Thursday, January 26, 2006

Could there BE a more beautiful movie?


Zhang Ziyi (Or Ziyi Zhang, she calls herself now to prevent confusion to American viewers...) wasn't fantastic. The movie was an over-orientalised version of Japan from the eyes of a foreigner. The love affair was unsettling if not creepy. But it was breathtakingly beautiful.

One forgets that it is a Caucasian at the helm and one wonders which of the Chinese greats shot the grandeur that was Memoirs. It was spectacular the way that Raise the Red Lantern was spectacular, with set shots that took my breath away as they seared themselves into my mind.

Gong Li. What more can I say about her? A look that can stop a men in his tracks? Gong Li could stop an army. Her portrayal of Hatsumomo was poignant as she was raging in the grip of insanity or while quietly smouldering in the background. She stole the show. Bravo!
Zhang Ziyi paled in comparison.

I went into the movie with a sense of cynicism. After all, it was a movie set in Japan that featured no Japanese women in any of the lead Geisha roles. I felt that they could have cast Sayuri better but then again Ziyi was surrounded with a cast that soared. It also had an American directing it, thus creating, in my opinion, a Japan that not only no longer existed but never existed in the first place. An Orientalised version of a oriental culture. It was all that. But then again, Marshall does such a great job replicating the oriental that I couldn't differentiate his work from that of Zhang Yimou or similar auteurs. Overall, it was a movie that managed to overwhelm me with its beauty in a way that I haven't been in any hollywood movie.


Just need to wait for the DVD and my 70" Plasma TV to recreate the experience...


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