Quarter Life Crisis

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Factotum

363 words on

When I first read a book by Bukowski I was amazed how dirty and cruel language could be. I had never read anything like it before. So many dirty and violent words and thoughts – and yet such simplicity and brilliant stories! It amazes me to this day how all his fucked up stories and living of what you could call the ‘other American Dream’ can be so great.

With this fascination still living, I was keen to see the film Factotum which is based on some of his writings as Henry Chinaski, the writer who’ll take up any job to survive but is even more addicted to alcohol, women and not working.

shot from the film, Henry Chinaski and his girlfriend walking down the sidewalk, she's wearing his shoes

While the film did show a number of episodes from Chinaski’s life, involving numerous jobs and some women, along with the continuous presence of the typical brokenness, depression and urge to write, it left a very mixed impression with me in the end. My problem was that I thought it was too nice. By far too nice. Rich and beautiful colours everywhere. Paragraphs of the text being read out in a wholesome voice. Enjoyable to see and hear, but pretty much the opposite of what Bukowski means to me.

I had expected (and tend to think this isn’t just a matter of taste, but the way it should be in the film) people and places which look broken and fucked-up rather than well-lit, carefully coloured and just a little run down. I had expected the harsh words coming over harshly and not trying to charme me into liking them. All of that – while being nice to consume – seemed pretty wrong to me. So I was a bit disappointed.

Henry beating up some guy at the horse races

As a bonus, the local arts cinema showed the film Die letzten Stunden des Blues by some local filmmakers. A short film to some Bukowski text about dying with an old guy playing the role of the shattered drunk and puking writer. Not as pleasing to watch as the main film and not too sophisticated but more like what I had in mind! It was also amusing to see some local references, i.e. references from Göttingen, in the film.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

February 24, 2006, 0:35

Tagged as charles bukowski, factotum, film.

Comments

Comment by Tom Oak: User icon

Thanks for a review! Have you seen Barfly? Almost everything and everyone in it is, indeed, broken and run down.

March 3, 2006, 10:50

Comment by ssp: User icon

Thanks for the recommendation Tom. I’ll have a look for Barfly then.

March 3, 2006, 11:55

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