David Cronenberg has made some weird movies in his day. (I know: understatement of the decade.) There was the gory, transformative body-horror of "The Fly;" the automobile-accident fetishists of "Crash;" the techno-punk-philosophers who populate "Cosmopolis." But none of his films will throw you for as many loops as his "Naked Lunch." His adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ seminal novel is the cinema’s great realization of the Beat Generation, the postmodernists of American literature. As Burroughs’ surrogate Bill Lee wanders around Cronenberg’s wasteland - full of bug-cum-typewriters who ooze bodily fluids, and drug addicted, pseudo-suicidal girlfriends - you begin to realize that what you’re watching isn’t a story at all. "Naked Lunch" is a twisted acid trip; collapsing all concepts of time, space, and yes, narrative; a nightmarish biopic of the man responsible for the adapted text as much as it is a cinematic translation of the novel.
Criteron’s update of their special edition DVD release contains all the previously-released special features: an audio commentary with Cronenberg; a long-form documentary detailing the making of the film; a gallery of images of both the film’s special effects and its marketing materials; a recording of Burroughs reading aloud passages from the titular novel; and finally a photo gallery of Burroughs, featuring shots taken by the seminal gay poet Allen Ginsburg.
The recently released "On the Road" may have adapted the words that defined the Beat Generation, but Cronenberg’s "Naked Lunch" does what that film couldn’t: it adapts the rhythms, the transgressions, the poetry. It’s not an adaptation of a novel; it’s an adaptation of a person, of a movement, of a feeling.