A respectable addition to Bukowskiana, if respectability can be a criterion for the life and work of the pickled writer, Charles Bukowski. A mangily bearded Matt Dillon, in the part of the author's semi-autobiographical stand-in, Henry Chinaski, gives a full-bodied performance, and a literally full-body one, his head tilted backwards as if sighting down his nose, his feet shuffling along as if tugged by a rope. Phlegmatic, undemonstrative, unexhibitionistic, he wisely resists the temptation to romanticize or mythologize. (Lili Taylor makes a suitable mate as his main squeeze, brave enough to model lingerie in a body you would never see on the cover of Maxim.) And the deadpan detachment of Norwegian filmmaker Bent Hamer, of the droll Kitchen Stories, seems a good strategy in the face of a hell-bent boozer, granting us sufficient distance to see the humor. There is, at the same time, entirely too much first-person narration (curiously recited in a stride-and-glide Jack Nicholson cadence), which is another way of saying there's not much external activity. The episodic narrative goes nowhere fast. Meaning that wherever it goes, it does not go there fast. It goes everywhere slow. With Marisa Tomei and Fisher Stevens. 2006.

Duncan Shepherd

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