Home Entertainment Brace yourself for two Charles Bukowski biopics

Brace yourself for two Charles Bukowski biopics

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Sure, you get Dan Brown, E.L. James and George R. R. Martin to entertain the masses. But if ever the need to read a REAL author arises, you can’t go wrong with Charles Bukowski.

Actually, no, you can go very wrong with Bukowski. He’s Irving Welsh and Chuck Palahniuk rolled into one. He’s the real world Hank Moody, if Moody was a blue-collar asshole. He’s Hunter S. Thompson, but with alcohol instead of drugs. He’s William Burroughs, if Burroughs were to make sense. His writing will shock, bore, thrill, annoy and send you reeling all at the same time.

Needless to say, I am a Bukowski fan and his profound, glib views on the modern world deserve a wider audience. Still, putting his work into film? That’s going to be interesting. Bukowski died in 1994, but his legacy will live on in two new biopics.

The first, directed by James Franco, is plainly called Bukowski and has recently wrapped. It had a bit of a rocky production, at one point facing a lawsuit over the film rights. But that has been sorted, though we’ll have to wait and see what kind of movie it will be.

Franco has not been entirely clear if the film is based on Bukowski’s Ham on Rye, his semi-biographical novel about growing up poor in the 1940s. It features a character called Chinaski, which many believe is Bukowski’s literary doppleganger – much like Kurt Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout. Franco’s film covers Bukowski’s childhood, but may use multiple of the author’s works – much like the Hunter S. Thompson biopic Where The Buffalo Roam.

Chinaski is also the main character in the novel Women, which Voltage Pictures has announced it is developing into a film. It is about a successful poet and author (aka. Bukowski) and the tribulations of his life thanks to his many vapid affairs. The Voltage project is also called Women.

Will people line up to see either movie? I doubt it – Bukowski, once called the laureate of American lowlife, is too edgy and unconventional to appeal to mainstream tastes. His writing is clear and concise, but his themes are often disturbing and unsettling. Still, I doubt either Franco or Voltage are out to make mega-bucks here – though Women could strike a chord with audiences.



Last Updated: June 19, 2015

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