watched this DVD three times in 49 Hours now. Y’know, once
as it is. Then with the extras. Then with commentary..(Commentary
by Director/producer; Wayne Ewing and
partly, by the star of the show himself, who leaves half way through
And…well. It is a lovely, exceedingly-watchable film. Goes
down smooth but satisfying. No fat on it...if anything it leaves
me wanting more. This film lingers in the palate of your heart and
mind long after it’s over.
And yet it’s such an straightforward and unadorned piece.
The camera work reminds me of the photographer William
Eggleston, in a way. Not visually but in the sense that it’s
almost as if the photographer isn’t there. We are watching
via the mirror in the Trailer, via the empty bottles in Hunter’s
kitchen, we are the clock face above the fireplace in Johnny
And speaking of décor, what I’ve just noticed is
that the background to the mainman of this picture hardly seems
to change…the location, the geography..…. The sets…
Wherever Hunter S Thompson is, it’s
like..It hardly matters, as he is the Sun of the room, all else
orbiting around him. So if he’s in a Film trailer with Johnny
Depp, Benicio Del Torro and Harry Dean Stanton.. (‘You look
like a ghost’ remarks the latter perfectly, commenting on
a lonely looking Polaroid of HST)…
Wherever we are, the background hardly changes…hardly matters..Hunter
is his own environment. He has become so much himself that wherever
he is, it is he. I reckon.
The effect of this is exactly what the title of this quietly masterful,
subtle and enduring film implies: After watching it, you do feel
as if you have had breakfast with hunter. I mean, breakfast with
anyone is a pretty intimate experience. And be glad you get to do
it with Hunter Stockton Thompson through this film, ‘cos in
everyday life, it’d probably become an endurance test that
only the blessed, strange and robust could acclimatise to.
(E.J. Carroll writes in her flawed by hugely readable Biography
of the Good Doctor that breakfast for hunter in the late 80’s
consisted of something like; ‘2pm; Dunhill 2:05 Coffee, 2:15:chivas,
2:20, first lines of coke; 2:25; Dunhills, 2:30; Orange juice, 2:35;
Dunhill; 2:40; Larger lines of coke; 2:45; Chivas; 3pm Marijuana
pipe etc etc)
(As to Hunter’s continuing existence, he advises doctor’s
to take him as an example and ‘study his habits, rather than
This is a rare film…Devoid of wanting to please in the crass
manner WE’VE BECOME ACUSTOMED TO….by which I mean, in
contrast to most of the pre-digested schlock that sewers up our
cinemas and our local branches of ‘Blockbusters’. What
we have here is subtle and endlessly interesting, almost seemingly
without effort. (the edits are so smooth as to be musical) It is
complex in its simplicity. By lingering on the hands and faces and
conversations of the people here, we get a film that is much more
sophisticated in it’s basic intent than all the Matrix movies
One of the things I like about Hunter (aside from his work. To
which end I actually think he’s an underrated writer) ….is
that Hunter is one of the few dudes still breathing during in my
lifetime who has a kind of genius for living…by this I mean
he seems to have recognized and made the effort to have lived HIS
On one level of this, obviously, the kind of diet/lifestyle in
evidence here is not for all. Observe; he has chivas and Ice as
a first meal and then grazes on the stuff day long while chain-smoking
constantly..(Interesting details for the ‘health’ conscious:
A lot of water in the ice and a filter on the fag).. And of course,
whatever else the Doctor of Divinity imbibes these days….
(By the way, if you want to see HST do coke, check out the Extras
section of the Excellent ‘Criterion’ edition of ‘fear
‘Breakfast..’ is candid but not that candid…(unless
that’s not salt in the shaker at the viper room)..And this
makes me wonder….Like when one sees old folks in the street..And
you think..’When was the last time they had sex..and did they
know it was the last time when they did..? One wonders; Does an
elderly dope fiend know at the time when he’s done his last
Artificial intoxicants aside, it’s real personal joy for
me in watching recent footage of HST, to behold someone who has
seemingly achieved ‘individuation’-a dude who has become
himself so completely.
