“My whole life has been resistance to the ugly spirit.”
Famed writer William Burroughs reads excerpts from his novels and shares anecdotes about his tumultuous, drug-filled life.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Made when its titular subject was 69 years old, and appearing to be on the brink of death — though the tenacious coot lived another 14 years — this bio-doc offers a gritty, first-hand glimpse into the past and personality of one of America’s strangest novelists. Through extensive interviews with Burroughs himself, as well as other key figures in his life — including his good friend (and erstwhile lover) Allen Ginsberg, his sycophantic personal assistant, and his aloof, dismissive brother — one gradually discovers the seemingly limitless number of personal demons Burroughs fought against all his life (including the accidental shooting of his wife, a heroin addiction, and the premature death of his drug-addicted son). While Burroughs remains indispensable as a cultural document, however, it’s not particularly innovative cinema, and thus isn’t must-see viewing for film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- An intriguing overview of Burroughs’ tragic life
- Fun banter between lifelong friends Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg
- Burroughs describing his technique of “cut-ups”
No; while interesting, this one is only must-see for Burroughs fans.