Rum Diary (2011)

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Rum Diary: Directed by Bruce Robinson. With Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard. American journalist Paul Kemp takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1960s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there.

“Iu0026#39;m one of the uncultured folks who never read a word of Hunter S. Thompson in my life. If that describes you, too, then read on.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe appeal of this film is geared toward the cult following of HST, capitalizing on the quirky u0026quot;Fear u0026amp; Loathing in Las Vegasu0026quot; vibe that Johnny Depp created for the character. Apparently Depp was HSTu0026#39;s friend in life, so we can expect a respectful, if not accurate, portrayal. Who knows if thatu0026#39;s truly the case, but the Depp character is very likable and unique.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe character comes across as intelligent, always seeming to understand things 1 level deeper than everyone else; however he never comes across as condescending, judgmental or cynical. Thatu0026#39;s the real beauty to me. For example he can sit and listen to his friend, a drunken Hitler fan, say some pretty racy and racist things, and he doesnu0026#39;t say a word. But in that deer-eyed look that only Depp can do, we feel the comedy of the awkward situation without feeling the bitterness of, say, someone rolling their eyes or sighing in exasperation.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eItu0026#39;s that innocent-yet-worldly approach that makes his performance such a treat to watch. The opening scene sets the characteru0026#39;s tone for the entire film: he awakens in a hotel room looking like he had just spent the night drinking a small bathtub of booze. The locked mini bar has been ravaged as if by a pack of crazed ferrets. The room service guy stares in disbelief as Depp says, u0026quot;I avoid alcoholu0026quot; and then with that boyish smile u0026quot;when I can.u0026quot; What can I say, that had me rolling right off the bat. The whole movie is somewhat low-key like that. There are no big punchlines, pratfalls or sight gags, but there are some absolutely classic moments like that which make you feel like youu0026#39;re part of an inside joke.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe story itself? Well hereu0026#39;s where I do know something about the book: many things were changed, and the ending itself was watered down. But itu0026#39;s still entertaining with a message: itu0026#39;s the story of a lone crusader who uses the power of journalism to battle the corrupt commercial powers invading Puerto Rico. I have to admit that the ending left me a little unsatisfied but not because it was weak. I didnu0026#39;t like it because it sorta injected a clichéd, Hallmark-channel-type scene when this film is certainly not Hallmark-channel material. But really that was just a 30 second scene, and aside from that I thought the film was well presented.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOf course there will be comparisons to Terry Gilliamu0026#39;s u0026quot;Fear u0026amp; Loathingu0026quot; which established the HST-Depp character and his surreal adventures. Hardcore Gilliam fans might be offended by the mimicry, but I thought it was well played in the same way I enjoyed Peter Hyamsu0026#39; film u0026quot;2010u0026quot; which was a fan-doomed followup to Kubricku0026#39;s untouchable u0026quot;2001u0026quot;.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;The Rum Diaryu0026quot; doesnu0026#39;t have quite as much surrealism u0026amp; quirk, but it certainly has its fair share. Thereu0026#39;s a psychedelic drug-induced line about a manu0026#39;s tongue that had me in stitches. I wonu0026#39;t spoil it, you gotta hear it for yourself.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIf youu0026#39;re a casual fan of u0026quot;Fear u0026amp; Loathingu0026quot; (or maybe even a hardcore fan, who knows), if you like early Depp characterizations like u0026quot;Ed Woodu0026quot;, if you like existentialist comedies about people who seem to be adrift in their own isolated world with their equally outcast friends, you might want to check this out.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWARNING: One thing I didnu0026#39;t care for was the way it glorified cockfighting (all the characters seem to enjoy u0026amp; profit from it). But at least thereu0026#39;s no blood or mutilation shown, and the American Humane Association did monitor film production. Still it might be a little unsettling for people who donu0026#39;t like depictions of animal abuse.”

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