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3.9
81 Ratings

Burroughs: The Movie

Directed by Howard Brookner
United States, 1983
Documentary

Synopsis

In 1978, NYU student Howard Brookner decided to make his thesis film a documentary about Beat author William S Burroughs. With two fellow students (future directors Tom DiCillo and Jim Jarmusch), he followed the legendary writer around to discover what made him tick.

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Burroughs: The Movie Directed by Howard Brookner
The film is essentially a collage of fairly disparate materials, and it relies rather more than the end-credits acknowledge on the late 50s/early 60s black-and-white- footage that Antony Balch shot with Burroughs and Brio Gysin in Paris, London and New York… Still, the film is briskly edited and intelligently organized, and it assuredly provides a more vivid account of Burroughs’s life and art than any other available.
December 02, 2016
The cumulative effect condenses the Burroughs persona into an image of indefatigable will, an almost immortal figure not for his altruism or good deeds, but the sheer singularity of his vision, both literal and figurative. Burroughs: The Movie tries to understand how Burroughs sees the world, but ultimately reroutes those interests away from investigative revelation and back inward, toward the lively abyss that is Burroughs’s oeuvre.
December 21, 2015
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The film plays like a valiant effort to fashion something semi-coherent from all that material, but it never really seems as if Brookner had a vision for what Burroughs: The Movie should be. He simply found Burroughs fascinating, and who can blame him? The man’s insurance-salesman-gone-to-seed demeanor and creaky staccato rasp of a voice make for a hypnotic combination, especially if you’ve read Naked Lunch or The Nova Trilogy and are familiar with the casually outré nature of his prose.
December 12, 2015
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