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7/10
Outrageous film with odd characters , surreal imagery and twisted plot
ma-cortes9 August 2011
Alex De la Iglesia is an excellent Spanish director . He had much success as "Accion Mutante" , " El Dia De la Bestia" , "Perlita Durango" and ¨La Comunidad¨ , among others . De la Iglesia is back with a tragical comedy about two Spanish clowns of the 70s . Here deals with a homage to dark humor and Spanish history from the Civil War until the 7os . In the film there are comedy, tongue in cheek, humor, horror, action, drama and is pretty entertaining . It's an exaggerated drama/comedy giving the perfect tone through the entire film , you can either follow it or just wander about the ridiculousness of every single minute . Some may regard this kind of dramatic comedy dull or dumb , but the truth is its the most simple, minimalistic, rawest, and pretentious comedy you will ever watch . As the shy Javier (Carlos Areces) and the violent Sergio (Antonio De La Torre) are two clowns who reach the heights of success with their circus show , but eerie events and an acrobat woman (Carolina Bang , partner is director Alex De Iglesia) turning them into deadly enemies . However, the hate between them grows as fast, and as much, as their horrible faces .

The picture blends thrills , suspense, tension as well as an intriguing script full of dark comedy , drama and exciting situations . Packed with scenes of absurd nature, this story is a fantastic farce, as we follow the ridiculous careers of a pair of clowns whose destination is dictated by a fateful love , rather than by their own decisions . The film works on various levels and is constantly reconfigured , however contains some embarrassing , contriving moments and also certain excess . Strong performance from three protagonists , Areces , Bang , De La Torre and excellent plethora of secondaries as Manuel Tejada , Gracia Olayo , Enrique Villen , Manuel Tallafe , all of them usual actors in ¨Pluton BRB Nero¨ series produced by Alex De Iglesia . Interesting screenplay Alex De La Iglesia who usually writes his films and bears remarkable resemblance to ¨Dying of laughter¨ or ¨Muertos de Risa¨ also with two comedians -Gran Wyoming and Santiago Segura , Alex's fetish actor- who reach the heights of success with their spectacle, becoming them into huge enemies . Atmospheric and dark cinematography by Kiko De La Rica with a good camera work . Suspenseful musical score by Roque Baños . The motion picture is well directed by De La Iglesia . He's a cool director has got much success as ¨Accion Mutante¨, ¨Crimen Ferpecto¨and ¨Oxford murders¨, and winner of several Goyas (Spanish Oscars), however his movies have not yet reached box office in USA, but he has strong followers . Nonsense, ridicule , laughters , absurdity , terror , disturbing scenes .. and many other issues ; you can find everything in this movie . The movie is a lot of fun, especially for those who know the historical period . This is without a doubt a thrilling and thought-provoking movie to be enjoyed for dark humor buffs and Alex De Iglesia fans.
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10/10
Wonderful, beautiful and tragic!
Russian-Reviewer-Mitya16 March 2011
A magic tale of terror, dark humour and tragedy!! I think that this film is like a mix of Rodrigues, Jarmush and Kusturica... gripping and strong whilst dark, random and ghastly at the same time. Romantic and disgusting in one film. de la Iglesia beautifully makes the whole film look like a circus performance with all characters exaggerated to the point that even Franco looks like a clown. Though I appreciate that this film is probably not for everyone, I think that it's an original and interesting portrayal of, amongst other things, love and war during horrors of Spanish civil war - an interesting contrast to del Toro's "El Labiirinto del Fauno"!
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The movie Tarantino wished he'd made
Agnelin25 September 2011
"Balada triste de trompeta" (Sad trumpet ballad, in Spanish -I have no idea why they translated it as "The last circus", as it's much poorer) is none short of a masterpiece, in my opinion. It is also a 100% Spanish film, meaning it is a tragicomedy, a totally Spanish genre and it also expands between two crucial moments of Spain's recent history, full of tragic events -the Civil War, the killings, Franco's repression and dictatorship- but also full of grotesque details, situations and characters that were real and now, in retrospect, feel utterly ridiculous, much more so than they were at the time -e.g. when the dictator went hunting, they really prepared the prey for him so that he would look as a great hunter- or are just seen as a byproduct of the times that Spain had to live. Director Alex de la Iglesia also cares to sprinkle the movie with historical events that are apparently disconnected to the main story -like the assassination of Franco's hard man and presumed heir as the new tyrant, admiral Carrero Blanco- but which I believe serve a function to the main metaphor that this movie is.

