Darkly comic adaptation of Charles Bukowski's semi-autobiographical novel about a writer (Matt Dillon) trying to fend off distractions in order to complete his latest work.
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This programme contains strong language.
Chinaski, come on out here!
You've got a driver's licence, don't you?
-I got a driver out sick today.
We got some rush orders that we need to get out right away.
I need you to make these deliveries.
I've felt better.
I've probably slept longer than you've lived.
Chinaski, you're fired!
Do you have a room?
It's 150 a week.
-Are you employed?
May I ask what you do?
-I'm a writer.
-Oh! Have you written books?
Well, I'm not ready for a novel yet.
Now most guys think they know how to drive, but the fact is very few people know how to drive.
They just steer.
Every day I see two, three people simply run through red lights like they didn't exist.
The lives people live are driving them crazy and their insanity comes out in the way they drive.
I'm not here to tell you how to live.
I'm here to teach you how to drive.
Now, when is the only time a man could lose control of his cab and he won't be able to help it?
When I get a hard on?
Mendoza, if you can't drive with a hard on we can't use you.
Some of our best men drive with hard ons all day long, all night, too.
Now, come on, what is the only time a man can lose control of his cab and he won't be able to help it?
Yeah, a man might lose control of his cab
when he sneezed.
That is correct.
All right, when you sneeze, what do you do?
-Are you Henry Chinaski?
We ran a check on you, Chinaski.
You have 18 drunk and disorderly arrests and one for drunk driving.
-You lied to us.
-Yeah, there were two for drunk driving.
You falsified your application. You're disqualified.
Could you call me a cab?
As we live, we all get caught and torn by various traps.
Writing can trap you.
Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past.
They hear accolades and believe them.
There's only one final judge of writing and that is the writer.
When he is swayed by the critics, the editors, the publishers, the readers, then he's finished.
And, of course, when he's swayed with his fame and his fortune,
you can float him down the river with the turds.
-A writer, huh?
Are you sure?
No, I'm not.
Why do you want to work in a pickle factory?
It reminds me of my grandmother.
She used to...
serve me pickles whenever I visited her.
What do you write?
Mostly short stories.
I'm halfway through a novel.
And what's it about?
You mean, for instance, it's about cancer?
How about my wife?
She's in there, too.
'I wrote three or four short stories a week and kept things in the mail.
'I imagined how the editors of the New Yorker must be reacting.'
Hey, here's another one of those things from that nut!
'I sent most of them to John Martin whose magazine, Black Sparrow, I admired.'
Want to step in here for a minute?
Mr Gentry's a writer, too.
I told him that you were a writer and he wanted to meet you.
You don't mind, do you?
I don't mind.
Mr Gentry's a friend of mine.
Do you mind if I leave?
'That scene in the office stayed with me.
'Those cigars, the fine clothes.
'I thought of good steaks, long rides up winding driveways that led to beautiful homes.
'Ease, trips to Europe,
Chinaski, what are you doing?
Get back to work.
I'm going to get a drink.
-No, no, you can't get a drink.
Come on, get back to work.
-All right, all right.
Whoa! Hey! Hey!
Get off me!
Hey! Ach! Urgh!
-Are you OK?
I don't need him.
'And then I met Jan.
'I bought her a drink and she gave me her phone number.
'Three days later, I moved into her apartment.
'Jan had her 500 car.
'The big trick with that car was how to turn on the headlights.
'Of course, we had the advantage of broken springs.
'Jan was an excellent fuck.
'She had a tight pussy and she took it like it was a knife that was killing her.'
Hey, I want to know what time it is.
You said you'd fix the clock.
All right, let's see.
'I set the clock by the TV at midnight last night.
'We know that it gains 35 minutes every hour.
'It says 7.30pm right now, but we know that's not right because it's not dark enough yet. OK.
'That's seven and a half hours.
'Seven times 35 minutes.
'That's 245 minutes.
'One half of 35 is
'17 and one half.
'That gives us
'252 and one half minutes.
'four hours and 42 and one half minutes we owe them.
