William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
SPECIAL FEATURES B
DVD GEEK FACTOR 6.75
(OUT OF 10)
My favorite thing about author William S. Burroughs would have to be his speaking voice. His angry, whiny, slow growl always mesmerized me, and I could listen to him talk for hours. I loved it when he showed up in music, and his cameo in Drugstore Cowboy is a classic.
This documentary includes much footage of Burroughs reading from his works—or simply sitting in a car talking about guns and drugs. Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Iggy Pop, Thurston Moore and John Waters all offer their perspectives on the man's life, an interesting life indeed.
The movie devotes time to some of the crazier days, including his alleged accidental killing of his wife during a William Tell-like stunt. There's information on his musical collaborations and the filming of Naked Lunch by David Cronenberg. It also touches upon the short and sad life of Billy, Burroughs' troubled son.
As the film points out, Burroughs was also a visual artist (including "shotgun" art, where he would shoot spray cans), something he got a little more into toward the end of his life. Included are some interesting photos of Burroughs checking out his own art exhibit with Leonardo DiCaprio and Dennis Hopper in tow.
The film contains some of the last footage of him sitting with pal Allen Ginsberg (who died just a few months before him), the last words he scribbled in his journal, and a peaceful shot of him resting in his coffin. I wasn't aware that he had found a lot of peace and love in his final year. It's good to know he was feeling mellow.
If you are a Burroughs fan, this film has obvious appeal. For those unaware of his influence on literature and art, get cracking, and check this one out. He might not be the most likable and lovable artist to have walked the Earth, but he was a fascinating one.
The soundtrack includes music from Sonic Youth and Patti Smith ... just another reason to watch the movie.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, home movies and a Q&A with the film's director. There's also footage shot by Grant Hart of Husker Du featuring Burroughs creating some of his shotgun art, and Patti Smith reading "Psalm 23 Revisited."
SPECIAL FEATURES F
DVD GEEK FACTOR 5
(OUT OF 10)
This oddball film was directed by Tony Bill in 1987, and starred Jodie Foster right before her career skyrocketed. It also featured a couple of other actors named Tim Robbins (coming off his star turn in Howard the Duck) and John Turturro (a couple of years before he ignited his career with Do the Right Thing).
Bill directed one of my favorite films of the '80s, My Bodyguard. He also made his share of stinkers, like Six Weeks and Crazy People. This one falls somewhere in between.
Set in New York City in the '60s, Turturro plays Heinz, a psycho let out of prison after serving time for attempted rape. He immediately pursues Linda (Foster), his previous victim. Harry (Robbins), the young man who saved her, is now practicing nonviolence and is preparing for a trip South to assist the Civil Rights Movement.
Heinz, with an exposed scar on his head, comes off as a sort of Frankenstein's monster, killing penguins (yes, penguins) and carrying an unconscious Linda around for a good chunk of the film.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You get nuthin'!
Thelma and Louise: 20th Anniversary (Blu-ray)
20TH CENTURY FOX
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8
(OUT OF 10)
It's hard to believe this movie is 20 years old now. When it came out, some called it an ultra-violent, man-bashing movie, suggesting that it was just a little bit dangerous.
In reality, it was, and still is, a damn fine chase movie with very little violence and sympathetic male characters to spare. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis totally own it in this movie, playing two of the 20th century's greatest outlaws. And everything they shoot in this movie deserves it, including that slimy bastard's truck.
As for the actors, this is easily one of the best films Harvey Keitel ever took part in; his turn as a sympathetic lawman is among his finest work. Michael Madsen is some kind of sweetheart as Louise's beau, and Christopher McDonald is hilarious as Thelma's husband. Then there was a little guy named Brad Pitt doing his thing.
If Jodie Foster hadn't done The Silence of the Lambs that year, one of these women would've taken home a Best Actress Oscar, for sure.
SPECIAL FEATURES: There are two commentaries: one from director Ridley Scott, and the other featuring Davis and Sarandon—a commentary that is quite flawed. (Davis' commentary has an audio problem, and she's often reduced to mumbling.) You also get a retrospective on the film, deleted scenes and alternate scenes, including a different ending in which the '66 Thunderbird has a long a twisty plunge into the Grand Canyon.