For various reasons, most likely from reading Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam for the umpteenth time, I was thinking about trains today. But since trains seems to basic I decided to look at films about train stations and the people work around them.

For this week's double feature I watched films about train stations with the Station AgentThe other reason I was drawn to this topic was because of hearing about the film that was Peter Dinklage’s big break, The Staton Agent. Dinklage Plays Finbar McBride a quiet man who works at a model shop. Because his dwarfism tends to draw attention he is very repressed loner pretty much only interacting with his friend and boss at the holy shop. When his friend suddenly dies he finds that he has inherited a small old abandoned train depot. He moves in hoping it will give him the life of solitude he craves.

However when he gets there he finds himself meeting his neighbors Joe, a cuban american played (by Bobby Cannavale,) who runs a hot dog stand while his father recovers from an unspecified illness, who is desperate for friends, and Olivia a divorced artist (played by Patricia Clarkson) who is mourning the death of her son. Together they form  a strange little support group.

This was a nice quiet film. Dinklage does a wonderful job as Fin. For everybody who knows him primarily from his performance as Tyrion in Game of Thrones,  this restrained performance comes as a pleasant surprise. It’s a pleasure watching him gradually coming out of his seclusion and becoming part of the community. The other cool thing about it is this is not just FIn’s story and there are other, bigger, stories going on but since we’re mostly seeing everything through Fin’s eyes we only ever get a handful of snippets and we don’t ever know the whole story.

For this week's double feature I watched films about train stations with Closely Watched TrainsThe next film on my list, Closely Watched Trains (Czech: Ost?e sledované vlaky) by Ji?í Menzel tells the story of Miloš Hrma, played by Václav Necká?who is starting his career as a station dispatcher during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He’s looking forward to a life of getting paid for doing  nothing… or nearly nothing.

The station staff consists of a band of eccentrics, and Miloš adjusts to his new life quickly. But the war is still going on in the background, and they are instructed to closely watch certain trains in an attempt to capture potential saboteurs. But Miloš is more interested in his affair with a cute train conductor. However this is complicated by a problem with a problem with premature ejaculation…

This is was an interesting film that was really difficult to categorize beyond the category of Czechoslovakian New Wave. It goes from a pleasant sexual farce a bunch of eccentrics working in a train station, then jumps to attempted suicide due the aforementioned ejaculation problem. Then back to a sex comedy as Milos tries to find an “experienced woman” to help him through his problem… Oh yeah did I mention there was a war on?
Despite taking the war and occupation very seriously, the funniest scene is when the station’s collaborationist boss trying to explain all of the German defeats and retreats are all part of a brilliant plan to lead the Allies into a trap.