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the problem with ang lee's films
on 29 January 2010
Ang Lee is undoubtedly a great master at representing his version of intimacies between people on screen. All the different shades and nuances. The problems with such prolonged close up is : 1. its a showcase for the director, 'see I can do it" but it does NOTHING else, is neither transcendent and ultimately quite pointless, not to mention boring 2. its a sign of a director who has nothing to say, and who chooses to work with a scriptwriter who has limited things to say, but both have access to sufficient skill and money to make important looking films. This is one director who, yes, takes on different challenges, from kung gu china to 18th cent england to woodstock to badlands cowboy, but the funny thing, none of his portrayals of people are convincing, ie as spirits vividly incarnated. They are very convincing as re-creations of characters from older period movies. If you don't believe me, watch a few 30s chinese films and then watch lust caution. To understand his portrayal of 50s cowboy in brokeback mountain, ( you have to look at 50s chinese films of unrequited love ) and if you have also lived in or near MOntana/ Alberta /badlands where the film was shot, you will see he's picked up absolutely NOTHING about the spirit of cowboys. With lust caution, he's on home turf, and as usual he's great at the intimate exchanges, and those close ups and minute details dominates the film. and of course the money is there for great sets costumes casts and its as good as any period extravaganza. I watched this film 3 times, once in the cinema, and as much as I would like to say its great or that ang lee is as good as director as people say he is, all I can report is that it has little to say other than the above. and the general theme is that humanity obey an impulse larger than ourselves and what a stupid way to say that. There were plenty of opportunities for subplots that would highlight, reflect that from different perspective in the film to make it richer deeper and more resonant, and neither scriptwriter nor director is astute enough to pick those up.