The movie starts in 1937, in the heat of the Spanish Civil War. A clown is recruited by force to fight with the Republican side, and manages to slaughter quite a lot of Franco's men. His young son, Javier, is traumatized by the whole event and later, in 1973, we meet him again as the new recruit in a circus, the Sad Clown. He can only be the sad clown because he is sad himself, and cannot make children laugh. They pair him up with the Funny Clown, a ruthless but charismatic man called Sergio, who turns out to be the partner to a beautiful trapeze artist, Natalia. Javi falls in love with Natalia and thus starts a rivalry between the two men for the love of a woman, with unforeseeable consequences.

The narration is so filled with colorful characters, crazy comedy, crazy violence mixed with comedy or with surreal elements, historical references, and an underlying sense of tragicomedy, and it is so excessive and full of surprises, one can't help but keep watching, much as it is over the top in many an occasion. You can enjoy the movie at face value and ride the wave of the story for what it is, but you can also watch this movie as a summary and insight into the recent Spanish history and how Spain seems doomed to always be split in two, similar people, brothers, always rivalling and even hating each other, seemingly beyond reconciliation, connecting episodes of sheer senselessness and absurdity with spine-chilling episodes of hate and violence, and all of it boiling down to a tragedy that you can only laugh at because it makes no sense.

I'm not surprised that Quentin Tarantino himself was so taken with this movie, and I wouldn't be surprised if an adaptation of this movie was made soon in an American context.
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7/10
A full-on surreal psychotronic black-comedy
Red-Barracuda20 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In 1937 a circus clown is drafted into battle against fascist forces in Spain. He wears his full clown outfit as he wades through the enemy soldiers hacking at them with a machete. Years later in 1973, his son carries on the family tradition and becomes a clown too – the Sad Clown. In the circus he works at he comes into contact with the sociopath Smiling Clown and his beautiful girlfriend, Natalia, the trapeze artist. Very soon, violent jealousies erupt between the clowns and a maelstrom of insane violence ensues.

It's difficult to say if there is an underlying message in The Last Circus. The Spanish Civil War is a backdrop, as is Franco's Spain but to be perfectly honest, if there is a message, it's lost in the mayhem. But this doesn't matter because the movie works best if you take it at face value. It's a Felliniesque melodrama about violent clowns fighting over a gorgeous girl. The tone of the film alternates radically and without warning between funny and vicious. Sometimes they overlap, like when the Smiling Clown beats the Sad Clown to a pulp with a fairground hammer, in doing so hitting the winning bell; he is dragged away from the battered body of his victim while shouting 'I want my teddy!'. This sort of juxtaposing of extreme violence with silly comedy is something that happens throughout The Last Circus and may very well leave some viewers baffled. But for fans of cult cinema this approach should not be much of a problem I would venture. The Last Circus does seem to show again that when it comes to surrealism, the Spanish sure know how to deliver. From the start this is evident. In the incredibly great opening credit sequence we have military style drums hammering away while we are bombarded with an over the top array of bewildering imagery – from black and white photographs of Civil War Spain, to a still of Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. juxtaposed immediately with a gruesome shot from the Italian gore-fest Cannibal Holocaust. It's one of the most arresting credit sequences I can ever remember seeing – thematically it's difficult to say what it means but it terms of visual artistry it's terrific.

