William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Director: Yony Leyser
Year Released: 2010
Rating: 2.5

Half-decent - if disjointed and incomplete - documentary on the late, great American writer William S. Burroughs told in more or less anecdotal form by those who really knew him and/or those who brushed elbows with him on a couple occasions (Burroughs' true circle, sadly, are a part of the machinery of night). Admittedly, detailing all of Burroughs' life and complexities is a daunting task that requires more than ninety minutes, but Leyser does a fine job of gathering a series of intriguing commentators (the ever-reliable John Waters, for one) to shed light on Burroughs: he never identified as a Beat but was grouped with them, he would have hated to be grouped in with open homosexuals yet he was gay (and loved the wife he shot dearly), he was a junkie but wore a three-piece suit and looked like a college professor, he was considered one of the major influences of punk (and rock and roll) but disliked punk. It touches on many aspects of Burroughs' extensive and controversial life but quickly moves on to cover more ground: it's a nice outline of a complex life and a complex artist.