Tuesday, April 20, 2010

581 - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas review



Doesn't tripping acid look just awful? At least that's what I thought during Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," an oft-loved but perhaps little celebrated piece of drug paraphernalia that makes the act of chemical insanity look, well, insane, and saps the fun out with it. Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro play Hunter S. Thompson and his attorney, who ingest a suitcase full of drugs and wash it down with a case of beer during a stay in the titular city. I may stand corrected, but this is perhaps the only studio picture out there filmed entirely from the perspective of a narcotic haze, the dial turned to 11 for every second of the

There's a reasonable talent that goes into producing these lengthy sequences of hyper-intoxication, but much like the many actual drug abusers I've met myself, they're under the false impression that their delirium is vastly more fascinating than it actually is. What seems interesting to them, such as endless ruminations about narcotic impacts and streams of aesthetic non sequiturs, quickly get boring to those outside of the club. It's a lot more fun to feel the heat of drink than to observe its effect on someone else, something that translates well to screen, as the pair's adventures have that grinding loop effect of spending an evening with drunks without taking a sip. The partiers think they're doing something really original and fun, but only because they're in the bubble.

The film's most interesting flourish is a cameo by Gary Busey, perhaps one of the few major Hollywood actors who could identify quite well with the film's look and tone without the lubrication of a controlled substance.

2 out of 5

2 comments:

Kevin J. I. Keller said...

This in one of two common reviews that I hear about this film. Like you stated there is a club, and if you're not in it then you don't get "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".

One thing you neglect to do is to account for the films translation from novel to silver screen feature. Considering the know limitations of such a production, this film work is an amazing perspective of the book.

A big dividing point between the book and the film: the book doesn't force drug induced images on the audience. The book, simply put, pointedly grasps a drunken hallucinated perspective in a brilliantly entertaining text.

It might be interesting for you to explore this and other book film franchises: Jurassic Park, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings.

Maybe you could even get some comment from Johnny Depp on Fear and Loating in LV and Alice in Wonderland. He acted in each and actually lived with Thompson for a while.

James said...

Hey Kevin, I'll confess that I'm unfamiliar with the source material. I did read "Hell's Angels" some time ago but there seems to be a decent different. I'll also confess that I usually haven't read the book first before seeing practically any film, though there are exceptions, such as "The Postman Always Rings Twice." I tend to mention it when I do.