Acting personnel all do excellent work in bizarre roles. But special notice needs to be made for Carolina Bang for also being quite ridiculously attractive throughout – it's quite easy to see why she has driven these psychopathic clowns to such crazed distraction. Director Álex de la Iglesia has to be given credit too for bringing all this madness to the screen with such style and verve. He has created a film here that in all honesty is very difficult to categorise in terms of genre – there's a little bit of war, quite a lot of comedy, a good deal of melodrama and a host of extreme gruesomeness; but it does not fit into any one genre very well at all, in truth this is one of the things that makes it good. If I had a criticism it would be that the final third loses a little impetus but that's mainly because the opening two thirds is so wild and strong. The Last Circus comes highly recommended for fans of psychotronic cinema.
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"Freaks" meets "Santa Sangre"
foosie-219 October 2011
If you have seen any film by Alex de la Ingelsia, then you know that no two of his films are alike, that they contain a lot of humor and arresting images, and often a lot of graphic gores, and are the product of a very original mind. THE LAST CIRCUS is no exception. There are images in this film that will stay with you for years.

The settings are many and varied, beginning with the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and winding up in 1973 on a War Monument that includes a giant cross and statues for an ending that will bring to mind Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Along the way there is a nightclub dedicated to Telly Savalas called Kojak!

Pedro Rodríguez has created two very different special effects makeups, one of a man who has self-mutilated his face with acid and a hot iron, and another by man who has had his face slashed with a grappling hook and then stitched back together by a veterinarian. Rodríguez is someone whose future work bears watching.

The setting for much of the action is a traveling circus reminiscent of FREAKS crossed with Alejandro Jodorowsky's SANTA SANGRE. Clowns have always been pretty creepy anyway, but you will never look at them the same after this film.
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9/10
Best film of 2010
damagelago23 January 2011
After the really disappointing "Oxford murders", Álex de la Iglesia returns with not only his best film to date, but with one of the best films in the last years. "Balada Triste de Trompeta" is a romantic-over the top-violent melodrama which mixes Tarantino, Hitchcock, Fellini, Todd Browning and of course it also has a lot of previous Álex de la Iglesia films like "Acción Mutante" or "El día de la bestia". Two men, one good and one bad, fighting for the love of a beautiful blonde trapeze artist (the gorgeous Carolina Bang) in a downward spiral of love and madness that also serves as a historical recount of the last 75 years of Spanish history.
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3/10
Well.... it's... uhm... interesting.........
info-1238819 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, so it's about these two clowns — the Happy Clown and the Sad Clown — and the woman between them. The Sad Clown's father and grandfather (and who knows, great- grandfather maybe) were all clowns, so it just follows that he will be as well.

But here's the thing: don't bother watching the trailer, because it has zip to do with the film. If anything, it addresses things that happen in the first ten minutes and pretty much ignores the rest. If you went by the trailer, you'd think this was about some crazy circus clown who goes around killing people — well, yes, but the trailer is pretty much about the main character's father, not the character himself.

But the script is just a hysterical mess, meandering from psychological thriller to slasher film to political allegory and back again, such that by the time you get to the end, you really no longer care about these three and their incredibly messed-up lives (or, in one case, death). And getting to that end requires, at times, the patience of Job: a very strange scene in a well that seems put in there for some kind of... well, I'm not sure what it was in there for. Then, shortly afterwards, when (SPOILER) Sad Clown burns his face with acid and an iron... you just sit there wondering what drugs the writer/director had and where you can get some.

It's suggested that you should read this as a political allegory: the Happy Clown as Franco, the Sad Clown as the Republicans, the Girl Between Them as Spain, left broken in half and hanging by a thread. It's a stretch, at best, but given how utterly whacked this thing is, I suppose that works as explanation as well as anything else.
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8/10
Alex de la Iglesia, the Spanish Fellini.
David Traversa9 May 2011
To watch this movie and enjoy it one must suspend all judgment.

It doesn't pretend to show us scenes of everyday living, or the girl next door shopping at the supermarket.

It deals with the same magic world that García Márquez deals with in his exotic novels. Marvellously created world. As thrilling as any Fellini movie. The circus world is the perfect setting for developing this view, between fantasy, nightmares and awful reality.

The pacing is relentless, a thousand things happening during the 120 minutes or so, all of them linked within the main story and showing a whole range of human emotions among the three main characters: The Smiling Clown, The Sad Clown (his sidekick) and the beautiful trapeze girl, the object of jealousy, fury, rancor between the two clowns.

Every scene is visually baroque in essence, since action takes place in the foreground but also in the background, with secondary characters.

