The Charles Bukowski novel Factotum, centered around the trials and tribulations of working stiff and struggling writer Henry Chinaski, was adapted into a film of the same name in 2005. The movie version of Factotum features Matt Dillon in a strong performance as Henry Chinaski (who was previously played, also impressively, by Mickey Rourke, in 1987’s Barfly, which was written by Bukowski himself).
Factotum also stars Lili Taylor as Chinaski’s main love interest in the film, Jan, as well as Marisa Tomei as Laura, another, shorter lived, romantic partner.
Factotum Movie Quotes
Older man at bar: Feeling bad?
Henry Chinaski: I’ve felt better.
Older man at bar: Kid, I’ve probably slept longer than you’ve lived.
Cab driving instructor: Now when is the only time a man could lose control of his cab and he won’t be able to help it?
Mendoza (potential cabbie): When I get a hard-on?
Cab driving instructor: Mendoza, if you can’t drive with a hard-on, we can’t use you. Some of our best men drive with hard-ons all day long, all night too.
Chinaski: As we live we all get caught and torn by various traps. Writing can trap you. Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past. They hear accolades and believe them. There is only one final judge of writing, and that is the writer. When he is swayed by the critics, the editors, the publishers, the readers, then he’s finished. And of course when he’s swayed with his fame and his fortune, you can float him down the river with the turds.
Hiring manager at pickle factory: A writer, huh?
Manager: Are you sure?
Chinaski: No, I’m not.
Manager: Why do you want to work in a pickle factory.
Chinaski: It reminds me of my grandmother.
Manager: It does?
Chinaski: She used to serve me pickles whenever I visited her.
Manager: What do you write?
Chinaski: Mostly short stories and I’m halfway through a novel.
Manager: What’s it about?
Manager: You mean, for instance, it’s about my cancer?
Manager: How about my wife?
Chinaski: She’s in there too.
Chinaski: I wrote three or four short stories a week. I kept things in the mail. I imagined how the editors of The New Yorker must be reacting.
New Yorker Editor (Chinaski imagining): Hey, here’s another one of those things from that nut.
Chinaski: You married, Manny?
Manny: No way, no.
Manny: Sometimes. It never lasts.
Chinaski: What’s the problem?
Manny: A woman is like a fulltime job. You have to choose your profession.
Chinaski: Yeah, I suppose there is an emotional drain.
Manny: Physical too. They want to fuck night and day.
Chinaski: Well, get one you like to fuck.
Manny: Yeah, but if you drink or gamble they think it’s a put down of their love.
Chinaski: Well, get one who likes to drink, gamble and fuck.
Manny: Who wants a woman like that?
Jan: Mister horse player. Mister big horse player. You know, when I first met ya, I liked the way you walked across a room. You didn’t just walk across a room, you walked like you were walking through walls, like you owned the place. Like nothing mattered. Well now you got a few bucks in your pocket. You’re not the same anymore. You act like you’re a dental student. Or a plumber.
Chinaski: Don’t give me any shit about plumbers, Jan.
Jan: You haven’t made love to me in two weeks.
Chinaski: Love takes many forms, mine has been more subtle.
Jan: Yeah, you haven’t fucked me in two weeks.
Chinaski: Have some patience, in six months we’ll be vacationing in Rome and Paris.
Jan: Look at you, pouring yourself that good whiskey, letting me sit here drinking this rotgut wine. You’re mister big time horse player.
Chinaski: I give you soul, I give you wisdom, I give you light, and music, and some laughter. By the way, I am the world’s greatest horse player.
Chinaski: No, horseplayer!
Chinaski (voiceover): I understood too well that great lovers were always men of leisure. I fucked better as a bum than as a puncher of time clocks.
Mantz (bicycle shop boss): Sit down, Chinaski. You knew we were gonna let you go.
Chinaski: Yeah, bosses are never hard to fathom.
Mantz: You haven’t been pulling your weight around here for over a month and you know it.
