's stunt may have been part of the cause of Muskie's furious irritability throughout the 1972 Florida primary. No other journalist could have carried such a fib, but Thompson was fortified by his myth that he could publish anything.

He was an unpredictable, nearly spellbinding writer, with a savage hilarity in his style. He was never aware of impartiality. In 1972 he backed George McGovern as the Democratic nominee, and no slander was too degraded for him to attach to McGovern's rivals in either party.

This documentary by Alex Gibney is notable, to begin with, for recapitulating to us through how many fires Thompson ran of his very own volition. He rode with the Hells' Angels for a year. Ran for sheriff and lost, but came in very close. Covered the 1972 and 1976 presidential primaries, and had an inexplicable personality, so that for instance McGovern, Tom Wolfe and his wives and son think of him lovingly, but also as enormously cruel and spiteful.

Nobody in the film was around while he was doing things that initially fortified him within the sphere of legend. He became celebrated for writing about that edge of speed going around a bend which you could never pass without killing yourself. He rode loads of edges on his motorcycle, and never got killed. He said persistently that the way he chose to go was by doing the job himself, with a gun, before his success declined. He died that way, using one of his 22 firearms, but he had most definitely declined by that time.

Without doubt he made an impact on his generation like not many other journalists ever have. This documentary is all you could wish for about the man's career and involvement with different people, but there is something at his core that we are inhibited from fully understanding for sure. And it results in you speculating on how so many people liked him when he didn't even seem to have liked himself?


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