There is a full color palette, dazzling as an old kaleidoscope making all sorts of beautiful patterns that change in front of our eyes delighting us continuously.

The acting is superb, from the principal actors to the last extra. The delivery of the lines in Spanish is done at full speed, clean as a whistle and sharp as a cracking whip by all the actors.

The digital effects perfect. Top entertainment from beginning to end. What a SEN-SA-TION-AL movie!!!
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9/10
Crazy Clowns with guns....what could be wrong?
CrazinessCax14 September 2011
Great movie. Not for everyone. At the very beginning you will know what kind of movie you are going to watch. Very dramatic, funny and terrifying. Has every ingredient, but you will find it difficult to classify it in a genre. The story is not different from what you've probably seen before, what makes the difference is the way it is told. 10 points for the acting. You actually feel the changes every character has as the movie goes along. The music also flows great with the film in every way, and creates fantastic atmospheres in every moment. The editing may be the weakest thing of the film. Anyway, great. You don't get to watch a dark funny film very often...
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9/10
Send in those soulful and doleful and schmaltz-by-the-bowlful clowns!
ninjas-r-cool30 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Less than 10 minutes into A Sad Trumpet Ballad, we're shown the spectacle of a machete-wielding clown in a dress striding forth into a regiment of Spanish civil war soldiers, hacking open throats left, right and centre, his big comical shoes taking him forward through the shower of jugular sprays as he keeps on swinging. It's an amazing sequence of brutal, surreal imagery. As a moment of absurd revisionist history, it makes Inglorious Basterds seem overly safe and unambitious in comparison. It's one of the coolest things I've seen so far this year. And it's not even the best part of the film.

After this short prologue, we're whisked from 1937 to 1973 where we find that the main character of the film is the clown's son. He joins a circus hoping to follow in his father's footsteps, but the tragedies of his childhood have left him unable to make anyone laugh. So he becomes the sad clown, destined to continue a life where the jokes are all on him. His counterpart, the happy clown, is as confident as the sad clown is pathetic. A savage brute of a fellow, prone to unexpected violence, he keeps everyone in line with fear. He's also ploughing the sh!t out of the super hot trapeze girl and ensuring she doesn't stray by dishing out the occasional beating. When she takes a fancy to our main character, then these two clowns are set for a violent confrontation. Reeeeeal violent.

So there's a touch of Freaks to the plot, but apparently it's also intended to parallel the events of the Spanish civil war. I know nothing about Spain except that it has nice beaches and inattentive bartenders, so this side of the story went over my head. If I were to guess with my limited grasp of Spanish history, I'd say the happy clown is meant to represent Franco, the sad clown is the Republicans and the trapeze girl is Spain itself. That could be a load of balls though. Fortunately, you don't need to understand it on that level as there's plenty more to enjoy. Let's face it, history is boring as sh!t when compared to psychotic clowns, so put the subtext on the back-burner and just enjoy the show.

Did I mention the violence yet? One of the main complaints for the movie at festival screenings is that it's "too violent". I don't know what that phrase means, so I looked it up on dictionary.com and it still seemed like pure gibberish to me. From I can gather it means "too much awesomeness". Something like that anyway. But yeah, it's got plenty of nasty stuff happening. Structurally it's messy as hell, constantly changing tone and tightrope-walking between genres, from war movie to historical drama to dark comedy to romantic melodrama. But by the time the final third rolls around, we're into a full-bore, take-no-prisoners nightmare of madness and mutilation - a pure freak show.

Some may be put off by the total lack of sympathetic characters (the trapeze girl in particular is especially unlikeable) or the constant barrage of unpleasantness. But for me, the sheer level of originality and visual creativity more than makes up for any shortcomings. Nowadays, the retro throwback trend has made it fashionable to rape the corpse of post-modernism with nothing more than a lazy wink-at-the-audience to justify the lack of originality, so it's especially pleasing to see a movie acknowledge its influences and then expand on them. Gutsy filmmaking all-round from a director who's willing to push the art-form into territory we haven't seen before.

