Woke up this morning and it seemed to me,
That every night turns out to be
A little more like Bukowski.
And yeah, I know he's a pretty good read.
But God who'd wanna be?
God who'd wanna be such an asshole?
-- Modest Mouse, "Bukowski"
Hank Chinaski (Matt Dillon) is drunk. Hank Chinaski is unreliable. Hank Chinaski would like very much to be Henry Chinaski, author. Hank Chinaski is Charles Bukowski -- or, more accurately, served as Bukowski's stand-in for himself in his 1975 novel Factotum. That book is now a movie, and it is a bracing shot-and-a-chaser affair of whisky and stupidity. Directed by Brent Hamer (Eggs and Kitchen Stories) and co-written by Hamer and longtime indie producer Jim Stark, Factotum is a film depicting a man's alcoholic collapse, but it's cut to make it look like he's dancing.
Factotum (briefly defined as "A man who performs many jobs" in a helpful opening title) follows Hank through his days weaving and stumbling about a flat Midwestern cityscape drinking, smoking and writing. Dillon plays Chinaski as befuddled and beefy, like an old-model American muscle car that's been idling a while. Chinaski takes in the world with the infinite patience of the well and truly drunk, and turns it into prose that wears a stout jacket of blue-collar sincerity over a frame of shivering poetry: "The lives people live are driving them crazy, and it comes out in how they drive."