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

Directed by Alex Gibney



Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Directed by: Alex Gibney
(Mongrel Media)
Between 1965 and 1975, celebrated writer, exorbitant drug user and enthusiastic gun-nut Hunter S. Thompson embedded himself with the Hells Angels, ran for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, “invented” and popularized man-in-the-story gonzo-style journalism and covered one of the most fateful presidential races in US history (Nixon vs. McGovern, 1972). It’s unsurprising that most of documentarian Alex Gibney’s new film about the writer, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, chronicles Thompson’s comings and goings during those 10 crazy years. Heavy-handed musical choices aside---Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” plays as sheriff-candidate Thompson is described as a “crazy, bald, freak drug-fiend...about to take over the whole political mechanism”---when Gibney’s documentary focuses on this fertile period in Thompson’s life, it’s just as fascinating as its larger-than-life subject. The problem: One stretch of Thompson-time is so captivating that the film’s final half-hour, which skims through the 20 years between Thompson’s most productive writing decade and his 2005 suicide, feels like a letdown. “Went to live with Jimmy Buffett following a divorce” doesn’t have the appeal as “went to a Hells Angels party and saw a gangbang.”
Lindsay McCarney

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