search

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

William S. Burroughs was the most patrician of the Beat writers, a scion of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, but he was also the most scandalous. As filmmaker John Waters points out in Yony Leyser's engaging documentary, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, the writer became famous "for things you were supposed to hide." Openly gay decades before Stonewall, addicted to heroin and notorious for accidentally killing his wife, Joan Vollmer, he cuts a larger than life figure. Literary types will swarm to this doc if they can find it in limited distribution.

Burroughs died in 1997 at the age of 83, nevertheless the author of Naked Lunch, Queer and Junky appears throughout the film, notably reading from his work and off in the fields around his Lawrence, Kansas home firing guns, an unsurprising hobby in a man who shot his spouse during a game of William Tell. As an elderly man, Burroughs cuts a spectral figure, yet among the sea of faces (many of them famous) that populate the documentary, his is the most commanding presence, his charm and charisma evident even in his diminished state.

In a scant 90 minutes, Leyser pulls together archival footage, animated sequences and scores of interviews. Among the people who make an appearance are writer/actor Marcus Ewert, Burroughs' last and decades younger lover; Naked Lunch screenwriter/director David Cronenberg and his star Peter Weller (who also serves as the doc's narrator); poet/playwright Amiri Baraka; poet Diane DiPrima; performance artist Laurie Anderson; and a plethora of pop stars, including Patti Smith (who writes about Burroughs in her recent memoir Just Kids), Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Jello Biafra, Genesis P-Orridge and an exuberant Iggy Pop. Viewpoints may differ between these and the film's other talking heads, but there are a few elements nearly all of the interviews have in common: affection and enthusiasm for the subject and an acknowledgement of the enormous influence this outlaw writer had on both his contemporaries and those who came after him.

Leyser has done his job with this, his first feature, burnishing Burroughs' legend and making manifest the enormous shadow he still casts over writers and artists of all stripe. It's a persuasive documentary; one that ought to gain Burroughs some new converts if the film itself can find a wide enough audience.

— Pam Grady, Boxoffice Magazine

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Wed February 2, 2011, 7:00 & 9:00, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2010, Color/B&W, 74 min, DP, 1.85:1, Unrated • official site

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Fri Sep 24, 2021

Repo Man

At Muenzinger Auditorium

Sat Sep 25, 2021

Walker

At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...