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  1. Quotes
  2. Ang Lee
  3. 18/10/2017 (Wed, 18 Oct)

“In Taiwan, I’d be like Michael Jordan walking down the street.”

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Quotes by Ang Lee

  1. 3D is quite a lot more advanced in animated movies; for live-action movies we’re just taking baby steps, we’re just in the beginning.
  2. A movie is really provocation. It’s not a message, it’s not a statement.
  3. After making several tragic movies in a row, I was looking to do a comedy, and one without cynicism.
  4. Americans are hidden dragons to me.
  5. As artists, we like night more than day sometimes.
  6. Directing, I get all kinds of inspiration. It’s working with people. It’s a lot more fun.
  7. Economically, it’s more expensive to make movies. I hope digital movies change that.
  8. Emotions serve characters’ purposes. That is their motivation.
  9. Every movie is unknown.
  10. Everyone in the gay community doesn’t think alike.
  11. Fighting for identity is something that is very much in my life.
  12. Film study was considered disgraceful by my father.
  13. For a filmmaker, it’s a rare chance to do a personal film on a big canvas.
  14. For six years, from 1985 to 1991, I felt pretty weak and useless.
  15. I am a shy person.
  16. I am not particularly religious. But I think we do face the question of where God is, why we are created and where does life go, why we exist. That sort of thing. And it is very hard to talk about it these days, because it cannot be proven. It is hard to discuss it rationally.
  17. I did a women’s movie, and I’m not a woman. I did a gay movie, and I’m not gay. I learned as I went along.
  18. I do like challenge.
  19. I don’t care about writing really.
  20. I don’t have a superpower.
  21. I don’t have incredible knowledge about films or of filmmaking history; I’m not that kind of person.
  22. I don’t know if I make the best gay films.
  23. I don’t lead a Hollywood lifestyle.
  24. I don’t like to deal with studios.
  25. I don’t think the Hulk is a superhero. He’s the first Marvel character who is a tragic monster. Really an anti-hero.
  26. I feel like all of my characters now take this congested situation, they clash, and from there you purge yourself.
  27. I feel that everyone has a Hulk inside, and each of our Hulks is both scary and, potentially, pleasurable. That’s the scariest thing about them.
  28. I find it hard to deliver straightforward things.
  29. I grew up pretty much prevented from knowing anything from Communist China except that they were the bad guys that stole our country.
  30. I grew up pretty peacefully, in that Eastern way. You easily solve problems, believe in harmony. Reduce conflicts, take orders until one day you give orders.
  31. I guess in Hollywood you chart your life by Oscars. You say to each other, ‘Remember when that movie won that year? It was 2006. Remember that?’
  32. I had to find my way of translating the excitement you get when you’re reading comic books to the big screen.
  33. I had to test a new terror in myself.
  34. I hate to think life is just facts and laws.
  35. I have a lot of repression. So repression is what I make movies about.
  36. I have two sons in America, and all they care about in Chinese culture is Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
  37. I hope people don’t compare 2D and 3D because 3D’s new, it’s unfair to compare to 2D which is really sophisticated, even when we’re jaded about it. 3D just began, give it a chance, let the equipment and projection system catch up and be better, let the price go down, let more filmmakers get a hold of it more easily.
  38. I like to do drama, something about life that could be disappointing.
  39. I like to think I’m un-categorisable.
  40. I look at American movies, the big muscles, and try to apply that to Chinese film-making.
  41. I think I can work with any type of actor.
  42. I think I prefer 3D to 2D now.
  43. I think a lot of people do big movies not because they are talented artists but because they can function in the circumstances.
  44. I think a movie is a media that is evoking feelings.
  45. I think doing period piece is easier, because after a certain distance, everybody is equal, I think. The relative contemporary is harder. I think that’s the way it is.
  46. I think each movie-making process is a very exhausting and satisfying and fulfilling experience for me.
  47. I think great romance needs great obstacles and textures.
  48. I think life without spirit is in the dark, it is absurd.
  49. I think people are universal.
  50. I think that at heart I am an old-fashioned Chinese, really I am.
  51. I think the American West really attracts me because it’s romantic. The desert, the empty space, the drama.
  52. I think the book struck me in a few ways that I thought very interesting to pick it as my first martial arts film. It has a very strong female character and it was very abundant in classic Chinese textures.
  53. I took the name Green Destiny from – well there is such a sword called Green Destiny. It is green because you keep twisting it, it’s an ancient skill, you keep twisting it and knocking it and twisting it until it is very elastic and light.
  54. I try to please everyone.
  55. I wanted to shoot straight, mainstream, somehow off-beat. Not only realistic West, which is quite unfamiliar to the world’s population – even to a lot of Americans.
  56. I was very quiet, very shy and docile.
  57. I’m a big boy now, and I have to deliver.
  58. I’m a drifter and an outsider. There’s not one single environment I can totally belong to.
  59. I’m a shy human being.
  60. I’m a storyteller.
  61. I’m actually living my life with the material I choose to work with.
  62. I’m aware of what’s missing from my life.
  63. I’m just a pretty regular dad.
  64. I’m not a master of films, I’m rather a slave.
  65. I’m not a romantic. In life I didn’t have much experience with romance.
  66. I’m not macho, I’m not a Mel Gibson sort of person.
  67. I’m quite lazy.
  68. I’m still a novice student.
  69. I’m such a late bloomer.
  70. If there’s something that can be formulated, regulated, give you security, then nobody would lose money. Every movie would be successful. And that’s certainly not the case.
  71. In Taiwan, I’d be like Michael Jordan walking down the street.
  72. In my culture, there’s a tradition that when you’re in an overwhelming situation and you don’t know what to do, you put yourself in a woman’s shoes.
  73. In the past I’ve made movies that were pretty universally liked. You can’t really hate them. You can discard them, but you can’t really hate them.