'So, we set the clock back to 5.47.
It's dinner time and we don't have anything to eat.
Let's open another jug of wine.
Shall I make some pancakes?
I don't know if I could get another one of them down.
Oh, come on.
OK, put the pancakes on.
Oh, we're still out of butter.
Well, fry 'em dry again.
They will be crisp, real crisp.
That's OK, baby.
RATTLING AND CLANKING
What was that?
-Let's go! Everybody move it out to the hall.
-What is that?
Anyone in there?
It's just the Fire Department.
'I finally got hired at a bicycle supply warehouse.
'I had to demean myself to get to get that one.
'I told them that I liked to think of my job as a second home.'
You got the horses?
-Mind if I look at your paper?
My Boy Bobby oughta take the eighth.
I know. They don't even have him on top.
-All the better.
-What do you think he'll pay at?
-About 9 to 2.
What time does the last race go out?
-We get off at five.
-We'll never make it.
We can try. The racetrack's not too far.
You want to come along?
Keep your eye on the clock. We'll cut out at five to five.
See! Told you we'd make it!
My Boy Bobby to win.
Hey, My Boy Bobby's in the front!
He's in the lead!
We've hooked ourselves a winner.
Unless there's some big ass at the back of the pack.
Come on! Come on, Bobby! Come on!
Come on! Run!
-We should've bet another 200 on that horse.
-Ah, you're right!
Come on, let's go get a drink.
'The next day at work, some of the other employees asked us if we would place bets for them.'
Hank, we have to take their bets.
Manny, those guys don't have any money.
All they've got is the coffee and chewing gum money that their wives give them
and we don't have time to waste at the two-dollar windows.
We're not going to bet their money, we're going to keep their money.
-Suppose they win?
-They won't win.
They always pick the wrong horse.
They have a way of always picking the wrong horse.
Suppose they bet our horse?
Then we know we got the wrong horse.
She's going to do it! I think she's going to do it!
Come on, Spitfire! Let's go! Go, Spitfire! Let's go!
Yes! Way to go! Great.
-You married, Manny?
-No way. No.
-It never lasts.
-What's the problem?
A woman is like a full-time job.
You have to choose your profession.
Yeah, I suppose there is an emotional drain.
They wanna fuck night and day.
Well, get one you like to fuck.
Yeah, but if you drink or gamble they think it's a putdown of their love.
Well, get ones who likes to drink, gamble and fuck.
Who wants a woman like that?
'I bought some expensive clothes and a good pair of shoes.
'The owner of the bike supply warehouse didn't look so powerful any more.
'Manny and I took a little longer with our lunches and came back smoking good cigars.
'The new life didn't sit well with Jan.
'She was used to her four fucks a day and also used to seeing me poor and humble.'
Mr Horse Player.
Mr Big Horse Player.
You know, when I first met you, I liked the way you walked across a room.
You didn't just walk across a room, you walked like
you were walking through walls, like you owned the place.
Like nothing mattered.
Oh, now you got a few bucks in your pocket, you're not the same any more.
You act like you're a dental student or a plumber.
Don't give me any shit about plumbers, Jan.
You haven't made love to me in two weeks.
Love takes many forms.
-Mine has been more subtle.
-OK, you haven't fucked me in two weeks.
-Have some patience. In six months we'll be vacationing in Rome and Paris.
-Look at you.
Pouring yourself that good whisky, letting me sit here drinking this rotgut wine.
You're Mr Big Time Horse Player.
I give you soul, I give you wisdom, I give you light and music and some laughter.
By the way, I am the world's greatest horse player.
No, horse player.
'I understood too well that great lovers were always men of leisure.
'I fucked better as a bum than as a puncher of timeclocks.'
You know, I tried to make a woman out of you, but you're nothing but a goddamn whore.
If anybody here doesn't like what I just did, then say something!
Sit down, Chinaski.
You knew we were going to let you go.
Yeah, bosses are never hard to fathom.
You haven't been pulling your weight around here for over a month and you know it.
You know, a guy busts his damn ass and you don't even appreciate it.
