I could try to pretend that I haven’t fallen face-first into a Melrose Place k-hole but when I’m not yelling at the screen, I’m mixing up a big batch of homemade tick repellent because I live deep in the woods & this time of year = balls. (Holy shit, Kimberly just came back from the dead!! Sydney is totally fucked, Amanda is a conniving bitch, I like Jake better with Jo, Allison & Billy are fucking retarded, Michael is so much better as a prick, they’re not utilizing Jane very well & I really hope they show some hot man on man action with Matt! I’m thinking something in the tone of a Leather Daddy gangbang & poppers!)
What the fuck am I talking about? Oh, right, my extended absence from running off at the mouth. I’ve also taken up jogging, been downsizing my possessions for cash while defeating that purpose and buying tons of makeup, records & clothes, I started collecting vintage cocker spaniel photographs because I have the best dog in the universe & I don’t go anywhere without him, I have tried several self-tanners to disastrous effect, buying foreign movie posters, walking around with a camera stuck to my eyehole & before you know it, I’ll be putting in my garden, so…
Aside from that, is it just me or are most comments on Twitter irritating as shit? There are people who never have anything positive or interesting to say, I can’t imagine how terrible life would be if all you did was live-tweet every dreadful moment. So the idea of writing something that I know to be below par & pimping it makes me just another asshole out there adding to the garbage pile & it’s easier to just…..not. Ya know?
Now that I’ve effectively run everyone off, let’s get down to the review!
Being a longtime Bukowski reader & a diehard Barfly fan, I never really had much interest in seeing Factotum but was urged to watch it at the insistence of a friend who assured me my preconceived notions were wildly inaccurate. (shut up, you’re verbose!) I’ve had Tales of Ordinary Madness sitting around for years and as much as I enjoy seeing “Brad Wesley” in action I haven’t found the desire to bear witness
I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by going on about the differences between the book and the film; it’s pretty much universally true that the book is always better and only on rare occasions does the film manage to be as good. (liberties being taken notwithstanding) This movie showcases some of the most treacherous miscasting I’ve ever seen. I like Matt Dillon (The Outsiders, Wild Things) he’s a versatile actor who effortlessly embodies adjectives like “dreamy” and “brooding.” He has these deep, dark pools of blackness for eyes that barely hint at what they contain which is quite possibly the keys to the universe, my heart or (hopefully) a trunk full of sexy, filthy secrets. No one would dare argue that he didn’t crush it in Drugstore Cowboy, but Bukowski, I’m sorry, he ain’t.
If I even start on Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, Untamed Heart) this is going to regress into hurtful, childish name calling. My Cousin Vinny. An Oscar. I can’t even speak. Exactly how deeply can we submerge the bar? Lily Taylor (Say Anything, Short Cuts) was a high point, I think the realism she brings to the film is a much needed shot in the arm to an otherwise drab & lifeless cast. There are a handful of moments that translate well but overall it felt very insincere to me, as if it were some fancy country club production about the downtrodden with Preston Carlisle Cavendish III removing his ascot long enough to pretend that he’s ever known what life without shit paper is like. It’s a swing & a miss, it’s an insult. Barfly isn’t a perfect film but Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart, Rumble Fish) did the man justice, he lent authenticity to his portrayal while Dillon recited lines on his marks & came off like he was doing the camera a favor by being in front of it.
Even trying to enjoy this by not viewing it as biography but as a fictional film on the character of Henry Chinaski proved fruitless. Chinaski was Bukwoski, whether you smooth edges, glorify, romanticize, all that alter ego bullshit aside – they’re part of the same mad machine. Maybe I’m missing something, maybe my inability to separate is what causes me to dislike this film so much but I think it’s deeper than that. This is a movie for tourists, not locals & I don’t mean for that to reek of lowbrow pretention but it does. I don’t possess a deeper understanding of the man or of film, I can only speak on what moves me & this unfortunately did not. Something that continually gnawed at me was injecting his writing into a contemporary setting. The locations are mostly bars which lend themselves well to a certain timelessness but it’s off-putting to dress the main character in almost nothing but vintage clothes. Every shithole rooming house that he (would’ve) stayed in was overflowing with gorgeous antique furnishings. When the camera finally hits an outdoor shot you’re smacked in the face with a PT Cruiser. It all felt very disjointed and only served to annoy. The film ends with Chinaski having a drink in a strip club while watching a dancer and in voiceover quoting from the poem “Roll the Dice.”
Buk had the mind of a beast, he was piss & firecrackers, he was stolen bologna on stale bread, he was painfully proud pockmarks, he was an angry slab of dick pumping between folds of flesh and into the shit storm of his soul… this is the beauty of Bukowksi that lives on in his work. Factotum while being technically well made fails to attain greatness despite the arsenal of material & talent at its disposal. I know that I’m a hard sell as well as an opinionated asshole when it comes to things that I love – so while this film did little for me, give it a shot & see what you think. Or better yet read some of his work. Actually, ya know what? Belly up to the bar & hustle yourself some pussy, there’s a whole world out there waiting to be devoured.
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