Café Lumière (Kohi jiko)
Dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien. 2003, 103 mins. 35mm. With Yo Hitoto, Tadanobu Asano. Hou is frequently compared to the master Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. In Café Lumière, commissioned for the centenary of Ozu’s birth, Hou addresses that legacy directly. He applies Ozu’s low-angle perspective to this film set in a distinctly contemporary Tokyo that looks backwards to the city’s disappearing past. At the center is Yoko (pop star Yo Hitoto), a writer investigating the life of a modernist composer of the 1930s. She is pregnant by a man she does not want to marry, and has found a kindred spirit in a used-bookstore owner who aids her research.
Preceded by The Electric Princess Picture House (2007, 3 mins.), Hou’s contribution to the 2007 anthology film To Each His Own Cinema. “Unassuming and utterly ecstatic… Café Lumière offers glimpses of ephemeral beauty and the quotidian rendered transcendent through the play of light.” —Amy Taubin, Film Comment
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