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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Memoirs of a Geisha (review)

Asian Buffet

Ever been to Epcot Center at Disney World? I love the Japanese pavilion — it’s so exotic. It’s exactly like being in Asia, you know, but without all the mess and inconvenience of traveling, and also there’s no funny foreign people around. And there’s this lady that sells red bean cakes right totally there (by the little booth with the disposable cameras with the old-timey-photographer Mickey Mouse on them). Yum. You should definitely check it out.
Or, if a trip to Orlando is too much hassle, just pop into Memoirs of a Geisha, cuz it’s totally, like, Japanesey. Except what’s really cool is that it’s like those all-you-can-eat Asian buffets, where they’ve got a little bit of chow mein and a little bit of tempura — mmm, deep-fried — but nothing, like, too strange and yucky like sushi. Like, it’s Asian enough to be cool, like Hello Kitty, but not so alien that you’re like, Huh? It’s so neat how director Rob Marshall (Chicago) cast, like, Chinese actors as the Japanese geisha girls and then — and this is really neat part — had them all speak American, so the movie wouldn’t be too hard for people. Who wants to read at the movies, anyway, like what they have to do when the people in the movie don’t talk normal? (Though maybe it would have been even better if Marshall had just hired regular people to play the characters, because it’s hard sometimes to understand what they’re saying. It’s almost like they don’t really know how to speak American, which would be weird.)

But every once in a while someone says hai — I had to look that up, because it sounds like “hi,” only they’re not saying “hello,” it means “yes” or “okay” in Japanish — or arigato, which means “thank you,” which gives you a real feeling of what it must have been like in old Japan, especially with all the pretty paper lanterns hanging around, and the beautiful kimonos the girls all wear. Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers, Hero) is soooo pretty as Sayuri, the geisha girl with blue eyes… which means I guess she’s the exotic one in her own exotic land! (Wow, that almost makes my head explode!) And she gets to wear that white face makeup and spin delicate umbrellas around over her shoulder, and so of course the rich and powerful “Chairman” falls in love with her. Ken Watanabe (who we already knew could speak American cuz he did in Batman Begins and The Last Samurai) plays the Chairman, and he’s soo handsome, so Sayuri falls in love with him too! But she can’t have him, cuz that’s not what geishas are supposed to do, or something, and it’s all very sad and tragic. Oh, and it’s also World War II, so with all the bombs and soldiers and stuff, it’s like, nobody gets to do what they want with their lives, cuz everyone is noble and dedicated. I’m not quite sure what they’re dedicated to, but you can really tell by how serious everyone is.

Maybe I should read the book before I see the movie again and that will help me understand — but ugh! Reading again! No thank you! It doesn’t really matter, anyway: what’s important is that Memoirs of a Geisha is a great movie and makes you understand history without being like a class in school — it’s Hollywood history, which is the best kind! And the movie is very sleek and shiny, like a magazine (magazines are okay to read because they’re mostly pictures anyway!). You know how magazines make people and clothes and the whole world look more beautiful than they really are, and how magazines have all the right and perfect and easy answers even for really hard questions? (I bet Cosmo would have the right answer for Sayuri if she asked them about who she should sell her virginity to, like she does in the movie!) Well, Memoirs of a Geisha is like that. This movie totally deserves, like, Oscars and stuff.

MPAA: rated PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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