Blu-ray Review Naked Lunch Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template Naked Lunch Blu-ray Review

    A drug-fueled fantasia on the nature of inspiration and the forces that can stifle it, David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch is a mix of ideas that sometimes work and conceptions that often don’t, and its eventual success or failure as a film relates very clearly to how much hallucinogenic nonsense a viewer is willing to ingest in order to arrive at the writer-director’s very basic thematic proposition.

    Posted Image

    Studio: Criterion

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

    Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: R

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 52 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

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    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 04/09/2013

    MSRP: $39.95

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    An exterminator who wants to become a full-time professional writer, Bill Lee (Peter Weller) takes a cue from his drug-addicted wife Joan (Judy Davis) that the bug powder he’s using as insecticide makes a wonderful hallucinogen. Bill shoots up and finds his mind instantly open to new ideas. In his drug-induced state, he murders his wife and flees the authorities escaping with the help of the shady Dr. Benway (Roy Scheider) to the Interzone. Under the influence of a new drug called Dark Meat culled from centipedes, Bill not only begins writing reports of his activities but begins exploring his homosexual leanings without fully letting go of his obsession with Joan who, surprisingly enough, appears in doppelganger form as the wife of Interzone fellow writer Tom Frost (Ian Holm). But Bill has a hard time keeping his concentration on writing with the procession of beautiful men who parade through the Interzone, the haunting resemblance that Joan Frost has to his Joan, and the bug-turned-typewriters that make unreasonable demands on his time and skill. But something wonderful is happening since his friends Hank (Nicholas Campbell) and Martin (Michael Zelniker) are reading his “reports” and realize he has the makings of a successful book from his drug-influenced scribblings.As with almost every other film that has ever tried to interestingly portray the difficult task of writing, Naked Lunch concentrates not on the writing at all but instead on the activities which surround the writing. David Cronenberg has taken incidents not only from author William Burroughs' original book but also from other Burroughs works and even events from his own life not previously used in a narrative context and mixed it together with his own far-out imagination. The result is a mess if one is looking for a conventional plot or progressively conceived and motivated characters. With its talking typewriter beetles (with the talking accomplished by a portion of the anatomy better left unmentioned), an Arabic writing machine with both male and female genitalia, and larval mugwumps that produce a milky “jism” as potent as LSD, there is plenty of weirdness to make this yet another Cronenberg cult epic. But the director shies away from much of the author’s exploration of his own homosexual nature; whether it’s due to his own or his lead actor’s unwillingness to commit fully to its portrayal is anyone’s guess. The tentativeness with which it’s handled is obvious, however, and a definite lapse on the part of the “storytelling” such as it is.Peter Weller pretty much walks through the film comatose; it’s an obvious actor’s choice and not a bad performance, but it requires everyone around him to bring the color to the film since its lead is so emotionless. Luckily, the film is blessed with very expressive actors who support him brilliantly. Judy Davis, one of the great English-speaking actresses who has never received her due as a risk-taking dazzling actress, makes quite a bit from her roles as the two different Joans: one a drug-dazed wife and the other a reserved but committed swinger drawn to sexual experimentation. Ian Holm, always good as the agreeable man who can take only so much before retaliating, is excellent. Julian Sands as the alluring but calculating Yves Cloquet who does his utmost to get Bill into bed strikes some statuesque poses. Monique Mercure as the dictatorial Fadela and Roy Scheider as the duplicitous Dr. Benway also provide an intriguing pair of scenes apiece.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film has been framed for this release in the director’s preferred aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness throughout is excellent except for a scene or two where lower contrast contributes to a murkier image lacking crisp detail. Though hues are often very striking, color is thickly saturated on occasion with some orange tinting in some scenes leading to slightly unnatural flesh tones from time to time. Black levels are very good, and overall it’s an outstanding transfer. The film has been divided into 22 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo surround track allows the music to provide most of the sound envelopment in the mix. Howard Shore’s quirky music complements the visuals nicely throughout, and the mix is highly reminiscent of the sound of the film in theaters. Dialogue is always discernible and has been placed in the center channel.

    Special Features Rating: 4/5

    Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller have been recorded separately with their illuminating comments edited together to make this one very effective commentary track.Naked Making Lunch (48:53, HD): filmmaker Chris Rodley filmed a behind-the-scenes documentary during the film’s production which ended up as an episode of The South Bank Show. It features comments from the film’s director, original author, producer, and several members of the cast.Special Effects Gallery: includes a step-through gallery of drawings, stills, and models of the creatures designed by Chris Walas, Inc. Essays on the designs are by Jody Duncan.Stills and Design Sketch Gallery: another step-through gallery of drawings and stills for the film’s characters and sequences.Theatrical Trailer (1:39, HD)EPK Featurette (6:13, HD)B-Roll Montage (3:06, HD): behind-the-scenes shots during productionTV Spot Ads (0:33, HD each): two adsPhoto Gallery: a step-through gallery of photos of William Burroughs and his friends shot and annotated by Allen Ginsberg.41-Page Booklet: contains the chapter listing, cast and crew lists, a few stills, Janet Maslin’s New York Times review of the movie, playwright Gary Indiana’s essay on William Burroughs, filmmaker Chris Rodley’s essay on the making of the movie, and author William Burroughs’ own thoughts about turning his book into a film.Timeline: which can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc, the title of the chapter you’re now in, and index markers for the commentary that goes along with the film, all of which can be switched on the fly. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    A cult film that fits neatly in with some of director David Cronenberg’s other unusual works, Naked Lunch is a unique but only partially successful piece of avant-garde cinema. The Blu-ray transfer is a mostly magnificent one.

    Reviewed By: Matt Hough

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  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

    Sep 20, 2002
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    I've always liked this one. Glad to see Criterion has done right again. I'll be grabbing it during the next sale.
  3. chris198810

    chris198810 Auditioning

    Jul 11, 2011
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    Yes, a good movie. I have been expected this for a period.
  4. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Jan 6, 1999
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    Thanks for the great review, Matt!
  5. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer

    Nov 15, 2001
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    Neil Middlemiss
    I saw this film in the theaters back in the UK. I was just 16 at the time and in the midst of a cinematic awakening (evolving from a love of movies to a love of the cinema). I found this film odd, confusing, and fascinating and I am always glad that I caught this one when I did as it provided me appetite for more unconventional cinema.

    Thanks for the review, Matt.

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