Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas

Viewed – 01 May 2014  Netflix 

There was something about this movie upon it’s release and over the years that has always made me stay away from it.  The bizarre appearance of Hollywood actor Johnny Depp as famed drug addict / journalist Hunter S. Thompson, the always cautionary ‘unfilmable novel’ cliché and then the combination of drugs and Terry Gilliam – one of the more out-there, albeit skilled surrealist directors around.  It seemed a bad combination.  Yet now with this challenge and as a long time admirer of the former Monty Python member, who still for me made the best time travel movie ever conceived (Twelve Monkeys) – this finally had to be worth a look, right?


Depp as mentioned plays Thompson, going under various names in a three day drug fuelled road trip to and through and back again from Las Vegas along with his attorney (Benicio Del Toro) to report on a motor cross race in the desert in 1971.  With a back drop of the Vietnam war, president Nixon and the hippy counter culture … this had plenty going on, but finding much entertainment in it was a struggle.  This was Gilliam on acid, and for a director who already is Tim Burton on acid – that’s saying something!  Hallucinations, a wealth of oddball characters, drugs, gambling, more drugs and basically two hours watching two utterly risible people not quite kill themselves (or anyone else they come across).  Depp’s performance is like a Tex Avery cartoon, over the top jittery, with a one tone drawl (not helped by the cigarette filter permanently hanging out of his mouth) and is loosely aided by an animalistic, borderline psychotic Del Toro.  Cameos by the likes of Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci and a nearly unrecognisable Toby Maguire prove fun … and a soundtrack covering (amongst others) classic hits from The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan turn out to be the biggest plus of this total head-f**k of an experience.  By the end credits I actually felt like I’d been on some sort of trip … and not a particularly good one.

Gilliam’s direction is technically impressive and truly creates the feeling of a doped out, paranoid and trippy journey complete with unconventional camera angles and bizarre effects work (hotel guests turn into reptiles and eat each other, or have an orgy – I couldn’t be sure) … so hat’s off to him for that, but I watch movies either to be entertained or to learn something … and I didn’t get much of either out of this.

Verdict:  2 /5

Top Ten Movie Crushes

Inspired again from a post over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger and further more from the idea posted over at Cinema Parrot Disco, here are my own (to best recollection) ten movie crushes … in no particular order.

Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation

Back when she was a little less glamorous, she is an image of innocent beauty, and makes for a great partnership with Bill Murray.  First Johansson film I ever saw too.

lost in translation

Winona Ryder in Reality Bites

So many images in this movie of Winona looking sassy, cool, beautiful … her hair, those eyes, and it’s a great romantic drama too.

reality bytes

Mila Kunis in Black Swan

Seductive and dangerous.  Kunis at her sexy best.

black swan

Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return (aka The Assassin)

Vulnerable, tough and sexy.  This role should have made her a star, but sadly the movie bombed.

the assassin

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary

Launched this quirky, gifted actress and as a more girl-next-door-type, exudes subtle sexiness and weirdness.  My kinda gal!


Marion Cotillard in Inception

DiCaprio’s phantom wife, seductive and deadly, but also tragic.  A great actress and such smoky eyes!


Katherine Isabelle in Ginger Snaps

One of the hottest actresses to ever turn into a revenant snarling wolf – Isabelle exudes sex and eroticism, whilst also being rather funny!

ginger snaps

Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns

Forget Anne Hathaway, THIS is the only Cat Woman the movie industry ever needed.  Part dominatrix, part tragic victim, and Pfeiffer at her sexy, beautiful best.

batman returns

Sandra Bullock in Speed

Again another first and launched the career of this very likable actress.  Looking her prettiest and girlfriend-like in this classic thriller.


Maggie Cheung in The Heroic Trio

Fell for her during my Hong Kong Action Cinema phase in the 90s … a stunning example of a hot female badass action hero!!  Oh and she’s a very good actress too, see ‘Hero’.

the heroic trio

So a few unusual choices there you might think, a few obvious ones but kind of sums up the kind of females I tend to crush over in movies.  Have you a list of your own?  Give it a go and lets see!!


Viewed – 23 June 2013  DVD

An interesting one, this… A remake of a 1966 comedy that starred Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine, boasts a screenplay by none other than Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit, Fargo, The Big Lebowski) and this time stars everyone’s favorite Englishman, Colin Firth.  Firth plays Harry Deane, an art curator who is planning on double-crossing his mean spirited boss (Alan Rickman) by conning him into buying a forgery of a Monet painting.  Roped into Harry’s nefarious scheme is Texan cowgirl PJ (Cameron Diaz).


I am not familiar with the original movie, but this was a fast, funny and sharp caper comedy in the style of 50s / 60s British movies like The Italian Job.  Firth is perfectly cast despite being obviously stereotyped, and Rickman is clearly having a ball as his pantomime villain boss.  Less effective is Diaz, seemingly wasted as a cartoon-like cowgirl with a grating Texan accent and zero depth.  The script, showcasing the Coen’s brand of oddball characters and snappy dialogue zipped by at a good pace though, with all three leads proving fun.  For this kind of material, over familiarity reared it’s head from time to time and for a Coen’s script, the comedy whilst effective, seemed a touch too farcical for such talents.

The real problem here though, is that both as a remake and as a British comedy (whoever may have written it) it just offered too few surprises, and I would have liked something a little more complex and clever.  Yet still see it if you like the cast and want an undemanding, but enjoyable evening’s viewing – just don’t go expecting anything fresh, new or particularly imaginative.

Verdict:  3 /5

Bad Teacher

Viewed – 13 April 2012  Blu-ray

Cameron Diaz for me has always been a rather underrated comedy talent.  Her break-out role in Jim Carrey’s The Mask remained memorable for more than just her perfect body in a figure hugging dress … and she cemented this glimpse of comedy in two Charlies Angels movies and of course There’s Something About Mary.  Yet this is one of her few leading roles, so can she carry a comedy by herself?  Let’s see…

She plays a junior-high school teacher who quits her job to marry a millionaire and is seemingly set for life.  That is until she is dumped on the eve of her wedding and has to return to teaching with her tail between her legs.  Hell bent on bagging the next rich man she can find, she soon attracts the jealousy of a rival teacher, and a battle of wits ensues.

Cameron is a foul-mouthed, pot smoking car-crash of a character and her mission is both sad and funny.  Her surrounding cast members (including Justin Timberlake) all play rather bizarre caricatures of squeaky clean teachers and fail to be anywhere approaching real.  Which of course makes Diaz’s character stick out like a sore thumb, firing off some quality comedy-swearing that often made me laugh out loud.  However, the story is nothing we haven’t seen done before and the likable gym-teacher love interest (Jason Segel) causes the story to become very predictable.  Yet this is energetic and fun, crude in places but also quite charming at times.  I wouldn’t say hurry to watch … but if you’re stuck for something, this passes the time well enough.

Verdict: 3 /5