The Last Circus

This Week in DVD

Let’s just get this out of the way right now. You probably won’t agree with my placement of one or more of the three films in the AVOID section below. And that’s okay. If you like an actor or filmmaker behind one of the films then definitely check it out for yourself. Just know that they’re not good movies. All three of them actually came close to joining the RENT category but for every one thing that worked ten others failed miserably. The directors behind them (Jake Kasdan, Kevin Smith, Chris Weitz) have made far better films in the past, and they’ll probably go on to make more going forward. But these are their bumps in the road, and they should probably be saved for cable. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Aftershock China’s Tangshan earthquake killed 240,000 people in 1976, and from that disaster comes this affecting and emotionally powerful tale of loss, guilt, and forgiveness. A building collapse traps two twins, a boy and a girl, beneath a concrete slab. Saving one means killing the other, and their mother is forced with making a heart-wrenching choice… “Save my son.” Unbeknownst to her though, the little girl survives and never forget her mother’s words. Now thirty years later a second earthquake draws that adult daughter back to China to help the victims and confront the mother who left her for dead. The film skips what would have been a couple […]

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The Last Circus is such a force. In it, director Alex de la Iglesia has crafted perhaps his best film – a deranged, sado-masochistic ode to his home country by way of a clown metaphor. It ripped my socks off and threw them in the street at Fantastic Fest 2010, and it easily earned a spot on my Top Five of last year. Fortunately, the fine folks at Magnet realized it needed to be seen, and they’ve released a new red band trailer for the film in anticipation of it seeing theaters. It tells the story of two clowns who both lust after a beautiful acrobat. In the vibrant, gorgeously shot world of the circus, they inflict violence on her and one another in the foolish attempt to force happiness and love on something that can never be owned. The trailer gives a hint at the pure genius of the movie – the bold visuals, the oddity of its story, and the boulder-sized balls of the entire thing. Check it out for yourself:

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Alex de la Iglesia’s The Last Circus made my Top Five of 2010 because of its brash manhandling of intimate subject matter and the glorious visuals that two psychopathic clowns and a saturate circus can create. Fortunately, he’s getting right back in the saddle, shoving a pole through a main character’s head, and doing it all with Salma Hayek. According to Twitch, the project is called As Luck Would Have It, and focuses on a publicist who is impaled through the skull in an accident that renders him unable to remove the pole and stay alive. As you might expect, this turns out to be a good thing for him, his fortunes, and his family. De la Iglesia is a master at making challenging films from absurd concepts. His sentimentality is Brazil meets the crazed murderer you didn’t know lived down the street from you, and his eye for camera work is difficult to match. Even though the premise seems cribbed from the skydiving accident in The Ten, it’s almost assured that de la Iglesia’s slant will be more darkly comic (if it’s even comic at all).

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Rob Hunter drops by to help us countdown our favorites of 2010 while looking forward to the New Year’s Resolutions the filmmakers of the future should adhere to. Out with old, in with the old. Plus, we would have found time to review the releases of the week if there were any. We can’t wait for the executives to get back to work, either. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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An unassuming older man with salt and pepper hair and small-framed eyeglasses stands in front of a full crowd and proclaims with a smile pouring through his beard that there can be no laughter without suffering. He says, “To enjoy life, you must be a bad person.” He then reveals the good news that we’re all bad people before pointing out that the money he used to make his film could have been used to save lives, and since we’re enjoying what he’s made, we’re all complicit in their deaths. Normally, that might sound like dire claptrap from an over-sensitive prude, but the older gentleman on stage is Alex de la Iglesia, and he says every word with such child-like wonder and humor that it’s impossible not to recognize that 1) he’s right 2) he’s not judging and 3) he’s made a brilliant film about it. The Last Circus (also known as Balada Triste and A Sad Trumpet Ballad) is a whirlwind that examines two clowns, and their equally violent love of a beautiful acrobat. Javier (Carlos Areces) never had a childhood because the Spanish Civil War took it and his father from him. He decides to go into the family business as a clown, but he becomes a sad clown because he can’t make children laugh. He’s professionally the butt of the joke. He falls in love with Natalia (Carolina Bang), but she belongs to the abusive silly clown Sergio (Antonio de la Torre). What results is what always […]

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With the exception of Gentlemen Broncos, we were spot on with our Must See Films of Fantastic Fest 2009 list last year. While we’d love to take the credit for it, the truth is that it’s Fantastic Fest that came through with a large slate of winners from the weird world of genre. Fantastic Fest is the movie festival for movie lovers, and as the FSR Death Squad assembles yet again, we’re gearing up to attack the event with a renewed fervor by shining the spotlight on the films we’re anticipating the most. We’re pleased to have Adam Charles, Robert Fure, Brian Salisbury, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius (led by the slightly inebriated and deep fried Neil Miller) comprise the Squad this go ’round. As for the Must See movies, this year, we’re enlisted four members of the Squad to choose 5 films each, and the result is a list full of blood, Hong Kong action, gritty Santa Claus stories, geriatric Kung Fu, Dystopian societies, ninjas from Norway, slasher follow-ups, mental trips, creepy clowns, and little girl vampires. A truly sprawling feast for the eyes and ears. Hopefully you’ll be sitting next to us, but if not, we aim to make you feel that way with our coverage. It’s time to get excited. Here are the 20 films that have got us running to the famous Alamo Drafthouse for Fantastic Fest 2010.

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