Naked Lunch Reviews
"Exterminate all rational thought."
Beyond bizarre. So far beyond bizarre that it's hard to organize my thoughts about what I have just seen. All I know for sure is that in the end, I really didn't care for it.
For the first half hour or so, I was in love with the movie. I found the whole insect poison as a drug thing interesting. As the film went on, I started to fall out of love with it. Then altogether, I just lost interest in what I was seeing. The viewing experience is very much like getting high. At first your having fun, it is a great time; but you must come down, and I did... hard.
To explain more than a few details of this plot would be tedious. So I'll just keep it to the bare minimums. An exterminator learns that his wife has been stealing his powder and has been shooting it up. His wife then turns him, an ex-junkie himself, onto the drug and soon is just as addicted as his wife. Then he starts hallucinating. Bugs are telling him secret information about all sorts of wild stuff. For awhile, the bug scenes are incredibly interesting, but after the third or fourth one, they become boring.
I won't say that I hated this movie altogether. Maybe with another watch later in life, I'll enjoy the whole experience more. Cronenberg is just a weird director and that's what makes him so interesting. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of him, yet. I've only seen five of his movies and I have fallen completely in love with any of them. But one thing I will say is that the bizarreness of Cronenberg is much easier to watch and get through, than that of Lynch.
If this plot at all interests you, I would at least give it a shot. It's well made and big time fans of Cronenberg should love it. Even if you don't like it in the end; there's enough interesting stuff going on, that it won't feel like you just completely wasted your time. You are sure to see images that you have never seen in another movie.
One obvious problem I had: the Arab world is once again portrayed as the place from which all strangeness comes. In a film that makes up various locales and has bug powder stand in for heroin, it is odd that one of the realities in the film is a narrow-minded conception of Arabia.
William S. Burroughs, the author of the novel upon which this film is based, didn't believe in revision, a lesson I contradict to my students. Burroughs believed that the first thought was always the best, the most true, the most expressive of author's intent. And by way of apology/explanation, this theory is advocated by the film's characters. Indeed, I see Naked Lunch as being more about writing than it is about a drug-addicted exterminator navigating a convoluted, noir plot. Lee falls accidentally into writing, much as Burroughs did, and he has a complex, adversarial relationship with the tools of his trade (the typewriters turn into talking bugs who tell him to seduce various other characters). It seems as though Naked Lunch is attempting to problematize the written word and the process by which it's produced.
Perhaps because I'm a writer and teacher of writing, this part of the plot spoke to me. The rest of it just climbed up various rungs on the fucked-up ladder.
Maybe after I read the book.