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BeFunky-Collage-Trains

What's On? 03.11.17

How many classic films have you seen? There are plenty that I haven't, including perhaps the most famous one of all, Citizen Kane – whose reputation, like Joyce's Ulysses, is of an art work more celebrated than experienced. If I ever make it to retirement, or better still to a post-studies settling down (with own home, car, and blah blah blah), a season of classics with Orson Welles finally beckons.

Being an 80s child, I'd like to think I'm covered on all the big, action films by Spielberg, Lucas, Wachowski and Jackson, though the more adult movies of my childhood seem so alien, like a secret kept from me by my parents. Famous classics that slipped by go further back, Bridge Over the River Kwai and, of pertinence to this weekend, Lawrence of Arabia. They're showing it this weekend at the Filmhouse, and it is tempting to experience it in the cinema – my mother still talks of her experience in a cinema in Aberystwyth several decades earlier, the scenes of scorching heat and deserts leaving the audience buying ice-creams en masse. There are films where a computer and ear phones just won't do.

A film also on release this weekend that seems more spectacle than story is Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express. Yes, I've seen other versions, including an impressive Poirot special for Christmas-time TV, but knowing who did it is beside the point with Agatha Christie at this point in my life. It looks lavish and I love snowy backdrops. Revealing my lack of cinema class, I may not have seen Citizen Kane but I know my 1970s train movies. My favourite? Let's start with dangerous: The Cassandra Crossing (1977), a disaster special starring Sophia Loren and Richard Harris, channelling a Central-European Cold War vibe with fabulous disaster-movie cast. Another is the re-make of The Lady Vanishes (1979), with Cybill Shepherd and the loveable, accidental-hero of 70s cinema, Elliot Gould. To lighten the touch still further, watch Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor and their incongruous chemistry with the comedy-mystery Silver Streak (1976). And if you want gentle, go further back still and get the lovely Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt. I'd like think, some day when I'm old and feeling the end of things approaching, that it's the perfect film to finish on, gentle and nostalgic and happy, as my own train arrives to take me away.
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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

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