It's been a while since New York's most famous firefighter Steve Buscemi directed a full-length flick, but his next project sounds like a doozy.
A few years ago, Buscemi took part in a staged reading of writer-director Oren Moverman's script for an adaptation of the William S. Burroughs short novel "Queer." According to Moverman, whose next movie "Rampart" stars Woody Harrelson as a troubled cop, Buscemi will direct "Queer," and Guy Pearce, Ben Foster and Kelly Macdonald are attached to star. (Foster and Harrelson costar in Moverman's fantastic directorial debut, "The Messenger.")
Uncle Bill's novel "Naked Lunch" was successfully adapted by David Cronenberg for the 1992 movie starring Peter Weller, but his aren't typically books that lend themselves easily to a typical movie narrative. "Naked Lunch" and later novels employed the cut-up technique, a method made popular by writer and artist Brion Gysin where one literally cuts up the text and rearranges it.
Burroughs began writing "Queer" after the extraordinary accidental murder of his wife Joan Vollmer at a party in Mexico; they were drunkenly reenacting the "William Tell" legend of shooting an apple off someone's head, except Burroughs missed and killed her. (Whether or not it was an accident is another story entirely.)
According to Moverman, even though the murder of Joan Vollmer doesn't figure into the book, "that's sort of the incident that we started working with and built this whole movie around." It will be interesting to see how close the adaptation of "Queer" hews to the original text, or if it plays with it more along the lines of Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch." The latter was written during the author's cut-up period, so it's a less straightforward narrative which Cronenberg used as a jumping-off point for his own awesomely bizarre vision involving large talking bugs with anuses for mouths.
Of course, "Queer" is incendiary in its own way as well. It wasn't published for over 30 years, and it's about the character Lee's unrequited love for a younger man named Eugene Allerton and his obsessive search for a drug called Yage. Moverman described it as "the story of William S. Burroughs kind of discovering himself as a writer by being obsessed with this boy," so it will be interesting to see what form "Queer" takes on the big screen.
Although Buscemi's rather busy at the moment with "Boardwalk Empire," and there's no funding in place, Moverman hopes that they'll be able to start shooting after the next season of "Empire" is over.