search

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

Alex Gibney's Fast-Moving Portrait of the Incendiary Journalist

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Author Tom Wolfe, artist Ralph Steadman, actor Johnny Depp, and more family and friends remember Thompson's exploits in this entertaining documentary by the Oscar-winning director of TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE.
Review by David Edelstein, New York Magazine
Alex Gibney’s Gonzo: The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a tender, even-tempered elegy to a writer who at his peak could ingest staggering (literally) amounts of drugs and alcohol and transform, like Popeye after a can of spinach, into a superhuman version of himself—more trenchant, more cutting, more hilarious than any political journalist before or since. Writers of my generation rocked out to his prose. We dreamed of living that large. We drank whiskey from the bottle, gobbled down speed, and threw ourselves onto our manual typewriters. The upshot was posturing horseshit and trips to the emergency room. No one but Thompson succeeded in being at once so addled and so lucid—and after a while, tragically, neither did Thompson.

Gibney, who took home an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, his clear-eyed look at U.S.-sanctioned torture, sees Thompson as the kind of writer who, in a just universe, could have roused the populace to beat back the devil-bats Cheney and Bush. It’s good to recall how inspiring Thompson’s voice was in its prime. Although the readings by onetime Thompson impersonator Johnny Depp are a tad orotund, just hearing the words ibogaine and Muskie in the same sentence was enough to trigger my sense memories of laughing so hard at Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail I nearly swallowed my tongue. Footage of Thompson in his Hell’s Angels phase reminds you how many personae he straddled—the effete cigarette-holder freak and the hard-drinking motorcycle gunslinger. He was the most stirring advocate imaginable for George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, good men and true (both interviewed here), yet compared to Thompson rather limp fish.

Douglas Brinkley (biographer) and Timothy Crouse (Boswell on the campaign trail) do a neat job of putting the work in historical context, while his first wife, Sandy, evokes a life in the Colorado compound that was more guns than roses. I missed two things in Gonzo. There’s no mention of Thompson’s account of the ’72 Democratic convention machinations that won McGovern the nomination—a dispatch that proves how far a gonzo reporter can go when all the circuits are firing. The second is footage of Thompson in his last decades, when he was so arrogantly incoherent that even his most adoring fans were disgusted. Gibney probably thought such footage would be exploitive, but it’s part of Thompson’s legacy, too. And watching him try—and fail—to recover the glorious voice of gonzo can only deepen our awe at how high he flew for a time.


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

Fri October 17, 2008, 7:00 & 9:00, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2008, in English, Color, 118 min, Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and some nudity., 1.85 : 1 • official site

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Fri Sep 24, 2021

Repo Man

At Muenzinger Auditorium

Sat Sep 25, 2021

Walker

At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...