Teach us kung-fu, maestro
Born in Taiwan and trained in the craft of film-making in the US, Ang Lee straddles many worlds with the dash of a master storyteller. The 56-year-old has trained his camera on prospects as diverse as Manchu-dynasty China (Crouching Tiger) and modern American West (Brokeback Mountain), on Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility) and Marvel comics (Hulk).art and culture Updated: Jul 16, 2010 23:37 IST
Born in Taiwan and trained in the craft of film-making in the US, Ang Lee straddles many worlds with the dash of a master storyteller. The 56-year-old has trained his camera on prospects as diverse as Manchu-dynasty China (Crouching Tiger) and modern American West (Brokeback Mountain), on Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility) and Marvel comics (Hulk).
Not all of them have been hits, but such generational promiscuity has been rewarded with a cabinet full of trophies. Over two decades, Ang has won two Oscars and three Independent Spirit Awards in the US, three Baftas in the UK, two Golden Bears in Berlin and two Golden Lions in Venice.
What is it that allows Ang to leap across centuries and continents with élan? Hsu Li-kong, the Taiwan-based producer of four of the five films being screened in Delhi this weekend, says, "He's successful because of his ability to showcase oriental cultural traits by employing western movie making techniques. ...Asian directors like to deal with issues from the societal perspective, whereas western directors are more keen on individualistic expression."
Perhaps that's the reason Ang's 2003 take on the comic-strip meanie Hulk was deemed a critical dud by fans.
Fear not, the five films chosen for the Delhi retrospective are all steeped in the 'Asian values' Hsu underlines. Crouching Tiger, the 2000 film that sent kung-fu masters flying in all directions, has been screened. Here are the other four laid out for your delectation.
Fine Line (1984), Saturday 4 pm: This 43-minute drama, which starts with Italian-accented hero (an almost unrecognisable Chazz Palminteri) fleeing a mental institution, was Ang's masters thesis at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. Ang helped Spike Lee with his first short at the same time.
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Saturday 6.30 pm: A widowed patriarch takes great care to cook lavish weekend dinners for his three single daughters. Problem is, they cannot get hitched till he chooses a new partner for himself. It's the best 'food porn' this side of the Panama Canal.
The Pushing Hands (1991), Sunday 4 pm: Another film in which Shihung Lung is cast as the 'father figure'. In this case, as Master Chu, a tai-chi teacher who has to step across internal and societal chasms when he shifts to his son's place in New York.
The Wedding Banquet (1993), Sunday 6.30 pm: The second Ang movie produced by Hsu Li-kong after Hands. A gay couple tries to hide their sexuality when the Chinese partner's parents come calling. Another comedy of cultural 'errors' placed gingerly between New York and Taiwan.