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Memoirs of a Geisha - One Minute Review

Beautiful women dressed in artistic kimonos walk out of tidy-tiny bamboo houses into small streets that are always buzzing with people of action. And if you're an attentive viewer, it's all presented with a visual flair such that you can't miss the details. This movie is an example of the inseparable blend of photography, production design and costume for which it won Oscars. These three elements are important in imparting a credibility factor to the movie: set in a geisha house in the early to mid 20th century, Japan. Since we never question the setting, we easily glide into the story and characters.

"A geisha is an artist trained to entertain men through her skills, not her body" says Mameha (Michelle Yeoh). The movie very gently follows the vicissitudes of Sayuri (Zhang Ziyi), a geisha who sincerely tries to be a geisha and succeeds and fails in that attempt. The climax scene left me wondering if this is a love story all the while that I have forgotten to notice. Along with those top Chinese artistes, there are Gong Li and Ken Watanabe in the star-studded cast. The direction is crisp and captures the subtleties of a woman's routine.

Extra thoughts: [a] Ang Lee, who has worked with the Yeoh and Ziyi before is a master in creating the tones and moods for a story like that of 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. Still Rob Marshall (Chicago) doesn't do a bad job. [b] I thought the art direction for 'Kingkong' was breathtaking in recreating the island and the America in the 30's. I'm guessing if most of those scenes were computer images. Because the quality of art direction in 'Kingkong' is on a grand scale and in no way comparable to this one. [c] Suzuka Ogho as the young geisha delivers a truly great performance. There should be an award for child artistes in all major film festivals - they do commendable work only to be overlooked by their older ones. Recently I've seen some terrific work by kids where the senior artistes had to work tight to be noticed in those scenes.

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