It's in my top 3 for 2010. Check it out
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7/10
Fears of a Clown
David Ferguson28 August 2011
Greetings again from the darkness. Here's hoping I don't get booted from proper society for admitting a strange fascination and enjoyment from the latest directorial effort by Spanish cult favorite Alex de la Iglesia. The film is assembled with unequal parts: political parody, black comedy, dark horror, bizarre action and an even more bizarre love triangle. All of that and some of the freakiest clowns you will ever see! I am not really familiar with Mr. De La Torre's previous work but evidently he has quite a following in Spain, though he has found extremely limited success in the U.S. with The Day of the Beast. Neither am I an historical expert on the Spanish Civil War or the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, both of which are targets of the director's true feelings. Still, the movie is such that it kept me engaged and even enthralled the entire time ... especially in Act I.

The film begins in 1937 when a faction of the Republican Army crash a kids' circus performance and force the performers to join in the crusade. One of the clowns leaves behind a young son as he picks up a machete and destroys a platoon almost single handedly - while still in women's clown costume! It is a visual I have yet to erase from my memory.

Forward to 1943 and the clown is forced into servitude constructing the famed Valley of the Fallen. His son tracks him down and is given "revenge" as the only redemptive action by his father. Flash forward to 1973 and the young boy is seen joining a traveling circus as the "sad clown". This circus troupe is run by the ruthless and sadistic "funny clown" who is clearly the filmmakers representation of Franco. The foreshadowing scene comes in the initial meeting between the two clowns as 'funny' tells 'sad' if he weren't a clown, he'd be a murderer. "Sad" responds "me too". Let the mayhem begin! The rivalry and violence escalates as Javier, the sad clown, is lead on and falls for the acrobatic girlfriend of Sergio, the funny clown. As the story moves forward both Javier and Sergio become more grotesque and violent in their attempts to capture Natalia the acrobat. It all ends with a breathtaking climb and operatic duel atop the memorial in the Valley of the Fallen.

There is no way to describe the trip from machete clown to the tragic dance atop the cross. It is a mash-up of Inglorious Basterds, Freaks, Machete and Phantom of the Opera. Additionally, there are countless homages to classic films through the years and a nearly operatic feel to the story and some scenes. Singer Raphael's version of "Ballad of the Sad Trumpet" plays a role, as does a crumpled trumpet. I certainly see this one becoming a regular on the midnight movie circuit, and rightfully so. It has everything a viewer could possibly want ... provided they are in a mindless stupor and looking for the best available violent clown movie currently showing!
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7/10
Laugh Clown Kill
Billy_Crash5 February 2012
Laugh clown kill

A sad clown falls in love with a starlet – and challenges her misogynistic lover in post-war Spain.

The logline above is far too simplistic for this multi-genre and multi-thematic film. Written and directed by Álex de la Iglesia, best known in the US for his 2008 feature THE OXFORD MURDERS, brings us a monster mix of mayhem that spans from the Spanish Civil War to 1973. Sort of like Tim Burton on a lot more acid.

Soft-spoken Javier (Carlos Areces) survives the war to become a sad clown in a low budget circus. In the show, he plays second banana to Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), the happy clown who is ultra-hostile off stage and keeps the other performers walking on edge due to sudden tirades and extreme violence. His lover is the lithe Natalia (Carolina Bang) torn between Sergio's rage and the safety of Javier. Okay, that sounds like straightforward romance plot number one – but it doesn't come close. This tale engages war, politics, drama, comedy, horror and romance while exploring themes regarding obsession, response to trauma, politically induced Frankensteinian creations, and the failure of dreams within a fascist state. Fascism, whether it is Franco's or Sergio's, is the running thread that holds this wild fantasy together.

Kiko de la Rica is the photographic genius that created one amazingly vivid cinematographic ride that even in the daylight never seems pristine or dreamy enough. The world is always tainted – darkened – by something from the edges as well as within the hearts of the characters, and his skill brings this to light frame after frame.

The acting is absolutely brilliant and riveting, with Areces and de la Torre going toe to toe at every turn. I can only imagine how mind-numbingly drained the performances had left them. Then again, how could any actor in the film not embrace the quirky and enigmatic characters created by Iglesias? None of the characters were run of the mill or plucked off the shelf like so much Hollywood drek.

