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Cafe Lumiere

12 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Dec 27, 2005)
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$12.50 $3.95

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Editorial Reviews

One of today's greatest filmmakers, Hou Hsiao-hsien pays homage to one of the masters, Yasujiro Ozu, commemorating the centenary of Ozu's birth. In a residential Tokyo neighborhood, Yoko, a young freelance writer defies her strongly traditional parents with news that she is pregnant and has no desire to marry the father. She calmly accepts this reality and stoically deals with the worried reactions of her family. In an effort to alleviate her loneliness, she befriends the owner of a second-hand bookstore. He falls in love with her, but keeps his feelings silent. Gradually, Yoko begins to re-evaluate everything in her life in this meditative masterpiece of young urban solitude.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yo Hitoto, Tadanobu Asano, Masato Hagiwara, Kimiko Yo, Nenji Kobayashi
  • Directors: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
  • Writers: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, T'ien-wen Chu
  • Producers: Ching-Song Liao, Fumiko Osaka, Hideji Miyajima, Ichirô Yamamoto, Nobuyuki Kajikawa
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: December 27, 2005
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BQ5J1I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,470 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cafe Lumiere" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amy E. C. on February 8, 2006
Format: DVD
This is a very different kind of storytelling. Everything is shown, almost nothing is told. You have to be keen to pick up the clues, but the scenes are all so quiet that it's too easy to think nothing is happening. Often, even the placement of the camera is telling you something.

It's a slow, gentle, slice-of-life look at one modern woman's relationships. Not for everyone.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Martin Montana on March 4, 2009
Format: DVD
In the special presentation segment, an interview with the director,
Hou Hsiao-hsien in Taiwan, he comments that Japanese viewers felt he strongly captured the essence of Japanese cultural life. The wonder of this film is it's subtlety in showing the aesthetic of the characters. Woody Allen for instance exaggerates characters and focuses on the dysfunction and weaknesses of the characters. Here, the characters are faced with the dilemma of having a life, but also facing an unexpected pregnancy. The don't, however whine and complain or have psychological breakdowns.
As cinema, this is a 5 star gem. All of the visuals are magnificent.
This accomplishment was not accidental; much planning and re-shooting of scenes was required to make this film look so easy. As another reviewer mentioned, the title has historical reference to the Lumiere brothers as pioneers in film; and the train sequences both visually and audio are wonderful. I am curious if a foley artist was used for some of the sounds inside the train or if they were dubbed in from real life.
Re Ozu, the clips shown in the special segments, imo were much more harsh, crass, and unevolved aesthetically than the subject film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PIERRE RADULESCU-BANU on January 26, 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A movie starting with the logo of Shochiku Company. My heart is warming up: the logo Ozu's movies were starting with, his almost sixty movies, all produced at Shochiku.

Then it is the image of a light train, again reminding Ozu. From now on though, you feel there is another moviemaker, with a totally different style: director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. It's Café Lumière (Kôhî jikô), made in 2003, a homage to Yasujiro Ozu's centennial (a splendid video by AsianVirusNet could not be inserted here, unfortunately, due to its size).

I saw three such movies dedicated to Ozu: each one expressing a very different personality (Kiarostami, Wenders, Hou). An Iranian, a German, a Taiwanese. Hopefully I will find time to write about each one.

The movie of Hou Hsiao-Hsien is possibly the most disconcerting among the three. Kiarostami's Five Dedicated to Ozu is programmatically experimental: five cinematic poems about contingent facing eternity. You know what it is about from the very beginning. It's like an abstract painting: if you disagree with the non-figurative, then you don't look at. While the movie of Hou apparently has a plot, only it's just a pretext. So you are waiting for something to happen, in vain: Café Lumière is about something else.

Yoko is a young free-lance writer or something, living in today's Tokyo. She's trying to find some traces of a Taiwanese musician who lived in Japan between the two world wars. We are told at some point in the story that Yoko is three months pregnant; she is determined to remain a single mother (which worries her parents; Yoko sees them now and then).

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Film Buff on September 23, 2014
Format: DVD
Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien is a critically acclaimed auteur whose work is maddeningly unavailable on DVD. Of his 20 films only three are currently being offered at prices collectors can afford. Can someone (Artificial Eye, are you reading?) please give us his films from the 80s/90s preferably in a couple of cheap box sets? The Boys From Fengkuei (1983), A Summer at Grandpa's (1984), A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), A City of Sadness (1989), The Puppetmaster (1993) and Good Men, Good Women (1995) all won prizes at major film festivals and it is criminal that we are denied a chance to see them. As it is we have only Three Times (2005), Flight of the Red Balloon (2008) and the film under review here, Café Lumière. Commissioned by Japan's Shochiku studio to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ozu Yasujirō's birth, the film was the first Hou made outside Taiwan and is an homage to the master of minimalism truly worthy of the name. Of course, it helps hugely that Hou's outlook is very similar to Ozu's anyway, but in Café Lumière he really does take the themes of Ozu's austere post war masterworks to their logical conclusions.

Ozu was a director primarily concerned with the world as seen through the eyes of the shomingeki (domestic family drama) and from Late Spring (1949) through to his final An Autumn Afternoon (1962) together with screenwriter Noda Kōgo he charted the social transition that took place in Japan following World War II and the resulting American occupation. He saw family as the center of Japanese society. Once tight and very protective of their own, families became looser after the war. Children (especially girls) received increasing freedom to go their own way without the traditional need for discussion or consensus.
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