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USA/Norway 2005
Directed by
Bent Hamer
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
3.5 stars


Synopsis: A visualisation of Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novel, Factotum.

is bukowski like cummings

without all the fucking wordplay

or do they both just like lower case

but bukowski liked capitals as much as the next guy

so no consistency there but never mind

so, was bukowski just some drunk

some womaniser



he wrote these books (exhibit a: factotum)

this canon of work, firing bolts of stories, poetry

words cascading over cheap notebooks (not the technological kind)

or bashed out on a typewriter – every line crashing out

with the staccato finality of the carriage return

he was born into this

the grim reality of life and art twisted up

thinking form/structure only worked on words once the spirit had been used up

so gave all his energy to covering those pages, sending them off to literary rags

so, this is Henry (Hank) Charles Bukowski becoming Hank Chinaski

and Hank becoming Matt Dillon

and Matt becoming the Factotum

the man who performs many jobs across 70s, 80s LA

except that Henry/Hank/Matt can’t hold a single damn job

down for more than a day, a week, a month

the only thing he holds down with any regularity is a gutful of rotgut

and the broads under him who take his cock like a knife

(although Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei do much more than this)

and the slight ember of hope that his words will finally be read.

Bukowski wrote Barfly too

But always thought Mickey Rourke was too pretty

Dillon is a big pretty guy too but got a gritty voice big enough for the poetry

(and the high contrast of the Dadafon tunes sure brings them out)

Dillon lumbering through the grimy city, grainy celluloid,

Plumbing the depths but also finding the laughs among a sea of characters,

And blowing that ember into flames for every wannabe out there.

Like me.

FYI: Anyone interested in filmic portrayals of the Bukowski's alter ego would be rewarded by checking out Marco Ferreri's 1981 film, Tales Of Ordinary Madness, that has Ben Gazzara playing the part and Barbet Schroeder's Barfly (1985), of which Harmer's film is a kind of re-working and in which Mickey Rourke takes on the role. Rourke and Dillon had played brothers in Coppola's Rumble Fish (1983).




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