For No Good Reason (2012)

May 29th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director:    Charlie Paul

Cast:    Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp, Terry Gilliam, Richard E Grant, Jann Wenner

90mins          UK Documentary

Through his Hunter S. Thompson connection, Depp visits Ralph Steadman’s lair and gets him to open up about his work and major playmates, including the genesis of his Hunter S. Thompson collaboration, William S. Burrows and his decision to try and change the world through art; or satirical cartoons, in his case.

What follows is a hugely enjoyable ramble through some historical landmarks, but what is even more enjoyable is watching the man himself at work in his studio. The concept that one can start with a blank piece of paper and not even know what the picture is going to become even as it is being painted, is all but mythical unicorn in todays environment, run as it is by accountants; number-crunchers who need it all nailed down before anything is even started.

With todays politics all careers and showboating, rather than change for the good of the people, there remains a generation now wondering what they did it all for, with agitprop theatre, demonstrating and political movement all but consigned to the folder marked Antiquity. It’s easy to understand why Johnny Depp fell in love with this corner of history, where people were angry and fought for what they believed, puncturing any pomposity as they saw it or lampooning the warmongers. How sorely we miss those men now.

Charlie Paul has dedicated fifteen years documenting and filming Steadman’s work-desk and has some excellent sequences showing artwork from start to finish. And Steadman’s is a remarkable journey, from London to ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’, to The Rumble In The Jungle and charting the rise and fall of presidents and politicians alike.  For those of you familiar with his work this is a rare treat and for those that know next to nothing, a poignant education. One of a kind. AR.

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