Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Closely Watched Trains

Closely Watched Trains is a 1966 film, a Czechoslovak coming of age story about a young man who begins work at a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. Jiri Menzel directs. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. Coming of age films aren't a favorite for me, and I only watched it because I found it on several lists of must-see foreign language films, but I enjoyed this one. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It's dark, but with humor.

part 1:

part 2:

Senses of Cinema calls it "strikingly understated film with its bitter-sweet humour, its earthy imagery, and its unassuming heroism." Bright Lights Film Journal says, "director Jiri Menzel has not been called the Czech Woody Allen for nothing". It's included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. concludes,
In the 1960s, this picture was one of the most successful Czech films, both at home and abroad. This is demonstrated by many honors at both domestic and international festivals. It remains in the repertory of Czech movie theaters and still has not lost its audience.
The Guardian says,
the triumph of the film is to show us that our petty destinies are inextricably linked to bigger events outside our lives and that we can never escape them. That he does this with such tenderness, charm and guile, as well as producing an extremely funny film, is a measure of the longevity of its appeal.
DVD Talk says, "the majority of the film did provide strong characters, dialogue and beautiful cinematography". Entertainment Weekly gives it an A- and says, "Menzel's generosity of spirit toward his characters lends the film a sweetness that is accomplished and rare." Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and calls it "a quiet, charming, very, human film." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

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