Soulmates in Hell

In June 1973 the democratic government of Uruguay was overthrown by a military dictatorship that lasted until February 28,1985 and was responsible for the incarceration of more than 5000 people and the systematic torture and human rights abuse of prisoners. Among the prisoners were members of the left-wing guerrilla organization known as the Tupamaros (aka the National Liberation Movement), and included activist Jose Mujica, the poet and playwright Mauricio Rosencof and journalist Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro. A Twelve-Year Night (La Noche de 12 Anos), which premiered on Netflix in late December and is currently available on the service, depicts the plight of these three men in a powerful true-life drama directed by Alvaro Brechner. Continue reading

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What’s So Funny About a Clown With a Machete?

The Last Circus (2010) by Alex de la Iglesia

The Last Circus (2010) by Alex de la Iglesia

When clowns are the main characters in movies, you can almost bet they aren’t going to be very funny (He Who Gets Slapped, La Strada, The Comic)…especially in a film by Alex de la Inglesia; this is the fantasist who gave us such outlandish spectacles as Accion Mutante (1993), Perdita Durango (1997) and 800 Bullets (2002). Similar in tone to his pitch black farce Muertos de Risa (1999), in which a two-man comedy act self-destructs in a bitter, homicidal rivalry, de la Inglesia takes this basic conflict and pushes it further into bloody madcap surrealism in The Last Circus (Spanish title: Balada Triste de Trompeta, 2010). It opens in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, circa 1937, as a circus clown, wearing a dress, is interrupted in the middle of his comedy routine and forced into service by the militia. Armed with a machete, he single-handedly massacres scores of Nationals before being captured by the opposition. Before he is executed, he is allowed to give some parting advice to his son Javier, who is so traumatized by the experience that it marks him for life. Though Javier vows to continue in his father’s line of work, he is incapable of playing the happy clown and finds his niche as a sad clown instead.    Continue reading