Sunday, February 12, 2006

Stare-downs of a Geisha defeated by randy cowboys

Best Beloved and I took advantage of a child-free weekend to go to a late movie last night. We went to separate movies, because I wasn't too keen on the idea of a Speilberg-directed comment on Israel and he wasn't keen on a gorgeous Japanese/Hollywood chickflick. So off he went to Munich, and off I went to Japan. Neither of us came out on fire.

Having read the book (by Arthur Golden) years ago, I wasn't expecting much in the way of plot. I went for the visuals, and I wasn't disappointed. Lush. Lush, lush and really lush. Scrummy, even. But I found myself getting really cranky at hamfisted American writers and directors.

OK, the whole premise of the story is that Sayuri has blue eyes like water, and of course, they are extremely unusual for a Japanese person. So she is a pearl beyond price. I got the point within the first half hour, and so did the rest of the audience. But they made the poor actress play the part staring wildly all the time, zooming in close to her face to capture the blue irises, which backfired because at too close a range they were cheapened, and quite obvious contact lenses. If they had just had a couple of dramatic blue-eyed shots and then let her strangeness just embed quietly to match the feel of the film, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. She was a stunning girl, but they made her look like a wide-eyed fool.

I had much more joy from Brokeback Mountain. Lush, meaningful and packed with eye-candy. I'd read the short story (by E. Annie Proulx) so long ago that I'd forgotten the ending, and was caught short for a moment, which I guess was the point. I thought Heath Ledger perfectly captured an uneducated laconic country boy, unable to express himself emotionally. The whole film evoked such memories of reading Proulx so well that I'm about to embark on a big re-read of everything I have of hers. I may change my mind when I experience the real thing!

I recommend seeing both on the big screen, the former only because the settings deserve it and the latter because it's a powerful experience worthy of dark rooms and Dolby sound. I can't speak for Munich because I didn't see it, but BB gave it a 6/10.

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