Very rarely does Steve Buscemi get behind the camera, but when he does he makes it as exciting as when he is in front of it. After a few episodes for The Sopranos and 30 Rock, and interesting films such as Interview, Animal Factory and Trees Lounge, Buscemi gets into the director’s chair once again, this time for… Queer.
The film he’ll be bringing us is written by Oren Moverman (I’m Not There, The Messenger, Rampart) and tells the story of the Beat Generation’s father figure, William S. Burroughs. The plot will mainly focus on the events described in the author’s famous first ever novels Queer and Junkie and it will revolve mostly around the time that the writer spent in Mexico City in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The movie will be produced by Buscemi and Moverman alongside Wren Arthur. A distributor has not been found yet as filming is only about to begin and a release date has not been announced but the project is expected to get to us early 2013.
It is not often that William S. Burroughs‘ strange and violent persona gets a place in film and the first time this year to see his character on screen will come with On The Road and Viggo Mortensen, who has been given the role of Old Bull Lee. Queer will focus entirely on him and the autobiographical novel that the movie will revolve around is notorious for pushing it, which makes Queer an even more exciting project to look forward to.
Moverman describes the novel that the story comes from as the author’s process of discovering himself as a writer, through his obsession with a young man. However at the same time that the book was written, Burroughs also accidentally killed his wife, Joan Vollmer, while trying to shoot an apple off her head, an incident that is not even mentioned in the writing. In fact very little is said about Vollmer altogether, but the movie will include the famous crime and build its plot around the incident as well as Burroughs’ early works.
The screenwriter wrote the script almost ten years ago and it’s been sitting on the shelf waiting for the right director all these years. It will be interesting to see how faithful to the actual text the film will be as well as whether the chronological order of the written events will be kept the same. Uncle Bill’s novels are known to be extremely difficult to adapt and for this reason very few have tried so far. David Cronenberg did a great job with Naked Lunch, but other than that very few efforts have been successful.
This attempt though looks rather promising. The book was written in 1952 and only managed to get published in 1984 due to its controversial content and it was put together by a man who had just accidentally killed his wife but who however chose to write about his love towards a young man named Eugene Allerton and his constant search for the perfect drug called Yage. A great cast has so far been assembled with Guy Pearce, Kelly MacDonald and Ben Foster having the three main roles. Oren Moverman signs the script and Steve Buscemi directs. Not much can go wrong with this project, so looks like Queer is another film truly worth waiting for.
William S. Burroughs at Wikipedia
Queer (novel) at Wikipedia
Junkie (novel) at Wikipedia
The Beat Generation at Wikipedia
For a comprehensive list of Beat Movement films, see The Beat Movement on Film: A Comprehensive Screening List, by Ray Carney, at Boston University website (people.bu.edu)
For an overview of Beat Movement cinema, read An Overview of the Major Works of Beat Filmmaking by Ray Carney, at Boston University website (people.bu.edu)
See also in the ”Coming Soon” section at Unsung Films: