Friday, September 01, 2006

Jack of all trades, master of none?

I watched Factotum [a man who does many jobs] (to give it its full on-screen title) the other night. I'm not familiar with the works of Charles Bukowski, and to be honest I don't think this film has inspired me to read any, but that's not to say I didn't like it. It had something going for it, in the portrayal of the depressing life of the lead character, Henry Chinaski, nicely played by Matt Dillon.

The title Factotum, though, I felt to be a misnomer. Perhaps this was intentional and ironic. I kind of suspect so, since truthfully Chinaski couldn't hold down a job. So, yes, while he "does many jobs", he can't keep any.

The scariest/worst thing about the film was Lili Taylor, who looked particularly skanky despite putting in a totally convincing performance. My favourite scene was when the two of them are walking down the street trying car-door handles. It seems they are looking to steal a new car, but it turns out that they are taking cigarettes. Classic!

Score: I give this film 58 out of 100.


Blogger Red said...

I used to quite like Lili Taylor, but then she was in Six Feet Under and everybody came out of that so, so badly. Except, of course, Justin Theroux.

01 September, 2006 12:02  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

Here are some Bukowski recommendations.... Start with the novel Post Office. It is brilliant and funny and sad...Bukowski actually worked for the US Post Office for a while. As the book starts, Buk (Chinaski)tells us he's a drunk and gets hired as a Christmas letter carrier. First day, he's delivery something that needs a signature, and when he knocks on the door, a woman comes out sans clothes and says I'm lonely. Chinaski says I'm lonely too...this is the job for me oh yes yes yes....the last good thing to happen to him at the post office.

Then move on to some of his poetry. I like The Roominghouse Madrigals and also Play the Piano Drunk like a Percussion Instrument until the Fingers Bleed a bit. Also, for an insight into Bukowski listen to the fantastic CD by Tom Russell called Hotwalker, which takes you on a story and song tour of "Outsider America", mostly narrated by a dwarf named Little Jack Horton. He tells a great story about the day he and Bukowski were drinking, and Horton claims he can drive a diesel locomotive (he can't) they steal one, but can't figure out how to get it to stop. Fabulous stuff.

01 September, 2006 13:08  
Blogger Shep said...

Mr. Anchovy is right - Post Office is Bukowski's 'money shot', in that it actually has moments of poignancy and regret rather than his other novels where is all bad dames, the track, and liquor.

I saw Factotum the other night. I've seen all the other Buk films (Barfly, Tales Of Ordinary Madness, etc) and this was much the same. Matt didn't quite cut it despite bulking up for the part - anyone who's seen Bukowski in documentaries knows just how...unpleasant a character he is. Don't get me wrong, I love the books & poems, but he ain't pretty in any sense of the word.

Incidentally, think Lili Taylor did a great job - she looked real. I thought "Yeah, this is how real women look half nekkid". I thought she did a bang-up job in Six Feet Under too, mind...

01 September, 2006 15:46  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Red: You know what I think about Six Feet Under. It was all right for about one and a half seasons; then it went really shite.

Mr A/Shep: Thanks for the tips. When I eventually get around to Bukowski, I will definitely bear these in mind.

Shep: Lili did do a great job, but I don't think that's how real women look half nekkid. She was too toned, in that "I'm an actress and don't do anything but work out every day" way. She made it work in an "I'm a junkie" way, but most real women are neither actresses or junkies, I think...

03 September, 2006 09:27  
Blogger The Wanted Man said...

I liked it.

I love the bit when his boss is telling him off for basically doing fuck all and he retorts something like 'I gave you my time, thats all I have to give'.

Im considering getting that made as a t-shirt.

04 September, 2006 23:47  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

That was a good line, as it happens. To be fair, there were lots of good lines and amusing set-ups, but then you'd expect that from someone so revered as a writer.

05 September, 2006 07:22  

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