Ang Lee, the Taiwanese-born director who has achieved astonishing critical and commercial success in the past decade with films including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “The Wedding Banquet” and “Sense and Sensibility,” wi
Highlights of the series include a Pinewood Dialogue with Ang Lee and his key collaborative partner, James Schamus, on Saturday, June 7, following a screening of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” the most successful subtitled movie ever released in the United States. On Thursday, June 19, the museum will present a special members preview screening of Lee’s eagerly awaited summer blockbuster movie “The Hulk,” starring Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly.
“Ang Lee’s career is developing in a similar fashion to such great studio-system directors as Howard Hawks and John Huston,” said David Schwartz, the museum’s chief curator of film. “Like them, Ang Lee has shown his agility in a wide range of genres, moving fluidly between comedies, dramas, epics, and small-scale films.”
The museum will present eight of Lee’s feature films, including “Pushing Hands,” “The Wedding Banquet,” “Eat Drink Man Woman,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “The Ice Storm,” “Ride With The Devil,” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The series will culminate with a Members Preview of “The Hulk” (Universal) in Manhattan, with key members of the production team in attendance.
Lee, who emigrated from Taiwan to America to pursue his love of movies, has made a wide range of crowd- and critic-pleasing films. Yet he has consistently explored one key theme: the bittersweet efforts of his characters to find their place in the world, to fit into a group — whether it is their family, or society at large. Lee seems particularly interested in people looking for freedom in rigid, structured worlds. His most memorable characters tend to be women who are challenging the patriarchal order … whether in 18th century China, modern-day Taiwan, the Civil War-era South, or 1970s suburban Connecticut.
Lee’s skill and artistry also comes with a rare ability to entertain a wide cross-section of moviegoers. On its way to becoming the most successful foreign-language film ever made, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” erased boundaries between the art house cinema and the action blockbuster. So Lee’s decision to tackle the genre of live-action comic books with “The Hulk” should hardly be a surprise.
Saturday, May 31
Cinepix, 1992, 105 mins. With Sihung Lung, Pamela Yang. In Lee’s gently comic, sharply observed feature debut, an elderly Tai Chi master causes domestic havoc when he moves from Beijing to Yonkers to live with his son’s family.
“The Wedding Banquet”
Samuel Goldwyn, 1993, 111 mins. With Winston Chao, May Chin, Mitchell Lichtenstein. A cross-cultural New York gay couple gets tangled up in a heterosexual green card wedding and an unexpected visit by parents from Taiwan. This deftly plotted, thoroughly enjoyable farce was a surprise indie hit.
Sunday, June 1
“Eat Drink Man Woman”
Samuel Goldwyn, 1994, 123 mins. With Sihung Lung, Yang Kuei-Mei, Wu Chien-lien. A widower who is also a renowned chef attempts to hold his family together by preparing gourmet meals each night for his three unmarried daughters. Generation gaps and cultural clashes are at the core of Lee’s Ozu-like study of a modern Taiwanese family.
“Sense And Sensibility”
Columbia, 1995, 135 mins. With Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant. Thompson won an Oscar as screenwriter for her adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel about two newly impoverished and romantically unfortunate sisters. Lee drew from childhood memories of socially claustrophobic 1950s Taiwan for his understanding of the workings of 18th-century British aristocracy.
Saturday, June 7
2 p.m. A Pinewood Dialogue with Ang Lee and James Schamus
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
Sony Pictures Classics, 2000, 120 mins. With Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Yiyi.
Preceded by “Chosen” (BMW, 2001, 7 mins. With Clive Owen, Mason Lee.)
Lee’s masterful blend of romance, period drama, epic storytelling, and dazzling Hong Kong-style action sequences made “Crouching Tiger” a crossover smash hit, the most successful foreign-language film ever. In the BMW film, Lee brings his choreographic skills to a mysterious car chase. After the screening, Lee and Schamus will discuss their collaboration. $18 public/$12 members. Call 718-784-4520 to order tickets.
Sunday, June 8
“The Ice Storm”
Fox Searchlight, 1997, 113 mins. With Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire. Christina Ricci. With heartrending emotional accuracy, Lee reveals the psychic turbulence beneath the quiet surfaces of an affluent Connecticut suburb in the early 1970s. His visual poetry matches the exemplary work of the ensemble cast.
“Ride With The Devil”
Universal, 1999, 138 mins. With Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire, Jewel. This intricate and underrated Civil War drama follows a disparate group of confederate guerilla, and contrasts the languid lives of the Southern privileged class with the chaos of war. As a pregnant widow who harbors the group, Jewel is another of Lee’s strong female characters.
Thursday, June 19
7 p.m. Special Members Preview Screening
Universal, 2003. With Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliot, Josh Lucas.
Key members of the production team will be in attendance at a members-only screening of this eagerly awaited adaptation of the Marvel Comic Book series about a scientist transformed into a hulking green monster. Free to members, limited seating capacity. Members should call the museum at 718-784-4520 for further information. Location to be announced.