You haven't been busting your ass, Chinaski.
I've given you my time, which is all I've got to give,
all any man has, for a pitiful six bucks an hour.
You remember you begged for this job.
You said your job was your second home.
I give you my time so you can live in your big house.
If anybody's lost anything on this deal, on this arrangement, I've been the loser.
-All right, Chinaski.
-Yeah, just go.
Now listen, Mantz, I don't want any trouble about my unemployment payments.
You guys are always trying to cheat the working man out of his rights.
So, don't give me any trouble or I'll be back to see you.
You'll get your unemployment. Now get the hell out of here.
'I didn't see Manny again and I missed the trips to the track with him,
'but I had my winnings and the bookie money. I just sat around and Jan liked that.
'After two weeks I was on unemployment, and we relaxed and fucked and toured the bars.
'And every week I'd go down to the unemployment, stand in line and get my nice little check.'
A 10 try on the four with one and two.
'The racetrack crowd is the world brought down to size.
'Life grinding against death and losing.
'Nobody wins, finally.
'We're only seeking a reprieve, a moment out of the glare.'
-Sir, you're in our seats.
-These seats aren't reserved.
There are no reserved seats in this section.
I know there are no reserved seats in this section, but it's a common courtesy.
You see, some people
get here early, poor people like you and me,
who can't afford reserved seats and they lay down newspapers to indicate that these seats are saved,
because if the poor aren't going to be decent with one another, nobody else
-is going to be.
-I'm not poor.
If you can't be a gentleman,
at least don't be a hog.
Jan, sit down.
Come on. Let's get a drink.
That man in our seats, he's got a nerve.
I don't like the guy.
He sure got your goat.
He was just a little guy. What was I supposed to do with him?
Oh, bullshit. If he'd been big you wouldn't have done anything either.
What you do for a living?
I make 500,000 a year.
Well, why don't you get yourself a reserved seat?
That's my prerogative.
You know, you have the nicest blue eyes.
You got a cigarette?
Pardon me, sir, but you're in my seat.
Yeah, what are you going to do about it?
Come on, baby.
How do you feel?
I feel bad.
I want to be alone.
You don't have enough love. It's warped you.
People don't need love.
What they need is success of some form or another.
It can be love, but it doesn't have to be.
The Bible says "Love thy neighbour".
It could also mean leave them alone.
My half is yours.
It's another woman, isn't it?
You don't love me any more?
Stop that shit, would you?
You're tired of fucking me, aren't you?
Hank, stay with me.
OK, fine. Here, take it.
'Even at my lowest times, I can feel the words bubbling inside of me,
'and I had to get the words down or be overcome by something worse than death.
'Words not as precious things, but as necessary things.
'Yet when I begin to doubt my ability to work the word,
'I simply read another writer and then I know I have nothing to worry about.
'My contest is only with myself, to do it right with power and force and delight and gamble.'
RHYTHM AND BLUES MUSIC
Yes, I'll have a Scotch, please.
Bartender, I'll have another one.
And get the little lady whatever she's having.
That drink was my last.
Are you serious?
Do you have a place to stay?
And you haven't got any money or anything to drink?
Two Evan Williams, six pack of beer, two packs of cigarettes,
some chips, some mixed nuts,
And a good cigar.
-Cash or credit card?
-Charge it to Pierre.
I'll have to phone.
Where are we going?
GOES THROUGH DIFFERENT RADIO STATIONS
CLASSICAL ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYS
-You like this kind of music?
You're great. You think you're hot shit.
I can tell by the way you act.
I like you, though.
I liked you right away.
Hike up your skirt.
You like legs?
Hey, you're not some kind of maniac, are you?
A guy's been picking up girls -
cuts crossword puzzles into their bodies with a penknife.
..but I'm not him.
And there are guys who fuck you and chop you into little pieces.
They find your ass in a drainpipe in the ocean...
A trashcan downtown.
I stopped doing that years ago.
Stay back from the door. He's got a camera that lets him see who's at the door.
Let him just see me and when the buzzer sounds, you follow me in.
