For No Good Reason is a new documentary about visionary artist Ralph Steadman. If his name is not familiar you’ll no doubt recognise his artwork. His style unlike any other.
Johnny Depp drives the documentary forward, asking questions about Steadman’s beginnings as a cartoonist and the subsequent transition to ‘artist’ (a title he doesn’t feel he deserves) and his friendship with Gonzo journalist and nutcase Hunter S Thompson.
Steadman and Thompson couldn’t be more different but perhaps it’s these differences that made them get on so well, although Steadman is quick to point out that Thompson could be a ‘son of a bitch‘ at times.
The two worked together on various projects, Steadman’s incredible art coupled with Thompson’s characteristic way with words were a match made in heaven. It all made sense.
During the documentary you get to see Steadman at work, creating new works of art throughout. Watching the man work was really inspiring. Watching him throw ink at paper and then waiting a few seconds to see if he could see an image starting to form was an unexpected treat. Almost as if we could all be artists if we were a little freer with our expectations and imagination.
I love how the documentary was shot, using his art as animation and cut with clips of the man at home either telling a story or creating a piece of art, gave the film a different edge. He clearly gets on well with Depp, there is a deep understanding of both art and creativity that the two share.
Steadman also talked about how he wanted his art to change the world. He was angry and the best way to rid himself of the frustrations of politics etc was that he should use his art ‘as a weapon‘.
Drawing for Rolling Stone, Private Eye,The New York Times etc gave him the perfect outlet for his art and his views.
Sound bites from Terry Gilliam and Richard E. Grant, help you get a real sense of who Steadman is and how he works. Watching him take Polaroids of Richard E. Grant and then manipulating the photo before it had time to set is fascinating. He really thinks outside the box and it was genuinely inspiring to see the man work.
Ralph Steadman has the look of a friendly old man and despite his generally positive outlook there is a tinge of melancholy throughout the documentary.
The suicide of Hunter S. Thompson obviously hit him hard and there are moments of a man reflecting in the fact he’s getting older.
He shows no sign of slowing down, still as prolific as ever he is constantly creating his trademark grotesques.
I really enjoyed the film and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in art, Hunter S. Thompson and those who follow the beat of their own drum.