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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Criterion Collection)
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Depp/Del Toro/Maguire/Barkin/Helmond ~ Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
Criterion's high standards get even higher with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. "Hunter Goes to Hollywood" is a fascinating 1978 segment of the BBC's Omnibus series, following "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thomson and artist Ralph Steadman on a Fear and Loathing-like odyssey to La-La-Land; a visit to Thompson's Aspen, Colorado, ranch offers ample proof that Johnny Depp's later portrayal is uncannily accurate. All three commentaries are worthwhile for different reasons: as always, Gilliam is intelligent, mischievously subversive, and defiantly protective of Thompson's source material; Depp and Benicio Del Toro offer passionate perspective on tackling their demanding roles without drugs; and producer Laila Nabulsi chronicles her 10-year effort to get the film made (including the protracted writer's credit arbitration). Thompson's commentary is the least coherent but most entertaining; with occasional whoops and hollers, he's like a stand-up act for acid freaks, dispensing occasional pearls of wisdom. Another excellent feature is Depp's reading of correspondence with Thompson; in emulating his friend, Depp proves himself to be a fine writer and storyteller. Taken together, these and other features make Criterion's DVD an essential addition to Thompson's literary legacy. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
Fear & Loathing is largely a plotless film; two men go on a drug binge in Las Vegas for a weekend. Thats it, scenario after scenario of hallucinations and drugs. This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing, it simply is; we watch these men and laugh at them, but ultimately the film ends up amounting to nothing. We are the same at the end of the picture as we were at the beginning, without anything added or subtracted from out lives.
In my opinion this is cinema as an art form; can we define what a film is supposed to do? Fear & Loathing does what Fellini did with 8 1/2; it creates a film that ultimately leaves meaning to the viewer. There isn't a lot there to engage, so throughout the film we find means of engagement in it. Sure it works as a comedy on a basic level (as does 8 1/2), but to get depth and meaning from the film we must create it, and to me Fear & Loathing provides us with an opportunity to do this, without telling us how to think about it.
I guess thats my take on it; it certainly is not for everybody and many people would give it a 1/10 in all fairness. Others would give it a 10/10, and they would be also fair to the film. Fear & Loathing is just very subjective, and any honest opinion formed on it is basically pretty accurate.Read more ›
An overall wonderful experience. First, the packaging: superb. Criterion is always good at packaging their DVDs and this is one of my favorites. On the inside is an essay by a film critic and two discs. The first has the film, newly remastered under the supervision of Gilliam, along with three commentary tracks: by Gilliam, Depp and Del Toro, and Hunter S. Thompson. Wisely, they had someone interview him most of the time since he's obviously a bit of an oddball and would be prone to sitting there and saying nothing.
The second disc has some extraordinary specials, including an old BBC documentary about Thompson (whose semi-truthful novel this is based upon), TV spots, the theatrical trailer (with optional commentary by Gilliam - which I've never seen before), poster and photo galleries, Hunter Goes to Hollywood (an amusing short documentary about Thompson visiting the set of the film), a selection of somewhat bizarre letters between Depp and Thompson that date back to the pre-and-post-production of the film (Depp reads all of them to the camera for us).
Overall, one of the best DVDs I own. The film isn't a classic, per se, but it IS enjoyable. I'm sure part of my appreciation for it comes from this superb DVD, which is one of the finest I own in terms of special features.Read more ›
The whole film it feels like you're watching some insane carnival ride which on one level is appealing yet is also dangerous as the film descends to the level of farce, and you feel no real emotion for Thompson or Oscar.
Another danger of course is the drug use is trivialized, Hunter s. Thompson says 'hey drugs worked for me', yet having seen several of his interviews and documentaries its painfully obvious thats drugs HAVEN'T fully worked for Mr. Thompson.
He has a cruel streak a mile wide, he is often paranoid, his motors too big for his boat so to speak. I'm not condemning Hunter S. Thompson, perhaps he's aware of what drugs cost him and thinks on balance that it was worth the price. I'm not sure. There is always a price though and that point doesnt come across in the film.
Though its hard to argue he abused the enhanced consciousness drugs gave him, perhaps the ugliest part of a drugged up Thompson and Oscar was the way they often sensed peoples weaknesses and preyed on them like vultures. Total abuse of consciousness.
That part of my review may sound overly critical of the film and Thompson but it had to be said. As far as the film goes, the cinematography and visuals are absolutely stunning, the acting of Depp and Del Toro and the supporting cast with a few exceptions are first rate. The film is extremely entertaining of that there is no doubt. The dialogue creates a sense of the surreal, however unfortunately no depth of feeling shines through the surreal.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
One hell of a movie! Great performances by Depp and Del Toro. Gilliam's directing is near-perfect. The soundtrack is outstanding. Read morePublished on June 6 2010 by gilles
When this movie first came out it got such lousy reviews I didn't watch it at first but did end up renting it. It has now become one of my favoritesPublished on Sept. 11 2004 by Kilgore
The first time I started to watch this movie I got a big headache. At my friend's urging I watched it again, and still got a headache. Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by Dominic
This version of the DVD is worth it simply for the extra features on the disc. The movie disc itself includes THREE separate commentary tracks, one with director Terry Gilliam, one... Read morePublished on June 20 2004 by Eric Remer
Wow, Criterion really outdid themselves on this DVD.
While I really enjoy the movie, especially Johnny Depp's incredible performance of Hunter S. Read more
I'm a huge fan of the book, and got the DVD with only modest expectations. This is one shining instance where the DVD adds color to the book, without changing the internal... Read morePublished on June 6 2004 by therosen