Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Netflix Instant Watch: William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within is a documentary portrait of radical beat author William Burroughs. Burroughs, author of QueerJunkie and Naked Lunch, lived and wrote on the edge of what readers were willing to accept. He burst onto the art scene in the 1950s, being one of the artists that ushered in the 1960s counterculture of America. As John Waters says in the film, “[Burroughs] had punk values. William was…angry and caused trouble and was not politically correct.” Burroughs’ social extremism (of the 1950s) is examined through his immersion into guns, drugs, and homosexuality. In addition to John Waters, director Yony Leyser interviews Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van SantAmiri Baraka, members of Sonic Youth, and David Cronenberg. If you like documentaries and/or are interested in the beat movement, I recommend this film about one of the great radicals of the 20th century.

Extras: For more on the beat movement, look into 2010 Sundance film Howl, which is also on Netflix Instant Watch. Howl, produced by Gus Van Sant and starring James Franco, examines Burroughs' compatriot Allen Ginsberg. In a nonlinear fashion, the film explores his early life, the 1957 obscenity trial waged against Howl's publisher City Lights (trying to get it banned), and the famous poem Howl, through readings and animated sequences (which were approved in spirit by Ginsberg before his death). In addition to Franco, many other skilled actors lend their craft to Howl, including Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jon Hamm.

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, B
Howl, A

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