Burroughs

Dir: Howard Brookner
1983
Knowing I was reading the Burroughs bio, Mr. C____ lent me an old tape of documentaries, including this one by Howard Brookner on El Hombre Invisible.
To me, it was like watching an adaptation of the book. Brookner hit the same marks, and included many of the same quotes, though glossing over a lot of the novels post-Naked Lunch. It was good to put face to name, and the doc, shot between ’79 and ’82, includes some meetings with old friends and family: Allen Ginsberg (in his non-beard phase), Lucien Carr, Bill Burroughs Jr. (months before he died, virtually homeless), Burroughs’ brother (who roughly dismisses Naked Lunch to his face), and the author’s last assistant (and one of the executive producers) James W. Grauerholz, who comes across like one of John Malkovich’s slippery characters. There’s also footage of Burroughs’ NYC “bunker” and clips from the experimental films he and other friends shot, and many readings from his works (most notably Nova Express). In the credits we find that Jim Jarmusch worked as sound man for many of the NYC shoots–a quick IMDB search shows that Brookner worked as crew on Jarmusch’s first film, “Permanent Vacation.”
This is a great doc, but is currently out of print on VHS or DVD. Here are some photos I found of the NYC bunker.
Brookner died after making only one feature film, Bloodhounds of Broadway, which boasted a major cast, but flopped seriously at the box office.

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