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DID YOU READ

The “Geisha” controversies.

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Zhang Ziyi.Rob Marshall‘s "Memoirs of a Geisha" has its world premiere in Tokyo tomorrow — we’ve made some mention about how extra-special our sight-unseen dislike of this film is, but we’re not the only ones fuming on the inside and ranting on the internet out there. There are two particular controversies and one possibly disproven one out there and up for discussion. May we?

Issue 1: Zhang Ziyi is Chinese but is playing a Japanese geisha.

Issue 2: Zhang Ziyi is Chinese but is playing a Japanese geisha.

Non-issue?: Zhang Ziyi gets nekkid and has hot sexx. Really a sub-part of Issue 2.

Stick with us as we parse the first two, because they really are two very separate things. Part the first: back in January, someone wrote in to Roger Ebert asking him if he didn’t think it was a bit of a scandal that Zhang was chosen for the lead role:

Ms. Zhang is a lovely and talented actress, but don’t you think that in all of Japan there is an equally talented and lovely Japanese actress who could play the part? I wonder if the selection of a Chinese actress to play a Japanese woman will sit well with Japanese fans of the book.

Ebert pragmatically answered that Zhang is the most famous Asian actress around at the moment, and that casting is generally all about star power. We’d heard that people were fussing about this, but it seems a lot like an issue that journalists would fall in love with and cover out of proportion than a real one. And yet, there the folks are, duking it out over at the IMDb boards for the film.

For fuckssake, all — the novel was written by a white guy born in Tennessee, who, as Isabel Reynolds at Reuters reminds us, was sued by Mineko Iwasaki, the book’s main inspiration, "failing to maintain her privacy, after he described such practices as ‘mizuage"’or the selling of a young geisha’s virginity to the highest
bidder, which she has been reported as saying does not exist." That, and it’s been Hollywood-ized into such a slick bit of orientalia that the lead’s ethnicity should be your least authenticity concern. Not to mention that we throw an Oscar nom at Meryl Streep whenever she slaps on an accent a pretends to be another ethnicity — of course, that’s acting. God forbid the women in this film be allowed that; they should be limited to re-enactments of their quaint cultural practices for our enlightenment.

Which brings us to part two, which we’ll pass along to Walter Chaw at the Film Freak Central Blog:

At least it’s better, a little, than Rob Marshall’s "Memoirs of a Geisha" which, besides describing one character as a war hero for being injured in the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (the sort of thing that irks me if no one else except two billion other Chinamen), has Chinese woman Zhang Ziyi and Malaysian-born Michelle Yeoh cast as Japanese Geishas. It’s the equivalent, not to put too fine a point on it, of a fine Jewish actress happily playing a heroic Nazi prostitute – bless Maggie Cheung for turning down the opportunity to sell out her culture. (And for what? Memoirs of a Freakin-Geisha? There’s not even the question of subversion here.)

[Chaw makes more fine points on the subject here.]

From Reynolds at Reuters:

"She’s sold her soul and betrayed her country. Hacking her to death would not be good enough," China’s state media quoted one blogger as saying of Zhang.

We suppose it comes down to that eternal dilemma — do you jump at a role that involves selling a bit of your soul because you know it’s the most plum one that will ever come around to you in the US? Or do you maintain the moral high ground and remain unknown to most of the international moviegoing public?

On to the nakedness: Jeremy Goldkorn at Danwei points out some stills making the rounds on Chinese forums, allegedly from a sex scene in the film, that riled up many a nationalist. The images turned out to have not even been from "Geisha," but discussion continues. Grady Hendrix at Kaiju Shakedown points out some infuriated translated Chinese editorials on the topic.

And over at the LA Times, John Horn reports on the filmmakers’ efforts to get their various Chinese, Japanese, and Malaysian-born actresses to speak in the same halting, accented English.

+ Star power overrides ethnicity (RogerEbert.com)
+ Hollywood geisha raise eyebrows in Asia (Reuters)
+ Notes from the Trenches (Film Freak Central Blog)
+ Zhang Ziyi and Ken Watanabe – naked pics; hypersensitive ranting (Danwei)
+ ZHANG ZIYI’S "BIG WHITE BUTT" (Kaiju Shakedown)
+ Uniformity, so to speak (LA Times)

IFC_Portlandia-S8_best-of-skits_subaru-blog

Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

IFC_Portlandia-S8_pick-a-lane_subaru-blog

Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…