Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terry Gilliam’s 1998 Fear conveys perfectly what it feels like to come down from a hit of bad synthetic mescaline. Whether that is sufficient rationale for all the expense and effort of making a movie is a question a viewer must answer for himself. Johnny Depp, about as miscast as any handsome young leading man could be as raspy, jittery Hunter S. Thompson avatar “Raoul Duke,” turns the role into a personal triumph. Benicio Del Toro put on 40 pounds to play Thompson’s gross-bellied “Samoan” side-kick, Dr. Gonzo, and handles the grossness with such delicacy that it’s like watching a rhino dance Swan Lake. It’s an index of Gilliam’s limitations as a filmmaker that these two brilliant performers rarely seem to be on the same wavelength. This is a particular problem in the three sequences in the film in which women—a.k.a. the Other—feature as anything beyond grotesque background figures. (Movie screens at midnight.) (R) ROGER DOWNEY

Fri., Nov. 19; Sat., Nov. 20, 2010

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