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Thread: Memoirs of a Geisha

  1. #26
    Venerable Buruburu buruburu's Avatar
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    That's a quite untertaining book,

    I will remember the "game of truth". To keep the audience attention on, Gaishas use sometime this technique. By turns,each participants should tell two stories: one is supposedto be true the other is supposed to be false; The other participants have to find which of the two versions is true. Meditate on it
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  2. #27
    Junior Member madp's Avatar
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    i found this in the school library a month ago... it is so interesting I read it in two days~ The story is realistic indeed, but I feel the after-war description is not as detailed and descriptive as the first part of the novel.

  3. #28
    Banned Onigiri Chan's Avatar
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    I agree with you Madp, it really seems that the end of the book was written in more of a hurry and with much less detail then the first half.

  4. #29
    Bibliophile Ravenwood's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    Book good. Film bad.

    And I was very disappointed that Chinese actors were cast.

  5. #30
    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
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    I read this novel, and what I really liked was Golden's insight on some aspects of Japanese culture.
    "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
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  6. #31
    Ȃ hamutha's Avatar
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    great novel. the story was awsome. But i kinda dissappoint with the film...it have much less details than the novels. not so bad film i guess, Gong Li was awsome in her performance

  7. #32
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    I have it in my shelve - it's one of my favorites. Haven't seen the flick yet though.

  8. #33
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    You should not read the book before watching the movie...lol otherwise you will get disappointed.

    Almost all the movies ruin the original works.

  9. #34
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    I saw the movie last night and was rather impressed, it wasn't that bad as I imagined.One thing that annoyed me was the rather poor English, they might as well make the movie in Japanese with Japanese actors if the result is the same
    The storyline was good so I think that's what makes the movie worth watching.
    8 points out of 10
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  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    I saw the movie last night and was rather impressed, it wasn't that bad as I imagined.One thing that annoyed me was the rather poor English, they might as well make the movie in Japanese with Japanese actors if the result is the same
    The storyline was good so I think that's what makes the movie worth watching.
    8 points out of 10

    WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT???? I think you said WAY SOMETHING ELSE LAST NIGHT!!!!!

  11. #36
    I Love Pocky. shamisen's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Because of its intricate method of writing that made the story seem real, I never thought the whole book was solely fiction until I read the editor's note at the very end of the book It felt like every single thing that I found astonishing (since I thought it was real) in the story was taken back, but nevertheless a very good read. I don't remember myself yawning at any point as I do otherwise to any other book. It takes great writing creativity and a deep sense of curiosity to drive you through the last page.

  12. #37
    Junior Member Himiko's Avatar
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    I've heard this book is really good, and I've now seen some of my friends reading it. I agree with you, Maci! I'm really interested in Japan's culture and tradition, and am very sad that it was all bulldozed 100 years ago. I feel I really ought to check this book out.

  13. #38
    Regular Member Han Chan's Avatar
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    I saw the film and except some beautiful images I found it tasteless and boring. As the book does not have any pictures I do not think that I will waste any time on trying to read what I understand as a "middle-aged American man's fantasy".
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  14. #39
    Regular Member kashiya's Avatar
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    I enjoyed only one part of the film, which was about 5 min long - when they were doing Chiyos make-up. I found that there was way too little of the gei... How could sm, who didn't read the book understand the meaning of the scene when Sayuri puts her fingers into the ice and plays afterwards on the shamisen?
    The book was quite amuzing, though I can't figure out what the true ceremony of mizuage looked like - maybe you have a clue? In the Memoirs it was written that they simply slept with eachother, but I read in Liza Dalby's book (I recomend it if you haven't read it - it's the story of an american antropologist, who becomes a Geisha - the only non-Japanese Geisha ever; oh and it's a true story written by the antropologist herself) that it was a ceremony that took several days (I won't go into details). Do you know how it was in fact?

  15. #40
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    I read that book few months ago..and I also think it was really well written. awesome book

  16. #41
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    my mom is reading the book, and she is loving it. she was reading the part about kimono's and their make up. so she got some pictures and just looked at it for minutes haha. Cute

  17. #42
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    I've been told that most japanese reviews were really harsh however... ^^;
    One of the most adventurous things left for us is to go to bed. For no one can lay a hand on our dreams....

