Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Siamese Dreams and Chinese Call Girls

Yeah, so I did it. I caved. I previously mentioned that there was no way I would see a "certain movie" that has come out recently, but I did.

I saw Memoirs of a Geisha.

It's not called that here though, it's called "Sayuri". "Sayuri" was the name given to the girl named Chiyo in the movie when she entered Geishahood. For the purposes of this blog, I'll respectfully refer to "Sayuri" as her whore name.

You're probably wondering what a drug kingpin like myself is doing seeing a movie like this. Perhaps I'm looking at diversifying my empire? Maybe getting into the human trafficking business? Well, the main reason I saw it is because when I showed up to the movie theatre with my lady friend, it was the only one playing around that time.

There was also some irony involved.

My lady friend is from Laos, and I thought it would be funny, as a common round-eye, to see a movie about old-school Japanese hookers played by Chinese actresses with her. It reminded me of a joke I heard once: "A Lao girl and a White dude walk into a movie about Japanese hookers played by Chinese actresses."

There was just no telling what could happen.

This is Adventurepan, so I dove in head first.

Plus she paid for my ticket.


I had a few problems with this movie. I know some of you think I'm probably just being an Asia snob, but I'll keep the technicality snobbery to a minimum. Or at least what I consider to be a minimum. So let's jump right in.

  • If you have sex for money, you are a prostitute.

    Period. I'm not talking about gifts, movies, clothes, dinner, etc., in exchange for sex, because I'm not willing to jump out that implication-window. I'm talking about a currency exchange. I don't care how artsy-fartsy you are. I don't care if you're supposed to be a "performer", an artist, an escort, a musician, blahblahblah. In the movie they make a big deal about this, about how Geisha's aren't common whores who defile their body and whatnot. Well, an uncommon whore is still a whore nonetheless, so I don't really wanna hear about it. You can eat a $200 meal or a $3 steak -- it all ends up being processed through the business end of my colon. Catch my drift? Anyway, Sayuri becomes a full-on Geisha when there is a "bidding war" to take her virginity, and she has the record for the highest bid ever for any Geisha. Wow. Congrats. How classy.


    On to my next point.

  • Human Slave Trade and Happy Endings

    The plot would take too long to explain, so I won't. Suffice it to say that in the end, everything works out for Sayuri, which seemed pretty unlikely. Movies that begin with prostitution and/or human slave trade and end up with a happy ending are charming and nice, but I prefer reality. I wanna see her throw herself off a cliff at the end because her life is such a wreck. I like movies where I feel empty inside and want to throw up at the end because the human element of suffering and misery is so intense. Like Requiem for a Dream. That's what life is. That's what being a human is all about. If I wanted to feel like an anthropomorphic garden shear dancing in a butterscotch waterfall, I'd rent some Disney movies and go on an all night Candyland rampage.

  • A Blue Eyed Asian

    Get real.

  • Language and Communication

    OK, here's where I might seem a little snobby, but I think I've got a point here for the simple fact that language is such an enormous factor when traveling somewhere else and carrying out even the simplest of tasks. Near the end of the movie when the Americans come, Sayuri chit-chats with the Army brass effortlessly. After the movie I said to my friend, "Wow, I didn't realize that English conversation was in the Geisha school curriculum." I don't understand why they couldn't have just had her speak Japanese. I mean, Americans don't know the difference, and it was obviously a movie made for Americans. The Japanese used in Kill Bill was spoken so poorly that I had to translate for the Japanese person that I saw it with. In the middle of the movie she asked me, "Can you understand what they're saying? Because I have no idea." Maybe Kill Bill shoulda stuck to English, while Memoirs could have given a little more effort to realism. I guess most Americans really wouldn't give a shit either way, and would be irritated by subtitles because they're illiterate mouth-breathers. Again, this is just the language snob in me coming out.

    Minor movie errors kinda piss me off anyway... I remember right before Brando and I shipped off to basic training, we went and saw X-Files in the movie theatre. At the beginning, there are some cave men running around, and it says, "North America, 20,000 years ago" or something. I leaned over and said, "There were no humans in North America 20,000 years ago." I'll never forget his response:

    "Why don't you take your anthropology degree and wreck someone else's movie."

    I guess I'm an esoteria snob too. I knew that degree was good for something, i,e. wrecking Brando's movie viewing pleasure.

    ...But don't get me wrong. There were some good points.

  • You get to stare at Ziyi Zhang for a couple hours. Soooo cute..
  • Gong Li also looked nice. I thought she did an awesome job portraying such a horrible person and entertained me the most of anyone in the movie. Watch for her, she's gonna be in a lot of stuff.
  • Ken Watanabe is a good actor. I'd like to see him win some kind of award, but I think the Academy is still sore about the whole December 7th misunderstanding..

