Posted tagged ‘Ang Lee’

Exclusive interview with “Taking Woodstock” director Ang Lee!

August 28, 2009
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Before you check out “Taking Woodstock,” check out this exclusive interview with Ang Lee. He recently appeared at The Film Society with cast and collaborators to discuss his film “Ride with the Devil.”

For more exclusive Film Society video, please visit our YouTube channel.

From The Film Talk, a special podcast about Ang Lee

August 4, 2009

From our friends at The Film Talk, a podcast about Ang Lee, who’s the subject of a retrospective at the Film Society, now through August 11. Check it out to learn why it’s important to appreciate directors while they are mid-career, how it’s possible to bridge the art house and the multiplex, and the one genre the wide-ranging Lee hasn’t tackled yet.

The Films of Ang Lee
August 1–11, 2009
See schedule and buy tickets

Listen to The Film Talk podcast here

To get a weekly dose on opinionated film discussion, you can subscribe to The Film Talk on iTunes.

Ang Lee’s BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: The Dangers of Being in Love

August 1, 2009

Ang Lee’s western melodrama Brokeback Mountain is a film of wide-open spaces, lingering on the majestic mountain scenes in which Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal), two cowboys living in Wyoming, fall in love. While such shots evoke the grandeur of open spaces that define the American landscape (especially in Westerns), they also ironically comment upon the insularity of its characters, whose true desires must be kept out of the open.

After Ennis and Jack spend their first night together as lovers, Ennis goes back to his sheep to find one slaughtered by a wolf. It’s a particularly grotesque image – the sheep split down the middle with its red guts half-eaten and spilling out onto the grass – that strongly contrasts an otherwise idyllic scene in the mountains. We then get a reaction shot of Ennis’s face: a steely, stoic gaze that betrays his worry, regret, and fear by the slightest of movements in the corner of his mouth and the furrow of his eyebrows. It’s an especially poignant scene that speaks to the ever-present danger that threatens the love Ennis wants to experience with Jack, one which is repeated in the film through Ennis’s flashback of himself as a child seeing the mutilated body of a murdered homosexual. Ennis and Jack’s love within their place and time is not just forbidden – it is absolutely life-threatening.

And while the conflicting struggle of repression and desire is encompassed by both Ennis and Jack, it is really Ennis that centers the film’s exploration of tragedy. The late Heath Ledger gives maybe his best performance through Ennis, wearing years of psychological repression and self-loathing in his every gesture and expression. While Jack’s blue-eyed naïveté allows him to consider a life together with Ennis on a ranch, Ennis is the one haunted by demons, disallowing him to reciprocate Jack’s romanticism. Ennis’s reservation and self-constraint manifests itself not only in his relationship with Jack, but in his life as well, as he goes from one hired-hand job to the other until he winds up in a trailer, while Jack is able to at least make a good living. Towards the end of the film Ennis blames Jack for having nothing, hating his homosexuality in a way that never allows him to be at peace. Ennis’s tragedy is magnified, then, by Jack’s death, which in his mind affirms the unavoidable punishment for homosexuality (executed by those homophobic wolves that remain invisible), and makes his pain and loneliness that much more acute.

Throughout Lee’s film, the open spaces of the wilderness where Ennis and Jack escape a few times a year are rendered beautifully (by Rodrigo Prieto)– full of gorgeous colors and panoramic views – while the domestic spaces of homes, bars, and offices remain dull, lifeless, and gray. But even within those open spaces in the mountains there lingers dark clouds overhead, threatening to hail or snow suddenly, denying any complete refuge or safety from the rest of the world. In this way, Lee seems to be suggesting that no matter how wonderful Ennis and Jack’s love for each other can be, it will never be whole or complete because there is always an omnipresent danger of being found out. This idea is heartbreakingly repeated in the film sequence of the film in which Ennis brings his and Jack’s shirts to his face – items that retain the full memory of their relationship, but ones which are also stained with blood.

Now is the chance to re-experience this moving and darkly beautiful film on the big screen as part of the Films of Ang Lee series, which is playing at the Walter Reade Theater August 7th, 8th, and 11th. For more information on tickets and showtimes click here.

– Kazu Watanabe

Ang Lee’s career in grid form

July 29, 2009

Everything about the career of the director who made both Hulk and The Ice Storm screams: “DON’T PIN ME DOWN.” But on the eve of our complete Ang Lee retrospective, we just couldn’t resist. So without further ado, our handy, hi-tech grid of the eclectic selections playing at The Film Society August 1-11.


Check out the whole selection and watch trailers.