Taylor, Dillon and Tomei: drinks all around
A slow day moving into a slow night: Casting Matt Dillon as Charles Bukowski’s alter ego, Henry Chinaski, in Factotum (2006) initially seemed dicey: wasn’t the actor too healthy, buff and handsome to be playing an unemployable barfly artiste milling about the tenderloin district of humanity? As it turns out, Matt wears rosacea well. Shot in some marvelously dilapidated sections of Minneapolis, the film is a retread of the author’s boozy vignettes used earlier in Barbet Schroeder’s Barfly (1987). But Dillon’s character is far less theatrical than Mickey Rourke’s was in that cherished cult hit. Producer Jim Stark and director Bent Hamer take a deadpan approach to Bukowski’s wild, poetic soul and come up with a portrait of the artistic process that’s both gritty and charming. With Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei.Neal, Eggar and Jurgens: love is blind
Denial is the longest river in the world: Before he was exiled to mediocrity in television, director Alexander Singer caught my attention with his debut feature, A Cold Wind in August (1961). A back alley romance between a young man and an older stripper, it had depth and sensitivity…to say nothing of some excellent photography by Floyd Crosby and a wonderful performance by Lola Albright. It also kept me on the lookout for Singer’s second feature, Psyche 59 (1964), which played recently as part of a Patricia Neal festival on TCM. I’d like to report that the wait was worth all those years of anticipation, but that’s not the case. While it has an intriguing premise—Neal suffers psychosomatic blindness as a metaphor for living in denial over her husband’s attraction to her nymphomaniac sister—Singer wastes the first hour on turgid, meandering soap opera. By the time we get to her breakthrough, it’s too little too late. Sad, because the last twenty minutes are rather compelling. Meanwhile, I have no idea what the title refers to. With Curt Jurgens and Samantha Eggar.