Friday, December 30, 2005

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA: Blog Comments


Below is a question and answer relating to an earlier blog where I commented on Steven Spielberg's "Memoirs of a Geisha." Yes, I know Rob Marshall is the director.

At 1:21 PM, R. Polson said...

Pete, you have a good point. However, I believe that when it comes to the art of acting, any person can portray another race.

Just think about it, there has been many occasions when someone of another race has portrayed a character, especially in theater.

I think if you allow your mind to become absorbed in the story and not so much the person who playing the character, then a movie or play can be just as effective.

Though I can see what you're saying because the two cultures have had issues with each other, then it doesn't seem right but overall, I don't think that it will make a difference in a good movie.



At 6:04 PM, Pete Duhon said...

I do agree with you that they can still make a "good movie," however, the inaccuracies in this film are many and those inaccuaracies betray history. It is fine to see the film albeit with the understanding that it is purely sensationalized and ficition. Here are some snippets of info:

1. Not only is the lead charactor Chinese and playing Japenese character, which offends both cultures, Sayuri also has blue eyes. Very interesting.

2. The actual hair styles of real geisha have been changed as well; long, loose and free-flowing. "more reminisicent of those seen in Chinese films also starring Zhang, Li and Yeoh." andrew lang, Financial Times

3. Even the dance style of the geisha is protrayed different from reality; it is faster and more dramatic: Hollywood at its best.

4. In Japan, the film is simply titled "Sayuri," obviously Hollywood felt it would be even more insulting to name it "memoirs of a geisha" since it is anything but that. LOL

It has been said before that it is difficult if not next to impossible to create art for the masses. Rather, mass marketing often dilutes art so that it can be made to appeal to so many people. Some chose profits over art. Considering the pressures to make a 50 million dollar profit instead of 10 million, I sympathize with the producers and directors of this film(smile).

So hey, if you see it, enjoy it. I am sure it is a great movie. But the film doesn't portray geisha accurately. However, this will not prevent the film from being enjoyable to some audiences who may be somewhat apathetic to other cultures concerns beside their own. I champion awareness and that is what I promote.

PD

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: 2005

Rare Birds: Amanda de Cadenet. Amanda's truthful photographs in this publication captures the quiet moments that are often not documented in our fantasy driven culture. www.amandadecadenet.com

The Courage Consort: Michel Faber.
This book includes three novellas: The Courage Consort, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine steps and The Fahrenheit Twins. Three stories of relatively short length that portray some of the various issues that arise in a modern society such as isolation and the fraility of the utopian ideal.

De Kooning : An American Master by Mark Stevens, Annalyn Swan. Although released during the latter part of 2004, I read it during 2005. A fun and thorough account of an artist's life. It deals with both the technical and emotional aspects of De Kooning's art and gives a sufficient portrait of his personal life. This book is definitely for the artist, aspiring artist and those who would like an understanding of modern art and its development.

Related links, click below: de kooning

Peter Duhon

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

FILM REVIEW: CACHE(Hidden)

The collective past can be said to be lucid considering how it constantly hovers over the present. In this film, CACHE, Michael Haneke, artfully deals with how decisions made by the state affect people on a micro level, both their past and present, and their ever evolving future. CACHE also deals with the probing question of identity, who we are and at what cost. If I said anymore I would give away the movie. Go see the film and let me know what you think. For more info regarding the film, visit my other page that features the
best films of 2005.
-Pete Duhon

FILMS OF THE YEAR: 2005

CACHE(HIDDEN): Starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteil, a film by Michael Haneke. A film where the menacing past of an individual and the suspect past of nation are reborn through various videotapes that mysteriously appear. Visit site: CACHE

MELINDA AND MELINDA: Woody Allen at his comical best. Visit the website: Melinda and Melinda

CAPOTE: Whatever you do, do not see this film if your depressed since you might jump off a bridge after seeing this one. Even if your in a great mood be prepared for a movie that is disturbing. Visit the film's website: CAPOTE

THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED: This french masterpiece deals with how one gentlemen choses to act upon an inner urge to confront his beastly personality and change. Visit the film's website: www.thebeat-moive.com

THE HOLY GIRL
: Director Lucrecia Martel, captures the plight of a young girl's unfortunate lost of innocence. Visit the film's website www.laninasanta.com

2046: Improvisational film making at its finest. Directed by Wong Kar Wai, starring Tony Leung, Faye Wong, Gong Li, Takuya Kimura, Zhang Ziyi and Carina Lau. Also starring Chang Chen and Maggie Cheung.
Visit the film's website www.wkw2046.com

Other Relevant Posts:

Films of 2005
Standout Film of 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

Theater Review: The Woman in White


Modernity or Gimmick? The musical "Woman in White" employs some advanced technology for background stage props. Instead of the usual props assembled by stage workers, the props are projected onto several large screen-like canvas that rotate on the stage. Sounds interesting? It is. The technology works. The transition from scene to scene is smooth and there is a strong 3D effect. With this musical, the technology employed does not interfere with the story.

The story revolves around a secret, a secret that belongs to the woman in white. There's a love story, great singing, a live rat that plays a role, and an amazing cast overall. There is intrigue and constant twists and turns in this modern musical. A fabulous show.

