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Cirkus Columbia

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Cirkus Columbia
Directed by Danis Tanovic
Strand Releasing
Opens February 17, Quad Cinema

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In small-town southern Herzegovina circa 1992—on the eve of the bloody war in the Balkans—middle-age former villager Divko (Miki Manojlovic) rolls into town after 20 years of German exile in a shiny red Mercedes, with tons of dough and flame-haired arm candy Azra (Jelena Stupljanin). The communists are out of power, and Divko is ready to take back his family home—except that it's still occupied by his frumpy, abandoned wife, Lucija (Mira Furlan), and ham-radio-obsessed grown son, Martin (Boris Ler). While Divko searches for his missing cat, sexual tension erupts in predictable but clumsy ways between simpleminded Martin and his pop's mistreated new girlfriend, and don't the dynamics between the old family and new mirror the political unrest rumbling in the background? No Man's Land director Danis Tanovic, adapting a novel by Ivica Djikic, also returns to his roots with this decidedly old-fashioned, quasi-satirical drama that is a bit on the nose with its indictments of post-communist animosities and opportunism. (At its most obvious, Martin falls out with a pal who then joins a pro-Croatian militia.) Pleasantly shot in muted colors, the film looks and feels like a throwback, particularly in its stereotypes of women and local yokels.

 
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