This very sense of being has obviously spread through Owl farm
too..Like all great homes it appears as an extension of the person
who made it…Full of God and details, relics, skulls, talismans,
clippings, bottles, furs, 80’s telex and phone machines, beautiful
lamps, Guns and books, a huge Log fire, Knives and bones, broad
half shuttered windows, numerous pictures and Polaroid’s,
faded and otherwise..(If you have a ‘zoom’ on your DVD
you can explore at length and in detail-and for once, in having
the setting of Owl farm at Woody creek captured digitally, this
usually extraneous feature is useful).
Indeed, you hear Hunter talking in 1996 about having just rediscovered
the actual audiotape of his and Oscar’s now mythic journey
to Las Vegas in a bedroom drawer…after 25 years??
What other goodies would we find if allowed to roam, stoned, speeding
or tipsy through the compound..?
Well…You get a real idea of what could be unearthed, given
the chance, from this film.
Like the best art this picture triggers your imagination, works
with you, cajoles you, stokes you up…
Pivotal and classic scene: Film director Alex Cox. A guy whose
face, incidentally, I’ve always liked but which seems horribly
wrong in this setting, for some reason…
Anyway, Alex is supposed to direct ‘Fear and loathing in Las
Vegas’. It’s the Mid 90’s.he arrives in a pretentious
black cape with Co-writer Todd..(Also in Black cape, smock, Beret
et al-It seems they have come dressed as Jack the ripper’s
dentists or some such..).. We see Hunter cooking joyfully, Garlic
butter melting gorgeously on fat sausages in a pan. Outside the
kitchen window there are mountains through heavy snowfall..…The
genial host has music playing….a log fire roars in the hearth….How’s
that for a welcome?
(Alas-Turns out Alex and Todd are- (as am I), Vegetarians. So.
In which case. Why do they allow Hunter, in chef mode, to talk them
through the Sausage cooking ritual only to then refuse ‘em)??
A wrong start indeed. Anyhoo. Alex and Todd become fixated on
an idea they have for the Fear and loathing film that involves DR
Gonzo being swept about on a cartoon wave.
HST is almost instantly and violently opposed to this idea, making
comic light as it does, of one of the most fundamental and timeless
pieces of his writing, period.
(The ‘waterline’ Speech).
And yet Cox refuses to back down, indeed seems to want to provoke
Hunter, going so far as to invade his personal space, while becoming
almost condescending and patronizing of the author. It’s a
perverse and odd manner Alex has here. Insulted and wounded, HST
loses his temper and the gruesome twosome flees into the night,
Black cloaks flapping Crow-like, as the Doctor rages tactfully into
his agent’s answer machine. (Speaking of animation, as the
argument built, I almost expected Alex and Todd to morph into giant
animated Ravens before flying away cawing into the snowy night).
It’s a great piece of cinema, a genuinely disturbing scene
and excruciating to watch. You will chew your fist in embarrassment
This is indeed, the high ‘Watermark; scene of the movie,
it’s highest dynamic, also illustrating the myth of hunter.
Even when insulted in his own home he remains reasonable and in
control. In fact, It’s almost a disappointment not see him
bring out a handy cattle-prod and manipulate Cox’s unique
facial features into even more complex arrangement than as is.
What more do you want? We get other writers in conversation with
HST, friends over reading from ‘Screwjack’ (Don Johnson
beckoning madly for a drink as he recites the poetic ‘bestiality’
piece from said book)…. there are even Dolphin’s in
We meet Juan, Hunter’s son, who comes across as an almost
Zen like chap, radiating peace and nobility. In some sense I imagine
him older than his dad. If Hunter is, as he believes, to be reincarnated,
he will surely be reborn as his own son.
I’ve said enough. You get the idea. I liked this film, it
made me happy.