Cafe Lumiere (2003)

HSIAO-HSIEN HOU

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

Original title:  Kohi Jiko

Japan/Taiwan, 2003.  Shochiku Company, Asahi Shimbun, Sumitomo Corporation, Eisei Gekijo, Imagica Corp..  Screenplay by Hsiao-Hsien Hou, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Ching-Song Liao.  Toronto International Film Festival 2004.  Venice Film Festival 2004.  

A beautifully photographed, if empty, look at the life of a young Japanese woman doing research on a Taiwanese composer and visiting her parents after discovering she is pregnant. Her friend works at a bookstore and has a curious obsession with recording train sounds. The characters are flat, and Hou’s ability to film daily life at its most natural provokes the question of whether or not movies need a little bit of melodramatic fiction to be at least half-interesting. It purports to be an homage to the work of Ozu (celebrating the centennial of his birth), but it features none of the passionate humanity that made his films so endearing. If I’m going to watch people sitting around waiting for paint to dry, I’d rather have Antonioni’s overly pretentious architectural framing or Tarkovsky’s devotion to narrative insanity any day of the week.

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