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The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1987)

Director: Barbet Schroeder, Barbet Schroeder
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Barrel Entertainment
Genre: Documentary, Biographies, Film, Quirky Characters
Languages: English
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The Charles Bukowski Tapes (Disc 1 of 2) (1987)
When Barbet Schroeder (More, General Idi Amin Dada, Single White Female) began work on the movie Barfly, he had no idea that it would be such a struggle. During the seven years it took him to complete the film, he turned his cameras on its screenwriter, poet and novelist Charles Bukowski.

"I couldn't stand the thought of not being able to share the extraordinary evenings we spent together," said Schroeder. "I finally brought in a small crew, friends of mine, with a high quality video set up. Whoever was the least drunk took control of the camera."

Bukowski, legendary for his drunken excess and frank observations on life, love, and survival, took no exception with Schroeder.

Barbet Schroeder recalls, "I had no idea of what I might do with the material, but I didnt want those evenings to be lost. As I don't like formal interviews, I tried to get him started on a topic and then keep from interrupting him. The result was often a monologue of three minutes or longer."

Schroeder eventually completed The Charles Bukowski Tapes, a four-hour long study of the man and the music of his words. "The ideal way to show this material was in short video clips a new style of film. Once I had screened it this way, it seemed twice as powerful."

Available for the first time in the world on DVD, Barrel Entertainment is proud to present this exceptional portrait of one of America's most vital voices.

The Charles Bukowski Tapes (Disc 2 of 2) (1987)
The five-star European director Barbet Schroeder - the creative force behind such efforts as Reversal of Fortune, Maitresse and La Vallée - in 1986 created one of the most surprising, shocking and delightful features of our time with the seriocomedy Barfly (1987). Schroeder, of course, directed the film from the semi-autobiographical script by "gutterbucket skid row poet" Charles Bukowski (who in turn based the central character on himself); the finished film received a Golden Palm nod at Cannes and much concomitant acclaim, largely thanks to the shattering central performance by a nearly unrecognizable Mickey Rourke. Lesser known about the motion picture is the fact that Schroeder and Bukowski (who died in 1994) spent a massive amount of time together during seven years of pre-production - with the poet boozing, pontificating and rhapsodizing on various aspects of life. Inveterate filmmaker Schroeder couldn't resist filming these sessions, and they form the basis of his documentary The Charles Bukowski Tapes. For the final product (which totals four hours), Schroeder opted to cut the material up into fragments of a few minutes per take, to best capture Bukowski's wit. What emerges is a multifaceted biographical portrait of a complex, somewhat tortured, yet emotionally ebullient and transcendent individual who reshaped American literature in a defiantly original way. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Says: The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1987; $17.95, two discs). Released to coincide with this month's theatrical release of the Bukowski-based Factotum (and the writer's birthday), Barbet Schroeder's film was seven years in the making, the result this four hour-long study of the man and the music of his words. "The ideal way to show this material was in short video-clips - a new style of film," remarked Schroeder (who also directed the Bukowski-based Barfly). "Once I had screened it this way, it seemed twice as powerful."

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Charles Bukowski Tapes (Disc 1 of 2) (1987)
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7.71 (7 votes)
The Charles Bukowski Tapes (Disc 2 of 2) (1987)
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7.75 (8 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

4 Hours of Pure Bukowski by notrust September 19, 2006 - 7:14 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
The 2 DVD set consists of 50 five-minute clips (250 minutes total) of writer and poet Henry Bukowski telling stories and speaking on a variety of topics. If you like documentaries based upon eccentric characters (e.g., Crumb, Grey Gardens, Rockets Redglare, Willian S. Borroughs; Commissioner of Sewers, American Movie, Wadd; The Life and Times of John Holmes, Project Grizzly, etc.) you should definitely add this one to your queue.

If you don't know anything about Bukowski, watch the "Born into This" DVD first. He is most famous as the guy the movie "Barfly" was based upon (played by Mickey Rourke). He was also the writer of the screenplay for that movie. He was probably one of the greatest American writers of all time, but never acheived much fame in this country during his lifetime. He was also an extremely entertaining storyteller and philosopher.

Production values are really quite bad, but the originality of thought, unique delivery, and powerful charisma of Bukowski easily overshadows any sound, lighting or framing difficulties, including the extremely repetitive piano tune played before each clip. There are very few documentary subjects so compelling that I can overlook these kinds of annoyances, but this is one of them.

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