Rex Reed is film critic. To be honest, I had to Google his name and then I remembered that fact. Since I don't have time for pig-fucking recreants who never had the courage to write or act or paint or participate in the very medium they then attempt to criticize, I tend to forget they exist.
Reed is also gay. And possibly a racist (and couldn't be more wrong about Old Boy, one of the greatest revenge films ever made).
That last paragraph doesn't have anything to do with the price of butter, especially the bit about him being gay. And, also, Reed did appear in the screen adaptation of Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge, so perhaps he debunks my theory on being a critic void of firsthand knowledge on the topic he criticizes.
With all this said, however, when I read his review of The Rum Diary, I came to the conclusion he was, indeed, a pig-fucking recreant.
I watched the adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary tonight and though I'd agree that, like the book, not a whole lot happens, the movie was somewhat entertaining. Johnny Depp plays Thompson perfectly and they used some of the best quotes from the book. They also highlighted the theme perfectly. Summed up in the quote, “There is no dream—just a piss puddle of greed, spreading throughout the world." Christ, ain't that beautiful.
Honestly, however, the movie isn't close to anything offered in the book (but I don't want to get in the book to movie, movie to book contention). And the ending is cheesy and there is a lack of grit that doesn't translate and it's not polished. So, mostly, I agree with Rex on his idea that the movie was mediocre. It certainly wasn't the worst I've ever seen. I rate everything I see against Avatar, thus my Shit-Movie Tolerance Level (SMTL) is at unprecedented heights.
Reed can piss straight up a rope, however, for the latter half of this quote: "It’s all window dressing for an empty ruin, haunted by the hungover ghost of a mostly forgotten writer who died in 2005."
Mostly forgotten? Perhaps Reed is foreshadowing his own death. For to believe that Thompson is mostly forgotten is absurd. Regardless of whether The Rum Diary is a good movie (it's probably not), it's safe to say the book itself dwarfs any of Reed's own writing achievements. This goes without mentioning perhaps one of the greatest American novels ever written, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a book that acts as a startling portent for the tsunami of shit currently raining down on America. Thompson's achievements as a journalist, The Hell's Angels and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, and the countless articles in several magazines, are journalistic gold. Sure, his persona became larger than him and transformed him into a clown, but he's not mostly forgotten. And if he is, America is in deeper trouble than I thought.
I can live with Reed calling out Thompson fans, I guess: "To Hunter S. Thompson fans—little boys weaned on comic books who never grew up to crave bare breasts and bare-knuckle beatings—it’s a call to arms." But I'll be damned if he's gonna call Thompson a hack. From where I'm standing there's only one of those in this discussion and his name rhymes with Sex Weed.
I've printed this a couple times on this blog, but reading it one more time won't kill you. If this passage was written by a mostly forgotten writer, I surely hope I befall the same fate someday.
"Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.…
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket… booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change)... but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that…
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda.… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."