An art house near you—When Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson opens today, it will not be the first or even second time the film has graced silver screens in the Triangle. A rough cut screened as part of the work-in-progress workshop at the 2007 Full Frame doc fest, and the finished product was part of Full Frame's program last April. Director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side) still recalls Full Frame's contribution to the film's evolution. He spoke to the Indy last week as he rushed to catch a flight to Ireland.
GIBNEY: It was an educational but also somewhat painful experience to [publicly] show a rough cut. There were a couple of people in the audience who said, "Well, it's not as a good as it could have been," and I was like, "Uh, hello ..." However, I was persuaded [to show the unfinished cut] by Nancy Buirski because everyone at Full Frame is so informed, and it's such a great festival, so I'm glad I did it.
INDEPENDENT: Do you ultimately see Hunter Thompson (pictured at left) as a triumphant or tragic figure?
I certainly think Hunter was a tragic figure at the end, but the great thing about writers is that they can write their own legacy. What is missing in today's mass media is Hunter's refusal to strictly play by the rules that people in power often use to achieve a kind of false balance. I don't think everybody should write like Hunter. I'm saying that he found his own path to the truth, and that's what is instructive about him.
I understand your next documentary will be about the Jack Abramoff scandal.
That's right. Broadly speaking, it is not the story of a bad apple but of a rotten barrel. It's about a democratic system that is so dependent on money that it becomes unalterably corrupted.
What will be the film's title?
Casino Jack and the United States of Money. There's a reason Hunter Thompson saw the death of the American dream in a casino. And, unfortunately, I think that there's a similar "bought-and-sold," carnival aspect to Washington, D.C. So, I guess you could also call this Fear and Loathing in Washington. —Neil Morris
Ozma of Oz
Raleigh Little Theatre—As beloved as The Wizard of Oz is, the 1939 MGM musical has somewhat overshadowed the fact that L. Frank Baum wrote more than a dozen other books in the Oz series, before passing them off to a series of other writers. Indeed, with the exception of the underrated Disney film Return to Oz, many children of this generation are less than familiar with such Oz characters as Jack Pumpkinhead, Tik-Tok and the Gnome King. Raleigh Little Theatre is doing its part to increase Oz-awareness with its new production Ozma of Oz: A Tale in Time, adapted by Suzan Zeder and directed by Linda O'Day Young. Presented by RLT's Teens on Stage, the story tells of a teenage Dorothy being swept into Oz with her Uncle Henry and encountering a variety of strange new creatures. The production takes place July 18-27. Tickets are on sale now at etix.com or from the RLT Box Office at 821-3111 and are $12 or $8 for children 12 and under. —Zack Smith
Bynum General Store—You may know him from "Hell," the buoyant calypso swing number that launched his old band, Squirrel Nut Zippers, into national prominence. Maxwell no longer calls the reunited band home, but you can't keep a good songwriter down. While the spotlight's long since shifted, it's difficult to deny the irrepressible mania of his more recent arrangements. His polyglot spans from the countrypolitan, jump blues, swing and piano-fueled whimsy of 2000's Samsara, to 2005's goofy kitchen sink rock collaboration with Ken Mosher, Brother Seeker. This fleet-footed musicologist binds it together with canny playing and parched wit. Come freely but donate $3-$7 at 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
Downtown Durham—This month's Third Friday celebration of art in Durham features three events, beginning with "A Party for the Plaza" from 6-9:30 p.m. at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham that commemorates the plaza's (roughly) one-year anniversary. The Scrap Exchange holds do-it-yourself party crafts, including materials to make your own hat or headdress, and a fashion Swap-o-Rama. For the latter events, participants should bring their unwanted and/ or boring clothes and either swap or revamp them with accessories and refashioning resources. At 7 p.m., the Durham punk marching band Scene of the Crime Rovers (see story on Arts Indies winner Shannon Morrow on page 19) performs. Afterward, there will be a live music and mixed-media audio/ visual collaboration by the Triangle Soundpainting Orchestra and Jim Kellough.
From 6-9 p.m., Bull City Arts Collaborative on Foster Street holds a closing reception and open studios for the exhibit Reconstruction: Sculptures by Jeff Bell and Peter Goff. In the Upfront Gallery, On the Side of the Road: Mixed Media Paintings by Sarah Powers will be on display—and will remain on view on through July 25.
The final event is an exhibit of paintings by Robb Damman at Joe Van Gogh, located on Broad Street, from 5-7 p.m. Events are free. For more info, visit www.thirdfridaydurham.com. —Megan Stein
The Josh and Tamra Show
DSI Comedy Theater—Two months ago, the Broadway hit Avenue Q played the Triangle, mixing puppets with live actors to hilarious effect. This weekend, veteran improv performers Josh Cohen and Tamra Malaga come to Carrboro to do the same, only without a script.
Cohen learned puppetry (or more accurately, muppetry) with the Jim Henson Company in the late '90s. In 1999, he and Malaga met at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York, where they both studied improv. The Josh and Tamra Show, their ongoing seven-year collaboration, features a regular cast of characters built and brought to life by Cohen, including Buddy, a hoodie-wearing sort of streetwise NERF ball; Retarded Baby, who Cohen describes as a "stupid-smart, conniving" toddler; and Lil' Man, a tiny, 6-inch soccer player and a "loud, belligerent drunk" whose gruff manner belies an extreme Napoleon complex.
Cohen's talent as a puppeteer and comic long-ball hitter is immediately obvious; just as important to the duo's chemistry is the deft wit of Malaga, who sets the scenes, grounds them in dramatic reality and more than holds her own with her scene-stealing, foam-rubber counterparts. Performances are Friday at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9:30 p.m.; tickets are $12. Visit www.dsicomedytheater.com for info. —Marc Maximov
Wake Med Soccer Park—In a big soccer weekend in Cary, the Carolina RailHawks Men (including striker Connally Edozien, pictured at right) play the Puerto Rico Islanders, the USL's second-place team, tonight at 7:30. The real fracas, however, may well be Sunday's 4 p.m. "friendly" against the Mexican first division's Rayados de Monterrey. Expect a packed house, a salsa vibe and all the soft tacos you can eat. Stick around afterward to catch the RailHawks Women's season finale against the Richmond Kickers Destiny at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.carolinarailhawks.com for tickets and scheduling info.