Tag Archives: Benicio Del Toro

The Set of 400: #163 – My Favorite Sandy Beer Cocktail

Today! Because we were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold –

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro (x2), Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire (x4), Ellen Barkin (x3), Christopher Meloni, Michael Jeter, Gary Busey (x3), Gregory Itzin, Flea (x2), Lyle Lovett (x3), Cameron Diaz (x4), Craig Bierko, Mark Harmon, Katherine Helmond (x2), Laraine Newman (x2), Verne Troyer, Debbie Reynolds (x2), Penn Jillette, Harry Dean Stanton (x3), Jenette Goldstein (x2)

A prime example of a film that came along at just the right moment in my life to have a lasting impact, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a psychedelic nightmare road trip travelogue comedy, long thought unfilmmable. Hunter Thompson’s true-ish story of heading to Nevada to cover The Mint 400 motorcycle race spirals quickly and wildly out of control, featuring massive hallucinations, property damage, excessive drug use, and Debbie Reynolds. It’s funny, in that quirky Terry Gilliam kind of way, and it’s visually stunning, in a head-trip kaleidoscope pretty much unparalleled in mainstream cinema.

However, this movie, lacking any real narrative drive or logical reason for existing, certainly wouldn’t work for everyone. It’s a large budget art film produced mainly because of Gilliam’s name (pre-Don Quixote mess) and Johnny Depp’s enduring love for Thompson. This was released during my early college years, and I loved this goddamn movie. Hell, I loved the book – did everyone have a Hunter Thompson phase in college? His sentences, man! Even when they didn’t coalesce into a plottable tale (and they rarely did), they were still cutting and incisive and impactful, more philosophy than prose – and this is what made ever translating this to the screen so unlikely. And yet, it sorta works, in a conventional way, here and there. Sorta.

“Let’s get down to brass tacks – how much for the ape?”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #260 – My Favorite Coffee Mug

Today! Because I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze –

The Usual Suspects (1995)

Directed by Bryan Singer (x2)

Starring Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Benicio Del Toro, Pete Postlethwaite, Giancarlo Esposito, Suzy Amis (x2), Dan Hedaya (x2), Clark Gregg, Louis Lombardi

A cast and crew simply bursting with purported monsters, The Usual Suspects is nonetheless an amazing movie, if you can get past its baggage. Dazzling, Oscar winning screenplay by apparent Tom Cruise captive Christopher McQuarrie (seriously, his resume over the last 15 years is almost exclusively writing and/or directing Cruise pictures), breakout movie for director Singer (accused of much, the most mild of which being on-set difficulty), and Oscar winning role from subsequent huge movie star Kevin Spacey (who did his level best to top Harvey Weinstein as Biggest Scumbag of 2017 – verdict still out, as of this writing! Who won? None of us, right?).

So with all that – not to mention fervent Trump supporter Stephen Baldwin – can you still wrap your arms around The Usual Suspects and praise it to the heavens like this was 1995? Again, in putting together this list, I’ve tried to be honest with myself. How much does actor/director off-screen drama affect my enjoyment of their films? And the answer is – probably some? Probably less than it should? I mean, I’m not going to run out and see a new Kevin Spacey film, but ones previously existing and beloved? Movies cement themselves for me basically when I first see them – my estimation might rise or fall over time, but that’s still based on film criteria almost exclusively. I might not agree with Clint Eastwood’s politics, but that doesn’t change how much I like In the Line of Fire, get me? I can stay out of my own way in that regard. Pretty much.

The 2012 RNC convention was equally as crazy as Every Which Way But Loose, I’m just saying

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies