Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »
Ah-Ching and his friends have just finished school in their island fishing village, and now spend most of their time drinking and fighting. Three of them decide to go to the port city of ... See full summary »
A Japanese movie with a French title, "Café Lumiere" is a desultory tale of a young pregnant woman and her friendship with a local bookstore proprietor. As the movie is almost militantly anti-narrative in its stance, there really isn't much more one can provide in the way of helpful plot summary than that.
Director Hsiao-hsien Hou has opted for a Spartan style of film-making that hearkens back to such early Japanese masters as Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. Each scene consists of a single medium or long shot with no close-ups or edits whatsoever. The result is that we become so detached from the characters on screen that we find ourselves unengaged in their problems and their fates. And this turns out to be a particularly serious problem in this case because the spare screenplay offers us so little of interest to start with. The story consists mainly of Yoko wandering around the city or moping in her apartment as she goes about the tasks of her daily life. She rides on trains, entertains her visiting parents, spends infrequent moments with her storeowner friend - and that's about it: no revelatory conversations, no insights into character, no point or purpose beyond the prosaic surface. Admittedly, some of the compositions are stunning and the style is intriguing and hypnotic at first, but it soon loses its charm as the tedium of the narrative (or non-narrative) takes over.
The acting is consistently understated and naturalistic, but in a movie in which everybody just looks preoccupied and pensive, there really isn't much call for anything else.
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