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Directed by Yony Leyser
USA 20
10

 

Featuring never-before-seen archival footage of Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with colleagues and confidants including John Waters, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Sonic Youth, Laurie Anderson, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, and David Cronenberg, WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN is a probing, yet loving look at the man whose works at once savaged conservative ideals, spawned countercultural movements, and reconfigured 20th century culture. The film is narrated by Peter Weller, with a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth.

Burroughs was one of the first writers to break the boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950's. His novel Naked Lunch is one of the most recognized and respected literary works of the 20th century and has influenced generations of artists. The intimate documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time
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William S. Burroughs: A Man Within is a feature-length independent documentary by Chicago Director Yony Leyser, in collaboration with BulletProof Film, Inc.

The film features never before seen footage of William S. Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues including John Waters, Genesis P-Orridge, Laurie Anderson, Peter Weller, David Cronenberg, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Sonic Youth, Anne Waldman, Hal Willner, James Grauerholz, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, V. Vale, Diane DiPrima, with narration by actor Peter Weller and soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth.

The film investigates the life of legendary beat author and American icon, William S. Burroughs. Born the heir of the Burroughs’ adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned their decision in 1966, ruling that the book had important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century.

William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering, did William ever find happiness? This extremely personal documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.

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Theatrical Release: January 22nd, 2010 - Sundance Film Festival

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DVD Review: Oscilloscope - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:27:51 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.28 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Oscilloscope

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• 3 Deleted Scenes (Art supplies - 2:13, The Mummies - 1:49, Painting with George Condo - 2:58)
• Home Movies (16:44)
• Shotgun Art (2:37)
• Sonic Youth Visit (1995) - 3:08
• Naked Lunch 50th Anniversary (15:20)

• "Rub Out the Word" (3:22)

• Psalm 23 Revisited (1:15)

• Q+A with Director Yony Leyser at the BFI London Film Festival 2010 (11:57)

DVD Release Date: February 15th, 2011

4-tiered eco-friendly cardboard Case
Chapters: 9

 

Comments:

Oscilloscope release another package focusing on a counter-culture hero - as they did with with Allen Ginsberg and their Howl Blu-ray and in less-directly - in another context, legendary graffiti artist Banksy in Exit Through the Giftshop.

I can really appreciate documentaries like this as they inform me of an individual whom I had very little knowledge. Burroughs would be considered, even in understatement, an enigmatic persona. We get stories and input from the likes of John Waters, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Laurie Anderson, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, David Cronenberg and others and the film is narrated by Peter Weller, with a soundtrack by Sonic Youth + Patti Smith.

The DVD is up to Oscilloscope's usual standards - it is dual-layered, anamorphic and progressive. The recent interviews appear very clean and I can assume they may have been shot digitally - while vintage, often 16mm or Super 8, footage looks, predictably, weaker. It provides an acceptable presentation and this is less about the visual appearance and more the content - which is filled with fascinating information from the varied participants. It flows smoothly and the 1.5 hours is well-paced.

Audio is simple stereo but everything is clear and well-defined. There are optional subtitles in English on the Region FREE NTSC disc.

There is close to an hour's worth of supplements including 3 Deleted Scenes - entitled Art supplies - 2:13, The Mummies - 1:49, Painting with George Condo - 2:58. Home Movies is about 1/2 an hour with Burroughs singing, cooking, drinking and smoking at home with friends Patti Smith, Steve Buscemi, Allen Ginsberg and others - mostly shot in 1996. Shotgun Art has Burroughs wielding weapons on Super 8 for 2.5 minutes. Sonic Youth Visit has the group visiting William S. Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas in 1995 for 3-minutes. At the Naked Lunch 50th Anniversary get-together actor Peter Weller, poets and artists pay tribute to Burroughs in Chicago 2009 for about 15-minutes. "Rub Out the Word" is a satirical music video created by Burrough's friend, artist Roger Holden. Patti Smith wrote Psalm 23 Revisited and reads it 'The Bunker'- Burroughs former apartment in NY. Lastly is a 12-minute Q+A with Director Yony Leyser at the BFI London Film Festival 2010. The package is Oscilloscope's typical eco-friendly, but extravagant, cardboard case.

This is another unique and interesting look at an important 20th Century figure. Oscilloscope's quality comes through in their digital package and for those remotely keen on Burroughs - they won't be disappointed if they indulge.   

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Distribution Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC



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