Naked Lunch

Movie Information

In Brief: Only a madman would attempt to film William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch, and that is perhaps why David Cronenberg didn't make a film of it, instead making a film about Burroughs and the creation of the book. This does not make his 1991 film of Naked Lunch an easy undertaking for the casual viewer — and it is, I think, a work that is much enhanced by having read the book. There is a plot of sorts, but, by the end of the film, it hardly matters. At bottom, the film is an exploration of the mind of a writer and the act of writing. It is, in fact, my personal choice of the best film ever made about writing — an assessment that often leaves people looking at me funny. But the truth is that nearly every aspect of writing is in there. It starts when Bill Lee (Peter Weller in the role he was born to play) trades his gun for a typewriter — for him a much more dangerous weapon. And it goes from there, examining the sexuality of writing, the escape (and trap) of writing, the use of writing to allow the writer to indulge and deny his fantasies — even that strangest of feelings of not being able to account for what you've written. Is it weird? Oh, God, yes. This is a movie where typewriters are organic (and even untrustworthy) creatures, where nightmare takes form, where ... Just watch it.
Genre: Fantasy Biography and Much More
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider
Rated: R

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Naked Lunch Friday, July 1, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 828-273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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