However, though this falls under the realm of horror, I sincerely doubt many fans of the genre would embrace the movie. This is not because horror aficionados are stupid and only adore slasher films, but this is one of those movies that could easily make someone question the very definition of the genre. And with a multi-faceted feature such as this, horror plays a role, like a character, and does not permeate the tale.

Regardless, there's something for everyone in THE LAST CIRCUS, and if you like freaky films that defy description, you should enjoy this riveting feature.
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1/10
Worst film I have seen in 10 years, no joke.
jordansemailis19 December 2010
A total waste of money. I had high hopes for the film, being a fan of De la Iglesia. With this film however, I have lost all interest in seeing anymore of his films. The film has no social value what so ever. I didn't relate to or like any of the characters. It is a gruesome, violent without reason, test to see how long you can hold down your food. I hated it. I highly do not recommend this film. It left me feeling accosted and frustrated, lamenting the time I lost in the cinema.(I would write the rest of my review in Spanish for the many Spanish speaking people that frequent the IMDb, especially for directors from Spain, but the mandatory spell check at the end of the review doesn't allow words that are not English. Huh. Too bad.)
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1/10
From now on, in Spanish dictionaries, next to the word "pretencioso" ("pretentious") there should be a still from this film to illustrate the concept
el_monty_BCN4 January 2011
I cannot understand how this disastrous film is earning so many awards. I was *this* close to walking out of the cinema, honestly, I could hardly stand it. The story is utterly ridiculous, and clumsy to the point of verging on the childish, full to the brim with incongruences, jarring shifts in tone and artificial dialog; and it overflows with pretentiousness, De la Iglesia trying to give it the depth it so sorely lacks by interweaving it with famous real-life events, and grotesquely trivializing Spanish history in the process by turning it into a mere setback for his absurd psycho-killer clowns. The acting is also weak, with only Antonio de la Torre, the one with by far most acting chops of the leading trio, managing to give his character some semblance of believability; then again, it can't be easy to achieve a credible performance give the awful lines the actors had to deal with.
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9/10
Genre-crossing, unpredictable horror/comedy/drama
kidcolt@hotmail.com7 July 2011
Lately I tend to give every movie that I can't predict more favourable reviews than I should, but I really enjoyed this. My local video store clerks (at the stellar Eyesore Cinema in Toronto, Canada) tend to just hand me a movie to rent when I walk in, so I have no idea what I'm about to see until I get home and put it in my DVD player. Maybe they just know me there, but I thought this one was definitely something. It's strange how so many unlikable characters couldn't stop me from liking the film.

I can understand why the film is so polarizing. I gets 1 star reviews and 5 star reviews. That's often the sign that a film is at very least memorable. Totally original, unpredictable, funny, odd, horrifying, cartoonish, very violent, and filled with characters few could relate to, yet ultimately it's all wholly watchable. The Last Circus is sort of like 5 films in one and crosses genres wildly, but it kept me entertained throughout, which is pretty much all I ask of a film.
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9/10
Excellent!
manolytomanson8427 December 2010
it was worth going to the cinema for see the movie. incredible, spectacular, amazing, funny ... I have no words to say but, the movie is great!, Is a movie of love, terror, violence, macabre humor, sex, and much blood. Has it all!, What more do you want!,I have seen almost all movies of Alex De la Iglesia and this film is the best movie, and the best Spanish film too, a masterpiece that will traumatize you. And of course some people will not like the movie, but that is because they are sissies. I left the cinema fascinated and eager to see the movie again. I recommend you it!. Tarantino ended up delighted with the movie.
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2/10
Total waste of money
aliena19842 January 2011
I had pretty high expectations with this movie, since critics were delighted with it and it was said that Tarantino had loved it in Cannes. While I can really see why he did (the first two scenes are Tarantino-wannabe), I found the movie boring, too ambitious for nothing.

A short summary would be that De la Iglesia wanted to achieve a lot and ended up with a useless movie, full of good intended jokes that didn't end up well, not even one well developed character and almost all performances from bad to too bad.

I did not believe any of the characters, especially the Sad Clown (El Payaso Triste) and Natalia, a woman towards whom I should have felt compassion and some understanding but none of these feelings touched me.

