IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Uncompromising ‘Gonzo’ is a Can’t Miss film

The documentary takes a look at Hunter S. Thompson in a way that he'd be proud of. Other top picks this week include Macy's 4th of July fireworks and John Mayer's new CD.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Movies

Before there were blogs, there was Hunter S. Thompson. I mean, what are blogs, anyway? Just an opportunity to rant in the first person. In that respect, Hunter was way, way, way ahead of his time. But there was also a responsible journalist embedded inside the crazed persona that transcended the hat, the cigarette holder and the mad ravings. “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” is a documentary from director Alex Gibney that combines audio and video clips of the famed rebel with interviews from people who knew him best. It’s an uncompromising look at an uncompromising American icon, just the way he would have wanted it. (Magnolia Pictures, opens Wednesday)

Television

A burst from Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display rises over New York's East River behind the Manhattan Bridge Friday night, July 4th, 1997. (AP Photo/Todd Plitt)Todd Plitt / AP

The problem with showing fireworks displays on TV is that a network would have to hope that there will be enough people willing to sit home and watch them rather than go someplace like a park to see them live, or to blow them off themselves in their own backyards. But there are couch potatoes for every occasion, and on this Independence Day, for those who just want to sit in the comfort of their living rooms and catch some bombs bursting in air mixed with some lively music (like Kenny Chesney and Jordin Sparks), they can check out “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.” Hosted by Natalie Morales and Tiki Barber, it serves as a convenient alternative to smelling all that gunpowder. (NBC, Friday, 9 p.m.)

Music

John Mayer is more than just a main squeeze for celebrity babes. He happens to be one of the finest rock guitarists working today. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked because his music is a tad on the soft side of pop, and he doesn’t get to channel Stevie Ray Vaughn or Muddy Waters very often. On “Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles,” he mixes in some hard blues with acoustic songs and mainstream hits to create a satisfying two-CD set. Recorded in December at the Nokia Theater, it includes “Everyday I Have the Blues,” “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and his biggest single, “Waiting on the World to Change.” I wish he would spend less time with hot actresses and more time playing the blues, but I can understand why he might feel differently. (Sony)

DVD

The stars of the AMC series “Mad Men” were the people who created the look: the production designer, art director and cinematographer, all working in conjunction with the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner (formerly of “The Sopranos”). Set in the high-stakes world of Madison Avenue advertising during the 1960s, ironically, the intriguing aspect of the storylines is that everything isn’t as it appears. The first season of “Mad Men” is on DVD this week with a bevy of extras that includes audio commentaries on all 13 episodes plus featurettes on the making of the show and on the true-life ad world of the ‘60s. Here’s another irony: This show is so good it really doesn’t need any advertising. (AMC/Lionsgate)

Books

When a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist turns his or her attention to a new subject, the excitement builds in anticipation of just what this esteemed ink-stained wretch will explore this time. David Maraniss is such a scribe. His new book, “Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World,” examines the games that intensified the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviets and encompassed issues such as civil rights, performance-enhancing drugs, amateurism and more. That was the Olympics that provided the first global stage for a young boxer named Cassius Clay, who won a gold medal. As we prepare for where we’re going later this summer for the games, this might be the perfect opportunity to study where we’ve been. (Simon & Schuster)