Bukowski: Born Into This
Given how often Charles Bukowski’s work provokes accusations of misogyny, John Dullaghan’s documentary about the hard-drinking poet dismisses the notion far too casually. Apparently, Bukowski was not a misogynist because Bukowski says he wasn’t. Which is not to say he necessarily was, but Bukowski’s best counterargument—that his writing often judged males even more harshly than women—feels a bit too facile to be accepted at face value. Still, Bukowski: Born Into This succeeds in capturing some of the complexities of its late subject—a man violently boastful one moment and lugubriously self-deprecating another, a unique and prolific talent deeply afraid of losing a post office job he detested, a man capable of putting a woman on a pedestal one moment and violently kicking her on camera another. Not surprisingly, vintage footage of Bukowski reading his work and telling his story (most of which hard-core fans will have already sought out) far outshines recent interviews with celebrity fans like Tom Waits, Bono (?), and Sean Penn. The film’s loose structure doesn’t always serve itself well, but in the end the subject saves the film: Even critics would probably agree that Bukowski’s voice remains one of the most provocative of the last 50 years.