View Full Version : Cronenberg's Naked Lunch

Ian Jane
04-12-2013, 11:35 AM
Just got the Criterion Blu-ray, cruised through it yesterday and was reminded just how much I like this movie. I know it's not a literal adaptation of the book, how could it be? But I think it captures the feel of Burroughs' writing and style really well. The black humor, the acidic wit, the trippiness of it all and the latent homosexuality worked in throughout. It's a pretty brave film, and looking back on it it's actually pretty surprising to me that a big studio like Fox bankrolled it in the first place. I honestly don't think that a big studio would take a chance on a movie like this anymore.

The Blu-ray looks great, really brings out the color in a very brown movie, lots of detail. The bugs look even weirder in HD, Weller is even more drole and the lighting, the atmosphere - it's all so seedy and.... fucked up.

Anyone else go through phases where they obsess over this movie? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? I happen to think it's one of the most interesting things Cronenberg has ever done, one of his best movies really.

Alex K.
04-12-2013, 01:44 PM
Friend of mine is something of a Burroughs scholar. Has organised events to pay respect to Burroughs and runs a site dedicated to all things Burroughs.

Shameless plug: http://realitystudio.org/

Most guys who have read a ton of Burroughs hate this film despite it being made by Cronenberg. And it really comes down to the film not being a literal adaptation of the book and some moments of humor felt unnecessary. As for me it's one of my favorite Cronenberg films. 3rd only to Videodrome and the Fly respectively. I love the novel as it was a huge impact on me but I see the film and novel as two different things.

Mark Tolch
04-12-2013, 02:40 PM
I don't know why people hate it. You COULD do a literal adaptation of a book that uses that whole cut-up thing, but why? Call me old-fashioned, but I don't mind my movies being a little conventional, and NAKED LUNCH manages to be out there and conventional at the same time. Great performances and atmosphere. I'l grab the blu when it's a reasonable price.

Paul L
04-12-2013, 04:01 PM
I read a lot of Burroughs before I saw the film - back when it first hit VHS in this country - and I still loved it, although a friend of mine despised it. (People say Cronenberg has gone off the boil as of late, and that he's deviated from his traditional subject matter; but they often forget how badly some Cronenberg fans reacted to most of his post-VIDEODROME films when they were first released - he was called a sell-out for making THE FLY with a major studio, as I recall; DEAD RINGERS was seen as a disappointment by some; M BUTTERFLY was met with bemusement; NAKED LUNCH was criticised as a weak adaptation of Burroughs; CRASH and eXistenZ had vehement critics, etc, etc. His output has always been quite diverse: the 'body horror' films make up quite a small subgroup in his work, and I see a lot of connections between his last few films and M BUTTERFLY, CRASH and NAKED LUNCH.) I think it just goes to show that a literal adaptation isn't always the best course to take: for me, the film gets under the skin of Burroughs' writing in a way that no more direct adaptation could ever hope to do. Honestly, I'd put it in my top 5 Cronenberg films - which is saying something, as he's probably my favourite living (and working) English-language filmmaker.

Weller's deadpan performance makes the film for me. I'm a huge fan of Weller anyway I'm fond of quoting that line, 'Well, I have a writing device', whenever I have the opportunity - and have done for the past 20 years since I first saw the film.

I've got the Eagle Pictures Blu-ray from Italy, which I'm happy with, and seems to be very similar in its presentation to the new Criterion Blu-ray: I'll hang on to the Criterion DVD for the extras.

Alex K.
04-12-2013, 04:36 PM
I don't know why people hate it. You COULD do a literal adaptation of a book that uses that whole cut-up thing, but why?

This was done with the adaptation of Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition. I like that book but don't remember as much as I do with Naked Lunch. I do need to watch the film version of Atrocity Exhibition too.

On that note; it's funny because my friend is a fan of Cronenberg and his adaptation of Crash is his favorite Cronenberg film but he vehemently rejects the Naked Lunch adaptation.

Crash was interesting. I need to re-watch that one and actually read the book.

04-12-2013, 06:47 PM
Love this movie!

Read a lot of Burroughs before seeing it...and still liked it!

It was an interesting approach to adapting a unique book....and Peter Weller was FANTASTIC in the main role.....

It's definintely a film only a handful of directors could make...and Cronenberg was on top form.

paul h.
04-13-2013, 01:14 AM
I'm a big fan of this one, too. I like how Cronenberg incorporated so much character/biography of the other writers and artists involved with Burroughs. Paul Bowles, Ginsberg, Kerouac, and even Bryon Gysin are all well represented in their surreal portrayals. Weller, Judy Davis, and Roy Scheider are top notch in their roles. The movie is about Burroughs/Lee trying to write, and that makes a great stage for all the bizarre events and internal dialogues. Cronenberg also managed to work in lots of little humorous, satirical vignettes from various WSB works, and shoot the entire film stage-bound, which winds up working in its favor. I have NAKED LUNCH in pretty much every format including a bootleg VHS which I received from a friend in L.A. prior to the initial home video release. I look forward to getting the new Blu-ray version.

Mark Tolch
04-13-2013, 10:48 AM
Hm...55 bucks plus 13 percent tax on amazon.ca.....27 and change on amazon.com. We have a winner.

Barry M
04-13-2013, 11:06 AM
36 in Sunrise, less with their stupid membership card. I almost bit yesterday