Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981)

Based on the life and work of Charles Bukowski Tales of Ordinary Madness is a little slice of strangeness starring Ben Gazarra as a Bukoski like writer who staggers through relationships and drinking sessions. Along the way he takes up with a hooker played by Ornella Muti and finds his soul mate who is even more self-destructive than he is.

Dark tale that is frequently funny, and slightly quaint, is a walk on the dark side. Gazarra’s character is, like Bukowski himself, a functioning drunk who seems best when he is drinking. He is also a man who reveals little so it’s hard to see what he is thinking and feeling, though it’s clear that he is falling for Muti just as she falls for him. If we care for the deeply internalized writer, its simply because Gazarra is such a good actor that we feel for his plight because of his performance’s small nuances lets us in on his emotion despite it not being big and showy.

Muti, who came on to my radar with her performance as Princess Aura in Mike Hodge’s Flash Gordon reveals just how good an actress she could be with its open rawness. She is clearly a broken girl despite her show of strength.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this film. I had always been aware of the film when it came out back in 1981 because I was intrigued by Muti who I had only recently discovered. I never managed to see the film, which kind of slid from view until recently when I picked up a used DVD copy. It’s certainly a film with acting tour de forces, but I’m not sure of much beyond that. Films based on Bukowski works tend not to work well because stripped of the language the films reveal the central weakness of the plotting, or lack thereof. Bukowski is describing life and without his organization and coloring the films collapse. This film doesn’t really collapse, but after a certain point you wonder why you are being told this. Additionally the films attempt at kinky sex, ass kissing and fat girls is no longer kinky, rather it’s just quaint.

While it’s definitely worth taking a look at I’m not sure how many people will fall madly in love with it because it seems to be aiming at a very specific audience. If you think you might be of that audience go for it.

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