A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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CAFE LUMIERE
2003 - Hou Hsiao-hsien - Japan / Taiwan
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Cafe Lumiere was made in 2003 to commemorate the centenary of Yasujiro Ozu's birth. It was directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien for Ozu's longtime Shockiku Studio in Japan (the first film Hou made outside his native Taiwan). Of course Hou is a filmmaker that has often been compared to Ozu and he may be the worlds greatest living filmmaker. Yet the beauty of Cafe Lumiere is that it finds the differences between the two masters with greater clarity then their similarities. Ultimately the film is distinctly the work of Hou. Ozu's films hold a timeless emotional quality yet really they could never be made at any other time and Hou understands and expresses this with Cafe Lumiere. Hou also understands the unique style and mastery of Ozu and of a foreign Japan. After the initial Ozu-esque opening shots (the Shockiku logo - shot in Ozu's tradition ratio followed by the passing of a train) and with the exception of some notable and often subtle homages, Cafe Lumiere is a definitively Hou film, and though minor in comparisons to his most relevant achievements it is in its own way a lovely treasure - one that continues to prove Hou's ability to re-imagine himself as a filmmaker. Hou's filmmaking is naturally more distant then Ozu and this especially works in an experimental way with this film. Hou always explores the boundaries or situations within the distance of films and characters. Ultimately he explores this itself and re-invents the conventional expectations of narrative filmmaking. Cafe Lumiere captures this with as much assurance as any film Hou has ever made and this is mostly true because he draws comparable yet unique divides with Ozu's vision. In concept alone Cafe Lumiere is required viewing yet the real joy is the discovery of what the film offers!
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