Bukowski: Born Into This

dir. Dullaghan

Opens Fri June 11

Cinema 21

Along with my all-time favorite writer Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski was one of those writers I discovered in my teen-hood who told me I wasn't alone. He was a jerk, and a drunk, and a womanizer, and hysterically funny, and thought shitty thoughts about people and the world. He was also a regular guy. He worked in the post office in LA for 15 years, finally quitting when a fan and eventual business partner offered to pay him $100 a month to quit his job and start writing full time.

Born Into This is an extremely comprehensive and thoroughly depressing documentary about Bukowski's life. Beaten by his father and plagued with the worst case of acne ever known, it's admirable that Bukowski didn't commit suicide sometime during high school, and instead became one of the most famous and well-loved writers of all time.

This documentary is packed with old Bukowski interviews, and new interviews with girlfriends, friends, his wife, daughter, and fans. In fact, the only flaw of the documentary is that there is almost too much footage--some of the interviews seemed unnecessary, especially those with Bono and Sean Penn (both fans), some guy at a bookstore, the director of Barfly, etc. At two hours long, I started to shift in my seat, but thankfully never found myself too bored, because exciting moments always popped up. The scenes of a drunk and violent Bukowski, a drunk and crying Bukowski, and the live poetry readings were so profoundly amazing that they made up for any of the less compelling footage. You see Bukowski demanding another bottle of wine on a stage in LA, a clip of him looking out the window for his girlfriend who has left him, and tape of him crying at his own wedding.

His life is certainly filled with pain and drama, which makes for a documentary full of intrigue and life. Even if you're not a huge Bukowski fan, seeing this everyman's rise to fame should be inspiring to anyone.