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  • Tales Of Ordinary Madness [VHS]
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Tales Of Ordinary Madness [VHS]

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Product details

  • Actors: Ben Gazzara, Ornella Muti, Susan Tyrrell, Tanya Lopert, Roy Brocksmith
  • Directors: Marco Ferreri
  • Writers: Marco Ferreri, Anthony Foutz, Charles Bukowski, Sergio Amidei
  • Producers: Jacqueline Ferreri, Sergio Galiano
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Rtm
  • VHS Release Date: 24 Jan. 2000
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CK4S
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 320,728 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Ben Gazzara stars as the grizzled, bleary, self-pitying and self-mocking neo-beat poet, Charles Serking. Serking is drinking himself to death - he rejects all offers of help, preferring the freedom of the streets, the inspiration of the bottle and the excitement of brief, sexual encounters. When he meets the beautiful, but mournful, prostitute Cass he begins to believe that love could redeem him, stop him drinking and get him writing again. However, Cass has sunk even lower than Serking and is trapped in a disturbing, downward spiral of self-hatred and mutilation which can only result in tragedy.

From Amazon.co.uk

"Style is the answer to everything," intones skid row poet Charles Serking, played by the suitably grizzled and worn Ben Gazarra, to his somnambulistic audience. Serking is, of course, a not-at-all veiled stand-in for beat legend Charles Bukowksi, whose autobiographical short stories were the basis for Tales of Ordinary Madness. But Serking, in many ways, comes off more like a gin-soaked fantasy of a skid row Hemingway whose sports of choice are alcohol, women, and sex. Behind the salt-and-pepper beard and rummy eyes lies an actor too poised to allow himself to fully sink into the alcoholic sloppiness that Mickey Rourke so easily brought to the screen in the less pretentious and more concise Barfly, which Bukowski himself scripted. But if Italian-born director Marco Ferreri stumbles over the self-conscious dialogue, he's right at home capturing the seedy atmosphere of dim, run-down apartments and underlit bars in the real Hollywood Serking calls home. When Serking's fling with the stunning, self-mutilating Italian hooker Cass (Ornella Muti, who puts her oversized safety pin to some rather startling uses) becomes too emotional, he takes the anonymous safety of the streets--crashing in a flophouse, passing around a bottle with a listless knot of derelicts. Serking melds right in with the littered streets and lost souls, a real man of the people. Suddenly you see it: he's got style. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ian Armer VINE VOICE on 6 Jan. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the third Bukowski adaptation I've seen (via 'Factotum' and 'Barfly') and in many ways it is certainly the most interesting. It's an uncompromising tale of drunk Charles Serking (or Bukowski, or Chinaski...whatever you prefer) getting drunk, messing around with various women, writing poetry and living the low life of Hollywood. Unlike the other two Bukowski adaptations, 'Tales of Ordinary Madness' is so relentless in pessimism and futility, it's not going to be for all tastes. It also has scenes that might shock the casual viewer (two very painful scenes involving a large safety pin require a strong stomach) and the sex is violent and as damaged as the characters themselves. However, the film can at least justify the extreme nature of these scenes as everything is an intimate character study of shattered psyches and lost souls. It's a bleak, despairing film about empty meaningless lives, and the climax is an understated catharsis for Serking. His life probably wont change, but at least he'll be able to cope with it again, even if it's in the usual way of drink, women and writing.

The film is beautifully shot and there's a nice use of music throughout. The performances are strong and believable, but it's Ben Gazzara as Serking that makes the film so utterly compelling. It's a truly great performance. Brave in many respects. And out of the three Bukowski adaptations, HIS is the better 'Bukowski/Chinaski' clone. Rourke was a charming pussycat and Dillon was weary and aloof, but Gazzara brings Serking to life in so many ways. His depiction of Serking is a revelation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Room for a View VINE VOICE on 8 May 2008
Format: DVD
Gazzara is magnificent as the drunken transgressive poet who shifts from one sordid sexual encounter to another. This character's idea of time out is to hit the streets and hang out with the disadvantaged and vulnerable casualties of the American dream! Although the subject matter is bleak and at times shocking, Ferreri presents an underworld that is not loaded with misplaced bourgoise sympathy or victim mentality. The people that inhabit these shady places are damaged and brutalised by their suroundings and personal circumstances but they are able to seek moments of poetic enlightenment. For example the beach hotel, staffed by unpretentious warm, caring staff, becomes an oasis of peace and tranquilty. Nevertheless the poet is an alchoholic and the consequences of his escapist addiction leads to some very dark encounters albeit mercifully interlaced with some very black humour!

For me 'don't touch the white women' was as interesting as the main feature and an excellent bonus. Shot in a massive hole in the centre of Paris (which became a rather dull shopping mall) Ferreri juxtoposes General Custer's rascist, genocidal attitude to the indiginous people of America with the implied atrocity of the Vietnam War. Often funny and certainly surreal (American cavalry riding through the streets of 1970s Paris) Ferreri's message is clear: don't trust the white man!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CLINT McGAVIN on 13 Jan. 2012
Format: DVD
Bukowski himself wasn't particularly keen on this film, even going so far as to say that he thought Ben Gazzara looked constipated throughout. I imagine it's very difficult to film Bukowski material, and it's certainly essential to strike the right balance between the downbeat and the humourous aspects of his writing, as the two often come hand-in-hand. This is where this film, for me, falls down. It's simply too downbeat, and this overshadows the humour. At times I found it ponderous, dull and inaccessible, which is a shame because Bukowski's writing is so accessible and anything but dull and ponderous. The films 'Barfly' and 'Factotum' succeed in reflecting better the tone of Bukowski's work, and provide thus a much more enjoyable and accurate portrayal of the writer's vision. A brave stab though, nonetheless.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Borderline obsessive on 1 April 2007
Format: DVD
Marco Ferreri, the Italian director, is as overlooked as they get, despite having worked with some of the greats and making some of the best films of all time. This DVD release actually has two films on it: Tales of Ordinary Madness and 'Touche Pas La Femme Blanche'. I actually bought the DVD for the latter film, as it is so hard to come buy at any reasonable price. Both films are wonderful. Tales of Ordinary Madness follows a man essentially through different sexual experiences he has with different women. It is dry and rather bleak, but exceptionally good. If you have a real interest in films, then watch this one. 'Touche Pas La Femme Blanche' is almost a parody. It tells the story of The Americans fighting the Native Indians, but is set in the middle of modern day (for when the film was made) Paris, and only the main characters are wearing period costume. They are fighting the Indians in the Middle of Paris, in a quarry. The acting is superb, the direcion to die for. It is funny, and makes many actions that took place seem ridiculous. By changing the setting et al. Ferreri is highlighting many of the key issues. A very clever film. Good DVD. Tales of Ordinary Madness is in English, 'Touche Pas La Femme Blanche' is in French with English subs
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