If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Hey, I got a little manic energy in me and just saw Fear and Loathing for the first time (courtesy of a free Netflix trial), so I decided to do a small write up on the impressions this film just gave me.
I've never really heard much about this film before, although I have seen references to certain scenes that occur within the film throughout the Internet. I heard of a film that was about drugs and a road trip, which doesn't really appeal much to my tastes. The only reason I watched this was through an anonymous recommendation from another corner of the Interwebs. Hell, there's a good chance I could have never watched this movie.
And so I went into this film with pretty much no expectations. Five minutes into the film, I was completely drawn into the narrative. Ten minutes after that, I realized that the main character and narrator of the film was played by Johnny Depp, which once again blew me away. Depp typically has been typecast throughout much of his career in "Burton" roles, where he plays socially awkward, quirky characters bursting with various idiosyncrasies that cater to the Hot Topic crowd. I guess this didn't apply in '98, because Depp is powerful and persuasive through both his narration and through interactions with those around him. Not quite someone that you necessarily want to be, but at the same time can admire for his borderline reckless behavior.
This film also demonstrates that it can effectively show drug use as objectively as possible, something that easily would have stuck out like a sore thumb in a lower movie. Through Depp's perspective, he gives insight into why people were so into experimenting with drugs in the late 60's due to the current culture, and how horribly out of touch the mainstream was with the effects of drugs in the early 70's.
At the same time, however, the rampant abuse of drugs by both Duke (Depp) and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo (del Toro) always affect them in a negative manner, shown through wild hallucinations, an attempted suicide by Gonzo and a later robbery/assault of a waitress over a lemon meringue pie, as well as astounding levels of paranoia and impulsive action. Even though Depp's narrative voice never waivers in structure, he spends most of the movie under the influence of multiple drugs at once, essentially helpless in contrast to the well articulated and controlling tone of the narration.
All in all, this movie comes out against the American myth of being able to take shortcuts to get to an end result. There's a reason this film takes place in Vegas, where countless numbers of people are separated from their money for the near impossibility of landing the jackpot. Drugs also play this role, but instead of fiscal gain the users seek happiness and complacency. Ultimately, the drugs fail as a mechanism to happiness and wealth just as much as the casinos and clubs of Vegas.This really is sent home with the (near) ending narration of the film, which I'll quote for comparison. A quick *SPOILER ALERT* for anyone that hasn't seen the movie yet.
"We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel."
So those were just some of my basic thoughts. Anyone else have any views on the film?