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Memoirs of a Geisha (DVD, 2007, Canadian...
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Created: 03/30/06

Memoirs of a Geisha

Chicago director Rob Marshall's pretty but empty (or pretty empty) film has all the elements of an Oscar® contender: solid adaptation (from Arthur Golden's bestseller), beautiful locale, good acting, lush cinematography. But there's something missing at the heart, which leaves the viewer sucked in, then left completely detached from what's going on.
It's hard to find fault with the fascinating story, which traces a young girl's determination to free herself from the imprisonment of scullery maid to geisha, then from the imprisonment of geisha to a woman allowed to love. Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo), a young girl with curious blue eyes, is sold to a geisha house and doomed to pay off her debt as a cleaning girl until a stranger named The Chairman (Ken Watanabe) shows her kindness. She is inspired to work hard and become a geisha in order to be near the Chairman, with whom she has fallen in love. An experienced geisha (Michelle Yeoh) chooses to adopt her as an apprentice and to use as a pawn against her rival, the wicked, legendary Hatsumomo (Gong Li). Chiyo (played as an older woman by Ziyi Zhang), now renamed Sayuri, becomes the talk of the town, but as her path crosses again and again with the Chairman's, she finds the closer she gets to him the further away he seems. Her newfound "freedom" turns out to be trapping, as men are allowed to bid on everything from her time to her virginity.

Some controversy swirled around casting Chinese actresses in the three main Japanese roles, but Zhang, Yeoh and Gong in particular ably prove they're the best for the part. It's admirable that all the actors attempted to speak Japanese-accented English, but some of the dialogue will still prove difficult to understand; perhaps it contributes to some of the emotion feeling stilted. Geisha has all the ingredients of a sweeping, heartbreaking epic and follows the recipe to a T, but in the end it's all dressed up with no place to go.--

6 of 12 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 03/30/06

Memoirs of a Geisha (2006, DVD)

DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Commentary by director Rob Marshall and co-producer John DeLuca
Production Commentary by Costume Design Colleen Atwood, Production Design John Myhre and Editor Pietro Scalia
"Sayuri's Other Journey: From the Novel to the Screen" featurette - Novelist Arthur Golden and the filmmakers discuss the 8-year journey of turning the best-selling book into an award winning film.
"The Road to Japan" featurette - the filmmakers travel to Japan to experience the places in Kyoto that are featured in the book and discuss the challenges of shooting in some of JapanÂ’s most sacred locations.
"Geisha Bootcamp" featurette - A behind the scenes look at how the actresses learned the art of becoming geisha.
"Building the Hanamachi" featurette - Recreating the entire village of old Kyoto in a pasture in Southern California.
"The Look of a Geisha" featurette - The most famous Geisha were considered to be the supermodels of their time, learn the ancient secrets and modern twists to creating their hair, makeup and wardrobe for the film.
"The Music of Memoirs" featurette - John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman discuss the creative process of composing the Golden Globe® winning score.
"A GeishaÂ’s Dance" featurette - We'll follow the entire process of staging these dances, from research into authentic geisha dance (illustrated with the archival footage that served as inspiration) through conception, casting sessions, rehearsals, on-the-set rehearsals, filming, and the final version in the movie.
"The World of the Geisha" featurette - A look at the history of this secret world, from its ancient origins up to the geisha of today.
"The Way of the Sumo" featurette - Explore the fascinating history of this ancient sport and meet some of todayÂ’s Sumo Wrestling champions.
"Rob Marshall" featurette - An in-depth look at Director Rob Marshall
"A Day with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa" featurette - World-renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa discusses his role in Memoirs and shares some of his favorite recipes.

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Created: 06/30/06

The book is so much better !!!!

'Memoirs of a Geisha' is an amazing novel, and having heard it was going to be made into a film starring Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li (one of my favourite actresses) I was very excited. What I found was a very stylish, beautifully shot costume drama that ultimately didn't have a lot to show for itself.

The novel has a brilliant story and wonderful characters, but in this film the whole story was rushed and condensed, big parts of the novel were missing, and generally the way it was filmed seemed more focused on beautiful imagery and fancy direction rather than intimate storytelling. As a result, it didn't create anything like the drama of the book and I just felt that it was all style and no substance.

In terms of acting, I feel that the film would have been better if they'd had Japanese actresses speaking their own language, or possibly Asian actresses who at least had a good grasp of English. It's not a great thing to say, but the fact is with acting you need to be able to use language effectively, and none of the actors in this film could do that. Their speech was slow, stunted and often mispronounced or misinterpreted words. I'm sure they're good actresses, but just the difficulty with which they spoke the language came across heavily on screen and I felt this crippled the drama somewhat.

That said, I feel that 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is a very mediocre film. If you haven't read the book, than you may like it, if so then you're going to be seriously disappointed. This is an artistic, elaborate showcase of a film, it's not about people, the story is just a very mellow version of the book and the characters are butchered by actresses who can barely communicate coherently. It's all about pretty costumes and make-up and I left the cinema feeling very disappointed.

