Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo - Documentary Review

Documentary Review: The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo

The Director: Phillip Rodriguez

The Story: Film uncovers the true story behind legendary Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta, the real-life inspiration for Hunter S. Thompson's "Dr. Gonzo".

The Review:
Prior to watching this documentary, I had never heard of Mr. Oscar Zeta Acosta so it was very interesting to see a man of my heritage having been such a big influence on the activism of the 1960's. The film is very interesting to watch as director Phillip Rodriguez takes a very unconventional and artistic approach to telling the story of a man who was very unconventional in how he lived his life. He uses actors to portray Mr. Acosta as well as his family and friends and mixes these bits of stylized interview footage with actual news clips and photos.

The fast paced nature of the story fits right in with how the man lived his life and it was very interesting to see how Acosta was able to survive as long as he did with all of the risks he took by facing off with any of his opponents whether it be a judge or the entire governmental establishment. Unfortunately, he alienated so many people with his free wheeling lifestyle, it was only a matter of time before he would be removed from any sort of power base or structure that he could stand on or hide behind.

While I would like to see the man as a hero of the people, he was more of a loose cannon that used his stature and charisma to get himself into positions of power. From how he is presented in this documentary, I also got the idea that his ideological values were more self aggrandizing than any sort of actual play for making change in the world. Yes, he did accomplish a lot during his time, but his failings and lack of an understand of what real power is lead to his ultimate downfall.

The Verdict:
The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo is an enlightening and entertaining look at a man who tried to change the world but didn't really know how. The story is told in a fun and light hearted way with a similar in your face attitude that Craig Gillespie used in I, Tonya only to much better effect. This documentary is definitely worth an hour of your time.

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