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After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in an Islamic port town in Africa.
For more about Naked Lunch and the Naked Lunch Blu-ray release, see Naked Lunch Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Nicholas Campbell
Director: David Cronenberg
» See full cast & crew
Naked Lunch Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 16, 2013
David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch" (1991) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the release include the film's original theatrical trailer; collection of artwork and photographs detailing the special effects by Chris Walas, Inc.; production stills by set photographer Attila Dory; featurette; audio recording of William S. Burroughs reading from his novel Naked Lunch; documentary film by Chris Rodley; audio commentary with director David Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller; and more. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring reprinted pieces by films critic Janet Maslin, director Chris Rodley, critic and novelist Gary Indiana, and William S. Burroughs. In English, with optionsl English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch is about a bizarre journey that begins and ends in the mind of a man people who have not experimented with drugs will likely never understand. It is like an intense dream which makes sense for as long as it lasts - then when one tries to remember it, one draws a blank. The film is loosely based on the famous book by William S. Burroughs, one of the icons of the Beat Generation and a man who experimented with virtually every drug he could get his hands on.
The main character (Peter Weller) in Naked Lunch is a failed writer turned bug exterminator who discovers that he is short on bug powder because his wife, Joan (Judy Davis), has started shooting up on it. Instead of trying to get her off the powder, Bill decides to experiment with it and see if it is as good as Joan claims. Soon after, his typewriter turns into a giant talking bug that urges him to head to the Interzone, a magical place where lost souls can rebuild their lives and roam free. Before he leaves, Bill accidentally shoots his wife in the head.
In the Interzone, Bill begins writing important reports - at least he is convinced that they are because it is never made clear why he is writing them. He also meets some older friends, one of whom tries to convince him that he is a homosexual. Another man (Julian Sands) he meets literally consumes his friend.
While exploring the darker corners of the Interzone, Bill comes to appreciate its entirety. He does not always understand what he sees or hears, but the atmosphere and the rhythm of life makes him feel good. Only occasionally he gets lost and wakes up with his heart racing in strange places that look a lot like junkyards.
Naked Lunch is Cronenberg's most unusual film, and arguably his best. It was inspired by a book which many believed was unfilmable because it is essentially a bizarre summation of drug-induced hallucinations and fantasies. There is no specific direction in it, only a certain atmosphere.
But in the film the atmosphere is actually surprisingly well recreated - practically the entire film tiptoes along the thin line that separates fantasy and reality, a place where drug addicts spend most of their time, with impressive authority. Like a dream, the strange Interzone makes sense for as long as Cronenberg guides us through it. When the film ends, we feel as if we have experienced a strange dream - the sensation is there but the logic needed to explain the dream isn't.
Another aspect of the film that impresses is the fact that it does not look kitschy. The direction, unique decors and costumes give it a modern retro look which is unlike anything else that has been accomplished before. This just goes to show that Cronenberg, who also wrote the script, was indeed the one and only director who could have effectively filmed Burroughs' ramblings.
Weller is simply superb as the confused bug exterminator who decides to enter the Interzone. A couple of his visions, and particularly the ones where he communicates with Clark Nova, are some of the wackiest sequences ever filmed. Davis is also terrific as his powder addicted wife. Sands has a limited time in front of the camera but leaves a memorable impression. The lovemaking fragment his character appears in is one of the true highlights in the film, a total mind-bender, something only Cronenberg could have envisioned.
Note: In 1992, Naked Lunch was nominated for the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film also won Best Director and Best Screenplay Awards (David Cronenberg) at the National Society of Film Critics Awards.
Naked Lunch Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The approved by director Cronenberg high-definition transfer has a lot in common with the one Italian distributors Eagle Pictures used for their Blu-ray release of Naked Lunch. The contrast settings and color reproduction, in particular, are virtually identical. The biggest advantage the Criterion release has is the substantially better compression, which has eliminated the edge shimmer present on the Italian release. Generally speaking, grain is also much better resolved. Brightness levels have been toned down a bit, but the difference isn't too obvious. However, the better saturated reds and browns, both very prominent colors throughout the film, give the Criterion release a richer, at times appropriately edgier look. During darker sequences some light noise still sneaks in, but it never becomes distracting. Some traces of extremely light sharpening, most likely inherited from the master that was used to produce the transfer, also remain. Lastly, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. Damage marks, flecks, scratches, and debris have also been removed as best as possible. To sum it all up, Criterion's Blu-ray release of Naked Lunch represents a solid upgrade in quality over the old R1 DVD release. It is also superior to the Italian release. However, there is still room for additional minor improvements. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Naked Lunch Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio standard track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
I prefer the two-channel lossless track, not the 5.1 track present on the Italian release. Unsurprisingly, dynamic movement is far better balanced and, in my opinion, more natural. Depth and especially clarity are also more consistent. This becomes very obvious where Ornette Coleman and Howard Shore's jazzy score becomes prominent and after the dialog returns. There are no audio dropouts, pops, cracks, or distortions to report in this review.
Naked Lunch Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Naked Lunch Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Arguably David Cronenberg's best film, Naked Lunch is a bold and audacious mind-bender with a style to die for. Similar to the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Lech Majewski, it is virtually impossible to describe with simple words. It has to be experienced - and especially by those who appreciate creativity in cinema. Criterion's upcoming Blu-ray release allows one to experience the film at home in the best possible way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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