• A near-staggering achievement of mise-en-scene that serves both as a devoted homage to Ozu and as a major triumph for Hsiao-Hsien Hou
  • Before the film really starts there’s a dedication to Ozu’s centenarian 100 year old celebration
  • Apparently the film was conceived as an anthology film with 3 parts but HHH is the only auteur that remained as the project idea progressed — Hsiao-Hsien Hou ‘s one of the art form’s greatest masters of mise-en-scene this side of Ozu so the project and idea seems like a perfect marriage. Though at the time in the 1980’s he claimed he’d never seen an Ozu film- HHH’s great A Time to Live and a Time to Die also feels like a work (and artist) inspired by Ozu
  • Shot in Ozu’s Japan (all of HHH’s other work is in Taiwan or China or both), opens and closes with long pillow shots of trains intersecting
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a beautiful shot that could be from Ozu’s later period– Late Afternoon, The End of Summer
  • Second shot is a stunner as well- a fully-engaged and designed mise-en-scene, depth of field brilliance, laundry in the background, fan in the foreground (happens often in Café Lumiere), a door ajar creating a frame within a frame. Long take. One scene and one take—then we get the titles—incredible work
the second shot- HHH holds a long take on this perfect mise-en-scene
jaw-dropping work that would make Ozu proud
  • After that we get another set mise-en-scene long take, medium distance, no camera movement or edits. There’s a row of books at the bookstore forcing your eyes towards the characters. Small talk and music (they are literally playing a cd) with a pet dog in the background. One take again
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mise-en-scene bliss here — remarkable
  • Trains again and again in transitions—it’s not quite Ozu’s montage pillow shot poetics—but still
  • The mise-en-scene 17 minutes in is a dazzler— three doors in the frame—another one 28 minutes in with the father sitting silently with drinks in the foreground
one of the many standout mise-en-scene set-ups — 8 minutes in with the father sitting silently with drinks in the foreground
  • Coffee seems to be repeated in many scenes
  • The two lowers going by each other in passing trains
combining trains and depth of field in one shot
  • An Ozu-like family drama with generational issues and disconnect (I love the father who just sits and drinks and never says a world)
  • A sublime (and formally sound) final image on the canal with overlapping trains
A sublime (and formally sound) final image on the canal with overlapping trains
  • A Must-See film and one of HHH’s finest works