would be a bit intimidating to shoot a documentary focusing on a master
cinematographer, but fortunately Kwan Pung-leung is no slouch. Both he and his
subject, Mark Lee Ping-Bing, subbed for Christopher Doyle on Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love when previous
commitments forced the Australian Hong Konger to leave the fifteen-month
production. Kwan and his co-director Chiang Hsiu-chiung capture some good light
as well as an appealing portrait of Lee in Let
the Wind Carry Me (trailer
here), which screens as part of Luminosity, MoMA’s retrospective tribute to Mark Lee Ping-Bing.
was so fierce for a training position with Taiwan’s Central Motion Pictures
Company (CMPC), Lee was initially wait-listed. Lee considers it fate that he
ultimately wriggled into a spot—and it is hard to argue with him, considering
the work that was to come. Initially, he worked on action films, but the
run-and-gun approach to genre filmmaking would serve him well on the underdog
auteurist films he would make with the likes of Hou Hsiao-hsien.
was pretty much the cinematographer of the Taiwanese New Wave, but he has since
become the D.P. of choice for celebrated filmmakers around the world. It says a
lot about Lee’s rep that Chiang and Kwan secured on-cameras with such cinematic
luminaries, including Hou, Wong, Tran Anh Hung, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Gilles
Bourdos, and Jiang Wen. Frankly, they mostly talk to directors, but if you are
going to talk to only one or two actorly types, Shu Qi and Sylvia Chang are
Wind, we also get a good sense of Lee as a man and a co-worker on-set. From
what Chiang and Kwan present, he seems like the big, quiet rock providing a
stabilizing influence on each production. He is also good to his mother, so
what’s not to like?
Kwan, Chiang, and Kwan’s co-editor Hsu Hung-yuan
liberally illustrate Wind with clips
from Lee’s film’s that are either iconic or telling in some way. Kwan’s own
cinematography meshes well with Lee’s visuals, which is frankly pretty
impressive. The end product is a classy film about a classy artist. Recommended
rather enthusiastically for students of cinema, Let the Wind Carry Me screens this Sunday (6/19) and Monday the 27th
as part of Luminosity at MoMA.
Labels: Documentary, Mark Lee Ping-Bing, Taiwanese Cinema