Two of the more noteworthy Charles Bukowski quotes on movies illustrate the point:
“of one hundred movies there’s one that is fair, one that’s good and ninety eight that are very bad. most movies start badly and steadily get worse.”
“people see so many movies that when they finally see one not so bad as the others, they think it’s great. an Academy Award means that you don’t stink quite as much as your cousin.”
In spite of this distaste for nearly every movie he ever saw – there were a few exceptions, including his favorite movie, David Lynch’s Eraserhead – Bukowski was somehow convinced to write a screenplay for French director Babet Schroeder. He hung up on him when first asked, but apparently the money and his tendency to rise to a challenge won him over.
Bukowski writes Barfly
The result was Barfly, wherein Mickey Rourke plays Charles Bukowski alter-ego Henry Chinaski, who spends his time writing, fighting, drinking and navigating relationships with women who live in a similar style to his own.
Bukowski wrote the novel Hollywood about his experience writing the film, and the turbulent path the movie took toward production and release.
SlashFilm says of Barfly:
Vagabond poet and author Charles Bukowski let his demons out through his alter ego Henry Chinaski, a slightly less successful version of himself. While the struggles of his boozing years working crummy jobs trying to become a writer was the subject of his novel Factotum (also a film made after his death), Bukowski dipped into this well again for the screenplay of Barfly.
Mickey Rourke is fascinating and fantastic, nailing Bukowski’s blend of the pulpy and sublime. Barfly is a minor miracle of a movie, and the lore of its struggle to get made is perfectly in sync with the tone of the film. If you believe the legend, director Barbet Schroeder went into the offices of Golan and Globus with a mini buzzsaw and threatened to chop off his own arm when it looked like the picture wasn’t going to happen. You can read that and other stories in the three-layers-deep novel Hollywood Bukowski’s book of Chinaski’s take on Bukowski’s film version of Chinaski’s life.
Have you seen any or all of these films? Tell us in the comments.