Close Up

7 - 28 April 2009: Essential Cinema VIII


Jean Vigo
1934 | 89 min | B/W | Digital  

L'Atalante is a barge in which two young newly-weds travel the waterways of France. The crew consists of an old eccentric with a passion for cats, and an equally peculiar boy. The wife loves her husband but soon grows tired of his water bound obsessions and, longing for the excitement of Paris, is lured ashore by a peddler. The film is a masterpiece not because of the tragic story of its maker (Jean Vigo made only four films before he died of tuberculosis in 1934, aged just 29) or because of its awkward genesis, but because, as Truffaut has said, in filming prosaic words and acts, Vigo effortlessly achieved poetry.  

The Trial
Orson Welles
1963 | 110 min | B/W | Digital  

Orson Welles directs and appears in Kafka's classic tale of an ordinary man trying to make sense of a reality that is governed by inexplicable rules and unyielding machines of power. Anthony Perkins plays Joseph K. who is trapped in a corrupt judicial system, accused of an unspecified crime. In his efforts to understand the nature of his crime he finds himself caught in a nightmarish labyrinth of legal obfuscation and nonsensical double-talk. Shot in locations all over Europe, The Trial is probably Welles' visual masterpiece.  

The Music Room
Satyajit Ray
1958 | 100 min | B/W | Digital  

The Music Room is the fourth feature film directed by Satyajit Ray. Based on a novel of the same name by Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, the film is a detailed dramatic study of the last days of a zamindar – a semi-feudal landlord in Bengal. Told with a detail and sense of empathy that typify Ray's films, The Music Room drew high praise internationally and is a landmark in the history of cinema.  

Closely Watched Trains
Jiří Menzel
1966 | 93 min | B/W | Digital  

At a village railway station in occupied Czechoslovakia, a bumbling dispatcher's apprentice longs to liberate himself from his virginity. Oblivious to the war and the resistance that surrounds him, this young man embarks on a journey of sexual awakening and self-discovery, encountering a universe of frustration, eroticism, and adventure within his sleepy backwater depot. Wry and tender Closely Watched Trains is a masterpiece of human observation and one of the best-loved films of the Czech New Wave.