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Memoirs of a Geisha (PG-13)

Director: Rob Marshall. With Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh. (137 min.)

Beautiful geishas flit and whoosh through the equally beautiful scenery. Their kimonos are artworks-in-motion. So why is the film so boring? It could be because director Rob Marshall ("Chicago") is so transfixed by all the ritualistic hoo-ha that he never brings the story down to earth.

Beginning in the years before World War II, it's about a poor country girl, Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang), who becomes the geisha equivalent of a supermodel. But she pines for the baron (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) who once did her a good turn when she was a 9-year-old and whom she still has a thing for as an adult. This plot development is a bit freakier than Marshall would have us believe.

Sayuri's specialty snowflake dance in 12-inch platform heels is the kind of exertion that upsets Hatsumomo (Gong Li), Sayuri's nemesis. The only fun I had at this movie was seeing these two ladies catfight. It's a great cinéaste in-joke if one bears in mind that Gong Li was once the muse of the great Chinese director Zhang Yimou, and now that job belongs to Ziyi Zhang. Grade: C+


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