    I think the main problem with this movie was that the plot just wasn't all that interesting. Decent acting, weak plot.

    In the ending credits, I saw that the cello solos were all by Yo-yo Ma. I'm convinced that the production of this movie was some Chinese backed conspiracy to piss off the Japanese. "Visit Yasukuni shrine, will you?? Well, we'll show you!!" Unfortunately for the Chinese conspirators, they grossly overestimated Japanese nationalism, because no one here really seems to give a shit. If you wanna get a reaction from the Japanese people, use the media. Otherwise, don't expect anyone to come to their own conclusions.

    Maybe the movie wasn't about old Geisha's anyway? Maybe it was meant to reflect contemporary Japanese culture. Here are some of the elements:
  • Chinese hookers
  • Japanese businessmen having no communication skills and falling in love with foreign hookers, who want nothing more than to be rescued
  • Americans being scumbags and corrupting the "refined" aspects Japanese culture (yeehaw!)
  • Japanese guys hitting on inappropriately young women.

    So I felt bad about my friend dumping 1800yen ($15.60US) on a ticket for me, so I paid for some food, which for two people was less than one movie ticket. During dinner I interrogated her about life as a Laotian immigrant. Japanese factories basically use South-east Asians and South Americans (mainly Brazilians and Peruvians, because a lot of them have Japanese blood which simplifies immigration issues) in the same capacity that American farmers and companies use Mexicans. Cheap labor. She doesn't work in a factory though. She works at Calvin Klein. Her birthday is also on January 1st, so when I first met her I asked her if she was a terrorist.

    One can never be too sure.

    Lao sounds a lot like Mao, and we hates Maoists, precious.

    Anyway, I feel like ass right now. I think I'm gonna take a day or two off work.

    Anonymous brando said...

    You can wreck my movie whenever you want.

    12:54 PM  
    Anonymous Cory said...

    "Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence." --Carl Sagan

    You claimed that "There were no humans in North America 20,000 years ago," which is a statement you are making of absolute certainty. However, we do have some evidence that somebody was carving bowls in Chile 28,000 years ago, and if plate techtonics is to be believed, they may have come down the Bering land bridge at some point to get there before 28,000 years ago.

    Thus, it is possible there were human-like species in North America 20,000 years ago, we just don't have any specific settlement evidence as of yet. The group of humans that crossed the land bridge that we call the "Native Americans" 13,000 years ago are probably the second (or subsequent) group to cross, since we know humies were runnin' around South America so long ago. Besides, most Native American nomadic tribes didn't leave a lot of evidence of their presence besides the ones that practiced building burial mounds, but most tribes didn't even do that.

    Also I suppose it mostly depends on your definition of "humans," that is to say, can it be any representative of the Homo Genus, or must it be Homo Sapiens?

    All I'm trying to say is, if someone tells you that some cavemen discovered an intelligent super-oil alien death creature in North America 20,000 years ago, don't dismiss the possiblity of the poor sludge-eyed cavemen out of hand. Scientific certitude is an oxymoron, especially with something as difficult as the human fossil record. And those poor cavemen deserve some respect.

    3:03 AM  
    Anonymous cory said...

    Whoops, I mean to say, scientific certitude of nonexistence is an oxymoron, not that scientific certitude is impossible (that is, you can know something was there, but you cannot know that something was never there).

    Either way, I'm just being a bored jackass typing on a blogpost that has 0.01% to do with what I decided to deride you for.

    Peace out.

    3:30 AM  
    Anonymous brando said...

    Paul should have leaned over and said "There was no 3/4 mile diameter alien ship at Antartica. This movie is so fake."

    3:52 AM  
    Blogger Paul said...

    Well, I have evidence (mpeg) that both of you are "homos", and not the sapiens type, so you'd better mind your ps and qs.

    I know about the 20,000 years ago evidence thing anyway, and word on the street is that it's pretty weak.

    Humans, i,e. modern humans, are Homo Sapiens Sapiens. I don;t think anyone would call anything else "humans". Maybe "early humans"..

    Most evidence of nomadic tribes is found from their tool industry, which is mighty abundant. It's one of the real solid ways that archaeologists linked injuns to Asia. Absense of a stone tool industry is pretty good evidence of a lack of a primitive [modern] human presence, because us humans like makin stuff and killin beasts. Even nomadic peeps need a complex social network, especially to make it that far from Asia.

    Of course, maybe said named intelligent super-oil alien death creature beamed over some Laotians to do the grunt work necessary to sustain itself.

    11:11 AM  
    Blogger Jinxy said...

    "I'm from LAOS! Landlocked country of seven million, Hank HILL, you idiot!"

    - Kahn Souphanousinphone

    If you want a depressing hooker movie, check out "Lily 4-Ever".

    8:40 AM  

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