BUY A TICKET, TAKE A RIDE: THE LIFE OF HUNTER S THOMPSON ON FILM (dir. Tom Thurman, USA, 2006)
Billed as "The closest most of us will get to the cerative genius of the mad gonzo journalist," this hagiographic biopic about journalist and author Hunter S Thompson was, for me a disappointment. While it certainly lived up to its subtitle by giving us a cavalcade of movie stars and film critics reminiscing about their friendships with Thompson, it never really gave us a sense of the man beneath the persona. Nor did it present anything other than a portrait of the man as a loveable rogue. Where was the other point of view - from the son who grew up with an unpredictable alcoholic father, or the literary critics who deem has contribution to the literary canon as forgettable or uninspired? Not in this film, that's for sure.
It also suffered somewhat from a muddy soundtrack, which for me at least rendered some of Hunter's own clips and conversations barely audible (although this may be more the fault of the soundtrack in the increasingly decepit Greater Union theatre: MIFF staff, please find another venue to use!) and - ironically enough in a film about gonzo journalism, a rather pedestrian approach to interviewing its subjects. Interspersing their reminiscences with film clips of Bill Murray from Where The Buffalo Roam (1980) and Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas (1998) playing the good doctor could not detract from the fact that, in the end, most of the film was a cavalcade of talking heads. Quite frankly, there are more interesting ways to explore the life and legacy of a writer of Hunter s Thompson's calibre and eccentricty.
Buy a Ticket, Take a Ride: Two stars