Continuing my plan to watch every Johnny Depp movie in order, I come to Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)As someone who has never taken any none medically described drugs, this movie was never going to be my cup of tea. I considered it one of Depp's worst the last time I seen it (in the cinema in 1998) and not a lot has changed. Based on Hunter S Thomsons novel of the same name. This is just a mess, the movie pretty much repeats itself over and over as Depp and Del Toro take drugs, stumble into diffrent situations, wreak havoc, and go back to their hotel rooms. I can't fault Depp's performance, he'd already proved himself a talented actor by this point, and here (with a bald head, strange hats, big shades, and a cigarette holder between his clenched teeth) is no different, as he gives his all and totally immerses himself in his character. Much of the clothing worn by Depp in the movie were the real clothes Hunter S. Thompson wore in the '70s. Thompson himself let Depp borrow them for the movie, after Depp spent four months with Thompson learning his mannerisms and proper vocal inflection for the role.Benico Del Toro is fine as is Toby Maguire as a hitchhiker. Cameron Diaz, Gary Busey and Verne Troyer pop up as does a very braless Christina Ricci. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas grossed $10 million dollars at the domestic box office to not land a place on highest 100 grossing movie of the year list.
Two friends (?) go to Las Vegas, apparently to write an article, but mostly to do drugs. Not being in the most rational states of mind, the two have quite a few bizarre experiences that they vividly share.Not my cup of tea, not at all. Though I must say, they took the idea and really went for it. This is not done half-hearted, they have really gone all out to make a really bizarre movie. And I must appreciate Depps performance, who narrates all their experiences in a very detached way (albeit not being always so rational) giving a comic air to the setting. But the story contains too much misery and suffering to be entertaining.3/10
When it comes to Terry Gilliam, I noticed a strange pattern, either you have fans who claim this is the greatest movie ever, or one of the Top 10... or you have those who give it a 1 or 2, calling it a tedious mess. And the same goes with the movie "Brazil". Why do we feel the need to make these movies more brilliant than what they seem, just because Gilliam took artistic liberties, just because they deal with true, contemporary themes and just because they're trippy as hell, doesn't make them "masterpieces" for all that. Sure, they're "special", but "special" doesn't make a film "great" from beginning to end, with your eyes glued to the screen. There are two kinds of movies if you asked me, those where you press the pause button when you got to pee, and those where you don't care because you want to get through it or you know it won't make a difference, it's not like you're going to miss a big plot point. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was perhaps the only film that made more sense the less I saw from it, which is a unique experience in its own way. I didn't hate the film, it's well-done, well- made, fast-paced, and Depp is as funny as Del Toro is annoying but we don't see Del Toro much time so it's okay. I'm okay with the film because I try to look at the half-full glass. But Gilliam has a tendency to make the same point over and over again... and no matter how aesthetically stylish it is, redundancy can get on some people's nerves, even when they try to focus on the good parts. My favorite film is still "The Fisher King" and it could have done without the needless hallucinations (you know, the Red Dragon...). I have a feeling that Gilliam is one hell of a writer and filmmaker seriously, but sometimes, he's like his worst enemy. And movies like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" are kind of brutal, in the sense that they're confusing, but you're not even allowed to acknowledge it. I read all the comments, and it's like someone who thought the film was confusing as hell, just "didn't get it". Ebert takes a lot of the heat because he didn't get the film's brilliance. This is the man who considered "Leaving Las Vegas" the best film of 1995, "Crumb" was the second and the film also dealt with the influence of the LSD wave on American art in the 60's, Ebert also admired films like "Easy Rider" or "Apocalypse Now", he's a baby-boomer who gets more than any of us the pleas and pains of his generations, so I trust his capability to read between the lines and enjoy a psychedelic experience or a self-reflective portrayal of addiction that has a few social statement sot make. Maybe he did miss the point with "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", but I don't think the film ever has a point, it's about an experience, told from the same perspective by people living the same experience. It says a lot about but in such a way that it's only by going through the experience that you can appreciate it, it's a bizarre, tautological therefore pointless mess. I say 'pointless' because it's like the film is so intoxicated by its own exuberance, it doesn't even need an audience for that. It's like this guy who's being a total annoyance because he's too drunk, he makes unfunny jokes but he doesn't care because he's not aiming for laughs, he's wrapped up in his own twisted belief that he's the funniest guy in the world. So, you're the one supposed to drink so you can put yourself at his level and enjoy the jokes. I don't think a movie or any piece of art should rely its enjoyability on the use of some drugs or whatever to be fully appreciated. I don't think one should use tricks in order to enhance some creativity, if the real experience is integral to the one narrated through the film, what's the point? Now, I'm not trying to bash the film, if someone tells me it's a stinker, I'll probably defend it as a fan would do, but when I read that it's a masterpiece, I'm pointing out the weaknesses. I gathered that it was all about the self-reflexive experience, and there was no point other than the experience itself from these two guys' standpoint as a psychological microcosm of America's youth in the late 60's... but the film "Easy Rider" did pretty much the same thing without being too verbal or psychedelic in the treatment of the story. Gilliam is an artist, no doubt about that, and he's a man of fantasy, but fantasy is tricky: to make it work, you must treat it as seriously as another genre, if you handle fantasy in a fantasist way, it's very likely to disorient the viewers and undermine the fantasy meant as the core of the story, it's like directing style stealing the story's thunder.