Dean called yesterday saying the publication he works for, which is tangentially related to my company, was sending Alex, a friend and co-worker of his, over that evening to interview Ang Lee, who is in town promoting Brokeback Mountain, and they needed a photographer. So I packed up my 20D and slipped a demo of my movies into my pocket, just in case, before I went in to work.
Our company’s annual new year banquet was last night, held at the “Heroes House”, aka the military hotel, over near the West Gate District. It was raining as I walked over. A cab seemed useless as traffic was gridlocked the whole way. I was able to slip my raffle slip into the box and have a bite of cold boiled chicken before I had to leave and catch a cab over to the Far Eastern Hotel on Dunhua South Road, where Lee was staying.
I met Alex, and we went up to Lee’s floor to find a barrage of security and a waiting room. We had to wait because a bunch of reporters from the United Daily had rushed in ahead of us, the bastards. It occurred to me that it must really suck to be such a famous person, and even worse for easily recognizable people like actors.
Ang Lee, when we went in to see him, seemed really tired. Out of respect for his eyes after a long day facing reporters and cameras, I didn’t use my flash; fortunately the 20D is good at taking relatively grain-free photos at high ISO speeds. I had no idea what proper form was for such a situation, so I took about a dozen shots that seemed ok on the little screen and then put the camera away to concentrate on the discussion. Lee confessed to not being a great reader, but said he was always working on scripts. He also said he never forced his characters, but rather just let them develop on their own. It was an interesting chat. Before we had to go, I told Ang that I knew his brother, Kan*. I meant to say something like, “Please say hi to him when you see him,” but for some reason instead it came out as a rather presumptuous “He says hi”, at which everyone tittered nervously while I disappeared into the plush carpet.
Well, no, actually. I think (read: hope) he knew what I was trying to say, and asked me my name, so I had a chance to give him my card and demo on mini-DVD before we left. Alex and I had tea in the bar and chatted for a while before he had to go, so I went to City Super and bought some things before heading back out into the rain and the subway home.
Most likely, as happened with my meeting with Steve Chicorel last year and Roger Corman seeing Clay Soldiers, nothing in particular will come of this, but at least I can say I met and chatted with Ang Lee, and gave him a demo, even if he never looks at it.
Concerning Brokeback Mountain itself: I thought it was a very good movie, completely in line with Ang Lee’s typical quiet, drama-in-everyday-life style. The most horrible part is reading and seeing people, mostly in the US, discuss it, both online and in person. Normal, usually intellectually capable people are reduced to nothing more than “OMG!!11Bareback Mountin!LOL111″, ignorance, insults, homophobia and hate abound, and the long, long road gay people have before us before our identity isn’t the subject of ridicule in nearly every situation (at least in the US) becomes painfully, horribly apparent. Just look at related threads on places like Metafilter and Fark. To me, reading and hearing things like that feels like the end of the movie, when someone in the film dies in a pretty awful way.
Even people I had considered good friends can’t seem to bring themselves to talk about this film without dissing gay people in the process. Try talking about one of Spike Lee’s films concerning African-American identity and see how many blatantly racist jokes you get, and how easily, if at all, such jokes are accepted by mainstream society. I wanted to ask Ang Lee about it, but we didn’t have time; he had to go see his parents before he flew back to the states. I wonder if even he knew how revealing the reaction to this movie has been in the US.
Here in Taiwan, thankfully the audience didn’t scream “Ewwwww!” and make snarky comments at the screen, as I’ve heard is common in many areas in the states.
*One thing I’d like to know is why “Ang” gets an unneccesary ‘g’ (it should be “An”), while “Kan” is one ‘g’ short (it should be “Kang”). Did Ang steal his little brother’s ‘g’ at some point? What’s up with that?