Friday, November 09, 2007

Factotum DVD

Charles Bukowski isn't exactly rock'n'roll - in fact, he seems to have hated the music, in general - but he has certainly influenced many a rocker (incluing myself, who stole many of his phrases for song lyrics!), so I feel justified in reviewing him in this blog!

I know that films based on Bukowski are rarely well received, but I keep hoping for something worthwhile to come along.

I was terribly disappointed by Tales of Ordinary Madness (far too pretentious) and Crazy Love/Love is a Dog From Hell (so loosely based on Buk that it shouldn’t have even used his name). My first viewing of Barfly left me kinda cold – it was far too clean for my tastes – but I warmed up to it and learned to really like it for its own charms. (And who hasn’t used the “to all my friends!” toast in a bar since this movie came out?!)

Factotum received some bad reviews from fans and critics alike, but I actually dig it. As usual, a lot is lost in translation from book to movie. Lots of important parts are left out, but the visuals are pretty damn true to life. I lived in many of the same areas that Bukowski did so I know how dirty and f’k’d up the neighborhoods and apartments are. The places that they used in this flick feel real – it was like going home to my old crappy life watching this.

Matt Dillon portrays a fairly believable Chinaski – a little too handsome, not quite disheveled enough (though people say that Buk wasn’t quite the mess he described himself as) – but not bad. Lili Taylor is a good Jan, though, again, not quite right – far too young and too good looking – though she does give the character a hint of desperation.

There are stories that are abruptly ended rather than carried through to the proper conclusion, but obviously, movies never have the time that books have. Still, it’s not bad as a short portrait of a period of Bukowski’s life. I doubt that there will ever be a perfect Buk movie – it doesn’t seem like anyone is brave enough to do that – but in the meantime this and Barfly will have to do.

(PS – I was able to pick this up pretty cheap, so look for a used copy!)


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