Mohammad, a boy at Tehran's institute for the blind, waits for his dad to pick him up for summer vacation. While waiting, he realizes a baby bird has fallen from its nest: he chases away a ... See full summary »
Leaving her provincial home, teenage Mutsuko arrives in Tokyo by train to take a job in a major automotive company but finds that she is employed by a small auto repair shop owned by ... See full summary »
In Paris, Chinese cinema student Song Fang is hired to work as the nanny of Simon by his divorced mother Suzanne, who works voicing marionettes in a theater. Suzanne is having troubles with her tenant Marc, who does not pay the rent, while she waits for the return of her older daughter Louise, who lives with her father in Brussels. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In CAFE LUMIERE, Hou paid tribute to Ozu. Here it's Lamorisse and his famous short film. I liked this more than any other Hou I've seen so far, which is odd because it seems to be considered one of his lesser films. Perhaps I only like Hou when he's not being so Hou. There was a lot to decode here, but I think one of the primary messages is the meeting of two cultures. The red balloon could be associated with the red prominent in Chinese culture, floating through and discovering Paris much in the same way as the director himself. The balloon seems to watch over and sympathize with the characters but doesn't ever connect. We have Juliette Binoche (in a very warm and relateable performance) practicing the art of Chinese puppet theater, and in her employ is Fang Song (another very likable performer), a Chinese nanny. These characters interact and even have moments of tenderness together, but they are detached, not quite involved in each other's lives. And then there are multitudes of instances being seen through windows, in reflections, through a camera, on a screen, via a child's toy. We are separated, but I see you and watch you with care. Outsiders looking in, doing what they can. I enjoyed my time with these characters and was engaged with their situations, understated though they might be. Lovely photography by one of my favorites, Mark Ping Bin Lee, and a gentle score. Makes me wonder what I've missed in Hou's other films.
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