Movie: 3.5 stars; Bonus materials: 4.5 stars
"Cafe Lumiere" (2003 release from Japan; 104 min.) starts off with informing us that this movie is a homage to the centenary of the birth of famed Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. As the movie then stars, we follow a young woman, Yoko, as she lives her daily life. She takes care of her (very small) apartment in Tokyo. She goes to visit her parents in suburban Tokyo. She is following up on leads for a story she wants to write about a Taiwanese composer Jiang Wen-Ye, who ncame to Japan at a young age (and whose work is featured on the soundtrack). She even reveals that she is pregnant and has no intention to marry the baby-daddy, a far-away boyfriend in Taiwan. She also befriends a bookshop owner who in his spare time loves to record the sounds of the trains and tramcars in the vast public transportation system in Tokyo.
Several comments: the movie may puzzle some, as seemingly not much is happening, other than we follow Yoko in her daily life. But notice how much time is spent on the trains and tramways transportation system in Tokyo, which the director brings onto the screen at times almost like a ballet, just mesmorizing. But this movie should NOT be viewed in isolation. If you are, like I was, more or less ignorant about Japanese director Ozu, by all means make sure to check out the bonus materials of this DVD release, including interviews with the director and the actress portraying Yoko. Most essential of all is the bonus documentary called "Metro Lumiere", a 75 min. French documentary that delves into the nitty gritty of Japanese director Ozu, and how Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien became involved in this and ultimately directed the movie. After having seen the actual movie, I thought this documentary was simply fantastic in bringing new perspectives, and in that sense I rate it higher than the movie itself. A must-see for movie buffs.