On Saturday we caught a preview of the new Ang Lee film, Lust, Caution.
1. It’s gorgeous to behold. Shanghai in WWII is recreated in fabulous detail, like a killer Vogue spread.
2. The posters state that the previews show the uncut, R-18 version, which suggests that the movie will be cut/censored and the graphic sex scenes deleted, and therefore serious filmgoers/viewers curious about the sex scenes should run to the previews before the censors/distributors seeking a wider audience get their scissors on the integral version. A clever ploy, because there is no other version, no pale truncated R-13 movie; Ang Lee does not allow cuts. Lust, Caution will be shown whole, or it will not be shown at all. [Oops. Just heard that Ang Lee cut a few minutes for the versions to be screened in China and Malaysia.]
3. It’s gorgeous to behold. The cinematography is by Rodrigo Prieto.
4. Lust, Caution, also known as Tony Leung, Leehom Wang.
5. I could not forget Anthony Lane’s review in The New Yorker, where he points out that the grappling begins 95 minutes into the movie. So when the first, brutal sex takes place, we checked our watches. Lane is correct. 95 minutes, then five minutes after that, then ten minutes.
6. Many critics found the movie too slow, but we found the long build-up to be perfectly justified, no, necessary. Juan notes that several American critics, including Roger Ebert, were confused as to which scenes happened in Hong Kong, which scenes in Shanghai. Pay attention, people.
7. It’s gorgeous to behold. The leads look amazing. Tang Wei in her first screen role: a star. Leehom Wang: beautiful. Tony Leung: older, not particularly handsome, not the charmer of the Wong Kar Wai movies, but scorching.
8. Long discussion over whether the sex was simulated or real.
9. The plot reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains. Interesting to compare Hollywood’s take on the female spy and Ang Lee’s, which is based on a story by Eileen Chang, who was married to a Japanese collaborator, and which was inspired by actual events. In Lust, Caution, the spy likes watching Cary Grant movies.
10. I found the movie both cold and intense, a combination only masters can achieve. Ang Lee’s trademark: the passion that kills.