The new mesmerizingly dense documentary from Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) examines a maverick, highly drug-addled journalist with plenty of psychological turmoil that ultimately lead to suicide in 2005. It will resonate most with Hunter S. Thompson supporters as it invites the willing to "buy the ticket and take the ride."
In Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson there is much going on to see how he flourished with his arcane razzmatazz learning to write by repeatedly typing "The Great Gatsby". He would quickly take his life in the fast lane as fame would bring him distress with Gibney referring to him as an "agonized human being."
The Kentucky-born author brought much exposure to "Rolling Stone" with his articles inaugurating an outrageous political tone with authentic pungency. He was one of the few of his kind to do much on the political and social fronts. Jimmy Carter and Pat Buchanan were into his work and other politicians like Gary Hart and George McGovern are among the many talking heads who put into perspective his rippling, if somewhat fantastical pieces.
Gibney knows he can't get all the way inside a person who had two movies made on his life, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which starred big admirer Johnny Depp who provides solid narration. The transgressive, rabble-rouser is given the even-tempered treatment from the likes of Jimmy Buffet and Tom Wolfe known for infectiously taking on the establishment. This captivating cinema verite brings one back to the 1968 Democratic National Convention and Hell's Angels.
Later in life as he lived in Colorado, Thompson became obsessed with guns and was driven to irate fits. Being without a father as kid obviously affected a man as there are interviews with his first wife, widow, and son Juan. To his credit, Gibney uncovers some humanity within all the anxiety and enormous drug dependence as Gonzo clearly reflects the legend (to some) and a sad soul who touched many in the world of politics and art.
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