HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Lodgers, The
Eagle vs Shark
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
   
 
Newest Articles
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
   
 
  Burroughs William TellsBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Howard Brookner
Stars: William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Terry Southern, Jackie Curtis, Patti Smith, Francis Bacon, various
Genre: Documentary
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: William S. Burroughs was a writer with a radical, yet playful vision that could not be constrained by genre, not biography, not science fiction, not comedy. But he was a difficult man to get to know as well, which made his relationship with film school student Howard Brookner all the more remarkable for he allowed him into his life for around five years to record various bits and pieces about him to edit together into a feature documentary. It had a cinema release in the United States and in Britain was broadcast as part of the arts strand Arena, but after that fell out of sight, believed lost for decades until in 2014 a copy was discovered in an archive, during which time its reputation had grown.

Was Brookner's effort worth it? Sadly, he was not around to see it assessed, as he had died in 1989 from AIDS, having completed two more films, the last of which, Bloodhounds of Broadway, was apparently compromised in production, not least because he was so ill. Burroughs, with all his bad habits and on the edge lifestyle, outlived him, which seems bizarre especially in light of what the documentary revealed, or at least recounted. Brookner was nothing if not ambitious, though there was a sense watching this that he was not so much keen to serve up a well-rounded account of the writer and more addicted to being in his company, that thrill of getting as close as he could to an enigma.

We did get an idea from this of what Burroughs was like to chat with, even if some of the other interviewees described him as being a potentially great prisoner thanks to his ability to live inside his own head and not really need others for his diversions. He is affable enough, talking in that thin, reedy grumble of a voice, a curiously conservative figure on the outside which belied the insanity he produced for the page, The Naked Lunch being his most famous novel and one we hear extracts from, and even see acted out by Burroughs as Doctor Benway and drag queen Jackie Curtis as his nurse. Here we see how much he identified with his wild, subversive and satirical characters, but it does not seem quite real.

Not that he was being inauthentic, it was simply that he had such an incongruous persona that you could barely accept such a mild-mannered old chap would have penned the controversial works that got him banned across the world, or had such a massive drugs habit, or, most notoriously, tried to shoot a wineglass off his wife's head in a game of William Tell that went horribly wrong when she was killed outright as the bullet went astray. The fact that even Burroughs is not sure if he killed her deliberately adds to his outlaw mystique, yet again there was that outward appearance more appropriate to an ageing accountant - the photographs we see of him as a young man make it plain he hardly changed outwardly throughout his life, he always resembled a little old man and merely grew into that.

Then again, Brookner obviously spent enough time with his subject for him to be comfortable with opening up a little more than the usual Burroughs interview, as we see when the writer gets onto the matter of violence. That was present in his fiction, certainly, but late on all of a sudden we see him demonstrating his weaponry collection, all knives, blackjacks and airguns (though no firearms that we can discern) and describing with some relish the damage he could do with them - then he goes on to fantasise about a homosexual militia who could counteract the gay bashers by seeking out the bigots and either injuring or murdering them, and you wonder is this a common power trip fantasy among the tormented in society, or was Burroughs quite the buttoned down character he presented himself as. Brookner starts his documentary with footage of him on Saturday Night Live, getting a few laughs from his extreme material, which proved he was growing more aware of his celebrity status, and he would show up as an actor in a variety of works as the years wore on. He was still a conundrum, but that did not make this any the less intriguing in its rough and ready way.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 414 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: