Life of Pi Director Ang Lee hasn't really racked up a lot of movies like some directors, but what he lacks in quantity he makes up for in quality. He has a meticulous style that's fairly invisible as the movies seem to materialize organically in an original arty and stylistic way. This is mainly due to the director's ability to yank high caliber performances out of his actors. Lee's movies seem to stand the test of time, and his list of film credentials could not be more diversified. Here are a few of his eclectic movies.
Taking Woodstock (2009)
Comedian Demetri Martin's big screen debut (in a lead role) is excellent. This is the background story of how a man working at his parents' motel in the Catskills inadvertently sets in motion the revolutionary music phenomenon Woodstock in the summer of 1969. Lee strings together a great cast once again from Eugene Levy to Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a slew of cameos.
Lust, Caution (2007)
Returning to more traditional Asian cinema, Lee brings us an espionage thriller set in the time frame of WWII Shanghai, wherein a woman gets swept up in a dangerous game of intrigue with a powerful political figure, and then there's tons of sex. Pretty interesting and colorful flick.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
This is the saga of two gay cowboy sheepherders who fall in love and don't exactly know what to do about it. An A-list actor's gay-for-pay film with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal making out like crazy. This movie won Lee the Oscar for Best Direction, helped Randy Quaid go more insane and is pretty darn good. A real heartbreaker depicting unrequited love in its many forms.
Using great triple split screen effects that actually enhance the comic book feel to this flick, Lee rips great performances from Sam Elliot, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Connelly and especially Eric Bana as the troubled physicist doomed to turn huge and green when angry. But the real star is the San Francisco location and a terrific battle scene that culminates on the front steps of my friend's house on Vallejo Street with a grand view of the Bay Bridge and all its ships. This is one totally underrated flick.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Going back to his Chinese roots, Lee made a fabled love story about two warriors and a dishonorable fugitive in pursuit of a stolen sword who are destined by fate to encounter a nobleman's hotheaded teenage daughter. The richly colorful and interwoven tapestry of a story includes superb sword fighting, wire work with stunning visuals and exotic locales. A real treat for the eyes. Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang star and they all soar in space and acting ability. I especially liked the rustling sling shot trees.
Ride With the Devil (1999)
Tobey Maguire, the mercurial Jeffery Wright and Jewel in an uneven Western about rebellion circa Civil War times. It's a period piece/love triangle with attention to detail focusing on two young men who join the Bushwhackers, irregulars loyal to the South. This is kind of like The Defiant Ones only they ride horses a lot. Noteworthy for Jewel's film debut and topless scene.
The Ice Storm (1997)
A mesmerizingly bleak look at the breakdown of a modern family. Snow and ice are the climate and the metaphors for the vapid inner workings of a family in crisis, blind to what the ramifications could and will be. Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood and Joan Allen exhibit complex and excellent performances all around.