  18. #43
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    The movie was a great comedy experience-mainly due to my boyfriends caustic comments about the "middle-aged-white-man-fantasy" aspects!

  19. #44
    Regular Member Yuuwaku's Avatar
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    I got the book on holiday, and read it within a week, though I rather let myself time with reading books. Absolutely love this book. Really well written. Would like to watch the film soon, though I don't think it'll be as good as the book. Really enjoyed reading Memories of a Geisha.
    Don't mind me here... I'm just a statue.

  20. #45
    Regular Member anjusan's Avatar
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    I loved the book and hated the movie...

    @Han Chan - I really like that picture you posted... that fan is cool!
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  21. #46
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    My wife enjoyed the book but thought the film was a little drab.


    Cashman

  22. #47
    Regular Member anjinsan's Avatar
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    Let's remember that Mineko Iwasaki actually trashed this book--she claimed it was not representative of what she had tried to convey to Golden (who, unlike his fictional narrator-within-a-narrator, did not have an extremely close relationship with his subject).
    In particular she said the custom of mizuage did not exist in Gion, and that she never mentioned any of this to Golden. Make of that what you will, but whatever you make of it, it will be speculation.
    I enjoyed the book, too, when I read it a few years ago. The movie was interesting on its own terms--i.e. complete Hollywood fabrication with numbingly unrealistic sequences and improbably beautiful characters.
    Kaori Shoji of the J Times wrote a funny review here.

    EDIT: corrected the Japanese term: Thanks for the shout out, undrentide!
    Last edited by anjinsan; Jul 19, 2006 at 18:39.

  23. #48
    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    ahh, seems that you need a subscription to view the article. Any way you could quote some of it for us?

  24. #49
    Regular Member anjinsan's Avatar
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    The original article is linked to two posts above. (A JT subscription requires only a minute of registration, as annoying as it is.)

    Welcome To Kyoto, California
    by Kaori Shoji
    JAPAN TIMES Thursday, Dec 15, 2005

    It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it. It all strikes me as a bit perverse, though, having me -- a Japanese woman who spent part of her childhood in a hanamachi (geisha district) -- write a review of "Memoirs of a Geisha" (released in Japan as "Sayuri").

    There are just so many things wrong with the whole package, which is plastered with kitschy oriental cliches. We're talking about a Chinese actress speaking in that stilted Hollywood Asian-English (immortalized by Mr. Yuniyoshi in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") in the role of a Japanese geisha during the Sino-Japanese conflict of the 1930s. It's hard to know how to handle this: go ballistic, start apologizing, giggle nervously or what?

    Late into the movie, when American G.I.'s are in control of Kyoto, seasoned geisha Mameha (Michelle Yeoh) wonders out loud to her protege Sayuri (Zhang Ziyi): "What do we know about entertaining Americans?" This pretty much sums it all up. From start to finish, "Memoirs" is hot in pursuit of entertaining a U.S. audience, certain in the conviction that if it can wow the folks in America, it can wow the world.

    And who better to helm such a project than Oscar-winning director Rob Marshall ("Chicago")? Marshall can slap show-biz extravaganza onto the screen like no other; he probably shouts "Give 'em the old razzle dazzle!" in his sleep. And to that end, most of what made Arthur Golden's original novel compelling has been trashed -- stuff like subtlety, historical context and detail. But most jarring of all is the plain-as-day, glaring disrespect for a foreign (as in non-U.S., and as such, incomprehensible) culture. Really, is super-entertainment so important as to justify the trampling of what made the story so fascinating in the first place? Well, according to "Memoirs" that's a resounding "Yeah!"

    Marshall and his crew (and let's not forget that Steven Spielberg is the executive producer) never pause for breath as they bombard us with pathos, intrigue, fury, sex and passion. The capper is a geisha dance scene that's straight out of Broadway. Never mind that no young geisha in the prewar period would wear glitter eye-shadow and dance solo, on a stage with artsy blue lighting, her hair flowing hip and loose and her limbs contorting to snazzy, modern ballet movements.