In short, De la Iglesia is not as good and big as he would like to be.
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8/10
A surreal fable, with gore and blood to boot
Ayal Oren17 July 2011
The first reaction I had to this film was - "an overkill". So much gore and blood in a small love triangle story, seemed excessive. But my very next thought was, I must be missing something. And as I went over the perfectly designed gory details of the movie one more time in my mind I realized I was watching a surreal fable on the fate of Spain from the Spanish civil war onward. The only proof of that claim I can give here without adding a spoiler is the fact that the opening scene of the film takes place in 1937 while most of the story happens on 1973, but there's no logical base for such a big time gap, the only reason these two dates were chosen is because the second is the mirror image of the first, and they both fit into the historic background necessary for the story.

As a fable, we have all the right ingredients of a fable in, the characters may be slightly flat, since their symbolic value is more important than their personality but the actors make it work anyhow.

So if your stomach can take gore and blood in quantities that would suit a horror movie, and you're interested in an original point of view on the destiny of Spain in the 20th century - it's definitely worth seeing
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4/10
The best word is Disappointing
Mario Eleno27 December 2010
After being seduced by the massive publicity which has surrounded this film in Spain (or better said, the friend I was going with), I went to the cinema with moderate to high expectations.

At the end I was quite disappointed, this is one of this films which you can sense it won't add anything to you.

The beginning is promising, and at one point I thought that even this one could be a really innovative film, David Fincher style. But after the running time was passing I did realize that, it is at least 30 minutes too long, there is too much absurd blood and death, at least one story line is complete needless.

Summarizing, one of this movies which you will forget quite soon and you'll feel lucky for it.
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1/10
Let me tell you something honest. It's the worst movie i've seen this far. And i've seen a lot of movies...
skplion4 May 2011
The movie left me feeling awfully offended. The director has just stitched together pieces of Spanish history to provide a backdrop for a completely psychotic story that doesn't make any sense, even through the eyes of a mentally challenged person. All this blood and all those grotesque settings, feel simply thrown at you without any purpose or meaning at all, especially at the second half of the movie which ranged from utterly ridiculous to painfully oh-my-god-when-does-it-end? exhausting. Honestly, i spent time thinking whether to leave during the break, but i decided to stay in hope of finding something worthwhile in the story of the film. Not that i found any... The only ones not to blame are the actors, it's impossible to play a role without a decent piece of script. If you lost a bet and really NEED to see this movie, wait till it comes out on DVD.
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4/10
Disappointing
Andres Salama6 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Having admired and enjoyed a lot of Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's previous movies (especially Ferpect Crime, 800 bullets and La Comunidad), I found this last film of him to be very disappointing. The movie starts with a brief prologue during the Spanish civil war, but then moves on to 1973: it's basically about a newcomer clown to a pathetic circus who arouses the jealousy of the dangerously crazy head clown who thinks he might be after his not too bright woman. The fights between them will increasingly become more violent and grotesque. Since I don't recall their names right now, I call the three main characters in the movie, Sad Clown, Psycho Clown and Dumb Girl. Psycho Clown constantly beats Dumb Girl, but this is played for laughs in the movie which makes me wonder why the director thinks that domestic violence is funny. All three protagonists are extremely unlikable, almost repulsive, so we could not care less of what happens to them. Several aspects of Spanish 20th century history serve as backdrop to the action here but they don't add anything to the film, they seem gratuitous additions. (As an aside, chronologically, the movie doesn't add up: Sad Clown was a child around of around 10 in the 1930s, so he must be in his late forties in the second part of the movie, yet he looks like he is still in his twenties). Worst, Alex is copying himself: The idea of two rival comedians fighting each other like mad against a backdrop of recent Spanish history was already in Muertos de Miedo, which was not his best film but is much better than this (and with better actors, another problem of this movie is the poor acting, with the exception of the guy playing Psycho Clown). As in that movie, there are references to Spanish customs and popular culture of the 1970s (movies, TV shows, etc) that are probably moving to the director (who was a child during that time) but that left me and I suppose many other viewers cold. And as in Ferpect Crime, the movie ends in a homage to Hitchcock (which by now is a cliché among cinephile directors). So, in summary, I can't really recommend this, despite the expectations I had seeing this.
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10/10
This movie is shockingly awesome :)
abkdiamonds41110 September 2012
If you don't like violence, this movie is not for you. This may be the maddest love triangle movie of all time. I don't want to say too much because not really having a clue what it is about and being SHOCKED is half of why I think I liked it so much. Again, if you don't like violence don't watch it. My mother would hate this movie. Which is usually a good indication that I will like it. If I were going to categorize it, it's a psychological thriller/romantic tragedy gone completely MAD. You can't put this movie in a category really, I've never seen anything quite like it. I'm not much into reading subtexts but for some reason, with this movie I didn't mind.
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6/10
After a beautiful 1st hour, the remaining ¾ hour disappointed completely
JvH4823 April 2011
I saw this film as part of the "Imagine" film festival 2011 in Amsterdam. It made a promising start with a good exposition of the main characters involved, the setting in which they lived (circus, civil war, etc), and personal motives behind dramatic developments later on. Actors did a great job, pictures well shot, and a perfectly fitting musical score supported the events on screen. I was fully in the mood to watch the remainder of a perfect movie. All necessary ingredients were there.

