Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kohi Jikou (Cafe Lumiere)

Cafe Lumiere is a quiet film that follows Yoko (Yo Hitoto), as she spends her days traveling around Tokyo and Japan doing research on the life of a Taiwanese composer, Jiang Wen-Ye. Shot by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Cafe Lumiere is, according to the Taipei Times, his first film shot entirely in another country (Japan) and in another language (Japanese). The director was apparently hired specifically to create a film to pay tribute to Yasujiro Ozu's work for what would have been his 100th birthday (Ozu died in 1963 from cancer). The result, Cafe Lumiere, pays homage to Ozu's 1953 movie Tokyo Story.

According to a friend who's watched Tokyo Story, Cafe Lumiere borrows from Ozu's style, with shots framed by the surrounding environment, scenes with a great depth of focus and activity occurring in both the foreground and background, and static shots of rooms with people coming in and out of frame.

Cafe Lumiere basically provides an intimate look at a slice of Yoko's life, watching as she works and visits family and friends, specifically bookshop owner Hajime (Tadanobu Asano), who in his spare time records the sounds of commuter trains. This is a very minimalist film in that there is a sparse amount of dialogue and little in the way of plot. Much of what the characters think and feel goes unstated and the audience must infer a lot from the characters' looks and actions.
This film may not be accessible to everyone because of this, but fans of Ozu's work will probably appreciate Cafe Lumiere for its style and look at Tokyo; in fact, the city itself is like another character in the movie.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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