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    According to the tiny date written in the upper left corner of the inside cover of this book, I read it the first time in March, 2012. It is the script for two films by Taiwanese screenwriter/director Ang Lee. That was before I had this present website and was writing book reviews. It was also before I began doing such intense research on the books I read. I didn't remember too much about them, but I thought I remembered liking them. Well, that changed a bit, as I will explain presently. But that doesn't diminish my respect for Ang Lee. These are his second and third films and along with his first, Pushing Hands, he ended up with three hits and two award winners. Wow! He has come a long way since then, working with well-known English-speaking stars such as Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Steve Martin. Over the years he has won numerous awards, accolades and respect from all over the world. And according to many who have been involved in his films, he's an enjoyable and funny person to work with.
    He was born 1954 in Chaozhou, Pingtung, Taiwan. He was educated at the National Taiwan University of Arts (AA), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (BA), and New York University (MFA). He married Jane Lin, a molecular biologist in 1983, and she supported him as a "house husband" (according to Wikipedia) until he got his breaks, the first coming in 1991. They are still married and have two children. Here is quote from Wikipedia. Their article on him is very interesting.

As a filmmaker Lee's work is known for its emotional charge and exploration of repressed, hidden emotions. During his career, he has received international critical and popular acclaim and numerous accolades including two Academy Awards, four BAFTA Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards. In 2003, Lee was ranked 27th in The Guardian's 40 best directors.

Lee rose to prominence directing films such as Pushing Hands (1991), The Wedding Banquet (1993), and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), which explored the relationships and conflicts between tradition and modernity, Eastern and Western; the three films are informally known as the "Father Knows Best" trilogy. The films were critically successful both in his native Taiwan and internationally.

    And now on to the films. I will begin with Eat Drink Man Woman even though it was the later of the two, from 1994. Labelled as a comedy-drama, it was his only film so far to be shot entirely in Taiwan.

The title is a quote from the Book of Rites, one of the Confucian classics, referring to the basic human desires and accepting them as natural. The beginning of the quote reads as follows: "The things which men greatly desire are comprehended in food and drink and sexual pleasure."

    Mr. Chu is a semi-retired chef—a widower with three very dissimilar daughters. Jia-Jen is the eldest. She (supposedly) had a failed love affair years ago, and now has resigned herself to an unmarried life. She is a teacher and devout Christian. She is also devoted to her father. Jia-Chien is a workaholic for an airlines company, spending much of her life at her office, and not only for business. She can't tolerate life at home. She secretly has invested in a new apartment complex being built (supposedly). The youngest is Jia-Ning, who works at a fast-food restaurant while she goes to college.
    As the story progresses, we see each of the sisters grow into something other than they were, and no one ends up where we expect. But meanwhile, they all have to endure the Sunday feasts prepared by their father, who is losing his sense of taste. And I guess this would be the best place to insert my feelings about this film, and why I would never watch it, and had I been in a theater showing it, I would have walked out.
    According to the script, Mr. Chu kills animals—fish, chickens—on screen and cuts them up and cooks them. When I read it the first time, I am certain I was naïve enough to think that they really didn't use real, live animals. I mean, people get killed, beaten and all kinds of other horrible things happen on film, but none of it is real, right? But in the case of animals, it often is. I don't know about this film, all I know is that the script has Mr. Chu killing and preparing animals to eat, which I found sickening.
    Recently I read Save the Animals: 101 Easy Things You Can Do, by Ingrid Newkirk, Founder and President of PETA. In Chapter 38 "Silver Scream," she relates specific movies that killed, maimed, tortured, or worked to death animals, including cats, horses, monkeys, and numerous other animals. Please, do not patronize films that engage in cruelty to animals!
    In any case, that really turned me off to this script, otherwise I would have liked it. So I will just say a bit more about it. And it is full of unexpected twists and turns. One of the daughters is led to believe that her friend is just leading her "boyfriend" on, and really doesn't love him. At least that"s what her friend tells her. So she, the daughter, ends up dating him. It is all revealed at a family meal, when she announces she will be moving out to live with her boyfriend because she's pregnant. Of course, her friend is livid, telling her she really did love him, but was playing "hard to get." Well, that's what you get for playing games with people.
    Jia-Chien finds out that the apartment complex she invested in was a sham, and she has lost all her money. But she is offered a really good promotion. She turns it down, and as the story progresses, we learn a great deal more about her that changes our first impressions. And as for the eldest, she makes perhaps the most surprising decision. Well. No. It is Mr. Chu who shocks them all.
    They have a neighbor, Jin-Rong, who has a daughter, Shan-Shan, and who is going through a nasty divorce. Mr. Chu loves them both, and when he realizes Shan-Shan's packed lunches are pretty bad, he begins secretly packing her lunch, which her schoolmates always want her to share. And to make matters worse for Jin-Rong, her obnoxious and overbearing mother moves back to Taiwan from American, where she was living with Jin-Rong's sister. All they did was fight. When Mrs. Liang returns, she and Mr. Chu begin spending quite a bit time together. Ha! It's not what we think! And on that, I will end.
    And now on to The Wedding Banquet, a romantic comedy produced in 1993. And in spite of its title, it really isn't about food. It takes place in NYC, and is about a gay couple, Wai-Tung, a Taiwanese-American, and Simon, a White American. It is really very funny. All Wai-Tung's father wants is a grandchild, so he and Wai-Tung's mother keep enrolling him in these dating services. They live in Taiwan, and have no idea their son is gay. So he and Simon fill out the forms, making up impossible demands for his "perfect mate." Unfortunately, the service does find a woman who fits them, but she understands Wai-Tung's situation, because she already has a relationship with a White man, and doesn't want her parents to know about that.
    Then Simon comes up with the great (not) idea, that Wai-Tung should "marry" his tenant, Wei-Wei, an impoverished artist from mainland China who needs a green card. Little do they know that Wai-Tung's parents plan to come for the wedding. They are terribly disappointed that the marriage is done by a Justice of the Peace, and does not include a ceremony.
    But later as they are dining, they discover the restaurant is owned by an old friend of Mr. Gao—Commander Gao—whom he served under in the military. He insists on throwing a wedding banquet for the Commander's son and "wife." In following traditional "rites" everyone gets drunk. Even though Wai-Tung doesn't want to drink, everyone insists. In continuing with the rites, a whole group of "friends" follow them up to their room, where they are made to get under the covers and strip. Finally everyone leaves, but things are already out of hand, and Wei-Wei ends up—oops—pregnant. Then we get to see how everyone deals with it.
    Anyways, this is a delightful script, and I would imagine the movie is even funnier.

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