However, after an hour my appreciation changed 180 degrees. There were too many improbable situations, unrealistic events, and several inconsistencies in the story line. Apart from that, the overload of self inflicted injuries and mutual violence started to annoy me. Equally dramatic developments might have been possible with much less blood. On top of that, the finale disappointed grossly. It was obviously intended to be spectacular, but it completely failed in that respect. I did not expect a happy ending for most of the main characters, but such a massive amount of deaths and severe injuries is uncalled for.

When leaving the theater, I nevertheless gave a "satisfactory" score for the public prize competition, compensating the bad parts in the last ¾ hour with the good parts that made up the first hour. These film makers can do it, apparently, when they avoid their inclination to impress us with spectacular settings and special effects. I certainly hope they will in their next production.
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1/10
Total exhaustion
metalquass7 April 2011
In March 2011, there was annual film festival "Kino Pavasaris" ("The Cinema Spring") here in Vilnius, I watched 15 movies during 2 weeks, "The Last Circus" (referred as "A Sad Trumpet Ballad") actually being the last to watch. Unfortunately, it was the worst possible choice as it nearly spoiled an overall positive impression of the whole festival. I was almost sick when I left the hall, emaciated of all I've just seen: inexplicable rudeness, hysteric behaviours, pointless wandering and fighting, seemingly endless dialogs. Surely, this movie was intended to be ambitious and pretentious, however, it totally missed the mark. From all 15, only sluggish Vietnamese movie "Bi, don't be afraid" surpassed (on the negative scale) "The Last Circus" in terms of pointless and boring plot, however, in terms of overall impression ("total exhaustion") no one even stood near "The Last Circus". Needless to say, it also marked "the last circus" for me regarding Alex de la Iglesia as director. Moreover, in future I will have to check twice before attending another "made in Spain" (which is too sad considering a pair of amazing movies by Julio Medem I saw recently).
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1/10
Venice Festival is death if it awarded this movie.
rodrigoqbo18 June 2011
To be honest, I've never been a big De la Iglesia fan, even if Acción Mutante is on of the best Spanish commercial films ever made. But anyway I watched this movie with great expectations, specially for the Venice awards. It's a shame that the basis of the script and the idea is so good, but the screenplay is a total shame, full of implausible dialogues and characters, and the direction is totally unfortunate: what was supposed to be a Fellinian farce becomes a melodramatic soap opera. The same happen with the editing, full of miss raccords and with no dramatic or rhythm sense or proposal. At the end, with this movie, I made a lot of conclusions of things I've already was wondering: 1. We can understand why commercial Spanish movie is so bad when the writer of Mentiras y gordas is the Minister of Culture and Álex de la Iglesia is the president of the Film Academy, 2. Really, couldn't Álex de la Iglesia, with his name and power, contract a writer and another editor for this?, 3. The Venice Film Festival, as I had notices for like the past ten years, has became a joke (and not even a good one, more like, let's say, the jokes supposed to be in this movie).
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