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Old 12-17-2005, 02:26 PM
Rick Nebiolo Rick Nebiolo is offline
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Location: Los Angeles
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Default Re: Memiors of a Geisha - The Book

I bought it for my gf for Christmas but ended up starting it myself a few days ago. Excellent read so far, I'd recommend it.

User movie reviews on Yahoo were interesting. Got a lot of flack from Japanese, usually not a good sign. It seems most of the flack concerned using Chinese actors for the two main Geisha.

~ Rick
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Old 12-17-2005, 04:56 PM
stabn stabn is offline
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Default Re: Memiors of a Geisha - The Book

I loved the book when i read it a few weeks ago. But if the book doesn't really interest you i'd just watch the movie to check out zhang ziyi again.
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Old 12-17-2005, 05:02 PM
private joker private joker is offline
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Default Re: Memiors of a Geisha - The Book

I haven't read the book either. But the movie is pretty lame; middle-class date-movie chick flick with barely an ounce of artistic integrity and a lot of bogus crap. Here's my review, if this helps you at all (there are no spoilers):

Ah, America. Leave it to the red, white, and blue to produce such an excessively Western treatment of an ostensibly Oriental story. Rob Marshall’s follow up to his very American Chicago is like eating at P.F. Chang’s – it looks Chinese, but it never threatens to give us anything we don’t recognize. What’s that you say? The film is Japanese, not Chinese? Well you wouldn’t know it looking at the cast: the three lead women are Chinese superstars – the only one missing is Maggie Cheung. But I won’t dwell on the fact that they’re playing Japanese in this film: the point is the entire piece is so stealthily Americanized that it shouldn’t matter. The target audience for Memoirs of a Geisha is the white housewife in Wisconsin who can’t tell the difference between Kung Pao and yellowtail sashimi – she just likes the pretty gowns.

What’s worth discussing here is the central storyline, which might as well be a Michelle Pfeiffer melodrama about Kentucky and sewing. As long as the point is still about dysfunctional families, women growing up alone/orphaned/abused, then searching for love in all the wrong places – especially in the men who would die to be their father figures. Usually the female protagonist here is a hooker or drug addict. Marshall’s film has the control to point out the subtle differences between a geisha and a prostitute. Nevertheless, once again our storied abused teenager is thrust into a world she didn’t ask for, finds her way, and desperate to cling to a paternal figure that can own her heart.

Enter Ken Watanabe’s character (a Japanese actor!), who has a nice pederast scene early on where his condescending treatment of 9 year-old Sayuri foreshadows their future romance. For the girl’s part, she spends her life determined to enter into this baggage-drenched relationship, despite the film’s insistence that such a result would be a happy ending. Where some shrinks would prescribe 15 years of therapy to the abused young girl, sold by her parents into slavery and in love with a man 30 years her senior, Marshall shows us that in this exotic world of make-up and dance, women cannot afford to get what they want. But if they do, dreams come true.

Technically, the film is tireless and formulaic in its competence. Marshall’s direction and editing consists of a steady stream of scenes that follow a rhythmic broken record: master shot -> over the shoulders -> close up -> wide, dissolve to next scene. Rinse and repeat. Over these coffee-table visuals we get some of the lamest voice-over this side of Panda Express: “My life was a game, and only she knew the rules.”

Rising above the material is Gong Li, who rarely stoops to material like this – but not only is her English delivery exceptional, her intensity is unmatched and undeserving of this feature. She blows her fellow cast members away even when her role involves little more than the female Japanese version of twirling a mustache. Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh and Watanabe are also perfectly fine, as they struggle with the illogic of speaking English in Japan. If subtitles were good and profitable enough for Mel Gibson, why wouldn’t they be good enough for Marshall? I haven’t read the source material upon which this film is based, but I can’t imagine it’s a great deal better; unless the filmmakers stripped away everything completely, it’s clear that the reason the novel was such a smash best-seller in the United States is that it echoes what so many Westerners go through every day. The kimonos and fans are just surface dressing: this is about Love Me Daddy, and that hits right in the heart of southern Illinois, upstate New York, and west Texas. Can I have a cheeseburger with those noodles?

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Old 12-17-2005, 06:02 PM
theBruiser500 theBruiser500 is offline
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Default Re: Memiors of a Geisha - The Book

Dude, the book Memoirs of a Geisha is amazing. If you start reading it you won't be able to put it down and will finish it rather quickly. Also, the movie will be crap compared to the book. That is what I'd hope you'd think. On the other hand you might be other kind of person with no taste for movies and books. You do seem pretty excited about seeing the movie and not so interested in the book.
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