Cirkus Columbia (2010) Poster

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8/10
Bonny the lucky cat: looking for a lost pet or hunting for happiness
Davor Blazevic7 February 2011
Danis Tanović, a well deserving Academy Award winner in the category of Foreign Language Film with his very first feature movie, after two respectable international attempts--L'enfer (2005) and Triage (2009)--both dealing with certain universal subjects, geographically located outside the country of his origin (Bosnia and Herzegovina), in his fourth movie comes back home and scores again.

Anyone slightly interested in global politics already knows the sad story of a certain Balkan super state, which was in a "good ol' days" thriving to considerable extent on worldwide--basically, American (and its post WWII interested allies)-Russian (and its willy-nilly 'satellites')--polarization and then, at the end of the Cold War, "allowed" by the same global powers to violently fall apart and dissolve.

Particular time and place provide the setting for Tanović's latest movie, Cirkus Columbia (2010), based on the novel written by Ivica Đikić, telling the story of Divko Buntić (who, in his own self-ironic words, rather than just gone mad, has always been mad), descending from the family on the losing side of WWII, whose uneasy life among privileged descendants of WWII winners forced him to emigrate. He managed to make a good living abroad, but, after 20 years in exile, couldn't wait more to come back.

His chance to return comes at the beginning of 1990's, after decline of previous, rather totalitarian system and opening for democratic changes. Coming back to Herzegovina, to his birthplace where he's spent his childhood and teenage years, he flaunts his wealth, showing off with his expensive car and young wife, willing to get even with whoever might have done him wrong in the past. He immediately dislodges his estranged wife Lucija and his son Martin from the reclaimed property and, initially, it looks like he's winning and that money can fix everything. But, can it really make the world go round? Answer comes later.

Without giving too much away, it is enough to repeat an advice that he gives at the very highpoint of the movie. Offering a big bunch of money to his son, who is following in his father's footsteps, getting ready to emigrate as well, Divko bitterly admits his life lessons learned in a reminder "with this you can buy everything, but you cannot have everything"... Ultimately, in deserted premises of the used-to-be circus from the title line, finally daring to be honest to their true feelings, reunited couple literally makes the world merry-go-round. Against all chaos-approaching odds, at least for a fleeting moment, their world becomes a better place... A moment amplified during the end credits by a beautiful period song "We could've done it all" ("Sve smo mogli mi"), Valerijan Žujo's versified lament over the life's oh-so-ephemeral opportunities lost, in Slobodan Kovačević Bodo's atmospheric arrangement, interpreted in a calm, soothing voice of Jadranka Stojaković.

Tanović continues to make interesting movies. For a number of reasons my favourite one is still his first, No Man's Land (2001), certainly not the least being the fact that I'm Danis's former fellow countryman--well, former, because, apparently, we both (temporarily or not?) moved out of the country, after it has been struck by our common, well known tragedy--so I have been either personally, or as a participant in the closest collective experience, through those times and situations described.

On a more impartial level, it is pleasure to notice that, in both his domestically inspired movies equally, Tanović depicts a fluent story about common people, though, eventually, in not so common circumstances, distinguished by standouts in leading roles (here, well established actors Miki Manojlović and Mira Furlan and promising Boris Ler), good work with supporting actors and his skillful direction, that all adds up to (a) very attractive movie(s). Though, it might work well just for viewers who do not look necessarily for bigger-than-life themes, who do not seek only for stories with intriguing details or unexpected twists, ergo unusual narratives that, once "consumed", often lose their attraction, while appeal found in commonness allows for even repeated viewing, almost without any significant loss of interest. ( Davor Blažević, currently in the South of Lebanon.)
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7/10
Absorbing Bosnian Drama with Well Defined Characters
Larry Silverstein23 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The film is set in a small town in Bosnia-Herzogovina, in 1991, as the winds of war appear imminent. There have already been major changes in the political landscape, as the communists have been expelled from power. The vying partisan factions that are left can be confusing to the viewer, as to what each stands for.

Divko Buntic, portrayed wonderfully by Miki Manojlovic, has decided to now return to his home town, after living for the past 20 years in Germany. He brings with him a flashy Mercedes, lots of money, his sexy, red-haired girlfriend, and his beloved cat Bonny.

