Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Gentle and Subtle
Amy E. C. | San Francisco, CA | 02/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very different kind of storytelling. Everything is shown, almost nothing is told. You have to be keen to pick up the clues, but the scenes are all so quiet that it's too easy to think nothing is happening. Often, even the placement of the camera is telling you something.
It's a slow, gentle, slice-of-life look at one modern woman's relationships. Not for everyone."
Shadow and Light
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 08/05/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien
Duration: 103 Minutes
Directed by one of Taiwan's most acclaimed directors, Goodbye South, Goodbye, Flowers of Shanghai, Millennium Mambo, but filmed entirely in Japan and in the Japanese language, Café Lumiere is a tribute for the 100th birthday of one of Japan's most famous directors: Ozu Yasujiro. Renowned for his use of shadow and light and unmoving cameras, Ozu's films mainly concentrated on the internal struggles of families inside there traditional, often spacious, homes where not only did the hidden tensions between family members come to the surface, but also the care and affection, albeit subdued, that the family members hold for each other. In this 2003 film, Hou Hsiao-hsien attempts to capture Ozu's celluloid landscape with his own camera, but how successful is he?
A writer, Inoue Yoko has just returned home to Japan from Taiwan where she continued her research on the Taiwanese composer Jiang Wen-ye. Suffering from nightmares on her trip, she calls her friend Hajime, Asano Tadanobu, the proprietor of a used bookstore, and tells him of her nightmare about a baby whose face began to melt like ice. Later she travels to the quiet confines of the bookstore to pick up a couple of books and CDs Hajime acquired for me. Yoko then spends an inordinate amount of time wandering Tokyo before going to see her father and stepmother. Almost completely silent, almost the only sentence uttered by Yoko while at home is that she would like her mother to prepare her some nikujaga, beef stew. However, that night, after her father has gone to bed, Yoko tells her stepmother that she is pregnant and that she does not plan on marrying the baby's Taiwanese father but instead that she intends to raise the child on her own. It is later revealed that she does not want to marry her boyfriend because he is a mama's boy whose mother still controls most of his life.
With this information later revealed to him, Yoko's father becomes even more silent, and Yoko continues her day to day activities researching Jiang Wen-ye and enjoying the company of Hajime who helps her with her research while he continues his own obsessions of recording the sounds of trains.
Although a bit vacuous, Café Lumiere is beautifully filmed. The interior of Hajime's bookstore, Yoko's apartment and family home, and the interiors of the cafes are stunning to behold because of the mixture of shadow and light. Hajime's bookstore has an almost claustrophobic comforting nature with its hundreds of books and dark wood. The characters come off as a bit empty, but this might stem from Hou's desire to create characters who are so absorbed within the interiors of their own beings that they chose to reduce their communications with the outside world. While a decent movie, Café Lumiere is definitely not a must see unless one is either a major fan of Hou Hsiao-hsien or maybe Asano Tadanobu.
Excellent film; definitely a work of art.
Mr. M. Anderson | Cloverdale,Oregon USA | 03/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the special presentation segment, an interview with the director,
Hou Hsiao-hsien in Taiwan, he comments that Japanese viewers felt he strongly captured the essence of Japanese cultural life. The wonder of this film is it's subtlety in showing the aesthetic of the characters. Woody Allen for instance exaggerates characters and focuses on the dysfunction and weaknesses of the characters. Here, the characters are faced with the dilemma of having a life, but also facing an unexpected pregnancy. The don't, however whine and complain or have psychological breakdowns.
As cinema, this is a 5 star gem. All of the visuals are magnificent.
This accomplishment was not accidental; much planning and re-shooting of scenes was required to make this film look so easy. As another reviewer mentioned, the title has historical reference to the Lumiere brothers as pioneers in film; and the train sequences both visually and audio are wonderful. I am curious if a foley artist was used for some of the sounds inside the train or if they were dubbed in from real life.
Re Ozu, the clips shown in the special segments, imo were much more harsh, crass, and unevolved aesthetically than the subject film.