Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 in Shit: For No Good Reason

For No Good Reason is a documentary about Ralph Steadman, who you better know as the illustrator affiliated with Hunter S. Thompson, or else this movie doesn't give a shit about you. Which, really, is fine, because it's an awful movie that you shouldn't give a shit about.

Some of his other work is mentioned (though never his illustrations for Flying Dog Brewery, which I thought a little weird), of course, but never without Johnny Depp hovering around, looking like he's constantly straining against falling into his Raoul Duke role. That might just be how Depp always is, though, I don't know. And honestly, by the time Depp starts interjecting his presence regularly, he's kind of welcome, if only because it is already painfully clear that this is a documentary that doesn't give the remotest shit about its subject.

Honestly, I didn't much expect to like this movie; I had the Thompson phase and everything, and I've always thought Steadman seemed fine, and occasionally even appreciated some of his work I've seen, but I would never have seen this were it not for a friend who wanted to go. He, too, hated it, though his was more out of disappointment than anything, I think. So there's that; even someone interested enough to invite other, less interested parties along didn't find much of anything worth anything here.

A lot of the issues I had with For No Good Reason -- aside from that it seemed fundamentally disinterested in Steadman as anything other than the closest thing they could get to making a Thompson documentary -- were in its creative choices, of which I can now remember very little. I do recall that the soundtrack was embarrassing, like the filmmakers thought borderline twee indie electronic music was still a thing people found remotely endearing. And that there were a number of animation montages -- often using one of Steadman's paintings as a starting point -- that were incredibly, almost hilariously, ill advised. I don't have an incredible amount of respect for Steadman's work, but even I felt embarrassed for the man.

My strongest memory of seeing the film was of being shushed, even though we were three of maybe seven people in some tiny theater that was showing it. There was a moment when, in mocking the choices of the filmmakers with the friend who had wanted to see it, I started to at least feel some empathy for Steadman, whose work does deserve better. But then someone got upset the theater was being used as a social space rather than a religious one and, since they have the backing of society and money (and politeness, I guess, whatever) in that particular argument, I shut back up and went back to resenting the whole experience.

So yeah. Don't see this shitty movie.

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