William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Rated NR 87 minutes 2009

This documentary about the brilliant experimental writer can't measure up to Howard Brookner's Burroughs (1983), which you can view in its entirety on Google Videos. But the new film does offer an additional quarter century's hindsight on Burroughs, who succeeded spectacularly in marrying avant-garde techniques with the broadest sort of pop-culture materials (detective pulp fiction, sci-fi movies, western novels). Filmmaker Yony Leyser takes advantage of the voluminous films, videos, and audio recordings that Burroughs left behind to immortalize his books' raucous comic "routines," and there are some wonderfully revealing filmed conversations that pair Burroughs with Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol. Some of the talking heads never amount to more than indie-cred decoration (Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lauri Anderson, Jello Biafra), yet Leyser scores valuable insights from those closer to Burroughs (his agent Ira Silverberg, his young lover Marcus Ewert). The man that emerges is complex, troubled, and undeniably touched by genius.

Film Credits

Director: Yony Leyser

Producer: Ilko Davidov, Yony Leyser and Carmine Cervi

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