Hooray for NC-17: ‘Lust Caution’ wins ShoWest ‘Freedom of Expression Award’

Ang Lee may have gotten snubbed by the Academy, which didn’t allow his film “Lust Caution” to compete in the Best Foreign Language Film category (because some of the film’s crew members were not Taiwanese), but he’s still racking up plenty of other nominations and wins. Among the “Best Film” awards the flick has taken: The Golden Horse, the Satellite Award, and the Golden Lion.

And next week it’s getting yet another, from, of all groups, the National Association of Theater Owners. As Variety reports, Lee and his longtime producing partner James Schamus are being recognized for allowing their film to be released with an NC-17 rating (rather than, say, slashing some scenes to appease the MPAA and get an R). The two are getting the “Freedom of Expression Award” at the annual ShoWest conference in Vegas.

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Tuesday Twofer — ‘American Gangster’ and ‘Lust Caution’ out on DVD

Two of the best movies of 2007 (starring local celebs) are out on DVD today.

70060009.jpgFor my money, I still say “American Gangster” was as good (and enjoyable) as just about any other Best Picture nominee that isn’t named “Juno.” It’s bizarre that New Rochelle resident Rube Dee is the only person to get nominated from the film, especially considering that Mount Vernon native son Denzel Washington was at the top of his game. Anyway, if you didn’t see it in the video, be sure to add it to your Netflix queue.

70059999.jpgAnd the other movie is “Lust Caution,” directed by Larchmont’s Ang Lee. This too was snubbed by the Academy in the best foreign language category. Bunch of prudes, I say.

Thanks to F.O.S. Amy Vernon for the tip.

Ang Lee: ‘A Caligula among directors’?

In the aftermath of the Heath Ledger tragedy, director Ang Lee — who worked with Ledger on “Brokeback Mountain” and lives in Larchmont — had one of the nicest quotes about the actor in any of the stories I read.

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“Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life. He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined – a thirst for life, for love and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking.” </div></blockquote>

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Eager to find any other comments Lee has made about Ledger in the past, I stumbled upon something even better: an article in The Age about how Lee is a cruel, cruel tyrant on film sets. As the story put it, Hugh Grant once nicknamed the normally softspoken man “Fang Lee” after shooting Sense and Sensibility. The only other evidence that the story puts forward to back up its claim is the Heath Ledger once said (with Lee standing at his side) that the director “drove him and Jake Gyllenhaal to the outer limit of physical endurance in freezing temperatures.”

I’m not sure how exactly that qualifies him as an evil taskmaster, but the article goes on, “Under that mild-mannered exterior — consisting of a gentle-to-inaudible speaking voice, self-deprecating manner and an overall Zen calm — lurks a driven obsessive, a Caligula among directors.”

As for another claim in the article — that Lee spent 100 hours filming a ten minute sex scene for “Lust Caution” — well, that’s just plain common sense. And, I think, even something that a frostbitten Heath Ledger would have approved of.

“Fang Lee: Cruel but True” [The Age]

(AP Photo/Focus Features) 

Oscars say Ang Lee’s new Taiwanese film isn’t foreign enough

The Academy Awards just ruled that Ang Lee’s new film ‘Lust, Caution’ can’t enter the race for best foreign language film. And judging by recent reviews, that was probably its best shot at winning a statue.

As good as it’s supposed to be — and winning the Golden Lion award in Venice suggests it’s pretty damn solid — the NC-17 rating pretty much assures that it won’t have a shot at the regular best picture category. At least, not any more than “Tell Me You Love Me” — equally provactive, medium-core fare — has at winning a best drama Emmy (even though I’m totally rooting for it).

The Academy decided that not enough of the key crew members in Lee’s film were from Taiwan. I never realized there was such a cutoff. Sure, Lee himself may live in Larchmont now, and surely he used a lot of his usual Hollywood gang to shoot the film, but isn’t the fact that it was shot in the county, filmed in Mandarin, and used Taiwanese actors enough to qualify it as “foreign”?

According to the BBC, the acting director of the country’s government film department said, “We and Ang Lee are disappointed… this movie was also popular in Taiwan.” Taiwan’s Motion Picture and Drama Association has appealed the decision, but hasn’t heard back yet.