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Over the last few years the British film industry has made countless films like Circus , some brilliant some not so brilliant. Circus comes under the " Not so brilliant" catagory .The problem with this movie is that it tries to be far to clever for it's own good, which leaves the viewer bemused by the plot and in the end not caring what ,or if there is a final twist. The acting is good by most of the cast.John Hannah is convincing as a con man and Eddie Izzard is fantastic as the loan shark (why couldnt we se more of him?)but Brian Conley is not so convincing as the gangland boss. Every time he grimaces and tries to look nasty he looks like he is about to start laughing. Which is what you might do when you enter the circus for an hour and a half. 5 out of 10
Entertaining, but not in the same satisfying way as 'Snatch', 'Lock
Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels' or '7ayer Cake'. I love twists, but I can
only suspend my disbelief so far.
A hallmark of this genre (invented by Tarrantino?) is to have people with incongruous-to-gangster traits...I guess these connect the audience to otherwise abhorrent killers/thieves. In this regard they were really trying a bit too hard...the bookie Troy who expresses himself with 80s pop songs...the tender yet brutal Moose. To me it seems like these were the result of an engineered effort to create 'Pulp Fiction-' or 'LS&2SB-' like characters.
But I did like Leo's character.
"Circus" was barely released in cinemas even in Britain and, from what I
understand, skipped US cinemas despite its Columbia backing. It's an okay
watch for cable at 3 a.m. (which, interestingly enough, is when I watched
it), but that's about it.
The movie's scuppered by the ludicrous casting of comedian Brian Conley as a gangster who we see taking a bite of a man's ear in the beginning; he comes off as too playground-villainous to take seriously, and the rest of the movie is just as plausible (tip: do not go and attack and/or threaten people when there are witnesses around, a piece of advice ignored TWICE in the course of the movie). David Logan's script needed some stronger direction and a bit of restraint, instead of piling double-cross upon double-cross until it's soon hard to tell just what the hell's going on, culminating in an "Oh-for-God's-sake!" ending.
"Circus" is diverting enough, but a waste of John Hannah, a bigger waste of Fred Ward, something of a waste of Amanda Donohoe, and an absolutely criminal waste of Famke Janssen (who is not only super-fit but, unlike Conley, actually CAN be convincingly tough - it's impossible to believe she appeared in both this and "X-Men" in 2000 ... then again, she did do "House on Haunted Hill"). What she was doing in this movie we can only speculate; did she fancy a trip to Brighton? Or is she a secret fan of "Rebus"? Or "The Brian Conley Show"?
And one more piece of advice - don't go mentioning "The Sweet Smell Of Success" in your movie, unless you really want to draw unfair comparisons. Mind you, it's preferable to actually going to a circus; I never liked the things.
Circus is a good caper flick. It is as unpretentious as its small-time
characters, and should be treated as such. It is good fun, with some
Janssen and Hannah make a good couple. I have read some reviews that said they were not believable; I disagree. I actually thought they were a cute couple, and that they shared a kind of playful chemistry. The supporting players were also very good, particularly Stormare and Izzard.
Many people have complained about this movie's numerous twists and turns. However, I do not think the outcome would have been the same without them. Also, personally, I like to be surprised.
I think that saying this film has too many is not what makes this film bad. The twists are not the problem of the film. The story is quite clever and could have been very cool if filmed right. The major problems why everyone is complaining about the twists in the film is that the film is just not fascinating enough to make people follow them. The film is badly shot (at least in comparison to its genre brother Lock, Stock). Worse: the characters are (although often well acted) just plain flat. The characters don't have enough time to be introduced well enough to let the viewer get involved with a single one of them, let alone understand them. Oh, and the locations are just terrible: locations-person (I didn't bother to watch the credits for your name) - get another job (maybe still photography or interior design)
Last night I had trouble sleeping so I came down and turned on the movie channels. I had happened upon 'Circus' and although at first it had all the hallmarks of a British 'B' rate/made for TV film I soon got caught up in the story. The cast was fascinating - so many unrelated talents - how could they be stitched together? Magically, as it happened. I pride myself in seeing the twists coming but I couldn't keep up with this one. Twists like a corkscrew! I couldn't turn it off - so much for my insomnia. I can't wait to watch it again at a more civilised hour.
If you've seen any other sort of halfway decent crime movie, your patience might be put to the test by "Circus". If you are more than halfway sober or awake, its little derivative winks of 'intelligence' might actually appear half-assed and grating. I'm a fan of both John Hannah and Eddie Izzard, but neither actor can rescue this made-for-TV-grade formulaic crap-pile. And the 'intelligent' bit of that formula is the one that most grates on me: when the films throws out references to Tarantino, musical theatre, The Sweet Smell of Success, etc.(naming a character Elmo Somerset? Good lord), it's insulting. And when the twists are revealed, I hardly feel that the makers of Circus are knowing masterminds. They blindly stumbled through this movie, hoping that they could pull this foolish scam of a movie off.
I've read with interest everyone's opinions on this movie, and am surprised
at the diversity. Some reviews state it is the worst British move in ages,
some compare it to the likes of Trainspotting and Lock, Stock, and Two
Smoking Barrels. I'm somewhere in between.
'Circus' is very refreshing, I'll give it that. But I feel like Austin Powers, contemplating time-travel, for I too have 'gone cross-eyed.' I rented this (thank God I didn't see it in the theatre) and found myself rewinding because I was so confused! Sure, they really don't want you to guess the ending, but at the same time, they turn you around so many times try understanding it!
The acting is wonderful. I actually thought Eddie Izzard was great, as was everyone else. I cease to be surprised by John Hannah, who does drama and comedy equally wonderfully. Famke Janssen was interesting enough, and her hick boyfriend was entertaining, as was the little nerdy guy, though his character sort of annoyed me.
I think that this film certainly could've been a lot better...this film-maker had the actors, they just needed to work with the story a little more. Had they taken away some of the twists and turns, they might've gotten a better film.
By the way, these are not all English actors. John Hannah is Scottish. And another thing, I certainly wouldn't compare this to Trainspotting, as Trainspotting was pure brilliance, and this is rather blemished.
... and that's the problem. They become tedious after a while - when you can guess then next twist time after time, you realise that a movie has lost its spark. A great pity, because it could have been an enjoyable film. As it was, I felt that it was yet another formulaic "Britflick" gangster film. Approach with caution.
This under-rated British film was unfairly slammed by critics, when it
have been a lot worse. It could have been better also, but it satisfies as
a roaring bit of gangster fun and a subtle satire on the British "Lock,
John Hannah stars with Ms Janssen as a pair of crooks who are out to rip off Brian Conley for one last time. Along the way, everyone double crosses everyone, and the final scenes make one's head spin!
Brian Conley plays a rather good bad guy, given the quality of his British television shows, and great support is given by the various cast members, with special mention to Eddie Izzard who plays money lender Troy. His habit of paraphrasing songs and singing them to Leo ("R E P A Y M E - You know what it means to me" to the tune of Franklin's "Respect"), and the scene at the beach make for hilarious viewing.
One to be recommended for those with enough tongue in their cheek!
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