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Plot: Not an adaptation of beat writer William S. Burrough's novel but a mix of biography and an interpretation of his drug- induced writing processes combined with elements of his work in this paranoid fantasy about Bill Lee, a writer who accidentally shoots his wife, whose typewriter transforms into a cockroach and who becomes involved in a mysterious plot in an Islamic port called Interzone. Wonderfully bizarre, not unlike Burrough's books. Runtime: 115 mins Release Date: 10 Mar 1991
Twisted Film concerning twisted minds (by hohumdedum2)
Naked Lunch seems to be just totally incomprehensible upon first viewing. However, after watching it again, you start to understand more and more. Upon multiple viewings, you really get a feel for what's transpiring before your eyes. The ultimate message is that it is really just a metaphor for heroin addiction, even though it's so much more deeper than that. It's an intricate study of a man, William S. Burroughs, who was a heroin addict, and among other things one of the most significant Beat authors ever. The film delves deeply into the psyche of Burroughs and takes you on a <more>
trip in his mind and your own. There are touches of reality and many flashes of paranoia, and it is all done with style and grace. Seriously one of the best films about an author, Naked Lunch will certainly stand the test of time against other films which may seem at first entertaining, but lose their luster upon multiple viewings. Whereas, Naked Lunch, in my opinion, never will. 10 out of 10.
And Here I Thought "Fear & Loathing" Was a Trip (by CSM126-1)
"Exterminate all rational thought. This is the conclusion I have come to".So says Bill Lee, the central character of David Cronenberg's adaptation of William Burroughs' bizarre novel "Naked Lunch". The film takes the novel, replaces the characters with Burroughs, his family, and his friends, and then gives them all the names of characters from the book anyway. Once you sort that conundrum out and stop thinking rationally you can begin to understand the film. But only begin. I don't think there is any way to fully understand "Naked Lunch".Bill Lee is <more>
an exterminator who, along with his wife, has become addicted to bug repellent powder. One night, while on a bit of a bender, Bill accidentally shoots his wife, Joan, in the head during a game of William Tell. Following this, he uses the powder to go on a seemingly endless trip, ripe with sinister cabals, talking bugs, and journalistic endeavors.What the film theorizes is that this is actually the tale of how Burroughs wrote the book "Naked Lunch". Indeed, Burroughs did shoot his wife the way Bill does in the movie, but one wonders if Burroughs actually went on the trip we see in the film. "Naked Lunch" is akin to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in it's over-the-top depiction of drug use as literary inspiration. "Naked Lunch" is actually a bit weirder to me than "Fear and Loathing", but I guess that's the same as saying one Queer Eye Guy is gayer than another. How can you be sure and, in the end, what's the difference? I'll skip over trying to compare Burroughs' trip to Dr. Thompson's. I think my brain would explode if I tried.David Cronenberg, cinematic master of the macabre, struck gold with "Naked Lunch". Here we have one of Cronenberg's most fully realized fantasies. It's sick, disturbing, and confusing and, in these ways, it almost reaches the level of "VideoDrome", Cronenberg's true masterpiece and the most outright disturbing film I've ever seen. The creatures that Cronenberg dreamed up based, of course, on Burroughs' warped ideas are incredible. The seven-foot-tall Mugwumps modeled after the physical appearance of Burroughs creeped me out, and the half-beetle/half-typewriter creatures with talking sphincters are some of the grossest creatures I've ever seen on screen. These are things that Cronenberg delights in.Peter Weller finally escaped from the shadow of "RoboCop" with this film. Ironically, the characters are similar. Both Robo and Bill Lee are monotone speaking, emotionless people. The difference being that Robo is made from forklift parts held together with duct tape and glue and Bill is human. Or at least I think he is. Nothing is certain in "Naked Lunch". Weller captures William Burroughs expertly. Judy Davis shows her range in the dual role of Joan Lee, Bill's wife, and Joan Frost, Bill's imagined lover. Joan Lee is drug-addled and loose; Joan Frost is uptight and needs to be taught how to be free. Davis makes the two women so different that it's almost impossible to tell it's the same actress in both parts.If you like Burroughs, see this film. If you like Croneberg, see this film. If you want a simple, pleasant film...stay far away. :Naked Lunch" is a pornographically perverted look at the complexities of drug abuse and the difficulties of the writing process. I don't use the word pornographically lightly. This is as extreme a movie as I've ever seen, especially coming from the Hollywood system. It's icky, it's gross, it's disturbing. It's also a masterpiece.
