Bukowski: Born Into This ~ (USA, 2003) ~ DVD

bukowskiFrom April ’06

 This documentary of Charles Bukowski, made up of culled material from various sources, does seem to capture Hank, warts and all. As it should be. To its credit, the documentary even explores Bukowski’s preferred image, as well as the ‘other’ side of Hank that he struggles to suppress, yet yearns to show. This is perfectly captured of course, in his poem “the bluebird”, which Hank affectingly recites here.

Usually I don’t have the patience to play around with all of the DVD extras. There are exceptions, and the DVD of this film is well worth exploring, including as it does some recitations of HB poems by some of those interviewed for this documentary: Sean Penn, Tom Waits, and Bono. Oh … and let’s not forget Harry Dean Stanton, an old buddy of Hank’s apparently. Are we into a Harry Dean Stanton renaissance now? One of my all-time favorite character actors, HDS is now appearing at his sleazy best as the cult leader in HBO’s Big Love.

This is not a documentary for everyone. Those unfamiliar with Bukowski and his work will surely be appalled by his views of women and his language. Those familiar with him will see it all for what it is. As for the biographical stuff, perhaps Hank plays up the beatings by his father for affect. Who can know, really? But the fascination remains the development and commitment to his art. How Hank’s work essentially gravitated from short fiction to poetry was a revelation into the heart of a committed (and stubborn) artist.

Bukowski stands as a monument to the thesis that it is possible to dislike the man (though I cannot bring myself to) and have the utmost respect for his production.

born like this
into this
as the chalk faces smile
as Mrs. Death laughs
as the elevators break
as political landscapes dissolve
as the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
as the oily fish spit out their oily prey
as the sun is masked



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