For a movie about a wild man, Born into This is awfully tame. Director John Dullaghan does a commendable job of chronicling his subject's life, using Bukowski's various novels and poems as portals into his life experiences, but Dullaghan never challenges the audience to determine exactly what to make of Bukowski, either as a human or as a writer. Was he a misogynist or a sage? Is it possible to be both? What is his literary legacy? Why don't universities typically teach Bukowski? Do English professors know something the rest of us don't?
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So why would we think that John and Billy, our wet-behind-the-ears stars from Minneapolis, can turn a run-down hovel underneath the elevated train tracks in Brooklyn into a success? No money, no experience, endless problems -- here comes the pain.
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It would be hard to tell the story of Victim without it. This film broke serious ground in 1961 by addressing homosexuality in Britain full-on. At the time, Britain had laws against sodomy, which let blackmailers run rampant against gays. The police didn't seem to care, which made things all the worse. Victim tells the story of just such a case, with a gay lawyer investigating the death of one blackmailer's victim, eventually uncovering a number of men under his thumb and finally taking him to court. The catch: our lawyer (played by the semi-closeted-in-real-life Dirk Bogarde) is also gay (or at least was gay), and the trial will ruin his career as he gets his man. (No pun intended.)
Continue reading: Victim Review