This film of 'Naked Lunch' is the first of Cronenberg's Trilogyof filming three of the most challenging literary works of the20th Century, and arguably the most difficult... as anyone who'sread Burroughs' 1959 novel can attest, in conventional terms itis a book without a cohesive plot or even structure, largelyassembled from the paranoid rambling letters of the world's mostnotorious drug addict. Cronenberg's approach to the material isingenious in that he attempts to fictionalize the circumstancesunder which the book was written rather than trying to weave <more>
astoryline from the mass of twisted plot threads which comprisethe text. The cast is impeccable, particularly Peter Weller and Judy Davis as the leads, Ian holm as a psuedo-Paul Bowles, and Cronenbergregulars Robert A. Silverman as Hans and Nicholas Campbell asKerouac-ish Hank. Julian Sands and Roy Scheider don't quiteinfuse their roles with the ridiculousness of their counterpartsfrom the novel, but their cameos are brief and don't detractfrom the overall effect. The overall effect being a hypnotic, schizophrenic blend ofbiography and folklore, equal parts Cronenberg and Burroughs, aself-tortured portrait of the creative process. To thedirector's credit, he relies on the script his own and theperformances over visual trickery or stock travelogue scenery toset the mood and propel the action. The astonishing soundtrack,by the superb Howard Shore, underscores the drug-filled malaiseof this Tangerine dream perfectly... it lacks any musical senseof time and therefore hangs over the proceedings like amysterious haze. Haunting, powerful cinema... but mostdefinitely not for everyone. Wise up the marks before layingthis on them.
A masterpiece of interpretive surrealism for Burroughs fans (by mstomaso)
Lots of people will hate this film, and some will love it. The bottom line is, if you enjoy, respect, or feel that you understand the work of William S. Burroughs, you should see this film. If you don't know what I am talking about, you should probably not see this film. The following pedantic and potentially inflammatory review, like this film, pulls no punches and makes no apologies for itself. Read on if you dare. _________If any three of the following conditions apply see Naked Lunch:YOU 1. ...know what the term "visual metaphor" means.2. ...are a Burroughs, Kerouac or <more>
Ginsburg fan.2a. ...are not a fan, but know and respect Burroughs, Kerouac or Ginsburg3. ...can't see how the book Naked Lunch could make a good film.4. ... believe that Peter Weller is an underrated actor.5. ...thought any of the following films were 'lightweight': Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, The Last Wave, Heavenly Creatures, Dead Ringers.6. ...have lived in the New York area for 15 or more years.7. ...know the relationship between improvisational jazz, poetry, and modern art.8. ...think you understand what Andy Warhol was trying to do. 9. ... are curious about what the process of writing a novel is like. 10. ...spend a lot of time arguing with inanimate objects.11. ...without knowing the content of this film, can see a potential relationship between sexual ambivalence, guilt, paranoia, addiction, typewriters and over-sized talking insects.You should NOT see this film if any of the following apply:YOU1. ...consider homosexual love to be evil, wrong, and something you can not sympathize with or understand. 2. ...use the phrase "he's on drugs" to explain behavior and ideas that do not make sense to you.3. ...do not like or respect Burroughs, Kerouac or Ginsburg, and you know who they are. 4. have a concept of challenging literature as the latest John Irving novel no offense to Mr Irving intended - he's easily as great as Burroughs, just sort of mainstream and pop . 5. ..like films which you can walk away from easily.6. ...don't want to see any film which requires a second viewing to feel as if you've really got any of it.7. ...view films strictly as a form of entertainment.8. ...without knowing the content of this film, you can not imagine a potential relationship between sexual ambivalence, guilt, paranoia, addiction, typewriters and over-sized talking insects.9. ...don't care to understand most of the following review. 10. ...consider ambiguity and loose ends in a film to be "plot holes" and consider any film which has them to be 'flawed'._________________William S. Burroughs is widely regarded as one of America's greatest writers of fiction. A friend and mentor to Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsburg, Burroughs helped to create the genres of 'beat' - American literary high modernism, and/or post-modernism. He provides highly tactile ironic, seductively repulsive descriptions of the everyday which are at once accurate, fragmented and surreal - in other words - Burroughs recreates the feeling and mood of his time and his experience with hermeneutic precision. Cronenberg's Naked Lunch is an amalgamation of Cronenberg's interpretation and experience of reading Burroughs, Burroughs own life, and Burrough's legendary novel, Naked Lunch. There are six or more plots operating in six or more interacting layers throughout the film, and the action centers exclusively on Burrough's alter-ego, Bill Lee, as he attempts to discover the relationships between all of these plots. The plots I identify and an interested viewer will generally be able to identify many more that this are Burrough's relationship with Joan, Lee's relationship with Joan, Lee's drug addiction, Burrough's drug addiction, Lee's investigations into the secret society of drug trafficking at the edge of the world in Interzone, Burrough's struggle to create/discover himself. However, the theme of the film is more an issue of