Monday, January 12, 2009

Film Club Latest

Saturday evening saw Millbrooker Towers playing host, yet again, to the weekly-ish carnival of Bacchanalian spirits that is Film Club. But before we worshiped at the shrine of Bacchus, we enjoyed one of the best films we've viewed for a while.

I haven't really done much (or, indeed, anything) by way of film reviews since the festive season; just to catch up - since then we've watched (and enjoyed) "No Country For Old Men" (very existentialist, well made and a wee bit disturbing with a high and fairly graphic body count):The following week, we continued the existentialist theme with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda's evergreen "Easy Rider"; what a great film, what a great soundtrack - get a copy now, settle down in front of the box and roll a big reefer, man. You dig? (Mind you, it's also pretty misogynistic; women in the film are either whores or staying at home looking after hordes of children whilst the menfolk ride around and experiment with freedom, man):Which brings us neatly to this week's actual film review. Dong and Shazzerooneypoos joined us for Patrice Leconte's "L'Homme du Train":The plot line concerns a mysterious stranger who calls himself Milan stepping off a train in a provincial French town; he searches for a pharmacy to buy aspirin for his raging headache and accidentally meets Monsieur Manesquier, a retired teacher of French and poetry.

The men are polar opposites in lifestyle, outlook and behaviour but become close over the few days that Milan says he will stay. A tenderness grows between them as each slowly realises that he envies the other's life in its entirety. This sort of intimate drama and depiction of close heterosexual male friendship is very difficult to carry off successfully, but a combination of Leconte's superb direction and the gentle, understated central performances of Johnny Hallyday as Milan and, especially, Jean Rochefort as Manesquier bring a sense of realism to a bizarre situation.Don't start thinking it's all very deep and meaningful - enough of it is, but it's also wryly funny and there are plenty of laughs to be had as Manesquier bumbles through some of his more off-the-wall thoughts and habits, gained through a lifetime of ennui and unfulfilled desire for adventure.There are also some delightful supporting performances as old associates of Milan's arrive in town and Manesquier's mistress of fifteen years turns up for dinner to hear some unasked-for home truths from Milan.

As a measure of the Film Club regulars' enjoyment, Dong didn't take a single fag break throughout the 90 minutes playing time; he must have been enjoying it.I read on the IMDb website that an English language remake ("The Man On The Train") is being filmed for release this year - oh, dear. Why can't they leave great stuff to stand alone?

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