Burroughs: The Movie Returns to The New York Film Festival

October 10, 2014 4:05 PM

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Burroughs: The Movie opens with a clip from Saturday Night Live. The actress/ model Lauren Hutton introduces William S. Burroughs, proclaiming him the greatest living American writer, in her view. That last qualifier had to be included so that it would not look like a hoax, SNL's music director Hal Willner told me last night at the stellar revival of the documentary at the New York Film Festival, 31 years after its premiere screening at this prestigious festival. Its subject, the iconic Burroughs, and director, Howard Brookner, a young filmmaker who died of AIDS in 1989 at age 35, are now long gone, but vivid in the memory of Jim Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo, despite the drugs they took in the making of the film. Speaking of Burroughs' subversive behavior, his antics with guns, everyone lauded the work of literary executor James Grauerholz in keeping Burroughs in line, even moving him to Lawrence, Kansas.

The movie, thought lost, is making its comeback through the efforts of Howard Brookner's nephew, filmmaker Aaron Brookner. Set for a DVD release with Criterion/Janus, the film will have a run at the Anthology Film Archives. In his search for a print of the 1981 feature, Brookner discovered outtakes,...

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