Naked Lunch
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Naked Lunch

William S. Burroughs was and perform what has been called ‘The Beat Generation’, so called Beatnik prominent in the fifties. They were their generation’s free spirits openly questioning the status quo. Burroughs readily fit in to a community experimenting with poetry, literature, music and drugs. He struggled with an addiction to heroin, an aspect of his life that frequently became infused in his literary work. Most of his books were more autobiographical than pure fiction. His genius was in how he was able to blend fact and fiction so seamlessly. Burroughs was one of the most influential postmodernists who pioneered the paranoid fiction genre. That is what makes the autobiographical elements in his stories so intensely vivid. At one point in his life he worked as an exterminator she turned into one of his most famous novels, ‘Naked Lunch’. In 1991 this surreal work of quasi-fiction was made into a movie. It would need a very special type of filmmaker to bring this bizarre story to the screen. Cinematic history was made one of the most usual directors of his generation on the project, David Cronenberg. Most of his films focused on combination of technology and organic matter. The line that is used in several of his sums up this aspect of his technique, "it’s all about the flesh". Film that resulted from this union of unusual geniuses is not a film of the casual viewer. Many of the images that Cronenberg uses are exceptionally disturbing, things that one scene cannot be unseen about how much might want to. The version of this movie under consideration here Criterion Collection edition. As with any will be selected for this highly regarded list this movie did alter how many filmmakers approach their art by extension how audiences regarded film. This also means that the Blu-ray disc containing a plethora of additional material that will provide a greater understanding of both the man and his work.

The time and place of the story is the very birthplace Beat Generation, New York City in the early 1950s. Bill Lee (Peter Weller) is a writer supports himself and his wife Joan (Judy Davis) is an exterminator. On the side of his dilapidated truck business is a rather unusual motto"; "exterminate all rational thought". That is pretty much exactly the underlying theme of bill’ s work as a writer. Bill discovers that his wife has stealing some of his insecticides, pyrethrum, and using the powder as drug in order to get high. In short order bill was arrested by the police and the stress of the situation triggers hallucinations that he attributes to long-term exposure to the insecticide. Within the context of the solutions built believes himself to be a secret agent working with two controllers. This control is not ordinary human beings however; one has taken the shape of a talking insectoid typewriter and the other is an alien called a Mugwump. A little piece of trivia at this point, the Mugwump was designed and built by Jamie Hyneman, the cohost of the wildly popular TV series, MythBusters. The form of the typewriter is indicative of most of Cronenberg’s work. It is a disturbing combination of mechanical and organic, a typewriter whose keyboard open to mouth that is able to talk. Any other filmmaker not have been successful prop such as this. Cronenberg has such expertise is organic devices that he is able to fully commit to the concept presented in a very serious light.

The Mugwump assigns Bill a very disturbing mission, to execute his wife. The orders were given because his controllers have determined that Joan is an undercover agent for Interzone Incorporated, an extremely dangerous organization. Unable to believe it Bill refuses and turn to the humanoid insect killing it. Later upon returning home he walks in on Joan having sex with another writer, his friend Hank (Nicholas Campbell). Later on Bill is trying to re-enact the famous William Tell scene by trying to shoot a drinking glass off her head. Unfortunately, his shoot went low killing her.

From this the movie gets even stranger, yes, it is possible. Bill is told to locate Dr. Benway (Roy Scheider) by seducing a young woman, Joan Frost, who looks exactly like his recently deceased wife. The character of Dr. Benway recurs in several of Burroughs’ works as a character completely devoid of a conscience. The only thing that matters to him at all his is surgical procedures which are usually quite unorthodox. Bill comes to the conclusion that Benway is running an illicit drug organization specializing in drug called ‘Black Meat’. Considering the great distance this film has maintained from reality the source of the drug couldn’t be as mundane as a laboratory or greenhouse. Black Meat is harvested from the entrails of giant centipedes.

The film is not for the casual moviegoer or anybody who exhibits any degree of squeamishness. Typical of a Cronenberg movie most of the story is told through a series of surreal images. As a filmmaker Cronenberg leaves the narratives of the mind of the audience members guiding them the plot means of what they are watching and how they decipher the surrealistic objects and in human characters. In Cronenberg’s movies should consider it successful if you have more questions after the credits roll at the end you did before the film began. If you watch this movie with friends, make certain that you have several hours to hang out afterwards because you want to discuss the nuances of your experience and how you reacted to it. Almost stories shown in film depend upon the linguistic areas of your brain, this filmmaker prefers to move to the other hemisphere directly targeting the visual cortex. You’re saying that a picture is worth 1000 words, if this is true that any Cronenberg movie has very disturbing words contained within it. He is the perfect director/screenwriter to take on work by this author. Both had alternative ways of experiencing reality in the innate ability to draw others into their peculiar worldview.

The entire catalog of the Criterion Collection provides a better understanding of the movie typical studio release. The additional material examines the various aspects of the movie on a level deep enough to be included in a scholarly examination of cinema get presented in such a fashion that is readily understandable by somebody just beginning to look at film from a more critical perspective. When movie like this that is open to such interpretation having access to what various experts have to say about the movie, offer filmmaker is invaluable in broadening your appreciation of a film that is supposed to generate intense curiosity about the subject matter wanting to go back and watch the movie again in order to pick up some of the subtle nuances that you may have initially missed.

bulletAudio Commentary Featuring Cronenberg and Actor Peter Weller
bulletNaked Making Lunch - A 1992 Documentary By Chris Rodley About The Making Of The Film
bulletSpecial Effects Gallery, Featuring Artwork and Photos Alongside An Essay By Film Writer Jody Duncan
bulletCollection Of Original Marketing Materials
bulletAudio Recording Of William S. Burroughs Reading From His Novel "Naked Lunch"
bulletGallery Of Photos Taken By Poet Allen Ginsberg Of Burroughs
bulletBooklet Featuring Reprinted Pieces By Film Critic Janet Maslin, Critic and Novelist Gary Indiana, Filmmaker And Writer Chris Rodley, and Burroughs


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