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I never expected to run across a mid-60s, black & white, Czechoslovakian, post-WWII, art house sex comedy film, yet when watching Closely Watched Trains that’s just what one finds. A product of the “Czech Film Miracle” that seeped out in the era after German occupation and before Soviet strangulation, it’s somehow light, funny, unstructured, serious, and dark simultaneously.
Milos, the painfully virginal railway worker (descendant of a long line of sloths and fuck-ups) is trying to figure out manhood, and he’s a good conduit for the film’s paradoxical tone. Teen sex -more specifically the exciting, awkward, clumsy, rush of it- is never not amusing, but Milos takes it so seriously that he steers the film to dark places more than once.
The film is very much about sex as rebellion though, and the spirit of an occupied country shines through. A sub-plot involving stamped ass…
…is particularly cute for the smile the young woman wears on her face while her mother parades her around town, lifting the girl’s skirt to display the evidence to every authority figure in town (amusingly it is only a recently confessed murderer who doesn’t shamelessly ogle).
Part of the new Netflix Criterion batch.