Sweetie! It's so good to see you.
Oh, Pierre! Hi!
How are you?
-Who's that guy?
-Oh, I want you to meet a friend of mine.
-Pierre, this is Henry Chinaski.
Good to know you, Pierre.
Come on in.
Thank you. You're so good, Pierre.
Hi, girls. Hey, this is Henry Chinaski.
-Henry, this is Grace and this is Jerry.
-How are you doing?
So, what do you do?
-He's a writer.
-Oh, I need somebody to do a libretto
for an opera I wrote.
It's called the Emperor of San Francisco.
Did you know there was a guy who claimed
he was the Emperor of San Francisco?
No, I didn't.
It's a real story. It's very interesting.
You look like you've been around.
You look like you've got class.
Would you like to hear some music from my opera?
Yes, I'd like that very much.
If it's OK with you.
He's a tight son of a bitch.
He likes to take care of the girls in the bars who've no place to sleep,
but all he gives them is food and a bed.
Never any money.
And they only have the drinks when he's drinking.
Jerry got to him one night, though.
He was horny...
and he was chasing her around the table.
She said, "No, not unless you give me a thousand bucks a month for life."
He signed a piece of paper.
He gave her a thousand bucks a month.
Even after he dies, his family will have to pay her.
Jerry's his main girl, though.
What about you?
Not for a long time.
I like you.
Watch, watch, watch...
Tomorrow, when he comes out with that sailor's cap on,
-with that captain's cap...
It means we're going on his yacht.
Doctors made him get a yacht.
Is it a long one?
We're going out on the yacht.
We're going back.
Grace is having one of those moments.
She won't speak to me.
She just stands there staring at the water.
-I'm afraid she'll jump off the boat. She can't swim.
-Give her 50 bucks.
No, we're going back.
This happens every time we try to go out.
Grace goes into one of her moods,
stands there staring at the ocean. She's never going to jump overboard.
She hates water!
'Pierre died shortly after that.
'Laura and I split up and I never saw any of them again.'
-Is that you?
I just need a place to sleep for a couple of days.
Your bedroom is always waiting.
Your father's home.
You got a job?
Any man who wants work can find work.
I suppose you're right.
I can hardly believe you're my son.
You don't have any ambition, you don't have any get up and go.
How the hell are you going to make it in this world?
Still think you're a writer?
I'm still writing.
You stay here, we'll charge you room and board plus laundry.
When you get a job
what you owe us we'll take out of your wages till you're paid up.
Where do you get the money to drink? You don't have any money!
-I'll get a job.
You know, you act as if I've murdered somebody.
It's just as bad.
Are you finished?
Thanks for the food, ma.
-You're not hungry?
No, I'm good, thank you.
Hey, Robert, what do you say you and I go out
and have a few cocktails?
Go drinking in the middle of the week without a job?
Well, that's when you need a drink the most.
I'm warning you.
I also need a piece of ass.
What's he saying?
I also need a piece of ass.
Now, you see the cartons? We have three different types, each one printed differently.
This is for our Super Durable Brake Shoe,
this is for our Super Brake Shoe, those are for our Standard Brake Shoe.
You run out, there's more here. And these are the brake shoes.
They all look the same. How do I tell them apart?
You don't, they're all the same. Just divide them into thirds.
When you're finished, come downstairs and we'll find something else for you. OK?
All right, when do I start?
You start now.
And absolutely no smoking.
Not up here. You have to smoke, you come downstairs, OK?
DOOR CLOSES, ELEVATOR DESCENDS
'A poem is a city filled with streets and sewers.
'Filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen.
'Filled with banality and booze.
'Filled with rain and thunder and periods of drought.
'A poem is a city at war.
'It's a barber shop filled with cynical drunks.
'A poem is a city.
A poem is a nation.
'A poem is the world.'
I decided to look for Jan.
I toured the bars in our old neighbourhood looking for her.
Whitey Jackson, the bartender at the Pink Mule, told me
that she was working as a chambermaid in a downtown hotel.
-Jesus! I thought I'd never see you again.