-PD

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Memoirs of a Geisha: Hollywood at its Best

After reading a Finanical Times article several days ago, I read something rather interesting. Essentially, Steven Spielberg casting choices in his new movie
Memoirs of a Geisha is causing quite a stir. The
movie, based on the book of the same title, depicts
the secret lives of Japanese Geisha's. Spielberg
nonetheless decided to cast Chinese women in lead roles instead of Japanese.
Some consider the discrepancy to be tantamount to
using an Israeli cast to depict the everyday struggles
of Palestinians. I am not recommending the film. I
would hate for the public to be misinformed and leave
the theater thinking that they have just viewed a
factual historical period piece.

There are other issues concerning this film but I may or may not address them later.

Additionally, Spielberg is the producer of the film not the director.

Peter Duhon

Book/Author Review: Paul Auster

Author of "The Brooklyn Follies," "Collected Prose: Autobiograhical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, and Collaborations With Artists," "City of Glass".

I read about this author in "The Sun," though I have never read any of his work. Any guy who says that New York is the real Heartland of America is someone that is a devoted New Yorker. Such a person I would have no problem conversing with over coffee.

Check out my blog that highlights some of outstanding books of 2005.


Peter Duhon

Monday, December 19, 2005

Brad Mehldau: Recommended Recordings

1. Songs(Art of the Trio Vol.3)
Beautiful and accessible melodies throughout entire CD.

2. The Art of the Trio, Vol. 5: Progression
Live double CD recorded at the Vanguard. Intense and passionate moments combined with thoughtful renditions of jazz standards.

3. Elegiac Cycle.
Pensive compositions that transcend category. The sound of these solo piano pieces range from a Bach Baroque style to Chopin with a delicate touch of blues in some pieces.

4. LARGO
Brad Mehldau's foray into a more Rock/funk sound. You have to hear it to believe it. He covers Radio Head's "Paranoid Android". My favorite on this CD is a song that Brad wrote "When it Rains". For these two songs alone, the album is worth it. A friend of mine recently mentioned that he felt that the song "I DO", which is on this album, is Brad at his best.

5. Live in Tokyo
A live solo recording of in Brad in Tokyo. Nothing short of phenomenal. Brad's approach is totally non-academic. An original and quite genius approach to each tune. You'll find a song from Thelonius Monk here, Radio Head, and also Nick Drake. There are also timeless classics such as Someone to Watch Over Me on this disc as well. The U.S release is a single release whereas the Japanese release is a double CD release with songs on it not found on the U.S release.

6. PLACES
Combination of Trio and Solo performances. Each track dedicated to a "place."

7. DAY IS DONE
Energetic and courageous CD that is bold and fresh. You have to hear it to believe it.

A visit to Brad Mehldau's website is essential. Brad happens to also be a poignant writer so visit the site and listen to some samples of his music, view some of his videos and read some of his liner notes as well.

I was able to see Brad live at the village vanguard and I did blogit.

Peter Duhon

Friday, December 16, 2005

Brad Mehldau Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard Part II

The high level of aural awareness that is inherent with this trio was in full form while playing the southern Spain inspired tune, Granada(written by Chris Cheek). This was the second song of the night and it was an approriate choice. Playing in unison need not to be a banal affair and the unity trumpeted by this trio made that point. Each member played with a disciplined focus, juxtaposing individual improvisation and dynamic awareness of ensemble sonorities.

Visit my other blog page for more information about this great set.

I have written out a list of recommended recordings and breif review of each recording. It is in no way a complete list considering Brad's prolific output. Though my list is a valuable resource if you are new to his music.

A visit to Brad Mehldau's website is essential. Brad happens to also be a poignant writer so visit the site and listen to some samples of his music, view some of his videos and read some of his liner notes as well.


Peter Duhon

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Brad Mehldau Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard Part I


Amazing, creatively brilliant, just a few words that describe pianist Brad Mehldau's approach to music as a soloist or with his jazz trio. This approach was clearly evident tonight at the Village Vanguard, as Brad produced music of mystic qualities with his trio which consists of Jeff Ballard on drums and Larry Grenediar on upright bass.

Olympian status is definitely a goal of any musican(s), last night's performance proved that Brad and his trio are not only on a high Olympian level but that they deserve a gold medal. But who said that it is a contest? Well, let's talk directly about the show and not talk around it.

The acoustic trio started with a rendition of Paul Simon's "50 ways to Leave Your Lover," which the bassist Larry Grenediar played a solo mid-tempo intro. After Larry played solo for about a couple of minutes, Jeff Ballard, the drummer joined along with the groove. Thereafter Brad followed and joined in as well. The trio on this song displayed a light touch yet played at a fast tempo. Brad Mehldau's trademark mastery of the left hand was also evident but with a thematic purpose. Essentially, the unison and intrinsic flow that was displayed on this song was a gleam of what would happen on all of the songs the entire night. Every note had a purpose and every note was deeply meaningful. The entire set was approached symphonically with an emphasis on the whole development of the meaning of the particular song being played instead of having the emphasis on displaying individual virtuoso talents.

Sometimes at different jazz events you get the feeling that the songs played by the musicians are over worked or too estoric. But not with this trio, hearing them play you actually feel the music in a positive and genuine way, not too overwhelming like some other trios. Larry Grenediar not only started the song with his bass intro but ended this song with a bass solo as well. After the song, the positive energy that would permeate the whole night was evident by the energetic applause and loud shots of approval by everyone including my self.

Visit my other blog page for more information about this great set.

I have written out a list of recommended recordings and breif review of each recording. It is in no way a complete list considering Brad's prolific output. Though my list is a valuable resource if you are new to his music.

A visit to Brad Mehldau's website is essential. Brad happens to also be a poignant writer so visit the site and listen to some samples of his music, view some of his videos and read some of his liner notes as well.


Peter Duhon