REVIEWS: A Violent, Gutsy "Cabaret Balkan," and "After Life" Vanishes
by Danny Lorber
"Cabaret Balkan" is a vicious, often violent black comedy from Yugoslavia that tells a fictitious story of events occurring the night of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Directed by Goran Paskaljevic ("Someone Else's America"), the film follows a seemingly random group of Belgrade citizens who are full of anger, cruelty and violence. Mentally ravished by the years of war and death, Paskaljevic's characters have seen nothing other than human destruction, and they're reliving what they've seen. Every scene in the film ends in brutality, ever characters disappoints us with their own violence.
Paskaljevic claims that the film ultimately offers hope for humans and he sees goodness in their behavior. What he's saying doesn't make sense - no human here is anything other than vengeful and hateful. Still, the film is electric and gutsy in style; it plays like a weird dream (in much the same way Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" does - subtly, frustratingly). Nothing here feels quite real while, yet strangely, everyone represented is horribly believable. "Cabaret Balkan" (which has previously been known as "The Powder Keg" -- the name was changed because Kevin Costner is making a Hollywood film with that same title) is one of the more emotionally violent films from the international film community that's been seen state side during the last few years.
A side note: Released by Paramount's new specialized division, Paramount Classics, "Cabaret Balkan" is an unusually risqu