One of the highlights of the Rotterdam Film Festival, which I attended last week, was coming across Tsai Lee Lu coffee, the special brand produced by Taiwanese superstar director Tsai Ming-liang and his favorite actors Lee Kang-sheng and Lu Yi-Ching (the actress whom he nearly always casts as “Mother”). Too good to be true, like something invented in a cinephile’s fever dream, the coffee is beautifully packaged in parchment paper bags and labeled with the threesome’s faces. It apparently comes in different strengths or flavors (watermelon, I wonder?) and I was told that the one that I bought (which I haven’t tasted yet) was “very dark and smoky.” It was being sold at the festival at the superb (and temporary) Break Even store (which featured the greatest collection of avant-garde films on DVD that I have ever seen).
Tsai was in Rotterdam with his 2009 Louvre-set feature Face and a new 30 minute digital film Madame Butterfly set in a Kuala Lumpur bus station, but it was a short film directed by Lee Kang-sheng that had the most relevance to their new business venture. Remembrance is set in an old wood-paneled coffee shop that is closing for the last time. Lu Yi-Ching plays the owner while Tsai plays her final customer. A What Time Is It There poster hangs in the store and I had assumed that it must be the Tsai Lee Lu coffee shop but as you can see from the photos below theirs is much more modern.
If you can read Chinese you can probably order the coffee from their website (which the photos below are taken from) or visit the store next time you are in Taipei. David Lynch, eat your heart out.