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Created: 12/09/06

Historical Romance in Japan

I had read the book and was fascinated by the history of this Geisha's life. A simple poor country girl sold to a Geisha house, we travel with her through her trials & virtual slavery to becoming #1 Geisha, always seeking to be near the one man who showed her kindness, through WWII and until she eventually is united with her love, and travels to the USA to live. Besides being an historical romance/drama--this movie makes a statement on the value placed on women, or should I say lack of proper value--the main women portrayed here are not free to pursue their desires, they are indentured servants to their Geisha House, playing pretty for drooling men to admire, giving up home, husband & child, for a bit of attention, a few bowls of rice, a mat to sleep on. Tragic in many ways, the life of the Geisha should not be over romanticized. Perhaps it was the only way for many women of this era to exist, but what a price.
Though I love this movie, and it is beautiful and well acted, with gorgeous attention to costumes, sets & settings, it does not have the depth and detail that the book has. Putting that aside, I highly recommend both the book & the movie--though Suyuri's town is a set--who would know until one watched the special features?
Very well done in every way, for a visual feast--great acting--compelling story--read & view:"Memoirs of a Geisha."

2 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 01/05/07

Disappointing...

I loved the book and have huge portions committed to memory. This book inspired me to do additional research on Geisha and I have become very interested in the subject. So when I heard the movie was finally coming out after 4 years in Deveopment Hell, I was very excited. At least I was until I went to see it. What a disaster! Don't get me wrong. It's a very pretty movie. The costumes are lovely and mostly accurate and the music was fantastic.
However, the actually script was a mess. The movie was about 1/3 portions of the book, mixed with random stuff some writers thought up sandwiched by drivel. "Memoirs of a Geisha" as it was originally written was a Best Picture shoe-in and all the writers had to do was follow that template, but somebody got the bright idea to color outside the lines and the movie version is what we are left with. Hatsumomo, a brilliantly written, world-class self destructive manipulator and reduced to a 2 dimensional charicature of herself, as is Mameha. Sayuri is about 1/2 right. Overall, it was a very disappointing effort. In 10 years, I hope someone remakes this movie as it should have been made the first time.
If you want to know what life as a Geisha during the 1930's and 40's was actually like, read the books "Geisha" by Liza Dalby and "Autobiography Of a Geisha" by Sayo Masuda.

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Created: 06/08/07

ZHANG ZIYI & GONG LI ! HEAVEN !!!

6 Academy Awards, This time well earned. I bought 5 copies 2 on ebay,for different versions and because its a wonderful movie. A hard truthful look at the ethics of Asian culture. The accolades are all true in this case. Visually stunning, great directing, all these elements are there; however the awesome acting in this movie is why you buy it. Gong Li (Miami Vice) exudes bitterness to a tee. The sulking, meaness,and the on going game playing keeps your attention, as does the settings and beautiful women. The whole movie comes together for me, in a scene when Ziyi Zhang and Ken Wantanabe meet, the eyes of Ziyi Zhang and the emotion she shows; is why she is in my top five all time great performances; because of this movie I now have an extensive Asian movie collection.I hope you enjoy this beautiful movie as much as I did.

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Created: 09/06/09

A vivid view of a past oriental culture!

A stunningly beautiful film brought to justice on the Blu ray format. I can see why it won an Oscar for Cinematography and was nominated in many other categories. Great costumes, set decoration, and lighting. Using original Japanese locations was a masterful touch. Involving, multi-layered performances from the principal actors brought this fictional story to life. Worthy addition to a Blu ray collection!

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Created: 10/08/06

Memoirs of a geisha

Oh my god this is the best movie I have ever seen. It is my lifetime favorite. This movie depicts the strange yet intriguing past of a real life geisha. It has inspired me to learn everything possible about the history of geisha and I think I know it all now. Did you know that the first known geisha were actually men? Anyways this movie shows the beautiful countryside of Japan and will even teach you some Japanese language and traditions. Most of the movie is in english but they also use the Japanese language throughout it aswell, but I promise it is not hard to follow the dialogue at all. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and thirst for more knowledge about the elegant artisans called geisha. The inspiration for this movie was given to the creator by a real geisha who retired long ago but she is now said to be shunned by the working and retired geisha to this day because the secret life of a geisha was kept secret for thousands of years and was meant to stay that way ... sources say that the loose-lipped geisha had filed a lawsuit against the author because he was not supposed to reveal the secrets she had told him. See this movie- You will never be able to get closer to the beauty and art of a geisha, nor the gorgeous 'land of the rising sun' that is unless you travel to Japan yourself. I still cry to this day when I watch certain scenes and I have seen it plenty of times. I also bought several copies and gave them to my girlfriends who enjoy it just as much as I did.

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Created: 10/05/06

The Special Features were great, but not the movie

This is Rob Marshall's entrance into the life of Japan's geishas, just as his movie "Chicago" investigated the life of that city in the early 1920s. He is an amazing director, being able to get into the thick and thin of what he is trying to cover. The movie is breathtakingly done; only big screen TV does it justice. However, the story is confusing to this American who never had any idea of Japanese customs or lingo. Also, the actual story almost put me to sleep until the end, when surprisingly everything worked out.

I bought the DVD with two disks from half.com. The special features disk is so good!! It demonstrates how such a production requires a HUGE amount of money and research and tests the abilities of costumers, make-up, and film producers. My purchase was worth the Special Features disk after watching a ho-hum movie.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 06/10/06

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs is a solid film, and it is worth watching. Memoirs shares the story of a young girl Chiyo who is sold into slavery because her parents can't afford to keep her. From there, the picture follows her struggles as she strives to be the greatest geisha in all of Japan. The costuming in the film is spectacular, as well as the score produced by John Williams. However, despite the great costuming and music, the film has some drawbacks. Since the film is done in English, instead of Japanese, the silent scenes are better acted. Also, the movie drags a bit, and it gets long. Overall, it is a solid picture and I give it a B.

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