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DVD Reviews

Feb 16, 2012
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By Jared Curtis

‘The Rum Diary’

Directed by Bruce Robinson

Rated R, 120 minutes

Back in 1998, Johnny Depp unleashed a performance in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” as Raoul Duke a.k.a Hunter S. Thompson, that took film fans by storm. In “The Rum Diary,” Depp is once again playing an alias of Thompson, but he’s playing the man at the beginning of his writing career. Depp shines as Paul Kemp, an American journalist who travels to Puerto Rico in the 1950s to work for a newspaper. While there, Kemp becomes intoxicated not only by the rum, but also by an American beauty (Amber Heard), the girlfriend of a scheming land developer (Aaron Eckhart). Although that is the main storyline, the time Kemp spends with a local photographer (Michael Rispoli) and a local drunk (Giovanni Ribisi) are the best moments of this uneven film. “The Rum Diary” does have some bite, but still manages to go down smooth. CV

‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’

Directed by Terry Gilliam

1998, Rated R, 118 minutes

Although Johnny Depp seems to create unique characters with every film he does, he’s never been better as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. And even though he plays him as halfway sane in “The Rum Diary,” he went full crazy for his role in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Depp shines as Raoul Duke, who is on assignment in Las Vegas to cover a desert race. Although he does do some reporting, Duke spends most of his time in a drug-enduced haze with his confidant and attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), described as “too weird to live, and too rare to die.” The duo gallivants around Las Vegas attracting weirdos while trying to avoid bat country. But it isn’t until they hit Circus Circus — with a rag of ether — when the fun really begins. Unleashing craziness at ever corner, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is pure chaos, just like the writer it’s based on. CV

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