Monday, May 20, 2024

Johnny Depp: Fear and Loathing at NY Movie Premiere


Johnny Depp— I do think the Greta Garbo thing has been carried on a little too far. Imagine my surprise arriving downstairs in the movie theater at the Museum of Modern Art to find a quarter of the seats empty for his “Rum Diary” premiere. “There are four hundred seats. We were told to invite three hundred people,” said someone associated with what would turn out to be a dull concoction. But why? “Johnny Depp said he didn’t want a big crowd.” He didn’t get one. If it hadn’t been for the loyal Keith Richards and Patti Hansen, plus Rob Morrow and Gina Gershon, Zoe Kravitz, John Patrick Shanley, and Matthew Settle, the “Rum Diary” would have been one flat cocktail.

This was all good news if you wanted to take a nap. Directed by Bruce Robinson (who hasn’t made a movie since Hunter S. Thompson actually feared and loathed, in 1992), “Rum Diary” desperately needs a coke–legal or otherwise. Something to perk it up. It’s one of those movies where Depp mumbles, the lighting is low, and not much happens. When something does happen– the character (I use that word loosely) played by model-turned actress Amber Heard is seemingly taken hostage in San Juan, Puerto Rico in a grimy disco–there’s no pay off. After two hours the movie stops, and some type appears on screen explaining the whole thing.

“Rum Diary” was followed by an after party at the Hiro Ballroom. The deal was that eventually Depp would show up, and the rock band he pays for and carts around the world for his personal entertainment would play something. This wasn’t enough for many guests, who exited Hiro when they realized it was 11pm and they hadn’t had dinner. Considering this film has a $60 million price tag, they could have sushi.

My favorite line of the night was from designer Betsy Johnson, who apparently left the theater for the ladies’ room before the movie ended. She was surprised when it had actually concluded before her return. “I thought it was going to go on for another three hours,” Johnson remarked to companion as the audience scampered out of the theater. No kidding, Betsy.

If you’re going to try an indie flick this week, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is a much better bet. And in the cost-conscious era, that film only cost $750,000.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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