The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: January 7-13

01/07/2015 12:17 PM |


Naked Lunch (1991)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Five years after The Fly, Cronenberg returned to the theme of human/insect intersectional strife with this fetid, febrile semi-adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s cult 1959 novel (“semi,” because the writer/director smartly interweaves elements of biography, including the disastrous game of William Tell which saw Burroughs kill his wife). A gaunt, tight-lipped Peter Weller plays Burroughs surrogate Bill, a bug exterminator and latent writer trapped in an elliptical psychogenic fugue incorporating elements of drug-fuelled paranoia, corrosive guilt, sexual confusion and writer’s block. Cronenberg is admirably committed to keeping the viewer on the back foot, and crafts a dense, sardonic stew in which the constant slippage between different levels of hallucination—there is no “reality” here—is barely perceptible. Horribly sweaty close-ups, repugnant sexual imagery, and squalling, epigrammatic jazz blasts from the Ornette Coleman trio complete the package. Ashley Clark (Jan 9, 10, midnight at IFC Center’s Cronenberg series)