Monday, January 02, 2006

eyeCandy: Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) 4/5

First of all - Happy New Year to everyone out there! I've been away for the past couple of weeks, making posting difficult, but I'm back and am rarin' to go for 2006. So on to my first post of the year...

Memoirs of a Geisha is a gorgeous, gorgeous movie. It depicts the life of a young girl who is removed from her family and raised to become a geisha in early 20th century Japan. The story follows her separation from her sister (not deemed attractive enough to be geisha), her challenges as she grows to maturity in the geisha house (a very competitive environment at times), the changes wrought by the Second World War, and her attempts to deal with a love that cannot be. I will leave the details at that so as not to give away any surprises.

Geisha, which translates from Japanese roughly as "person of the arts", were female "entertainers" who, from a young age, were highly trained in artistic and social skills to entertain men (including dance, conversation, musical performance, ceremonial arts - it's worth noting that having sex was not their primary concern). Memoirs outlines this training and includes several effective demonstrations of the lead's mastery of these arts, the most poignant being her breathtaking snow-dance.

Story-wise, the movie occasionally departs from Arthur Golden's popular novel of the same name and the subject material seems to be viewed through a lens which obscures some of the negative aspects of the historical life of a geisha. However, when it comes to visual presentation, the movie is essentially flawless. Director Rob Marshal (of 2002's "Chicago") has crafted a film that, despite having a story that might not appeal to all and that doesn't always "gel", is sumptuous to observe. Scenery, sets, costumes, lighting, and, of course, the beautiful lead actresses (who look absolutely stunning in their kimonos, white face make-up, etc.) combine in every scene to create a powerful and exotic setting around which the plot flows. Indeed, I enjoyed watching this movie as much (and maybe more) for this incredible attention to detailed design (in addition to the fine acting by Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Ken Watanabe) as for the story itself.

It seems to me that the world of the geisha presented here might never have existed in this way but (despite the obvious hardships) it is certainly a beautiful dream.
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1/02/2006 04:08:00 p.m.  


Anonymous John said...

Happy New Year!

January 02, 2006 6:32 p.m.  

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