DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Film Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

"A story like mine has never been told."

Memoirs of a Geisha (12a)
Dir. Rob Marshall

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

I confess right away that I was not born into the life of a Geisha, for that I am grateful but to be honest I don’t think I have the legs for it anyway… The Japanese Geisha girls were not courtesans, they were not wives, they were a unique kind of companion tasked with creating a secret world, a place only of beauty. The very word "Geisha" means ’artist‘ and to be a Geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art. Rob ‘Chicago’ Marshall’s film version really captures this. Helped in no little measure by having the gorgeous Ziyi Zhang in the lead role of Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha has some of the most beautiful screen imagery ever committed to film.

Based on the international best selling novel by Arthur Golden, the film doesn’t strive for anything deep or very meaningful but does manage to deliver a strong love story set in a world which has mostly past into legend now.
As a visual experience Memoirs of a Geisha conjures up words like sumptuous, seductive and striking. The sets, the costumes, the acting – all blend into a wonderful picture book that will leave its imprint on your mind’s eye. Ken Watanabe takes a break from his recent action roles in Batman Begins and Last Samurai to be the iconic ‘Chairman’ – the man who wins the heart of Sayuri. But the course of true love never runs straight (or easy) and the villain of the piece is the hate filled Hatsumomo played by the lovely Li Gong, back on screen again soon in the new Miami Vice film. Here though she is an older rival Geisha who does all she can to break Sayuri’s spirit, and the resulting emotional battle of wills between the two leading ladies is quite something to behold. At points you can almost feel Zhang struggling not to launch into one of her martial arts combat moves which she excelled at in films like ‘House of Flying Daggers’. I had the chance to talk to her at the press conference for Memoirs of a Geisha and asked which was tougher – the fighting or the Geisha training. She told me “I think to be a Geisha is harder.” And after watching the film you may well believe her!

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (a simple but tasty oriental treat)

Matt Adcock meets Ziyi Zhang

"Ziyi was hot but hadn't quite got the hang of the YMCA dance..."

Earlier post about the Geisha including some lovely photos of Ziyi Zhang

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

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