  74. It’s not a pleasure torturing actors, although some of them enjoy it.
  75. Kids don’t even read comic books anymore. They’ve got more important things to do – like video games.
  76. Making movies is a way of understanding myself and the world.
  77. Many times when you make a movie, it feels like your biggest mistake. But even if a film isn’t a hit, you shouldn’t view it as a mistake.
  78. Meanwhile, the Ice Storm was still in development, And that was something I really wanted to do, and frankly I don’t think I was ready to do a big production like this.
  79. My cultural roots are something illusive.
  80. My culture doesn’t regard acting highly.
  81. My father was the center of the family, and everyone tried to please him.
  82. My first instinct was to cast as close to the short story as possible, but then I realized that I needed actors who could go for it and that they had to function well as a couple in a love story.
  83. My hometown was one of the major U.S. Air Force bases.
  84. My mother loves me and everything goes well. I have no conflict with her, so that’s not dramatic.
  85. No matter how widely spread out the films are, how different, you still are you.
  86. Not taboo – it’s just that straight actors still risk their careers commercially and economically. They have to please the crowd – they’re movie stars; their image is their industry. It goes beyond acting.
  87. Now I’m kind of established as a director, I much prefer directing to writing.
  88. On a Chinese film you just give orders, no one questions you. Here, you have to convince people, you have to tell them why you want to do it a certain way, and they argue with you. Democracy.
  89. Over the years Woodstock got glorified and romanticised and became the event that symbolised Utopia. It’s the last page of our collective memory of the age of innocence. Then things turned ugly and would never be the same again.
  90. Sensitivity and money are like parallel lines. They don’t meet.
  91. Sexuality is a big issue, but there are others – how much you commit to a relationship, to social obligation, to honesty and being honest with yourself.
  92. So many times you see beautiful lovemaking scenes with a lot of exposure or an awkward lovemaking scene, but I think it’s very rare that you see it private.
  93. Some actors give you what you want. Some you have to make do what you want.
  94. Sometimes films ignore other points of view because it’s simpler to tell the story that way, but the more genuine and sympathetic you are to different points of view and situations, the more real the story is.
  95. Sometimes, you have to get angry to get things done.
  96. Summer blockbusters are very expensive to make. They have things that have to be expensive, such as 600 effects shots or CG characters that have to go a certain way, or a film design that is different but expensive.
  97. The L.A. weather is a lot like Taiwan’s, where you don’t observe four seasons, so the years can pass and you don’t feel a thing.
  98. The father figure is something I love, but also suffocate from and want to work against.
  99. The fear factor actually brings the genuineness.
  100. The most mysterious feminine factor, the existence that we men, we don’t know. It’s woman. It’s feminine. That’s what the sword is about. That’s the symbolic meaning of the sword.
  101. The source of all the material comes from nothingness, illusion is working more on things you can prove. That’s the principle, the essence of life, it is actually an illusion, not immaterial. That’s worth pursuing. So illusion is not nothing. In a way, that is the truth.
  102. The thing we call critics are not really reviewers, they are not really critics. They don’t have the discipline to write what we would term as critique – it’s really just reviewers. They have a common man kind of taste. If you watch them overall, they are not different from the box-office. That’s my view.
  103. The way I go about a lovemaking scene is that we will talk about it during the rehearsing time.
  104. The woman’s perspective is like the dark side of the moon: it always exists, but it is never exposed, at least not in my culture.
  105. There’s a level of sophistication of filmmaking that’s mind-boggling. Anything you need for your movie, there’s an establishment that can make it happen really fast.
  106. There’s only one movie in my career I’ve had regrets with cutting it shorter, and I think some scenes maybe I shouldn’t have cut.
  107. These days I’m mostly familiar with two parts of L.A.: one is movie culture, and the other is Asian culture. The Westside is work, and the Eastside is Chinese – which means my friends.
  108. Thinking back to those earlier days, I felt I was weak when I wasn’t making movies, and then when I was, I thought I was weak as a family member.
  109. To me, Ennis stands for the conservative side of America. He’s the biggest homophobe in the whole movie – culturally and psychologically – but by the time he admits his feelings, it’s too late.
  110. Usually with this genre the first thing that happens is a good fight sequence to show that you’re in good hands. So we broke that rule. I think a lot of that comes from the western audience.
  111. What is really a stretch to me is to make quick decisions.
  112. When I grew up, in Taiwan, the Korean War was seen as a good war, where America protected Asia. It was sort of an extension of World War II. And it was, of course, the peak of the Cold War. People in Taiwan were generally proAmerican. The Korean War made Japan. And then the Vietnam War made Taiwan. There is some truth to that.
  113. When I have a full schedule like that, I don’t see myself sitting there for a couple of months, doing the research, going through a painful process, it’s just not my thing anymore.
  114. When I see something I like, that’s all that counts. What they use, how they get there, I never bother them.
  115. When I sent those scripts, that was the lowest point of my life. We’d just had our second son, and when I went to collect them from hospital, I went to the bank to try and get some money to buy some diapers, the screen showed I’ve got $26 left.
  116. When I started out, nobody gave me scripts, so I had to write.
  117. When I’m not working, I get very down, but when I am working, I get very immersed in it.
  118. When something possesses me, I go ahead and do it.
  119. When there is a strong woman character in a story – that always grabs me.
  120. You become the movie you are making.
  121. You can get rich or famous by doing the same thing.
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