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Cafe Lumiere [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Rent Cafe Lumiere on DVD from LOVEFiLM By Post
Region 1 encoding. (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the UK [Region 2]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details) Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

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Product details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BQ5J1I
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,503 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
If a story should have a beginning, middle and an end, then this film, rather than a story is a fictional documentary. The camera follows the main character Yoko - a twenty something living on her own in Tokyo, for a few days or weeks as she goes about her normal life. Slow paced and gentle, though with an undercurrent of uneasiness reflected by Jaing Ewn-Ye's music and Yoko's interest in an obscure and sinister Goblin fairy tale of European origin, the viewer is forever trying to make the connections and unravel the apparently obscure plot-only to find that there isn't one, or if there is it is not to be revealed to us.

The absence of a grand narrative allow the attention to small details to slowly but persistently paint an essence of life in Tokyo and Japan and of the relation ship between parent and child. In such a way the second character Hajime, who is obsessed with trains attempts to capture the essence of the Tokyo railways by regularly riding the trains and standing on the platforms with a microphone recording for hours the repetitive and everyday sounds of the tracks.

The movie is a homage to Yasujiro Ozu by director Hou Hsiao-hsien, viewers may also detect an influence from the books of Haruki Murakami - in the convincing descriptions of the mundane and ordinary, Hajime's idiosyncratic obsession, and the allusion to the fantastic and mystical when Yoko finds the strange dream that she had a few nights before eerily similar to a story in a children's fairy tale book about Goblins. To those that liked this movie I would recommend Murakami's books and the movie Chunking Express.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD
"Cafe Lumiere" is the homage that Hou Hsiao-hsien, a Taiwanese director, paid to Yasujiro Ozu, a Japanese director renowned for the way in which he managed to depict the dynamics of family life and the inner life of his characters.

Did he succeed? I think so, due to the fact that he manages to put the spectator in the place of Yoko, a young woman that is pregnant but doesn't feel like marrying her boyfriend, a grown man that remains too attached to his mother. As we watch "Cafe Lumiere", we want to know what she thinks, and how she is going to react to the new development in her life. The spectator is also interested in her friend, a bookstore owner that seems romantically interested in Yoko, and that has an unlikely but strangely poetic hobby.

Are you likely to enjoy this movie? I really don't know, because "Café Lumiere" is a peculiar movie, the kind that some love, but others hate. I can tell you that it is a beautifully made film that pays extraordinary attention to little details, but that has an extremely open ending. Can you like that kind of film? According to your answer, you will know what to do...

- Belen Alcat, June 2007 -

PS: I liked "Café Lumiere" well enough to give it at least 3 stars out of 5.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a review of DVD technical aspects, not the film on it.
Amazon product details promise "Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1". But specification on the sleeve reads "16:9 Letterbox" and so it is - a picture in the middle of your screen, taking up about half its size. And even on such a small screen the image quality is quite poor. This needs a TV screen up to 42" and a DVD player with a powerful PQ enhancement. At first I thought it's an artistic stylization, some kind of tribute, that would dissolve after the credit sequence. It didn't...
Another issue is subtitles - English, yes, but hardcoded and with a font making them illegible when background goes bright.
And sound quality wasn't impressive either, far from it...
So, the disc quality itself would get a clear 1-star rating. Still I don't know the technical limitation of a source material and after all let's be grateful such films are available at all. Hence the extra 2 stars.
Really, after the initial resentment eased off, I put the disc back into my player and it took me just a few minutes to forget all about the poor transfer quality, such was a beauty of this film. So, don't let yourself be put off by grumblers like me and go for films like that, whatever the quality of their presentation is.
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