I'm not familiar with Yukio Mishima's work as a writer, but Paul Schrader obviously is. This intricate portrait of Mishima's life -- intertwened with sequences dramatized from his novels and other works -- is unlike many cinematic biographies you've ever seen. Mishima (Ken Ogata) isn't just a rebel and a bisexual, he's borderline insane and suicidal to boot: His 1970 death by ritual decapitation is apparently what he's best known for today. Mishima lays out the man's life (though fictionalized) in all its glory and horror, and anyone with a passing interest in Japanese literature will be held in thrall by Schrader's work. (It's aided considerably by a haunting Philip Glass score.)
Charles Bukowski's "crazy, beer-drinkin' wrestler" comes to life in the inimitable hands of Mickey Rourke, seen here with a nearly unidentifiable Faye Dunaway as his equally rundown muse. They drink, fight, steal corn, and drink some more. And that, director Barbet Schroeder, is life. Or some imitation of it, anyway. Rourke's performance has become the stuff of legend as he appears genuinely trashed throughout shooting, yet manages to blow none of his lines. Impressive.