Chinaski: You know, a guy busts his damn ass and you don’t even appreciate it.
Mantz: You haven’t been busting your ass, Chinaski.
Chinaski: I’ve given you my time, which is all I’ve got to give, all any man has, for a pitiful six bucks an hour.
Mantz: You remember, you begged for this job. You said your job was your second home.
Chinaski: I give you my time so you can live in you big house. If anybody’s lost anything on this deal, on this arrangement, I’ve been the loser. You understand?
Mantz: Alright, Chinaski.
Mantz: Yeah, just go.
Chinaski: Now listen, Mantz, I don’t want any trouble about my unemployment payments. You guys are always trying to cheat the working man out of his rights. So don’t give me any trouble or I’ll be back to see you.
Mantz: You’ll get your unemployment. Now get the hell out of here!
Chinaski (voiceover): The racetrack crowd is the world brought down to size. Life grinding against death and losing. Nobody wins finally, we’re only seeking a reprieve. A moment out of the glare.
Jan: You don’t have enough love. It’s warped ya.
Chinaski: People don’t need love. What they need is success of some form or another. It can be love, but it doesn’t have to be.
Jan: The Bible says ‘Love thy neighbor.’
Chinaski: That could also mean leave him alone.
Chinaski (voiceover): Even at my lowest times I could feel the words bubbling inside of me. And I had to get the words down or be overcome by something worse than death. Words not as precious things, but as necessary things. Yet when I begin to doubt my ability to work the word, I simply read another writer and then I know I have nothing to worry about.
Laura: Hey, you’re not some kind of maniac, are you? A guy’s been picking up girls, cuts crossword puzzles into their bodies with a penknife.
Chinaski: Well, I write, but I’m not him.
Laura: The there are guys who fuck you and chop you into little pieces. Find your ass in a drain pipe, in the ocean. Tit: a trashcan downtown.
Chinaski: I stopped doing that years ago.
Chinaski: Hey, Robert, what do you say you and I go out and have a few cocktails.
Robert (Chinaski’s father): You mean you want to go drinking in the middle of the week without a job?
Chinaski: Well, that’s when you need a drink the most.
Boss at brake shoe job: Now you see the cartons. We have three different types of cartons, each one printed differently. This is for our super durable brake shoe, this is for our super brake shoe, those are for our standard brake shoe. You run out, there’s more cartons over here. And these are the brake shoes.
Chinaski: They all look the same, how do I tell them apart?
Boss: You don’t, they’re all the same. You just divide them into thirds.
Chinaski (voiceover): A poem is a city filled with streets and sewers. Filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen. Filled with banality and booze. Filled with rain and thunder and periods of drought. A poem is a city at war. It’s a barbershop filled with cynical drunks. The poem is a city. The poem is a nation. The poem is the world.
Chinaski (voiceover): She was continually using our arguments to justify herself. It was just a cover for her own guilt. She’d go off with anyone she met in a bar, and the lower and dirtier he was the better she liked it. She left and I got drunk for three days and three nights. When I sobered up, I knew my job was gone.
Chinaski (voiceover): Amazing how grimly we hold on to our misery. The energy we burn fueling our anger. Amazing how one moment we can be snarling like a beast, then, a few moments later, forgetting what or why. Not hours of this, or days, or months, or years of this, but decades. Lifetimes completely used up, given over to the pettiest rancor and hatred. Finally, there is nothing here for death to take away.
Man at employment office: You look a little down in the mouth. You alright?
Chinaski: I lost a woman.
Man: Yeah, well, you’ll have others. You’ll lose them too.
Chinaski: Where do they go?
Man (handing a bottle to Chinaski): Try this. Ain’t no women on Skid Row.
Man: Wine gnats.
Chinaski: Sons of bitches are hooked.
Man: They know what’s good.
Chinaski: They drink to forget their women.
Man: Ah, they just drink.
Chinaski (voiceover): If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery – isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.