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Directed by Bent Hamer.
Written by Bent Hamer and Jim Stark.  Based on a novel by Charles Bukowski.
Starring Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, and Marisa Tomei.

Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  8/29/06


Having had a pretty shitty Monday at work--one guy that is working for me decided to just not report to work on his first day at Verizon--I decided to ride my momentary depression right through the new Matt Dillon flick "Factotum."

The movie's title apparently refers to someone that performs many jobs...and in this case, that someone is Hank Chinaski (Dillon), a gruff, alcoholic 30-something writer that doesn't do much writing--or, certainly, not much good writing--while wandering around L.A. taking jobs that he is constantly getting fired from while trying to always find a new place to sleep.  It's a sad life that Chinaski leads, moving from shit job (a pickle factory) to shit job (boxing brake shoes & pads) while trying to make sure he hits the bar almost every night.  Sometimes, he even picks up women that love him for no reason apparent to anyone, like Jan (Lili Taylor), another loser with a pretty good appetite for sex, and Laura (Marisa Tomei), who spends every minute either drunk or hung over, in-between keeping up with her upper-crusty sugar daddy.

"Factotum" would have really put a hurtin' on my good vibes had I had any coming into the film; the life that Hank leads is a bad one, and it makes you think about other folks that work $6-an-hour jobs to get by in this world or many in a shitty hotel rental or in a world where your only friend is your next paycheck.  Dillon is good in this role; he's grimy, he's slurring throughout the film, he makes you believe that he is this guy, not only down on his luck but just down for the count, in a vicious cycle that he will never return from.  His two leading ladies are also pretty good; Taylor is always great (but doesn't seem to work very often any more), and Tomei continues her indie film run with work that shows she's happy to show up looking like shit to get the job done...I can't think of any time where she's looked this haggard onscreen, but it works here.

But the film gets weary after a while because it doesn't do anything but constantly re-establish that Hank is just about the biggest loser out there.  You know his brief run with cash won't last after he hits it sorta big at the pony tracks; you know any relationship that is started with a washed-up boozer won't last; you know that every job Hank takes will not last much more than a month.  Even at 90 minutes, "Factotum" is a tad too long for a story that is not going anywhere.  Soak up the performances and call it a day.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09