8 September 2014

DVD Review - For No Good Reason (2012)

Soda Pictures
DVD Release Date:
8th September 2014 (UK)
Rating: 15
Charlie Paul
Buy:For No Good Reason [DVD]

For No Good Reason is a long overdue documentary on the life and art of one of the finest satirists and cartoonists of the 20th and 21st century, Ralph Steadman. He is best known for his illustrations for Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that was adapted quite brilliantly by Terry Gilliam onto the silver screen. The whole documentary is kind of set up as a weekend with Johnny Depp (who played Hunter’s alter-ego Raoul Duke in the film) and Steadman.

The documentary gives you a lot of information on Steadman and what drives him. It goes into detail about Steadman arriving to the States and meeting up with Hunter on the trip that Hunter would write as his seminal bit of gonzo journalism as “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved”. It talks about his influences and his desire for his art to challenge people and make them think about the world. It also has some fantastic footage of Ralph at work and his wonderful angry splashes of paint.

One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is Steadman’s relationship with his most famous collaborator Hunter S. Thompson. Ralph was a drinker but never indulged with drugs which is surprising considering how lysergic his paintings and drawings can be. They remained friends until Hunter’s suicide in 2005, but they had an increasingly strained relationship due to Hunter’s lifestyle choices which in turn ruined himself.

The film’s biggest flaw is the soundtrack, which is full of very bad indie music, which must be by friends of the director. It’s completely inappropriate for a story that is mostly set in the 60s and 70s. The choice of using Johnny Depp’s visit to Ralph Steadman’s has been criticized as pointless but I personally don’t mind it; it probably helped the film get more funding and he is obviously a friend and great admirer of Steadman’s. I would have also preferred more interviews with friends like Gilliam, the editor of Rolling Stone etc. and a little more biographical content. Overall, it’s a very solid documentary on one of the most unique artists of our time who always likes to show the grotesque truth of the world.


Ian Schultz

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