Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Circle of Trust #6: William S. Burroughs: A Man Within (2010)

It is time, once again, to check out the latest wares being peddled by the fine folks at Oscilloscope Laboratories. If you've somehow managed to not yet find out who they are and the awesome films they distribute I recommend the immediate correction of that by clicking the above link. This time I'm taking a look at the directorial debut of Yony Leyser, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within.

This documentary examines the life of one of the more controversial and revolutionary American novelists of the 20th century, William Burroughs. Billed as the godfather of such things at beatniks and punk rock, Burroughs is an interesting man to examine as his influence has spread in to so much of today's culture even though you might not recognize it right away. Leyser's doc presents a balanced portrait of the man though, as the personal and drug-related demons he struggled with all his life are talked about just as much as his literary and artistic accomplishments or vast influence.

In addition to balancing Burroughs life, Leyser provides a well-rounded film containing interviews, home video footage, and wire frame puppets scenes. It doesn't stray to far from typical, bio-documentary tropes but is still makes for an enjoyable film none the less. In typical Oscope fashion, the DVD comes packed with bonus features that will immerse you even further into the world of Burroughs. A Q&A with the director, a 50th anniversary celebration of Naked Lunch (Burroughs most famous book), extended home movies, and more shots of his physical art are just a few of the bonuses to check out.

Wrapping up, I personally give the film 3 out of 5 for being interesting and worthwhile but not particularly captivating; I am sure those more familiar with Burroughs work would probably enjoy it more than I did. The DVD however gets 4 out of 5, not only for its myriad of bonuses but for some pretty slick box art including two essays and the impressive cover pictured above. If your interested, below are a few helpful links to check out the film for yourself.

-Visit the film's official site, which has a list of upcoming screenings (both domestic and internationally)

-Follow the director and his film on Twitter

-Purchase it from Oscilloscope Laboratories

-Add it to your Netflix Queue

-Enter to win a copy of the DVD from Spinner.com

-Enter to win a copy of the DVD from The A.V. Club

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