Movie Reviews


BukowskiBukowski: Born Into This

Starring: Charles "Hank" Bukowski, Linda Bukowski, Harry Dean Stanton, Sean Penn and Bono
Directed by: John Dullaghan
Soundtrack Review

Bluntly speaking? This aint exactly a family friendly documentary and the film's subject, Charles Bukowski - who wasn't always particularly pleasant, but who was always pleasantly particular - would have been just fine with that. In fact the great "unknown" American writer, infamous in some circles for his brutally honest works, 'Love is a Hound From Hell', 'Ham on Rye', 'Post Office' and 'Women', wanted to "whack the Disney out of people's heads"; he had a hair across his ass about the whole "Disnefication" of America, amongst other things.

Charles "Hank" Bukowski was a gruff, blunt, hard drinking, injured man that, even more (in my opinion) than the infamous beat writers, Herbert "The Junkie" Hunke or Jack Kerouac, with whom he is often mistakenly categorized with, captured the darkest of the human inner workings with the most gritty and powerful prose - street prose - of our time. He borders on obscene sometimes, yet before you're at the edge of the trashcan if you stop and actually listen to the words he's adjoined, beneath the baroque bar-room tinged adjectives, you'll find a devote, profound, realness. Rare, incredible realness.

Bukowski's words dance - like a boxer - across the page. He wrote from the gut - just below the heart and above the groin, but always infused both, with a bit of the brain. He spoke frankly about things people didn't speak about. He stripped himself, emotionally unafraid - in his writing at least - managing to etch a moment on paper describing what many of us think, feel, want, wish, have never, nor never will be a part of and so forth. Brave.

He was known as "The King of the Small Magazines." Those inexpensive poetry give-a-way style magazines you find on your way out of an artsy urban coffee shop (even in his day). But as his audience grew across America, the hard covers came, and a treasure trove of gristle filled novels. To this day - whether you like his style of grouchy whack literature or not - Bukowski's rants on hangovers and poop dowsed wallets, whores and pain, and underbelly stand proudly on any self-respecting bookstore in the world; most of his novels in their thirtieth printing.

Bukowski also wrote about his "earlier dayz" in a film called Barfly. The film received mixed reactions. A Snaglepuss accented unwashed version of the then "it" guy, the pre-fight scared mega-talent Mickey Rouke, played Bukowski. For the role Rouke was less subdued than the real Bukowski, ultimately spewing the words like an animated drunken Bowery Boy with lock-jaw. Hence the small film, sadly, had an even smaller audience - and Bukowski remained a visionary secret among the intelligente.

This documentary meanders but Bukowski's fans are indeed in for a treat as the warts-and-all footage of the man peeks into his pain - a pain that created a remarkable writer. Bukowski even thanks (tongue in cheek) his abusive father for the perpetual sadistic beatings that showed him there was "pain for no reason," in life, his life-long study, translated to paper, followed.

For the people who have all ready discovered Bukowski's work, this film's a devilish delight filled with personal interviews with famous friends of his, like "The Keith Richards of Actors" Harry Dean Stanton, Sean Penn, Bono, wife Linda Bukowski, with plenty of Bukowski's prose graphically floating around on the screen, to indulge the mind. A less in-the-know audience, however, will need to grant the film its faux pas of filmatic elegance, since novice director, John Dullaghan, obviously an avid fan, doesn't want to lose one frame of his subject. As a result the film can be often slow and indulgent. Know that for those willing to permit Dullaghan his fancy, you'll find a fascinating wildly unique individual in Bukowski with an intense talent worthy of the time commitment (113 minutes). And the film doesn't have the production savvy of say a, The Kid Stays in the Picture, but if you're familiar with Bukowski you know it really really shouldn't.

Snack recommendation: A vat of wine and some rolled smokes.

Here's a pinch of Bukowski's
'Young in New Orleans'

sitting up in my bed
the lights out,
hearing the outside
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
the grape
as I heard the rats
moving about the
I preferred them
being lost,
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
that way

The Emilyism©






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