Monday, December 26, 2005

Movie vs. the book

Eliza, Hannah and I went and saw "Memoirs of a Geisha." And then we had a rousing disucssion at dinner tonight - better than most book groups in fact!

My take on "Memoirs" was typical for me - sometimes I wonder why I go see the movie! I guess I do because sometimes the movie is different from the book, but good in its own way.

Not the case here: the book was informative and a good read. The movie was true to the story line - maybe too true - there was a kind of predictability that detracted. I knew what was going to happen next - and then it did!

I don't know if it was the Chinese actors portraying Japanese characters. Or if it was the lack of a true historical context - which the book established but I didn't feel that the movie did. Or if it was the lush cinematography that was like the great wrapping paper on a fairly mediocre gift. (It's all in the packaging is what we all like to think. And that's true for some things - but not movies.)Or maybe it was the excessive length of the film - 2 1/2 hours.

But I'd still recommend the book.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hey, what's this?

Hey, what's this?
Originally uploaded by grannybabs.
Grandma Clayton has taken down "the wall" that has graced the living room on Horace Street for over 40 years! (I know that because it went up the year I graduated from high school - Joan and I got hers, mine and Lyn's pictures framed and gave them to Mom and Dad for Christmas that year. It just grew from there!)

So yesterday she brought my pix back to me - not sure what I will do with it - seemed to have more class (no pun intended) when it was up there with the rest of the crowd!

For now it's hanging up in the guest room - there was an empty nail there!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

West Meets East

I recently finished reading "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden. It was for a new bookgroup I've been attending. The plan is to go see the movie and compare it to the book. It turns out that the movie is in an exclusive run here, so we may not end up going to see it. (Who wants to battle going to the West side at 4 in the afternoon?!)

I am always struck by how different Asian culture - specifically Chinese and Japanese culture and history - is from Western culture. The whole Geisha concept is mind boggling if you think about it for any length of time. Especially in this novel, the girl is basically a slave - since she has no say or choice in her life.

I guess the part that doesn't set well with me is the fact that women are definitely 2nd class citizens. However, they do manage to exert influence anyway - guess you really can't keep a good woman down!

I read that the author researched the novel for 15 years before finishing it - and his credentials in Japanese art and history were pretty compelling - so did he want to be informative? controversial? or did he just want to tell a story.

It's not quite as Eastern as China and Japan, but India offers some interesting insights also. I had been given a copy of "Life of Pi," but hadn't gotten around to reading it, so H. and I bought it and listened to it up and back to Phoebe's. It makes for great listening - I'm not sure how it reads, but it kept us awake!

I'm inereseted in other's insights and opinions on the symbolism in the boat, the boy and the animals. And of course the overwhelming question - which one is a dream? I always wonder, when people start seeing things as symbols, if the author had that in mind or just wanted to tell a story.

I'm about a third of the way through "Death Comes for the Archbishop." I watched a PBS documentary about Willa Cather last week - now I want to read some of the books I hadn't even heard of - because it seems to be that her work should probably be studied as a body of work, not just individual novels. She certainly is an interesting character - and burned all her letters before she died - and instructed those she had sent letters to to do the same!

I am going to dig into C.S. Lewis - my kids have all read him but I have not - it took me a while to read the Anne of Green Gables books and the Betsy Tacy books - I think I was too busy when they were reading them to read them myself. Or maybe since they were absorbed in a book, I took the opportunity to read what I wanted to read!! (that's how I explain that I never watched "Princess Bride" all the way through until I showed it to my students!!)