Well, here I am.
Well, come on, let me look at you.
-You're thin, you've lost weight.
You're looking good. Are you alone?
-There's no-one else?
-Nobody. You know I can't stand people!
Well, it's good to see you working.
I love you, you idiot.
We fucked 800 times, so relax.
Do you like my legs?
Are you finished with your work?
-All but Mr Clarke's room. Mr Clarke doesn't care, he leaves me tips.
I'm not doing anything, he just leaves me tips.
-I love you, baby.
When I came home one night, she had moved in with me.
I decided to clean up the apartment.
I thought, "I must be turning into a fag."
Where is she? Where is the bitch who cleaned the place, huh?
If I find her, I'm going to kill her, I swear.
You're going to pay for this, Chinaski!
'She was continually using our arguments to justify herself.
'It was just a cover for her own guilt.
'She'd go off with anyone she met in a bar
'and the lower and the dirtier he was, the better she liked it.
'She left and I got drunk for three days and three nights.
'When I sobered up, I knew my job was gone.'
I was told you might be looking for reporters.
Please fill this out.
Apply this ointment to the invaded parts and wait 20 to 30 minutes before washing it off.
Under no circumstances leave it on longer than 30 minutes.
'Hell, 30 minutes?
'I'll leave it on all night and kill every one of these fuckers.'
Oh. Oh! Shit!
-You fucking whore!
Look at what you've done to me.
God, what is it?
Oh, don't you know? Don't you know?
I haven't fucked anybody else.
I got it from you. You're a carrier.
-A disease ridden slut.
Crabs, baby. You gave me the crabs.
-I don't have crabs. Geraldine must have them.
I was staying at Geraldine's, sitting on a toilet.
Oh, don't give me that shit. You got it off a toilet seat?
-Get me a goddamn drink.
Yes, what do you want?
As a reporter?
Not as a reporter.
-Who was that?
-I got a job.
I'll fix you up.
I can't wear pants.
-I'll wrap you up in gauze.
-Do you think that's going to work?
-Mm-hmm, I do.
-All right. Easy does it.
OK. I'll put it right around.
-Anybody ever tell you how funny you are?
That's understandable. Now for a little tape.
Now, put your other leg up, lover.
-Never mind the romance.
-OK, around your big fat thighs.
-Not as big as your big fat ass.
-Now, now. Be nice, now.
Now for the balls,
your little red balls. Just in time for Christmas.
Wait a minute, what are you going to do to my balls?
-I'm gonna wrap them.
-Isn't that dangerous? It could affect my tap dancing.
Oh, yeah, I'm going to wrap that around like that and tie it. I'm going to wrap them real nice.
-They're going to slip out.
-No, they're in a cocoon. Real nice.
See? Now they're feeling better.
One more little bit of tape.
Hey, don't tape my balls to my asshole.
-That's the best place for them, baby.
You're as good as new.
Now, get up, walk around.
This is all right.
I feel like a eunuch...
..but this is all right.
Want some soft boiled eggs?
Call for help if you need to move the lift.
Remember, we're very proud of this guy. It's called Vision Of Peace.
'Why was I chosen to do this?
'Why couldn't I be inside, writing editorials about municipal corruption,
'give the readers my Vision Of Peace?
'Questions like these demand a deeper consideration.'
buy you a beer?
You are fired, Mr Chinaski.
-Please return your uniform and clean out your locker.
-Is that you, Hank?
I got canned.
They caught me drinking on the job.
What about your cheque?
Funny, they didn't mention it.
You worked almost a full day.
They owe you wages.
Yes, they do.
Well, go get it.
As soon as the office opens.
Let's hit the market for some stew meat and vegetables
and then let's get a couple of bottles of really good French wine.
-Jan, they told me the cheque wasn't ready yet.
They can't... It's the law.
I don't know. They said it'd be ready tomorrow.
Oh, Christ! I've walked all this way in high heels...
-You look great, baby.
I'm not walkin'. No.
It pays to be a tough son of a bitch.
The world belongs to people with balls.
