Well, my second day doing this and I’ve already had my first request. Never let it be said that I don’t listen to people. Just for that, I’ll even plug your blog: http://jibberjabbinjacob.wordpress.com/
Yesterday, I opened up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret Of The Ooze. Today, I’ll be heading off into a totally different direction – filmed adaptations. Not just any adaptation, mind you, but an adaptation of a book that many (if not all) said was totally unfilmable. No – not Marley and Me, rather the 1991 David Cronenberg film “Naked Lunch”. Adapted from William Burrough’s 1959 novel of the same name, Naked Lunch sees an exterminator (Robocop himself, Peter Weller) get hooked on bug powder dust, kill his wife (Judy Davis) and end up as a pawn in a government plot run by giant bugs in Africa. Why, yes, the author WAS off his tits on drugs when he wrote it – why do you ask? It all seems pretty darn normal to me.
As inspired by the writings of Mr William Burroughs, today’s review shall be done stream of conscious style.
Jazz sax for wacky...a surprisingly all star cast, it’s amazing really. I wonder if it was Cronenberg or the book that had people interested? Music by Howard Shore, everyone has to start somewhere...
Nothing says 1953 like a red door and a well dressed exterminator. Running out of bug powder dust is impossible...unless everyone is eating that shit, which is what they are doing. Good thing hipsters and Woody Allen impersonators existed in a drug fuelled 1950s diner – what is this, Twin Peaks Babies? Apparently someone is stealing Bill’s powder...IT WAS TYLER DURDEN! This world has a lot of exterminators in it, apparently. Well, if it was his wife eating his powder,no wonder she winds up as a corpse. That shit is expensive. She really is a bit of a bitch. “A literary high” is just like a regular high, but with more pauses...or just an excuse to reference Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. He gives in just like that – weak willed fool. Suddenly, Bill gets arrested for drug possession. I can see why Peter Weller signed on, he is a robot.
And here is a giant bug that looks like some LSD patient’s drawing of a cockroach. It’s got a talking sphincter. “Case officer” – ok, now the film gets some darkness. I don’t envy anyone coming into this film blind....it would confuse the piss out of them. If a talking cockroach told me to kill my wife, I would think very hard about ignoring it. Or killing it with my shoe. At some point, I will need to reread the book- unless my early 20s was my Burroughs period? But I do still listen to The Junky’s Christmas every year (15 years and counting).
Bill and Joan need to split, because they are off their tits on drugs. As was the style at the time. Who’da thunk that rubbing powder on someone’s lips would be less erotic than doing the same to a puppet cockroach? But there ya go. This version of NYC is damn freaky, and exists only in like two films – this and Pi. Ladies and gents – Mr Roy Scheider, as Dr Benway who seems to think that centipede dust will help one kick the bug powder habit. I’m glad that I am sober watching this film, because I’m sure it would fuck me up otherwise.
I kinda hate Joan’s hipster friends, I don’t think I could have been part of the Beat Movement. Bill, you junkie. And now, what else to do but play William Tell? Thus giving Joan an excuse to wind up dead. As you do – WSD!! But not really. This whole film is just one giant nightmare WSD.
And here is Mugwump, who seems to specialise in “sexual ambulances”, And gets off on recounting death. I don’t think that Jim Henson had anything to do with the creation of these puppets. He also tells Bill to get a typewriter, which apparently can be bought for the price of a used gun. And Bill beats a hasty running the fuck away to Interzone, Africa (think the love child of Mos Eisley and Tunis) where everyone is a wannabe author.
Bill meets the oiliest Peter Lorre ever, who also knows Dr Benway, thus making the story continue. What is Cronenberg’s fascination with body horror? I don’t think I’d eat that stuff, giant aquatic centipede or not – looks like rotting turkey. I swear this whole film could be summed up in one sentence: Guy has a very bad trip.
You know you are having a bad trip when your typewriter gains sentience. And becomes an even more disgusting version of the cockroach from the police station. And Bill has the same reaction as any sane person, CRUSH WITH BOTTLE. But then gets suckered into typing on its typewriter head, because that is what gets it off. Don’t worry folks, it makes less sense watching it. And apparently it’s the crazy drug cockroaches that lure people into homosexual lifestyle. We are only just gone 30 minutes into this, folks.
Of course the oily guy is named Hans. And is a pervert. Because that is Burroughs’ way. Meanwhile, Bill wants to meet a woman who looks like Joan and not fuck her. And meet her, he does. She is apparently in Interzone for the boys, all of who look like Scott Thompson’s wet dream. And there is long time David Cronenberg collaborator, Ian Holm – who seems to love working on Canadian films.
Bill’s wife murder has reached Interzone, mysteriously. It seems that wife killing is a long term past time in this universe, because Tom is some sort of psychic wizard who is killing his wife, too. Or it could just be some issue with Judy Davis.
Bill meets another oily, creepy guy – this time on a beach, this time the guy is Cloaky (yes, that is his name), this time he is a gay Englishman. In Interzone, apparently, everyone wants to fuck everyone else, regardless of personal preference. William Burroughs is one crazy dude (or was, since he is dead now). Meanwhile, Bill seems to finally accept his own “perversion” the only way he knows how – talking about people dying. At least that means that the script could pull wholesale from the book. Which makes even less sense than the film.
