I was thrilled when I heard about Ang Lee's new thriller, “Gemini Man.” Ang Lee is my idol, an inspiration and one of the best directors in Hollywood.
I was disappointed after watching it.
It felt like I tasted a dish that wasn't quite right- cooked by a talented chef who was unfamiliar with the cuisine. But “Gemini Man” will not kill my passion for Ang Lee movies.
For me, he is more than the first person of color to win the Academy Award for Best Director. He introduced me to a different side of Chinese culture- in the way that only a film director can. Lee brings his films to life through an immersive experience that is engaging and touching. From his insightful observation of 90's Chinese family to sensually colorful descriptions of the espionage period, Lee **almost** never lets me down.
"Gemini Man" is a miss, but here are three Ang Lee films that will remind you why Ang Lee is still a boss in the film industry.
1 The Wedding Banquet (喜宴, xǐ yàn )
The first film of Lee's "Family Trilogy" series is the most groundbreaking one. This comedic drama depicts how a successful gay Chinese businessman in New York tries to satisfy his parents with a fake marriage. Produced in 1993, Lee knew very well that the topic of homosexuality was still very sensitive and unacceptable to most of the Chinese people.
Risking facing endless criticism, Lee still insisted on presenting it to a Chinese audience. Lee even played the role of a guest actor in the wedding scene. He half-jokes with an American sitting next to him, "You are witnessing the result of sexual repression in the 5,000 years of Chinese history."
The one who first reveals the truth should always expect social backlash. Just like his characters, who told their own truth, Lee’s own journey is a truly brave one.
2 Pushing Hands （推手, tuī shǒu ）
In the second film in the “Family Trilogy,” Lee explored the reorientation and rebalance of the relationship between a father and a son. After retiring, Father Zhu thinks he can enjoy a careless and rich life with his son's family in the U.S. However, his son's wife is obviously incompatible with Zhu’s lifestyle.
Different value systems and cultural backgrounds trigger conflicts over the most trivial details. Finally, the father decides to leave the family and make his own living in New York.
In this film, Lee examines the problem of the generation gap in both the U.S. and China. In fact, many young Chinese people send the elderly to nursing homes. They often complain that the elderly have different educational backgrounds and are too stubborn to communicate with. However, is neglecting them in favor of independence the only way to solve the problem? The end of "Pushing Hands" attempts to give us an answer.
3 Eat Drink Man Woman (饮食男女, yǐn shí nán nǚ )
The last of the "Family Trilogy" receives the highest ranking among them all. The main reason for this is the colorful elements of food and cooking throughout the movie. It tells the story of a single-parent family (a chef father and his three daughters) from disintegration to reconstruction. From the very beginning, we see countless shots of delicious food and the cooking process. It suggests a family full of desires and secrets. Many psychologists regard “Eat Drink Man Woman” as an in-depth analysis of conflicts in a Chinese family. It involves family orders, competition among children for the love of the father and even incestuous love. Obviously, some of the elements are taboo topics in Chinese society.
Among the three daughters, the second one captured my attention the most. As the daughter of a chef, cooking is an invisible channel for her to vent her emotions. But she never cooks in front of her father. The reason is simple: he refuses to let her become a cook even though she shows great talent and interest. Like most of the parents in China, this father forces his children to pursue a more "decent" job and make a living from it. The movie follows them for ten years as their conflicts intensify. What relieves the pressure and brings a family reunion in the end? Watch the movie and find out!
Ang Lee's films have changed the mindset of Chinese people for two decades. Have you watched any of Ang Lee's films? What's your favorite Ang Lee film? Please comment below!