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WEDNESDAY - The Films of Ang Lee

Programmed by: Wei Lu

Born in 1954, Ang Lee is the oldest son of Sheng Lee, a middle school principal who moved to Taiwan following the Chinese civil war. Despite strong opposition from his father, Lee went on to study drama and film production in the United States after graduating from a three-year college in Taiwan. This estranged relationship with his traditional authoritarian father has had a huge impact on Lee’s films—most prominently in his “Father Knows Best” trilogy, which includes his debut feature film, Pushing Hands. Even in later films like Life of Pi, we can see the same individual struggle to reconcile generational tension.
Lee considered himself “a drifter and an outsider” throughout his life, being a mainlander in Taiwan and an immigrant in the United States. His zigzagging personal trajectory enables him to be more aware of cultural nuance and venture into the realm of East and West. Who could have imagined that the film adaptations of Eileen Chang’s Lust Caution and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility were from the same director? Even within the well-defined Western film genre, his bold infusion of gay romance in Brokeback Mountain subverted the traditional “American dream” core, receiving both critical acclaim and commercial success. Aside from the intricate depiction of emotional turmoil and cultural exploration, Lee’s films also embrace many technical innovations, from the CGI in Hulk to his latest experiments with high frame rate. Lee refuses to be stereotyped, and continues to be a permanent student of film. Come to Doc and enjoy the diverse filmography within this Ang Lee retrospective!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) still

Ang Lee · 120m · 35mm

One of the most acclaimed films of the 21st-century, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon follows a stolen mystical sword and two warriors’ (Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh) quest to retrieve it. Grand in its scope and mesmerizing in its execution—in part due to Yuen Woo-Ping’s intricate, masterfully-crafted fight choreography—Ang Lee’s film is an enthralling visual experience not to be missed.

7:00PM Wednesday, September 27th

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain (2005) still

Ang Lee · 134m · 35mm

It’s hard to overstate the significance of Brokeback Mountain. Devastatingly beautiful and incredibly profound, the film revolves around the secret, decades-long relationship between cowboys Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jack Gyllenhaal). Brokeback Mountain is both a brilliant and important film that won Ang Lee the Academy Award for Best Director and proved that serious LGBTQ stories belong in mainstream media. Doc was actually the Chicago premiere for this film!

7:00PM Wednesday, October 4th· 12:00PM Sunday, October 8th

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Sense and Sensibility (1995) still

Ang Lee · 136m · 35mm

Sisters Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet) grapple with financial hardship, societal expectations, and their different approaches to love. Thompson won the Academy Award for her screenplay, making her the only person to have won an Oscar for both screenwriting and acting. A tender and witty film,Sense and Sensibility demonstrates Ang Lee’s versatility as a director and is widely considered one of the best adaptations of an Austen work.

7:00PM Wednesday, October 11th

Life of Pi (2012)

Life of Pi (2012) still

Ang Lee · 127m · DCP

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name, is perhaps his most gorgeous film. Deeply thought-provoking and emotionally rich, it depicts the adventure of a boy nicknamed Pi stranded in the middle of the ocean…with a Bengal tiger. The film's breathtaking visuals and philosophical narrative earned it critical acclaim and several Academy Awards, including Best Director. Come for the tiger, stay for a hopeful, beautiful experience.

7:00PM Wednesday, October 18th

The Ice Storm (1997)

The Ice Storm (1997) still

Ang Lee · 112m · 35mm

With a plot containing enough family dysfunction to rival, and to some—surpassAmerican Beauty, The Ice Storm is a study on bleak, melancholic suburbia. Over the course of a Thanksgiving weekend (and under the threat of a severe ice storm), two families deal with adultery, substance abuse, and isolation in a time of personal and social unrest. The Ice Storm is not only among the best of Lee’s work, but is also one the finest films of its decade.

7:00PM Wednesday, October 25th· 4:00PM Saturday, October 28th

Lust, Caution (2007)

Lust, Caution (2007) still

Ang Lee · 158m · 35mm

This erotic espionage thriller won Ang Lee his second Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Tang Wei stars as Wong Chia Chi, a young university student who joins a resistance against the Japanese puppet government in Shanghai. She is tasked with seducing and killing Mr. Yee (Tony Leung), a high-ranking official, but as the assassination plot advances, Chia Chi’s loyalty to the resistance—and her feelings for Mr. Yee—become increasingly complicated.

7:00PM Wednesday, November 1st

Pushing Hands (1991)

Pushing Hands (1991) still

Ang Lee · 105m · DCP

More than 30 years later, Ang Lee’s feature debut remains a testament to his skill as a director. The first in his "Father Knows Best" trilogy, Pushing Hands is centered on Mr. Chu—a Tai Chi master—who moves from Beijing to New York to stay with his son’s family. It's a warm and touching film, shaped by themes like clashing cultures and generational differences, which continue to appear in Lee’s later works.

7:00PM Wednesday, November 8th

Hulk (2003)

Hulk (2003) still

Ang Lee · 138m · 35mm

Visually ambitious and incredibly dynamic, Hulk is unlike any other superhero film, bursting with bold creativity and technical innovation. It explores the origins of Hulk—the green-skinned monster that Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into after an experiment gone wrong—and is noteworthy for its portrayal of the character’s emotional aspects. Ang Lee’s Hulk is a must-see for those wanting both thrilling action and a nuanced depiction of Bruce Banner.

7:00PM Wednesday, November 29th

Ride with the Devil (1999)

Ride with the Devil (1999) still

Ang Lee · 138m · Digital

Ang Lee’s (non-typical) take on the Western! Set during the American Civil War, it follows friends Jake Roedel (Tobey Maguire) and Jack Bull Chiles (Skeet Ulrich) who join the Irregulars, a guerilla warfare unit fighting for the Confederacy. Notable for its exploration of unconventional narratives, an intimate, character-driven story, and Frederick Elmes’ beautiful cinematography,Ride with the Devilis one of Lee’s most interesting films.

11:00AM Saturday, December 2nd