1 year ago
The image of Yoko’s stepmother working in the kitchen, tightly framed by multiple doorways, highlights the constricting conventional role of a homemaker that Yoko, by choosing to have her child out of wedlock, yearns to reject, and a scene in which the two women have to borrow sake and glasses from Yoko’s next-door neighbor—a request that makes the stepmother, but not Yoko, feel ashamed—elucidates the widening generational gap between the girl and her parents. For Hou, the past and present are constantly engaged in a tug-of-war, and the director captures the oppressive, inexorable march of time weighing down upon Yoko and her friend—a bookstore owner named Hajime (Tadanobu Asano, star of Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer)—through a series of stunning sequences: Yoko’s dream about a child’s face turning first wrinkly and then to ice (a nightmare of impending maternity begat by her long-ago reading of Maurice Sendak’s Outside Over There); the vision of a pocket watch set against the front windshield of a moving train; and a computer’s digital clock screensaver seen at the train station Yoko used to depart from as a young student. In the same vein, Hajime’s computer-generated artwork, featuring a fetal version of himself encased in a womb of locomotives, visualizes the inescapable omnipresence of time’s progression, and the young man’s hobby of dutifully recording train noises—an attempt to sonically capture the essence of life in motion—ultimately becomes an understated metaphor for Hou’s tender, observant, contemplative cinema.
Café Lumière

The image of Yoko’s stepmother working in the kitchen, tightly framed by multiple doorways, highlights the constricting conventional role of a homemaker that Yoko, by choosing to have her child out of wedlock, yearns to reject, and a scene in which the two women have to borrow sake and glasses from Yoko’s next-door neighbor—a request that makes the stepmother, but not Yoko, feel ashamed—elucidates the widening generational gap between the girl and her parents. For Hou, the past and present are constantly engaged in a tug-of-war, and the director captures the oppressive, inexorable march of time weighing down upon Yoko and her friend—a bookstore owner named Hajime (Tadanobu Asano, star of Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer)—through a series of stunning sequences: Yoko’s dream about a child’s face turning first wrinkly and then to ice (a nightmare of impending maternity begat by her long-ago reading of Maurice Sendak’s Outside Over There); the vision of a pocket watch set against the front windshield of a moving train; and a computer’s digital clock screensaver seen at the train station Yoko used to depart from as a young student. In the same vein, Hajime’s computer-generated artwork, featuring a fetal version of himself encased in a womb of locomotives, visualizes the inescapable omnipresence of time’s progression, and the young man’s hobby of dutifully recording train noises—an attempt to sonically capture the essence of life in motion—ultimately becomes an understated metaphor for Hou’s tender, observant, contemplative cinema.

Café Lumière

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    Really wanna watch this. Hoping it opens in Toronto this year (if it hasn’t already come and gone).
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    The image of Yoko’s stepmother working in the kitchen, tightly framed by multiple doorways, highlights the constricting...
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