His first order of business, after meeting with his cousin Ivanda-the new Mayor of the town, is to evict his wife and his son from his home, claiming that she's lived there rent free for 20 years. His wife Lucija(Mira Furlan) and his son Martin (Boris Ler)have no choice but to accept a run-down apartment to live in.

Martin is a good-natured young man who was just a baby when his father left them. He's an avid CBer and a proud member of the local amateur radio club.

As war draws closer various family dynamics play out as Divko, who can be quite controlling and self-centered, tries to make amends with his son plus appease his new girlfriend Azra(Jelena Stupljanin) who feels neglected and upset that he hasn't made more strides to get his divorce papers filed.

Without going into the plot machinations any more deeply let's say that the film takes a number of dramatic twists and turns as it goes on. Each person must makes decisions about how they will handle the future and some are quite surprising. It has what I would call a surprise ending, which I thought was far-fetched and not really in balance with the rest of the film.

Danis Tanovic directed and co-wrote the film. His film "No Man's Land" won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

In summary, I found the film to be quite absorbing, well defined and with interesting characters.
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8/10
an entertaining movie recommended by myETVmedia
etvltd7 October 2010
Academy Award winner, Danis Tanovic ("No Man's Land", "Hell", "Triage") has chosen Toronto for the North American Premiere of his 4th feature film, the bitter-sweet tale of life in post- communist/ pre-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. This comic drama is based on Ivica Djikic's novel "Cirkus Columbia". We meet Divco Buntic, (Miki Manojlovic) returning to his small hometown in southern Herzegovina after a 20 year absence. Now a middle-aged man he flaunts his obvious success, his sleek Mercedes, loads of cash, a beautiful, young paramour, Azra (Jelena Stuplianin) and Bonnie, his beloved black cat. We soon find out that when Divko fled the communists he left behind a wife (Mira Furlan) and young son (Boris Ler). Manoljlovic and Furlan both deliver superb performances....
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9/10
Excellent naturalistic movie
scottmontreal16 October 2014
I wont bother with a plot review, just to say the acting, directing and photography was excellent. Unlike most American films, it unfolds slowly, but we were rewarded with rich subplots and building tension as the Balkan war advances rapidly, and our characters' lives are forced to confront their past and make choices about the new reality. I especially found Mira Furlan's acting very compelling.

The plot was able to handle several subjects well: politics, greed, corruption, and class; plus the tensions of split families, troubled couples, and new love. Above all, while the story takes place in one town with divergent and quirky characters, they were believable.
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6/10
A movie about muddled politics in Balkans---loved the cat
movie reviews3 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A movie about the muddled politics of the break up of Yugoslavia with roots back to WWII.

The main character was forced to leave Yugoslavia due to family politics during WWII (his family were fascists). His young wife would not follow him to Germany...he comes back 20 years later with money and a young fiancée. The rumblings of war and conflict are in the background worsening day by day. A son he has never met seduces his fiancée and as the political situation worsens she flees back to Germany with a communist Serb army captain who acted as his son's surrogate father while he was gone for 20 years...

I was put off a little by the making of the communists more or less the misunderstood normal good guys...but they don't win this one and the final message is more ambiguous than the leftie run up would lead you to believe.

Oh and the idea of the cat was wonderful.

I gave it a 6 stay with it but keep your political filters on and look at the bigger picture. With out the leftie homage and tuned a little it could have been a 10. This is your review, you may delete or edit it.
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5/10
Mediocrity...
bigbundy6926 June 2012
So first the plot: it's about a man who comes back to Yugoslavia after the Communists are down (he ran because of the commies so now he can come back), that man brings with him his trophy new wife and through the movie tries to show that he's the most important man in town (This story of the man showing off might have worked if it was done to the end, but it seems that the director couldn't decide and left it somewhere in the middle). And meanwhile his son and wife starting to get very close. This part is done well I think but resembles too many other books/movies that talk about similar issues (like "Lolita" & "27 Missing Kisses")

Frankly this movie is nice but without anything to say. Maybe as a first movie for a director it's a triumph but for the intelligent viewer it's just another movie that will be forgotten & never remembered.

Another disappointing point is that the movie could have done much more about explaining and showing how the Yugoslavian civil war started but again the director simplifies it (to a fight between two kids over a girl, like really?....)
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