A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) Film Review

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It’s the Wild West and things are pretty horrible. Albert (Seth MacFarlane) is a sheep farmer (although not very good at it) and a coward. After his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) dumps him, he wants to leave. He cannot be convinced to stay by his best mate, Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) or Edward’s girlfriend, Ruth (Sarah Silverman), but when a new lady arrives in town he is convinced to stay. Little does he know that Anna (Charlize Theron) is the wife of the evil Clinch (Liam Neeson) and he is in deep trouble. Plus, now Louise is dating the creepy mustachioed Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) can life get much worse?

I thought that I would get a few laughs out of this, but (like with Ted and Family Guy) be left with the bitter taste of casual misogyny and racism. I’m quite torn by Seth MacFarlane’s humour – he pushes things too far, but that often makes me laugh. Was the ‘I saw your boobs’ song at the Oscars misogynistic or just funny? I thought it was just funny. But there are plenty of other examples of humour that I find quite unpleasant.

Luckily, that nastiness seemed to be lacking in this film. Sure, there are not really great roles for women, but that seems to be fairly normal. In fact, my favourite moments on the screen were between Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi. Who could not love a couple that is waiting to have sex when one is an extremely popular prostitute? Oh, and every moment with Neil Patrick Harris – how marvelous to have a real, old school, over-the-top, magnificent, mustache-twirling villain?

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would watch it again with very little encouragement. It’s just plain funny, (mostly low-brow, with the odd very clever remark, but why would you expect much more?) with good writing that balances the line of living in the time but having a total awareness of the future. Apparently, everyone else hated this film. It’s only got one-and-a-half stars on Rotten Tomatoes. Huh.

The Rum Diary (2011) Film Review

Johnny Depp Rum Diary

It’s the 60s. Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an American journalist who takes a freelance job in Puerto Rico with a strange bunch of misfits. He is taken under the wing of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a wealthy American who is working with a group of businessmen to develop an area of pristine beauty into a tourist resort. Kemp needs to decide between his conscience and his back pocket. And all the time, he is drinking a lot of strong liquor, and trying to avoid being killed by angry gangsters and angry cops.

Hunter S Thompson wrote The Rum Diaries in the sixties but it was only published in 1998.  He was keen on it becoming a feature film, but he passed away in 2005. The Rum Diary was released in 2011.

It’s not fiction, but neither is it totally non-fiction. In a 1998 interview with Charlie Rose (see below), Thompson talks about all of the characters having some of his sensibilities in them. If you’ve seen or read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you can definitely see some element of him in Moberg, the severly alcoholic and drug-addled journalist portrayed marvelously by Giovanni Ribisi.

It’s certainly a funny film, with the dark humour I’ve come to expect from Thompson. I felt that it was meant to give me hope for the future, but the future of this film has passed and the world is just as corrupt as ever. And Thompson is gone – no longer putting the bastards of the world on notice that he does not have their best interests at heart.