RIP Edward Yang

I’ve already written about the bizarre convergence of Edward Yang, Bob Lobel and myself on a radio talk show in 2000 when I discussed the year’s movies with the popular WBZ sports reporter. Asked by the moderator what my favorite movie of the year was, I bolded pronounced, “Yi Yi.” “'Yi Yi?’” scoffed Lobel, incredulously. “’YI YI?’”

I assumed from his tone of voice that he didn’t agree with me. In fact, I’d venture to say he hadn’t even seen it, or even heard of the movie. Which is a shame, because he might have liked it. At first glance, Taiwanese  director Edward Yang’s masterpiece would seem a pinhead film elitist’s dream come true: “funny” title, subtitles, three hours long, winner at the Cannes Festival, choice of the National Film Critics Society for Best Picture of the year. In fact, though, “Yi Yi” is about as mainstream as you can get, illuminating, celebrating, and rendering with utter authenticity the lives of a typical middle class family, Bob Lobel’s demographic completely. They just happen to live in Taipei.

Well maybe with the increased numbers of Asian players in baseball (the Yankees’ ace Chien-Ming Wang hails from Taiwan) Bob might be less dismissive of  “Yi Yi” and check out the recent DVD from Criterion. As for Yang, sad to say, “Yi Yi” was his last movie; he died of colon cancer on June 29 at the age of 59.

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