Interesting documentary. Fascinating man. And a bit of an as*h*le.
As with “The Barkley Marathon” documentary, the baby boomers may rub you the wrong way. One old geezer is convinced he saw Charles shrink to the size of a gnome and swears by it. There are also some truly hideous dumb broads that illustrate what the myopic, self-indulgent, hippie lifestyle eventually turns you into. A bearded cat lady.
But even though they were Bukowski’s peers, he hated them too so don’t be deterred. One of his most famous poems, (the one this film is named after), is all about the red pill blues:
Still resonates today, huh?
He was a very hard worker, with a “Protestant work ethic” that he didn’t betray, and yet he recognized what a disgusting and pitiful system we live under now. He was a vagabond with legitimate grievances who still put in 15+ years at the post office. A true working man’s hero, he slaved away and sacrificed so that he could do what he loved. Ironically, he achieved the American Dream by bashing it. Much like Michael Moore, but more like-able. An interview with his publisher puts things into perspective, detailing how Bukowski was a functioning alcoholic with a machine-like production of literature despite working full time. This was only possible because he rejected the modern world and lived in minimalist poverty for decades. Much more respectable than the bourgeois beatniks he’s lumped in with. But to be fair, he definitely was a degenerate hedonist as well; something this documentary doesn’t shy away from. Instead it just explores the root causes and lets the audience make up their own mind on if Bukowski was more of a product of his hot-blooded genes or his rough childhood.
Speaking of which, I found out that he was born with 1/4th Jewish blood and somehow managed to still be anti-semitic. (Supposedly.) And you see some of that briefly in the film as he rants about Jewish attorneys or drives with an iron cross over his rear view mirror. But I get the vibe he’s just a drunkard in a non-PC era, with a chip on his shoulder after living in predominantly Jewish Hollywood for so long. And irrespective of his impetus, it’s such a bittersweet breath-of-fresh-air to witness unfiltered passion rage on. A window into the generation that spit on tradition and forsake western civilization, but also a window into what kind of expression was once possible before social media lynch mobs and SJW censorship.
Conclusion? If you’re not into literature or American history, then you may want to skip this film. Especially if you’ve never heard of Bukowski. But you don’t have to be a poet to appreciate this movie either. God knows I’m certainly not– I’d only briefly heard some of his poems before, but was still captivated throughout the doc. So check it out if you feel like, and pay to do so if you can afford it.
Other reviews by Libertarian Agnostic:
Search all Staff Reviews from STFU Hollywood: