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Monday, October 8, 2012

"Hollywood", Bukowski at the movies

Hollywood- Charles Bukowski

As previously announced, my next literary stop was going to be, thanks to John and Dan Fante, another taste of the peculiar talents of enfant terrible Charles Bukowski. And I chose a very singular book to do so, "Hollywood", one of his latest works, and that aside from a novel could also be categorized as the "screenplay's cut" of Charles Bukowski.

Under the well-known alter ego of Henry Chinaski, Bukowski transforms his thoughts and views about the filmmaking process of "Barfly", directed by Barbet Schroeder in late 80's, with a script written by him, on a novel. On a Chinaski novel. But this is not the chaotic and dark (frequently depressive), wicked and wild Chinaski. He's still a sardonic, drunken and cynical character, who aside from drinking and writing spends his time (and money) at the horse races. But he has also grown-up, and in this occasion behaves more like a humorous witness of all the crazy situations and weird people involved in the making of the film. The result is a lighter and funnier book, probably without the substance and vitriol of his trademark straight prose, but full of rewarding moments and an excellent, very engaging rhythm. It will grab you, guaranteed.

Throughout a collection of anecdotes and surreal situations, Bukowski displays an accurately funny dissection of that parallel world known as "Hollywood". He once defined "Hollywood" as a novel of "outrage" in an interview. ''I guess I never believed Hollywood - I heard it's a horrible place - but when I went there, I found out how really horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible it was, black and cutthroat". There's a bit for everyone, indeed. Actors, directors, producers, journalists, distributors. Its a complete monsters parade, full of egos, economic interests, delusions of grandeur. Bukowski hides some names, but others are revealed without much contemplations. The likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Sean Penn, and "Barfly" starring actors Faye Dunaway and Mickey Rourke are portrayed with the merciless tongue & pen of Chinaski. There's only one exception, aside from Chinaski's wife: Jon Pinchot, alter ego of Barbet Schroeder. There's even an evident tenderness on the way the writer narrates his incredible sacrifices and efforts to make the film go along.

Together with Pinchot, probably the only honest man on "Hollywood", there's another moment on the book where Chinaski lets his guard off: when attending various scenes of the filming and gets a bit jealous, at the same time touched, by the actors that are representing his own story. It's a wonderful account, without affectations, of the past, his youth, the writer has left behind.

More linear, with a clear and actual plot for what's usual with Bukowski, "Hollywood" is a testimony of what a sort of miracle was that "Barfly" became a movie, considering all the unbelievable situations the people involved on the film had to suffer, but foremost is a very amusing, fast-paced and engaging novel of literature and its hard relation with cinema, about an industry with little glamour and much to be scared about, and the weird (very weird people) that is part of them.

SCORE: 7,5/10

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