Not only was Memoirs of a Geisha pretty bad, but I also spent $11 on it when I didn't have to. A few weeks ago I entered an AFI competition (cause I'm a member, ya know) and TODAY i received my prize in the mail. A copy of Memoirs of a Geisha (the book) and four free passes to the movie! ugh! Why didn't they e-mail me or something to tell me I'd won cause I wouldn't have gone and seen it last weekend if I'd know. They e-mailed me to tell me I'd won a free double pass to TransAmerica when I won, so why not now? Bah.
But, yeah, the movie wasn't too crash hot. Like, it wasn't extremely awful, but it wasn't good or even so-bad-it's good. It was just... there. Flopping around like a fish out of water (a perfect analogy for the film). It doesn't feel like it believes itself let alone expects us to. It's weird watching these characters speak in English with occasional "exotic" words thrown in for pizzazz.
The performances are a mixed bag. Gong Li comes out on tops, I was expecting full on Renee Zellweger/Cold Mountain moments but thankfully it was a bit more restrained. Michelle Yeoh did her thing perfectly fine. Ziyi Zhang wasn't as bad as I was expecting but it was still a far cry from her perfs in 2046, Crouching Tiger and even House of Flying Daggers. Worst performance? Tsai Chin - giving an awfully ridiculous performance. Sounding and acting exactly like the cliche western audiences expect old asian women to be. YOU ARE TO BECOME GEEEEIIIISHA!
Technically it was alright but not overcoming. Costumes were grand, the sets were good even a bit too stagey. I love that they completely reinvisioned Japan. Because the streets around places like Kyoto are perfectly straight - none of this curvy dark twisted alley shit. But what happened with Dione Beebe (read: great great man) and his cinematography? Maybe I'm missing something but I only found about 5 moments that had any visual brilliance to them and for a Dione Beebe film that's not good. Doesn't help that some scenes were underlit. Nothing really excited me here. And one of the moments that did was because it reminded me so much of, ahem, Irreversable. Ya... odd.
Watched Upside of Anger again. Man, such a great film. Joan Allen is simple best-of-the-year brilliant. Every single line that comes out of her mouth is just dripping with disdain, sarcasm or alcoholism. The scene with Hadley's fiancee's parents is priceless. "Oh, no no, I'm done toasting - I'm just ordering another drink." B+
Also watched Feux Rouges (Red Lights) ysterday. Intriguing little French thriller sort of in the same vein as Spoorloos from 1988. I'm surprised Hollywood hasn't tried to remake it already. The movie had some wonderfully eerie moments due to cinematography and such. However the lead character is really quite annoying. B-