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07 Dezember 2005

Muddled Memoirs of that Geisha

Based on my viewing of the trailers that pop up on TV for "Memoirs of a Geisha", I can already anticipate my beef with this film, namely that the two female leads are not Japanese and thus...totally DO NOT LOOK Japanese at all.

A non-Japanese geisha? Holy Madame Butterly Syndrome, this is Most Interesting!

I hereby fie on all the 'Oscar buzz' that I'm hearing surrounding this film. And on a side note, is it just me, or is just about EVERY film coming out now the " that critics are saying has Oscar written ALL over it...!" Anything to get us in the theaters during this year bereft of outstanding Hollywood films. These kind of advertising tags are right up there with "The E.R. episode ALL of America will be talking about...!" or, Starbucks red Christmas (sorry, holiday) cups, or 'limited edition' bacon burgers from any fast food joint. Make us think we need it! Make us think we need it!

But don't think we are totally ignorant.

While I do not doubt that "Memoirs..." will be well done and well received because the book was so popular (does that make me sound like I've read it? Because I haven't..) not to mention that leads Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang are stellar actresses, it is going to be odd to see (totally Chinese) Ziyi playing a chick named "Sayuri" (totally Japanese).

Call me a crazy gaijin, but I imagine, at least initially, having a hard time watching non-Japanese geishas on screen. Or should I say non-Japanese women playing geishas. "Get over it, open your mind!" you may be thinking. I would if I could cast away the thought that by selecting non-Japanese leads the director may inadvertently pander to some peoples' view that 'oh all Asians look the same'.


Maybe the casting is a we-are-the-world attempt to mitigate current Sino-Japanese relations? Or perhaps more focused on the potential box office draw, where exec producers just said "Get big Asian names to rope 'em in!" and well, Yeoh and Ziyi are big, so...maybe there you go.

Maybe it's like French super actress Sophie Marceu being passed over for Audrey Too-Too for the role of the French inspectress in "The Da Vinci Code". Sophie is the perfect age and has that je ne sais quoi sexysmart look for the role. En fait, as soon as I read the book I thought "Insert Sophie here if they make a film!". Auds is a talent, but desole', baby, too young and too cutesy to be kicking rear in internationally mysterious capers. She does have that whole "Amelie" thing going for her, though. Come to think of it, I also think Tom Hanks is just too overexposed and boring for the lead in "Code", but Ron Howard missed my phone call about that one.

So back to the geisha girls: are there non-Japanese geishas in real life?

Uh oh, just what I need, another hobby inquiry which might best be explored with a solid research question supported by empirical data.

Must get back to actual research questions I am supposedly working on. That is, after I complete my piles of end-of-semester grading madness. Yeah, that's the ticket. Anyway, it's not like I have time to go to the cinema at the moment, but I just thought I'd rant a tad. Oh wait, this particluar film isn't even out yet. Hope I haven't influenced how you're going to view it, that'd be freaky-deaky.

OK, as you were....