the Lee/Burroughs character trying and, in the end, failing, to make sense of the connections between these plots. It is a very self-conscious, personal, brilliantly developed and visually intense film. Yet, despite its self-exposure and openness, the film maintains a certain distance from its audience, as if it has taken on the life given it by Cronenberg and Burroughs and established its own unique personality, which will keep its audience at a certain distance. To really appreciate this, you must watch the film at least a few times.It is especially significant that Burroughs gave his approval for this project. Burroughs' writing is intensely personal and artistic, and his willingness to allow Cronenberg to position himself and his experience of Burrough's work within the film, and to decenter Naked Lunch is as powerful a testimony to Burrough's own integrity as an artist as it is to Cronenberg's vision. Most of the people who acted in this film really wanted to be involved in it and it shows. Ian Holm and Roy Scheider are always great. Peter Weller, a big Burroughs fan and a severely underrated actor gives what may be the performance of his lifetime, Judy Davis and Julian Sands are both perfectly cast and powerful in their roles. This films imagery is necessarily disturbing, disorienting, and, at times, quite comic. Very much in keeping with the feel of Burrough's work.See it. You don't have to like it to respect it.
The Criterion release it totally worth the $$$ (by chefpasta1)
A lot of people have already covered all the bases on why the movie is good. Now I'd like to express why the 37 dollar price tag is worth it.Firstly, the finest and most movie enhancing directer commentary ever made. Cronenberg and Weller are entertaining and informative, and they left me wanting to watch the movie again, equipped with a deeper understanding of this classic film. You also get a whole second disk of special features including hundreds of photos from the movie and of Burroughs and friends,The making of the movie, and Naked lunch read by Burroughs himself in all its obscene <more>
glory. This DVD is a class act and truly it is how any great movie should be treated. Criterion also uses the finest in today's technology to restore and transfer the original masters to DVD. They went as far as to consult the director for his approval. The sound is also perfected to crystal clarity.In conclusion... You aren't getting ripped off for 37 dollars. In fact, you are getting such an amazing deal it's beyond words.
When it comes to filming the unfilmable, Canadian wacko David Cronenberg is one of the best. His icy, almost antiseptic style proved somehow ideal for early gore-fests like Shivers and The Brood, but he hit his emotional and dramatic stride with ber-disturbing fare like The Fly and Dead Ringers. His brilliance has always been a unique affinity for utter weirdness, so his adaptation of the late Beat godfather William S. Burroughs's famously drugged-up odyssey into the realm of heroin hallucinations and gung-ho psychosexuality seemed a perfect fit.It was, but as Cronenberg himself pointed <more>
out, the book couldn't possibly be filmed literally. No culture could withstand the book's fractured non-narrative and graphic, near-pornographic imagery. So Cronenberg merges certain aspects of the author's life with carefully selected bits from the book, resulting in a movie that is neither Burroughs nor Cronenberg, but like Seth Brundle's doomed experiment in The Fly, a genetic fusion of both.Peter Weller, in perfect deadpan mode, stars as Bill Lee, an ex-junkie exterminator in New York City of the 50's. He's running out of bug powder on his jobs, and discovers his wife, Joan a terrific, jittery Judy Davis , has been shooting up the stuff. Bill soon develops a taste for it, and finds himself resorting to theft in order to feed Joan'sand hismonkey. A co-worker informs him: "You're not the first to develop a bug powder problem." and refers Bill to the mysterious, smarmy Dr. Benway the indelible Roy Scheider , who gives him a slow cure to mix in with the yellow powder. Eventually, when Bill is taken by the police, a giant talking cockroach gives him his first "assignment": to kill his wife, and make his way to Interzone, Burroughs's version of Tangier, where he spent years in a self-imposed exile. From there, it just gets weirder.Bill Lee "accidently" shoots Joan in the head, in a black parody of a William Tell routine gone horribly wronga scene pulled directly from the author's past. His "ticket" is a vial of bug powder, and his agent is a Mugwump, a giant monster that secretes an intoxicating fluid from tentacles on their head , one of Cronenberg and company's finest nightmare-inducing creations.Interzone is an exotic freeport teeming with the decadent and the fabulous, and Bill Lee finds himself embroiled in the city's underbelly. He soon befriends two other foreigners, writers Tom Frost and his wife Joana dead ringer for Joan Lee. Julian Sands shows up as a malevolent Swedish dandy, enfolding Lee into an admittedly mystifying plot. Whose side are the Frosts on? And whose is Bill himself on? And what's at stake, anyway? Bill's only help are a series of bizarre typewriters that come alive as living cockroaches, guiding Lee in writing his "assignments," which come to be called Naked Lunch, as Lee writes to his friends back in New Yorksurrogates for Burroughs's co-horts, Beat legends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.In the end, nothing is as it seems, and the final scene sort of defines the word "What?" Still, Naked Lunch is never less than utterly fascinating, and probably best appreciated by viewers with an already well-developed taste for the bizarre.
