When a young street vendor with a grim home life meets a woman on her way to Paris, they forge an instant connection. He changes all the clocks in Taipei to French time; as he watches ... See full summary »
Defying his parents, Hsiao Kang drops out of the local crammer to head for the bright lights of downtown Taipei. He falls in with Ah Tze, a pretty hood and their relationships is a confused... See full summary »
The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who's ... See full summary »
A young woman's husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant. Yumiko remarries and moves from Osaka to a small fishing village, yet ... See full summary »
A strange disease starts to affect people in Taiwan just before the year 2000. The authorities order everyone to evacuate, but some tenants of an apartment building stay put, including a ... See full summary »
Two young guys work in a plant that manufactures oshibori (those moist hand-towels found in some Japanese restaurants). Their weird bond is based on uncontrollable rage--something neither ... See full summary »
One needs to watch carefully and attentively this film which is not easy, but reserves a lot of interesting and beautiful things, despite a lack of story or actually despite the story not being in the focus of the director. It is a reverence by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien to the Japanese master director Ozu on the 100th anniversary of it's birthday. However, it is not a film of quotes, but rather a travel to research what is left of Ozu's world in the Japan of today, and the connection between Taiwan and Japan in the world that was once Ozu's.
There are a lot of trains in this film. This passion for railways may be taken from Ozu, but in 'Cafe Lumiere' about third of the film happens in trains or railway stations. A memorable sequence describes the universe of metropolis with trains entering and exiting tunnels, another shows in a computer generated drawing an universe of trains, squeezing a minuscule uterus and a child - maybe the expected child of Yoko, the principal character of the film, or maybe symbol of fragility of our existence in the modern world.
Another fantastic scene of cinema presents the house of Yoko's parents at her arrival. We can see just Yoko's mother in the last plane preparing food in a lit kitchen, then the kitchen is framed by the house guest room, which is at its turn framed by the doors and external walls of the house. Then the sound of a car is heard, and we more guess than see the arrival of Yoko and her father reflected in a glass door. Four planes in the same frame, with no move of the camera.
The story is minimalistic, and whoever looks for action risks to be deeply bored. The actors perform so well that the word 'perform' is not not adequate here, they live the characters. They seldom interact, they never stare in each others eyes, but rather look in different planes, same as the trains movements never intersect. They do however care for each other, and the story is a delicate one of familial solidarity and deep friendship in a world that may look frightening. These characters could have been part of a film by Ozu.
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