Man, the lighting in this film is amazing. Bill’s room is a bright, burned orange; and his bathroom is a washed, dull green – it is a brilliant combination. And it’s where Bill find out he can kill centipedes with his (powder fuelled, no doubt) breath. Making him the most useful exterminator ever, IMO.
Tom and Joan2 reveal to Bill that it’s now 2 weeks later, and that Hans has been deported – for running a drug den, not for being creepy. But then, with everyone being this creepy, how would you know what TOO creepy is. Tom gets Bill hooked on yet another drug and yet another typewriter – to go alongside Bill’s “normal” typewriter. Alas, though, he is out of black powder, and so must withdraw cold turkey – which just consists of the shakes and sweats, and watching his typewriter sexually devour the new one in a masterscene of stop motion not seen outside of a Quay Brothers production – I’ll have to check if they did it.
Bill is.....back in NYC? Nope, still in Interzone, where he visits with Joan2 who looks dead on to Joan now, same makeup and all. Her and Tom live in “a great restaurant in NYC”. Interzone – where everyone suffers from “sporadic hallucinations”. Joan2 may write in long hand, but she apparently has no objection to writing in Arabic, in a scene that looks like that scene from Ghost, if it was totally fucked up and gooey. And involved a typewriter bug’s penis that looks like a wet churro. Good thing it was stopped by her crazy German housefrau. And another typewriter gets destroyed.
Tom and his gay lover do not like that, but they do like typewriters. Joan2 and Bill head on down to the markets for a spot of “spot the housefrau”. The housefrau is indeed controlling Joan2, and running a housewife drug den. Meanwhile, Bill seems to think that rubbing the very last of the black powder on his bruises will help them...well, OK...I guess?
Bill gets told that he has to kill Joan2, who was sent to marry Bill. So, apparently Bill was/is a sleeper agent for the bugs and the cockroaches and centipedes are in a giant battle for control of.....I have no idea what. But Tom is back and he’s angry. And his gay lover kidnaps the typewriter cockroach – as you do.
Bill’s idiot hipster friends come and meet him on the beach, which is apparently the place to see and be seen. Bill, naturally, is starting to bleed realities and has been writing a book called Naked Lunch, while he is blacked out on various drugs. So he doesn’t believe it and blames it on some cabal – because that is what they do.
Bill is trying to convince the hipsters to stay with him. I don’t know why though, they are annoying – less so the Woody Allen one, but I still want to punch their necks. Apparently Interzone has a bus interchange; the geography of this world is very confusing. Thanks, Bill Burroughs. Thill Burroughs.
And, because he’s apparently done everything else, Billis drunk off his ass. And gets rescued by Hans’ little gay sidekick Kiki, who seems to be everywhere and just doesn’t care as long as he’s getting pounded. But does know how to fix a typewriter...by throwing it in the furnace. I tried that once, it didn’t work. I guess because mine didn’t turn into a Mugwump head.
Mugwump isn’t above giving Bill a literary blowjob to achieve his own ends. Mugwump has an in with the CIA? This really is a fucked up reality. And Bill seems to be very accepting of all this now – I guess his sanity has totally cracked. Apparently, Benway is at the center of the international drug trade and needs to be taken down, and taken down hard. And that is where Bill comes in – get close to Benway and do something to get rid of him. But not before having some sex with Kiki.
Good Ol’ Cloaky is back, simply to be a driver for Bill and Kiki, while Bill recounts one of Bill Burroughs’ more famed stories “The Man Who Taught His Asshole To Talk”. It is quite memorable.
Hmmm, Kiki refusing sex. And is apparently just a bargaining chip now, since Cloaky knows things and wants to put his doodle in Kiki. Bill isn’t above using this for his own end....pun intended. So, Cloaky was a giant centipede all along – of course, it makes perfect sense. Which pissed Bill off enough to get rid of the Mugwump head, which apparently causes one to lose all attachment with reality. That makes perfect sense to me as well.
This film has ZERO chronological order, because apparently Joan2 ran of weeks ago. So, says Tom at least. Then he sends Bill off to parts unknown to meet his old typewriter cockroach, leading to a tender goodbye scene and the location of Joan2. And she’s still with the housefrau and her housewife drug den –now the fun begins. And Hans is back, and suckling on the Mugwump’s teat. Interzone has the most fucked up drug trade in the history of ever – and here’s Benway, who was the housefrau all along. Roy Scheider is just chewing the scenery and anything that even remotely looks like scenery....WATCH OUT PETER WELLER!!
So, apparently, all Bill wants is Joan2, because she is some sort of muse. So much for doing what the bugs wanted. So, Bill and Joan2 head off to Annexia, happy and together. Or just drug fucked out of their collective minds. And yet, this scene is the most normal of the whole movie. I think it’s because of Bill’s flatcap....and cops from before as border guards....and William Tell routine.....and lo, it starts all over again. Silly Bill.
WELCOME TO ANNEXIA...
Holy piss – one of the people who designed and worked the puppets...Jamie Motherfucking Hyneman...well, I guess that is better than The Brothers Quay.
I hope you are happy, Jake.