Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed View of THE RUM DIARY

From the juiced-box and the movie (but not the soundtrack): Frankie Miller – After All (Live My Life)

[Press ‘Play’ for the most beautiful thing you will hear today]

Ramblings: The Proof is in the Rum

Final Proof: 3½ Shots

You know how you get drunk with a drinker? They make you feel right at home because they drink at least as much as you do and speak slower than they drink but faster than they think as they ramble through harrowing tales of lives they’d lost and booze they’d tossed but always neglecting to mention the cost and whether they’d paid it or left it for someone else to pick up the tab and the pieces. The avalanche of omissions offers sufficient detail to convince you maybe parts of the story were even true and while you listen you catch yourself hearing how the story is told and not so much to the story itself because it’s too disjointed but the words drinkers use and the style they choose flow like a river of booze that rocks you gently, baby, until you get carried away. That’s what The Rum Diary was like.

Similar to those tangled tales and the souls that tell them, The Rum Diary has its flaws, and some of them run deep, but it’s got the kind of soul that out-widens the tides. Some haters may tell you the problem here is a lack of direction but, jesus people, that’s the whole fucking point of this movie. Saying The Rum Diary lacks direction is like saying Titanic has too much boat shit in it. No, you really wanna know the problem with The Rum Diary? There’s too much fucking direction—and there’s not enough “too much”.

i don’t know if you know it or not because i didn’t until after the movie was over (which is more an attestation to how thoroughly i avoid hearing about a movie before seeing it than how stupid i am, or at least i like to think so), but The Rum Diary it’s based on a book of the same title by Hunter S Thompson. For those of you who don’t know who this man was, that’s a pretty fucking sad gap in your cool knowledge which needs to be remedied pretty fucking quickly.

Hunter S Thompson - Click on the Shot for the Wallpaper

Thompson was a writer and reporter who will live forever in the annals of writing shit as the inventor of “Gonzo Journalism”. Gonzo journalism is a style where the writer steps out from behind the page and into your face with an exploding bombastic tirade against all that is holy, warring against convention while rambling on incessantly about the subject with a slew of words spewed on the page so densely and with such intensity the reader gasps at the end of each sentence because they mentally forget to breathe.

Bill Murray as Hunter S Thompson

If that sounds like anyone you know that’s not an accident. i first heard about Thompson in 1981 thanks to Bill Murray’s least known movie, Where the Buffalo Roam (written by Thompson himself, bitches), which is one of my Top 10 Desert Island Movies and don’t you dare see it because there’s no way you’d ever get it like i do because i have a special relationship with this film that i don’t understand myself. The first time i saw it on Cinemax i thought it sucked but with each subsequent viewing my appreciation grew geometrically. Bill Murray plays Thomson covering the 1972 US Presidential Elections and Superbowl to the backdrop of tuneage of the times and a soundtrack composed and performed by the mighty Neil Young himself. This was also at an impressionable / impressionistic time for me in my development as a writer and much of my journalistic style i stole directly from Hunter.

Those of you in the younger crowd will be more familiar with another movie based on Thompson’s work life and life’s work called Fear and Loathing, which also starred –it’s a small world but I wouldn’t want to drive it home–Johnny Depp as Thompson. Here’s a photo of them in a New York airport in 1998 hanging out together. In 1997, Depp lived at Thompson’s ranch for 4 months (!) to prepare for Fear and Loathing (much as Bill Murray stayed, drank and shot with Thompson while preparing Where the Buffalo Roam).

Anyway, this isn’t a review of Hunter Thompson, otherwise i’d just give him 5-stars, turn off  the engine and get your door because this ride would be over. But no, it’s a review of the film and, like i said, the bastiches made too much of a classic movie out of a subject that just could not be classified.

Let’s look at the good shit first. Like there was a Johnny Depp as Thompson and lately our boy has been more and more of a regular here at the Bar None and not just here but real bars as well, so many in fact that his hottie petite French wife told him to stay out of her face until whatever demons he’s raising Cain have their run of course and die from exhaustion. i only bring that shit up here because this desperate drunken loneliness has tattooed Depp and the sacrificial battle scars he bares help him sell the role like hell and back.

Also very good was the look, the feel, the smell of the movie. It’s set in Puerto Rico before you were born and damn if it doesn’t remind me of Puerto Rico before you were born. The haircuts, the clothes, the cars are saturated with 70’s and dripping with authenticity. i suspect even the fucking light was imported from the 70’s because it didn’t look at all like our modern, 2011, sunshine in this puppy but more like used sunlight leftover from a ’73 Coppertone ad.

There were some floaties in The Rum…, though. For example, the script was so well written it kept stepping on the actor’s toes, trying to upstage them. Check out this Thompson quote,

Human beings are the only animal on earth who claim a God, and the only ones who act as though there wasn’t one.

