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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Friday, December 12, 2014
7:00 p.m. Café Lumière
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Japan/Taiwan, 2003)

(Kôhî jikô). Coffee, Time, and Light is the original Japanese title of Hou’s gentle tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, which seamlessly weaves those three themes into a meditative look at love—or the absence of it—in contemporary Tokyo. Living alone in the city, the strong-willed Yoko (pop singer Yo Hitoto) wanders its streets, coffee houses, and train stations, seemingly paying more attention to random sights than she does to conversations with her parents, with her main friend a just-as-quiet bookstore clerk (Tadanobu Asano, Ichi the Killer; Distance). A city film that takes its power not from the bustle of urban energy, but from the quietude that one can still find within it, Café Lumière captures a certain kind of urban solitude experienced by those who are alone, but never lonely, with all of life’s wonders—like coffee, music, and light—around them. Commissioned to mark the centenary of Ozu’s birth—the film even opens with the old Shochiku logo of the era—the film is not only a tribute to that great master, but a continuation of his works. “The plot is spare,” wrote Jonathan Rosenbaum, “but the sounds, images, and ambience are indelible.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Hou, Chu Tien-wen. Photographed by Mark Lee Ping-bin. With Yo Hitoto, Tadanobu Asano, Masato Hagiwara, Kimiko Yo. (103 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)