Naked Lunch [Criterion Collection]

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aec.crrn2761dvd
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Synopsis

This cinematic/literary hybrid fuses motifs from Beat writer William S. Burroughs's novel of the same name with elements of the author's biography and plenty of the cerebral alienation and biomorphic special effects fans of creepy cult director David Cronenberg have come to expect. Bill Lee (Peter Weller) wants to write, but he exterminates bugs to pay the bills. His wife, Joan (Judy Davis), becomes addicted to Bill's bug powder dust, and soon he joins her in a world of unorthodox hallucinogens; he visits the kindly yet sinister Dr. Benway (Roy Scheider) and walks away with his first dose of the black meat -- a narcotic made from the flesh of the giant aquatic Brazilian centipede. Soon, monstrous beetles are whispering conspiracy theories in Bill's ears and his nebbish writer friends Hank (Nicholas Campbell) and Martin (Michael Zelniker) are sleeping with Joan under his nose. When a party trick involving a liquor glass and a gun goes awry, killing Joan, Bill flees to Interzone, a Mediterranean city full of talking insectoid typewriters, double agents, offbeat aesthetes, and plots within plots. As he navigates this paranoid landscape, Bill begins ingesting another drug called mugwump jism and writes fragments that Hank and Martin soon assemble into a novel under the title Naked Lunch. As beat literature aficionados know, Interzone is based on Tangiers -- the city where Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch. The incident in the film in which Hank and Martin appropriate Bill's writing and have it published closely approximates the real-life circumstances of the novel's publication, although it was Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac who helped out the real-life Burroughs. The William Tell incident that kills Bill's wife is also drawn from the author's real life. "William Lee" is both Burroughs' literary stand-in and the name under which he published his first autobiographical novel Junky. Ian Holm, who plays Joan Frost's husband, Tom, would appear in Cronenberg's similarly experimental eXistenZ several years later. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi

Product Details

Release Date
11/11/03 
Studio
Criterion
MPAA Rating
R -- Restricted
Sound
  • Dolby Digital Surround
Region
  • USA & territories, Canada
Subtitles
  • English
Video Features
  • New high-definition digital transfer approved by director David Cronenberg and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Audio commentary featuring Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • RSDL dual-layer edition for optimal image quality
  • "Naked Making Lunch" making-of documentary by Chris Rodley
  • Illustrated essay on the special effects by Jody Duncan, editor of Cinefex magazine, featuring artifacts from Cronenberg's archive
  • Film stills gallery
  • Original marketing materials
  • William S. Burroughs' audio recording of excerpts from Naked Lunch
  • Archival stills of William S. Burroughs from The Allen Ginsberg Trust
  • 32-page booklet featuring essays by film critic Janet Maslin, Chris Rodley, Gary Indiana, and a piece by William S. Burroughs
Number of Discs
2

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