Seriously, how do you want to act that line?

Maybe the biggest stain in The Rum Diary is that they tried to base it on a book i haven’t read yet, because adapting a book to a movie is some tricky alchemy. Nobody wants to read a movie, so they gotta put people doing shit on screen even if they didn’t do much but talk cool in the book because cool talk often isn’t enough to see. Plus, you can get away more with not having a plot in a book, but in movies people start accusing you of being French if there’s no beginning, middle, end, denouement. What i’m saying is, whoever wrote the script wasn’t me because if it was, there’d be a lot more “gonzo” and a lot less “journalism”.

Here’s what i’m saying. The Rum Diary made concessions that the man the movie is about never would have.

Buzz Kills (Watch Out for Spoilers)

Sex: 3 Shots

There was a sad absence of sex in The Rum Diary. Maybe there was a sad absence of sex in the book, i wouldn’t know, i don’t know how to read, or maybe there was a sad absence of sex in Thompson’s life because that’s often the way it is out there on the edge. There’s not a lot of women out that far and when you finally meet one, the edge gets in the way.

Still, The Rum Diary had Amber Heard That. Just wow. She’s a dangerously beautiful young lady whose talent…is struggling to catch up to her beauty, let’s say. You can tell because there’s this one scene where her voice sounds empty and that’s because it was dubbed in. This means she shot the scene and the director had to call her back in afterwards and ask her to do it better. So they stuck her second try on top of the images and it sounds different than Johnny Depp’s voice because he did a good job and so didn’t need the do over.

That said, this is the kind of thing that makes up for her talent.

Click on the Shot for the Wallpaper

There’ll be some drawer shots of her at the bottom of my drawers. Just look all the way down there at the bottom and click the “Continue Reading” button.

Here’s the blow by blow:

  • Beautiful girl [Amber Heard] swimming nude.
  • “Oh god, why did she have to happen to me when I was doing so well without her?”
  • See-though gauze dress on the lesbian hottie [Amber Heard]
  • Amanda Heard bare boobs through the telescope & fuzzy
  • Sex scene. Johnny Depp. Bra On. Shadow titty blocking.

For those of you more into Rum than Diaries, there’s some Johnny Depp for you.

Click on the Shot for the Wallpaper

There’s some more Johnny Deep in my drawers. Look down there and way in the back.

A Smoke

Drink: 4½ Shots

Oh so very close to a 5-shot serving. The alcohol is certainly prevalent enough in this bad boy but the problem is that it’s not critical to the story. To get the coveted 5 shots, alcohol has to be more than constant, it has to be the foundation. Still, there was more than enough to go around here.

  • Rum in a mini-bottle
  • Depp looks hungover when he woke up
  • Mini-fridge on its side and pried open
  • He [tells the room service waiter that he] couldn’t find the key: “I was looking for nuts. I avoid alcohol…when I can.”
  • During the job interview he [Richard Jenkins as Lotterman, the newspaper boss] asks [Depp/Kemp] how much he drinks and tells him he can tell he’s [Depp/Kemp] hungover and that Puerto Rico isn’t the best place to sober up. He [Jenkins/Lotterman] doesn’t need another heavy drinker.
  • Drinking at the bar after first day.
  • Moburg [Giovanni Ribisi]: “his entire sub cortex is eaten away by rum.”
  • Moburg drinks Budweiser
  • Rum bottles instead of bowling pins
  • “How does anyone drink 161 miniatures?”
  • Bud in the airport waiting for the mayor.
  • Drinking water from a goldfish bowl (dirty one) because of bad cotton mouth
  • Amber Heard acts drunk better than she does sober

Slurred Speeches

Lotterman: How much do you drink?
Kemp: The upper end of social.

A Smoke

Rock & Roll: 3½ Shots

i’m trying to download the soundtrack but it’s taking a lot of time to pick up the thread. My notes tell me there was some nice blues and a soft Spanish acoustic song that scraped my soul. Plus, there was some decent rock and roll action and even some cock fights. i never get to say cock fight enough, so that’s gotta be worth half a star, right? Anyway, if i’m ever able to get a hold of this thing, there’ll be some cool songs i’d like to share with y’all (including Patti Smith doing “The Mermaid Song”).

Boring Technical Crap

Written by: Hunter S Thompson (novel), Bruce Robinson (screenplay)

Directed by: Bruce Robinson


Amber Heard – Chenault
Johnny Depp – Kemp
Aaron Eckhart – Sanderson
Michael Rispoli – Sala
Richard Jenkins – Lotterman
Giovanni Ribisi – Moburg

Bottom Line

This movie made me want to smoke, made me want to drink, made me want to live in Puerto Rico on the beach, made me want to wirte well, made me want to want less.

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Al K Hall’s Drawers

The funny is finished. It’s all over but the hot pictures…

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