    In the same way, Marshall turns a renowned Kyoto hanamachi of the 1930s into a cacophonous, chaotic confusion that's more Chinatown, L.A. (or the Hollywood rendition thereof). According to the production notes, Marshall felt that the present-day Kyoto was too "modern," and so he created an impressively colossal geisha-district set in Southern California, complete with tile-roofed houses, wooden bridges and cobblestone streets.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing reeks of a souvenir shop extravaganza, like they upended the shelves of Oriental Bazaar right onto the streets. There's just no regard here for hanamachi aesthetics that disdained all that was obvious, conspicuous or abundant; the atmosphere depended on how much was hidden and how much was subtly suggested. But apparently, that's no way to razzle-dazzle 'em.

    All is not lost, though, for some of Asia's best actresses pull off top-notch performances. Zhang Ziyi is superb as the passive/aggressive Sayuri who was sold by her impoverished parents into an okiya (geisha house) at the age of 9 and, against all odds, flowered into the most celebrated geisha in Kyoto. Zhang adds a cold steeliness to her fragile, demure demeanor, which, of course, is the prerequisite trait of a true geisha.

    The way she can go from casting down her eyes, saying, "Do I please you?" to a wealthy client, to exchanging sarcasm gunfire with older rival Hatsumomo (Gong Li) is excellent.

    But it's Gong who steals every scene she's in, decked out in punkish hairdos and fantastic avant-garde kimono garb that have no connection to historical reality, but look sizzling and, with Marshall-san at the helm, that's all that matters. Sayuri is likened to water ("You have eyes like the rain"), but Hatsumomo is all burning flames. She unleashes her fury against anyone who dares to cross her and is fearless about the consequences.

    Michelle Yeoh is also wonderful as ex-geisha queen Mameha, who takes Sayuri under her wing and coaches her on all aspects of the geisha aesthetics ("For us, pain and beauty always come side by side"). Mameha is, perhaps, the most thankless and difficult character to play, for she must mute her beauty and femininity in order to enhance Sayuri's.

    Yeoh is brave enough to go for camp. The night Mameha auctions off Sayuri's virginity to the highest bidder (a sleazy old doctor), she tells her despairing young disciple in a deeply profound tone, "Celebrate this moment, Sayuri. Tonight, all the lights of the hanamachi burn for you."

    On occasion, "Memoirs" dips into the spirit of the original novel, which stressed, above all, that geisha were not prostitutes but "moving works of art in the floating world." In an age when very few women could find employment, becoming a geisha was practically the only "profession" available, and the okiya the only place where women could live and exist, independent of their families.

    An okiya functioned like any company, and a good geisha was the one who knew how to promote herself, worked hard at pleasing her clients and brought back the earnings (and connections) that would keep her colleagues and the mother-boss, "Okaasan" (played by a stunning Kaori Momoi), fed and clothed.

    Being a geisha was a business, and a ruthless one at that. There was simply no room for concepts like equality, rights and ethics -- either a geisha was good at what she did, in which case she brought success and prosperity to the okiya, or she didn't, and ran the risk of starving.

    Momoi's Okaasan portrays this excellently -- forever balancing the books and worrying about funds, she makes it extremely clear that nothing with her is ever personal, but strictly business.

    Still, "Memoirs" has too much that's hard on the eye (and mind), not least of all the love scenes between Sayuri and her protector, who goes by the name of Chairman (played by Ken Watanabe at his most insipid). It's one thing to see the city of Kyoto misrepresented, but when we're asked to believe that a much older Japanese businessman and a young geisha during the 1940s would engage in physical contact in broad daylight, standing under a willow tree in a Japanese garden . . . surely that was when the theater should have released some emergency oxygen masks from the ceiling to save us all from hyperventilating.

    I looked around to see if everyone else felt the same, but no. This being Japan, the audience was restrained, respectful, polite. If only the movie had some of the same qualities.

  25. #50
    The Fang of Fenrir Kei Kusanagi's Avatar
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    woot go geisha!!!
    ...who are you...

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