Eric Cheng

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Memoirs of a Geisha

I went to see Memoirs of a Geisha tonight with Peter, Karine, Christine, Olivia, and a bunch of Olivia's friends. (no spoilers ahead. don't worry.)

I fail to understand why in the hell Hollywood would decide to cast a bunch of Chinese actors in the movie, other than to use their names to draw in a lot of money. Everyone in the movie contributed to a mix of bizarre, Asian accents -- most notably, the thick, Chinese accents of Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li, and the unplaceable, stereotypically-Asian accents of some of the other actors. It turns out that if you round up all of the well-known Chinese actors, make them try to speak English on a Japanese set, and stick a Yo-Yo Ma soundtrack on top of it all, you get a steaming pile of crap.

Why not have have the movie in Japanese, with subtitles? That way, the actors get to sound like they're not totally stupid, and we get to feel like it's a bit more "authentic".

I'll bet that every Asian person who sees Memoirs of a Geisha will be on edge the entire time, feeling a bit offended, but not necessarily able to articulate why. Yeah, it's fun to have Asians speaking orien'al-sounding English -- right in the middle of their own country, or better yet -- in a country close to their country! (close enough). So exotic!


By the way, it isn't that I'm opposed to having actors of one ethnicity portray characters of another. It's just that I want it to be done well. I want it to be natural for me to suspend disbelief, and I want 2 hours of escapism in exchange for my $10.

*UPDATE* My sister sent me this link, which is awesome. ;)