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Capsule reviews #2

Well, it’s been awhile since the last podcast, and the movies are starting to pile up at my feet, so it’s time for another round of capsule reviews.

I’m going to do these a little differently this time. I often watch groups of movies that fit together. Sometimes it’ll be a bunch of westerns, or maybe some film noir. This time around, I’m going to talk about three pairs of films: two from the mind of Hunter S. Thompson, two more from Charlie Kaufman, and a couple of sci-fi classics.

… And maybe one more just for kicks.

The Rum Diary (2011) & Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)

Alright, let’s break this down. Both these movies are based on books written by Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Both books were fictionalized accounts of Thompson’s actual experiences. And both movie adaptations feature Johnny Depp playing a (sort of) journalist. Still with me? Awesome.

Watching these movies back-to-back was a strange experience. I’d seen Fear And Loathing previously, but I’m just now catching The Rum Diary on DVD. Both films are largely plotless, but while this works well for Fear And Loathing, it really doesn’t for The Rum Diary. Fear And Loathing makes up for its lack of story with oodles of drugged-out insanity as rendered by the demented mind of director Terry Gilliam. You might not like the film, but I defy you to find it boring to watch.

In contrast, The Rum Diary has a much more subdued esthetic. I get it, in a way. It’s set in San Juan in the late fifties. The whole atmosphere should seem sedate in comparison to seventies-era Vegas. But even taking that into account, this movie just feels dull, and there’s really nothing to distract you from the aimlessness of the plotting.

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