Blu-Ray Review: Closely Observed Trains

Director: Jirí Menzel
Screenplay: Bohumil Hrabal, Jirí Menzel
Based on a Novel by: Bohumil Hrabal
Starring: Václav Neckár, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodský
Country: Czechoslovakia
Running Time: 93 min
Year: 1966
BBFC Certificate: 15

I‘m rather late to the party in checking out the films of the Czech New Wave, with my introduction being Milos Forman’s The Firemen’s Ball only last month. I liked that film quite a lot as my 4.5 rating will attest, so I was delighted to hear that Arrow were following that release up with Jirí Menzel’s Oscar winning Closely Observed Trains (a.k.a. Closely Watched Trains or, in it’s native country, Ostře sledované vlaky), one of the most well loved films of the movement.

Closely Observed Trains is set on a small rural train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Young Miloš Hrma (Václav Neckár), our main protagonist, has just become a station guard and is fixed on living up to his family reputation of being a lazy shirker. In his words, the job will allow him to “do nothing except stand around on the platform with a signal disc while they (the people) spend their lives working themselves to the bone”. His colleagues seem to embody this description with Hubicka (Josef Somr) spending his time seducing anything in a skirt, particularly the more than forthcoming telegraphist Zdenka (Jitka Zelenohorská). Their stationmaster Max (Vladimír Valenta) takes his job more seriously, yearning to be promoted to station inspector, but in actuality spends most of his time tending to his pigeons and jealously damning Hubicka’s actions.

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Cinecast Episode 417 – At its Most Perfunct

Star Wars Episode VII doesn’t hit theaters for another month, but that doesn’t seem to stop the podcasting folks here at RowThree from continuing to discuss Star Wars (in its various formats) at length – from a marathon viewing with the kids to The Despecialized Versions to the Japanese re-edit and even a brief mention/review of the new “Star Wars Battlefront” game (see images & video at the bottom of this post). Believe it or not, after almost 40 years there are still things to talk about. After an hour of a galaxy far, far away, we dig into the main review which is Lenny Abrahamson’s ROOM starring Sean Bridgers. Room is “emotionally without direction” is a fair way to summarize our thoughts. We wrap things up with 80s cold war craze, Neil Marshall mini-marathon, disappointing Ridley Scott fare, catching up on horror movies and the western just keeps on wagon-training in 2015. All this and few other things are lurking inside this little room. Step inside!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Friday One Sheet: Uncle Nick and CGI Beer

Strange that Errol Morris is Exec-Producing a movie about a drunk uncle who attempts to score with his flirtatious step-niece on Christmas Eve. Nevertheless, the sideways nature of the poster is catchy if you can forgive the CGI beer flowing from out of the can. Still the ladies show clasped in Brian Posehn’s hand is compelling, as is the warm holiday tones of brown and green offset with the overall ridiculousness of, that ‘drunk uncle.’

Penelope Cruz, She’s So Hot Right Now: 2oolander Trailer

Let’s be honest, there isn’t much in here that is worthy of huge laughs and I would guess a lot of people are disappointed in this trailer for one of the better comedies of the previous decade. But the truth is, Derek, that the trailer for the first movie didn’t look very good either; sort of cheap, safe humor that would appeal to only the simpletons among us (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Then the genius of the comedy nuance mixed with the obvious really struck a chord with people and it’s now beloved enough that a sequel is getting released.

It might turn out to be a boring, lazy, cash grab, but with Ferrell returning in tip-top physical condition and the new faces of The Cumberbatch, Penélope Cruz (I trust her) and Kristen Wiig, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is actually a runaway critical success. So what I’m saying is, I guess you can derelicte my ballz el capitán.


Mamo 429: Star Wars Prequel Conversation Number 6,397


Christmas is in the air, but more importantly, so is Star Wars – a lot of it, a truly nauseating amount of it really, but who are we to back away from the roaring fire of Star Wars contemplation that is the internet in the 4th quarter of 2015? So here’s yet another look at the much-maligned Prequel Trilogy, and George Lucas, and why things are the way they are.

Blu-Ray Review: Requiescant

Director: Carlo Lizzani
Screenplay: Lucio Battistrada, Andrew Baxter, Adriano Bolzoni, Denis Greene, Edward Williams
Starring: Lou Castel, Mark Damon, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Country: Italy, West Germany
Running Time: 107 min
Year: 1967
BBFC Certificate: 15

After re-releasing the ‘baguette western’ Cemetery Without Crosses, Arrow Video head back to Italy to bring us a true spaghetti western in the form of Requiescant. This is no cookie cutter entry to the genre though. Director Carlo Lizzani delivers a fairly serious film with more meat to chew on than most of its contemporaries.

Requiescant opens with the brutal massacre of a group of Mexicans at the hands of Confederate soldiers, led by the aristocratic officer George Bellow Ferguson. Tricked into a deal before their deaths, the Mexicans’ land is snatched by Ferguson and over the years he comes to rule the area, known as San Antonio. A small boy survives the massacre though and is found by a travelling preacher, who brings him up as his own son. The boy grows up to be a young man known as Requiescant, who ends up in San Antonio as he looks for his stepsister Princy who has run away in search of a more sinful life. She finds it in that town and ends up the property of Ferguson’s right hand man, Dean Light.

When Requiescant finds Princy, Dean is of course none-too-keen to give up his woman and doesn’t take kindly to the young dark skinned man (no one knows he’s Mexican to begin with). When Ferguson gets involved he surprisingly gives Princy her freedom, as he feels women are harmful to his best man. The landowner also takes a shine to Requiescant, believing he can use his freakishly good marksmanship abilities to his advantage. When these abilities seem to overshadow his own, Ferguson gets jealous though so, along with Dean’s anger, San Antonio doesn’t seem to be such a nice place for Requiescant and his sister to stay. As the body count grows and the truth of Requiescant’s heritage is revealed, the waters are further muddied by stirrings of revolution amongst the downtrodden Mexicans, pushed on by a mysterious group led by Father Juan (played by the controversial director Pier Paolo Pasolini).

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Soundtrack Of Your Life #14: Dazed And Confused / The Rainbow Connection

We checked you much later than intended.

Each episode, Corey Pierce welcomes a guest (or guests) onto the show who has chosen a compilation or soundtrack that speaks to a memorable era of their life. The soundtrack will play underneath and serves as a springboard to discussion about the music itself, how it works within the film, and what was going on with their life at the time of its release.

After a 5 month hiatus (which the show will get into, perhaps too much), Corey returns with episode 14 with Toronto documentarian/professional editor /Lindsay Ragone in tow. After an extended intro about Linsday’s upcoming feature Braingasm, we jump into one of Corey’s very favourite soundtracks, 1993’s beloved Dazed and Confused, known for being one of the very best “all in one night” stories, one of the best coming-of-age stories, and for being stacked front to back with 70s rock radio hits. This episode also gets pretty weepy in its bookends, with an update on what this absence has been all about.

Follow Corey Pierce on Twitter at – @coreypierceart
Follow Lindsay Ragone on Twitter at @lindsayragone and @BraingasmFilm
Follow Soundtrack of Your Life on Twitter at @thisisyourOST