Just get the cheque, Daddy.
I'm Henry Chinaski.
-Yes, I was here yesterday.
-Right. And you told me my cheque would be ready today.
I'm sorry, Mr Chinaski, your cheque isn't here yet.
But you said it would be.
I'm sorry, sir, sometimes it takes a little longer for a payroll cheque to process.
Look, I want my cheque.
I'm sorry, sir.
You're not sorry.
You don't know what sorrow is. I do.
Now, I want to talk to your boss's boss now.
Mr Handler? A Mr Chinaski would like to see you
about a termination payroll cheque.
Me and my old lady have walked down here now two days running
just to be told that you don't have my cheque.
Now, you and I know that's pure crap.
Now, all I want to do is get my cheque and get drunk.
Now, that might not sound...noble, but it's my choice.
You got a smoke?
There's a cheque due - a Mr Henry Chinaski.
Yes, Henry Chinaski.
I want it down in five minutes.
Listen, John, I've got two years of journalism school
at Los Angeles City College.
You couldn't use a reporter, could you?
-Sorry, we're overstaffed now.
Your cheque will be downstairs.
You might as well not have any goddamn ears,
you never listen to me any more.
Well...that's because you keep saying the same damn thing over and over again.
OK, let's have a drink and talk about it.
You've had your ass up in the air ever since we got back together.
Come on, let's face the obvious.
I don't need you.
You don't need me.
Yeah, I know.
'A week later, Jan moved out of my place and shacked up with some rich guy.
'After that, I couldn't pay the rent.'
-The landlord threw you out?
-Did you get the job?
-No, they didn't want me.
-Well, I don't have an address.
Hank, I hate it when he fucks me.
Sure, babe. Take care.
This is for you. Got too small for him.
See you around, Hank.
'Amazing how grimly we hold on to our misery.
'The energy we burn fuelling our anger.
'Amazing, how one moment we can be snarling like a beast,
'then, a few moments later, forgetting what or why.
'Not hours of this, or days, or months or years of this,
'but decades, lifetimes completely used up,
'given over to the pettiest rancour and hatred.
'Finally, there is nothing here for death to take away.'
All right, sit down and we'll see if anything comes in.
You look a little down in the mouth.
You all right?
I lost a woman.
Yeah, well, you'll have others.
You'll lose them, too.
Where do they go?
-Ain't no women on Skid Row.
Don't let him see us drinking. That's the one thing he don't like.
The sons of bitches are hooked.
They know what's good.
They drink to forget their woman.
Nah, they just drink.
-Aw, here he comes.
All right, all right, get out!
Get out! Get the hell out of here, you fucking winos!
Get outta here before I call the cops, both of you.
Let's go, both of you, outta here right now. Keep moving.
Get out of here. I'll call the cops, you goddamn degenerates.
Don't come back!
This isn't a bar.
Sun's up good.
I gotta get going.
So, what do I do with Chinaski's mail?
Oh, he's gone. Just give it to me.
-Have a nice day.
'Dear Mr Chinaski, we are returning these four stories, but we are keeping
My Beerdrunk Soul Is Sadder Than All The Dead Christmas Trees Of The World.
We've been watching you work for a long time and we are most happy to accept this story.
Sincerely, John Martin, Black Sparrow Press.
If you're going to try, go all the way.
Otherwise, don't even start.
This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs
and maybe your mind.
It could mean not eating for three or four days.
It could mean freezing on a park bench.
It could mean jail.
It could mean derision.
It could mean mockery. Isolation.
Isolation is the gift.
All the others are a test of your endurance,
of how much you really want to do it.
And you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than anything else you can imagine.
If you're going to try, go all the way.
There is no other feeling like that.
You will be alone with the gods and the nights will flame with fire.
You will ride life straight to perfect laughter.
It's the only good fight there is.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Darkly comic adaptation of Charles Bukowski's semi-autobiographical novel about a writer trying to avoid distractions such as his personal peccadilloes of women, gambling and alcohol, and his need to fund himself through mindless, poorly paid jobs in order to complete his latest work.