God, I like Cronenberg. I like his commitment. I like his designs. I like the fact that he deals straight and heavy.I even like the feel of this movie while at the same time noting that it fails, at least it fails if you consider the value of the book.The book is one of many that deals with the sliding overlap between one reality and another. I welcome any of these. And this is particularly attractive because of the animate typewriters-become-agent-controllers. These are much more visceral in the film. But the book made much of the scintillating overlap, the typed page that touched the earth <more>
from time to time that we would literally hold in our hands to assure us that there was a reality.Cronenberg has none of this. As with all his films, there is one world, and he invests heavily in making it real. So we see ourselves, the typewriter that takes control, that provides the trance, the words, the enticement toward perversion of several types and its means. Cronenberg's slip into alternative universes is slippery only one way; he won't let us come home. I admire this, because I would rather see passion invested by an artist than compromise for something as trivial as effect. But here, I do miss the effect.Judy Davis is her usual sublime self. The character actually two, sortof is a mess and is never anchored. But she herself is, outside the film. Her character's role is crucial to the thing, a sort of fulcrum around which the real and hallucinogenic revolve. Sex, meaning, holding onto the world. She accomplishes this not through the character, but the solid soul of the actress which shines through. Who else can do this? No one I know.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
Cronenberg does Burroughs, and does it well (by jafar-iqbal)
An exterminator becomes addicted to the substance that he uses to kill bugs, and accidentally ends up murdering his own wife. This leads to him becoming involved in a secret government plot in a port town in North Africa, seemingly orchestrated by giant bugs.William S. Burroughs is one of those three influential writers known collectively as the Beat Generation the other two being Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac , and this film – and the book its adapted from – is one of the reasons why. Partly autobiographical, partly the absurdity of Burroughs imagination, 'Naked Lunch' is an <more>
excellent film.As you watch the film, it's difficult not to be taken aback by its sheer zaniness and surreal nature; however, it's fascinating to find out that, under those layers of fantasy, Burroughs is recounting stories from his own life. Drug addiction; the accidental murder of his wife; the need to escape from the glare of city life – these were all things that Burroughs endured himself and subsequently penned down. But in pure Burroughs fashion, the author adds some mutant bugs and a crazy plot to spice it up.And then you add Cronenberg to the equation, who himself is famed for his outrageous and sometimes ridiculous films. Cronenberg manages to bring Burroughs' vision to life in a very strong way, keeping the film moving at a frenetic pace and never really letting the viewer feel like they finally have a grasp of what is going on. At each turn, the film takes a new, unexpected twist, and we're all the better for it.But the best thing about the film is Paul Weller. Between typewriter-shaped cockroaches and insane hallucinogenic experiences, Weller somehow instils a level of gravitas. Maybe it's his everyman good looks, or his ability to seemingly move through every scene with a quiet presence, but Weller as lead character Bill makes you believe in the world. Through everything that he does, you stay on his side, and that gives this strange film it's emotional core.This is not Cronenberg's best film, I think, but 'Naked Lunch' definitely ranks up there as one of the better ones. The absurdity of it all had the potential to be off-putting; but bring together the intimacy of Burroughs' writing, the imaginative Cronenberg direction, and Weller's grounded performance, and you have a brilliantly made movie. Watch it.
A wonderfully bizarre piece of art. (by HumanoidOfFlesh)
"Naked Lunch" is loosely based on William S.Burroughs novel of the same name.The film is excellently acted and filled with some truly bizarre characters:writers,drug addicts,mysterious strangers and homoerotic bugs.During 1950's in New York City bug exterminator Peter Weller gets introduced to injecting bug powder into himself by his wife Judy Davis.He gets addicted and starts hallucinating.He sees giant bugs which start controlling his life,as he sinks lower and lower.The bugs are well-created,especially the typewriter bug.The film features some excellent special effects,so if <more>
you like to see something different check out "Naked Lunch".A must-see!