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Cabaret Balkan

Starring Miki Manojlovic, Sergei Trifunovic, Mirjana Jokovic and Lazar Ristovski
Screenplay by Dejan Dukovski and Goran Paskaljevic
Based on the Dukovski's play The Powder Keg
Directed by Goran Paskaljevic

IN SHORT: For arthouse connoisseurs only. [Not Rated, 105 minutes]

Original title The Powder Keg, which is a name Kevin Costner has grabbed for a flick in development. Thus, the name change.

The Website says: Over the course of one evening various interlinked stories unravel; A boxer discovers the extent to which his life has been a facade and fights his best friend in an act of desperate retaliation; A former Sarajevo professor is too proud to work for the new refugee mobsters dealing in gas, cigarettes, and other contraband, opting instead to drive a bus; A young woman, harassed during a bus hijacking, ends up safely in the arms of her boyfriend only to find that their lovers quarrel places them in an absurdly dangerous situation. In his focus on the lives of ordinary people living in the dawn of an awakening political consciousness, Belgrade-born Paskaljevic masterfully balances dark comedy with heightened realism, creating a compelling exploration of the human spirit.

Cranky sat through Cabaret Balkan watching the dehumanizing portraits of lives in a country on the brink of war thinking, were we bombing the wrong side? As the various stories play out, there are a couple of none too subtle remarks about racial or religious background which, to American eyes, mean very little. All them Balkanites/ Yugoslavs/ Macedonians look pretty much the same. Nor does the male of the species come off as particularly enlightened.

Lessee what we've got here. There are a pair of middle aged best friend boxing and drinking partners, one of whom has admitted to an indiscretion with the other's long forgotten girlfriend whom he had promised to watch over. The other "friend" then proceeds to reveal a 20 years long systematic emasculation of his buddy. One smashed beer bottle in the gut later, the survivor heads off in a drunken haze, boarding a train with no destination in mind. But there's a blonde on the train that gets the attention of his stunted little willie and while she attempts to defend herself from the coming rape, her weapon of choice, a grenade, works against her. Meanwhile, in a hijacked bus across town, tough guy with a knife is sexually terrorizing the hostage passengers. One poor woman, whose legs are spread and stroked by said blade will get away and call her boyfriend to come get her. The lout automatically assumes that it is the woman's fault that she was attacked; that she may have derived pleasure of some sort from the attack and so has emasculated him. Like I wrote, a very enlightened male populace. The stories get even more unpleasant, culminating in a lynching and a string of car explosions symbolizing the "powder keg" that is modern Yugoslavia pushing civilized behavior beyond the boiling point to utter depravity.

OK, film students and arthouse cineastes, this is the kind of stuff you maintain you like. If it turns your stomachs and makes you ashamed to be part of the greater human race, then it must be good film and everyone should see it.

Oh Get Real

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Cabaret Balkan, he would have paid...


I save the zero for total drek. Cabaret Balkan wasn't drek, though it is not to my taste. Thoroughly unpleasant and not recommended to anyone outside of the film student arthouse circuit.

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