Memoirs of a Geisha
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
Movies like this are why December is my favorite month at the cineplex. It's a gorgeous, lavishly-created adaptation of a classy piece of literature, with some showy acting performances and grand waves of melodrama. As long as it doesn't take itself too seriously – this one has a generous and self-depricating sense of humor – it's some of the best entertainment movies can offer, letting us inhabit other people's lives, great lives, the same way a novel does. The critics weren't kind, but I found it to be a moving story with great villainess, still resonating in my heart weeks later. But what I loved most about it was Dion Beebe's rich cinematography: Nearly every shot was a complex play of light, color, and detail, giving the film the look of a painting. It's the kind of movie where if you happen to pause it, you wind up studying the screen, admiring the composition. I'd love it even if it didn't include a fan-service reference to that Ang Lee movie with which it shares its lead actresses.