This trailer for the currently-playing Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (HDNet/Magnolia) is so well-cut, smartly condensed and plugged into the Thompson essence that — I need to say this carefully — it’s almost a better thing than the 120-minute doc it’s selling. Almost, I say.

As I wrote last month, Alex Gibney‘s doc tells the full lopsided tale about a brilliant journalist who produced great stuff for maybe 11 or 12 years (mid ’60s to mid ’70s) and then wallowed around in drug-fueled lassitude for almost the next 30. Gonzo is a good film — thorough, inventive, humorous — but it drives you mad with a sadistic ’60s soundtrack made up of songs that classic-rock stations have been torturing their listeners with for the last 30 or 35 years.
The trailer hits every basic point delivered in the film but without the music. Which makes it, in a way, better. At the very least, it gave me an idea of what Gibney’s film might’ve been without having to be swamped with the sounds of Janis Joplin, Jesse Colin Young, et. al.
Sidenote: Time‘s Richard Schickel has written that Gonzo “seems to me a very sad story about an essentially minor figure. Thompson’s was not a life to celebrate (and Gibney, to his credit, does not do so). But there is an implicit approval in this film that makes me uneasy. But then, irrationality always make me uneasy. All artists — and nominally, Thompson was an artist — need a touch of the lunatic about them. But only a touch. In the end they are obliged to produce. And they are obliged not to succumb to, or to excessively encourage, their own myths.”