Sunday May 12th 2013
Closely Watched Trains (“Ostre sledované vlaky”)
Jirí Menzel, Czechoslovakia, 1966, 93 min.
in Czech with English subtitles
Door open at 20pm, film begins at 21:00.
An apprentice train dispatcher at a village station seeks his first sexual encounter and becomes despondent when he is unable to perform. In the same time he success in antifascist resistance.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called Closely Watched Trains “as expert and moving in its way as was Jan Kadar’s and Elmar Klos’s The Shop on Main Street or Milos Forman’s Loves of a Blonde”, two other recent films from Czechoslovakia. Crowther wrote: “What it appears Mr. Menzel is aiming at all through his film is just a wonderfully sly, sardonic picture of the embarrassments of a youth coming of age in a peculiarly innocent yet worldly provincial environment. … The charm of his film is in the quietness and slyness of his earthy comedy, the wonderful finesse of understatements, the wise and humorous understanding of primal sex. And it is in the brilliance with which he counterpoints the casual affairs of his country characters with the realness, the urgency and significance of those passing trains.” Variety’s reviewer wrote: “The 28-year-old Jiri Menzel registers a remarkable directorial debut. His sense for witty situations is as impressive as his adroit handling of the players. A special word of praise must go to Bohumil Hrabal [sic], the creator of the literary original; the many amusing gags and imaginative situations are primarily his. The cast is composed of wonderful types down the line.”