I have 493 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? The Last Circus (2010)
What’s it rated? R for a machete wielding clown in a blonde wig, hate fuckin’ and a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by Álex de la Iglesia. Acted by Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre, Carolina Bang, Manuel Tallafé, Alejandro Tejería, Manuel Tejada and Paco Sagarzazu.
What’s it like in one sentence? Angry, angry clowns.
Why did you watch it? Gabe T dropped the word masterpiece and I haven’t seen too many of those this year, so…
What’s it about in one paragraph? I don’t know, what is a poem about? Or a flower? Actually, it’s about a third generation sad clown who joins a circus, only to fall in love with the beautiful acrobat and be terrorized by her boyfriend, the psychopathic happy clown. As the battle of one-upsmanship escalates to dizzying heights, it becomes readily apparent that only one clown can survive and whoever can be the most brutal will probably take the prize.
Play or remove from my queue? Play this most immediately. This is easily in the top 5 movies I’ve seen this year and if it had come out in 2011 (even though technically it did in the States) it would most assuredly be in my best of the year list come December. The Last Circus isn’t content to just be a thriller or a horror movie, it flits between genres at will without feeling tonally schizophrenic and manages to be completely electrifying, genuinely exciting and soul crushingly romantic while also being hilarious and violent as shit. It’s a mash-up of operatic melodrama with Giallo characteristics, but with elegant performances that never threaten to push the film into histrionics and parody. It’s also one of the best action movies I’ve seen all year and functions as one of the best love stories to come out in many moons, as well. I know i’m just listing awesome things about it, but that’s because I’m afraid to give away too much of the plot for fear of spoiling you. This should be seen as fresh as possible. Especially avoid the trailer if you can because it definitely tries to sell the movie as horror, when in all actuality it gleefully defies characterization and instead becomes something so profoundly original you’ll find yourself glowing afterwords.
In Spain (where the film was made) The Last Circus’real title is Balada Triste de Trompeta. Translated that means Sad Trumpet Ballad, which is a perfect name for the film. The film is a ballad and almost feels like a legend that you’re getting to hear for the first time but that’s passed through so many people that it’s warped into something completely different. Like the love triangle between the beautiful woman, the fat clown and the crazy clown was real, but every single detail has been embellished over thousands of tellings to the point of unrecognizability. That might not be a word. You get what I mean. There is something indefinable about watching a movie that feels so different from the normal shit you find yourself in front of, that feels like you’ve discovered a secret everyone should know except I don’t want to keep this one to myself.
The only other film by director Álex de la Iglesia I’ve caught was The Oxford Murders with Elijah Wood and John Hurt. I thought that one was a mediocre movie with some truly wonderful moments of batshit insanity, but still, it feels completely different than The Last Circus. If de la Iglesia continues to make films more like Circus and less like Oxford (his first English language film) then we’ll have someone with the eye of Scorsese and the camera movements of Jackson combined with the genre disobedience of Tarantino and the seemingly effortless swagger of Fincher. He’s a hybrid of all of his influences while being completely himself and never aping any of their styles. I have no doubt in my mind that within 10 years de la Iglesia will be widely considered one of the planet’s finest filmmakers.
I still haven’t seen Martha Marcy May Marlene or Take Shelter or a few of the other highly acclaimed films of the year yet, but this is just as good as the other films at the top of my list this year like Drive, Attack the Block, Hanna and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Obviously it has been a great year for genre entertainment and with The Last Circus it becomes one of the best.
Do you have a favorite line? There wasn’t a single word in this film that wasn’t my favorite. From midget-hating clowns to depressed elephant tamers to psychotic naked fat dudes running though the forest, there’s not a lot to find fault in with this film.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? I thought it was pretty cool that the director Alex de la Iglesia did some voice acing for the Spanish language translation of The Incredibles. What a sweet job that would have been.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Maestros (sounds like a nice little robbery film), I Saw the Devil (The Last Circus is on par with this film in regards to being fucking incredible), H6 (been in my queue for about a year. Any recommendations?), Night Watch (extremely fun, but frustratingly hollow on repeat viewings) and The Baby’s Room (Alex de la Iglesia film!! I’m gonna watch this right now).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Masterpieces. Honestly, if it reminded me of anything it reminded me of the first time I saw Reservoir Dogs or Seven or Fight Club. It made me feel like I saw something new and special that I would be revisiting for the rest of my life.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.3
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 4.5
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? The one drawback I have with this column is that it is designed to tell you whether or not to watch something in your queue without giving an in-depth review of the movie, so as to avoid spoilers. Do you guys prefer Crossing Streams avoiding the heavy analysis in favor of being able to watch the film yourselves without outside influence, or would you rather these be more critical and incisive? I had so much I wanted to talk about but it just doesn’t fit the scope of the column. BTW: The only thing I didn’t like about this movie was one bad special effect in the last 10 minutes. Otherwise, I would be hard pressed to find anything that didn’t please me greatly.
Did you watch anything else this week? I watched 13 Ghosts for the first time in 10 years and it was a lot worse than I remembered. I tried to watch the pilot of Grimm and decided life was too short. I also watched Trailer Park Boys with my parents on Thanksgiving which was surreal and also slightly perfect.
Next Week? Highway to Hell starring Chad Lowe and Kristy Swanson and featuring Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler? I think so. What say you?