I’m going to begin, in typical English fashion, by making an apology: I’m about to write about Ang Lee but there are seven films of his that I haven’t yet seen; I watched Brokeback Mountain a few days ago in preparation for this month’s Lucky 13 Film Club. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the man or his life’s work. Ang Lee’s filmography is as all over the place and as unpredictable year-on-year, project-after-project as it’s possible to be. In the past twenty years alone he has made the following: a low-key family period drama; a superhero film; a modern take on traditional wuxia; a 3D technological marvel filled with CGI; a love story featuring two gay or bisexual cowboys (depending on your reading); and an erotic thriller. Whatever next? A remake of The Seventh Seal with Jason Statham as Death? We can but hope and pray.
Personally this diversity is what I find most interesting about Lee’s career. It’s impossible to second-guess him, and it’s fascinating that he has generally been able to balance commercial and critical appeal along the way, enjoying considerable success whatever genre he dips into. There have been flops, of course, such as Taking Woodstock, and there have been films that have divided public opinion. Some people hate Hulk, for example, though for me it looks more and more interesting and idiosyncratic as the years pass, especially now that we get four or five new generic, predictable superhero movies per year. Conversely many people seemed to love Life Of Pi, though it’s my least favourite of Lee’s films. My favourite is The Ice Storm, closely followed by Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Thanks very much to Cindy for asking me to get involved with this month’s discussion, and I look forward to reading what people have to say about Lee and his films. I’ve just started a new job and I’m quite busy at the moment, but will try and pitch in with replies to comments when time allows.
Not many directors can deliver an eclectic range of genres like Ang Lee. During the last twenty-odd years, he has consistently offered viewers four star films, and a few of them are outstanding. Some directors have bursts and lulls and some lose their mojo. Ang Lee, however, rarely wastes my time, and I appreciate that. Sense and Sensibility and Lust, Caution are my personal favorites.