Memoirs of a Geisha began life as a novel by Arthur Golden, who meticulously researched the topic and sucks the reader into his world with all the little details and nuances of the geisha trade -- which is analogous to the escort business, though not quite the same. But those nuances, almost by definition, are the sort of things that get lost when a 500-page book is adapted into a far shorter screenplay. Director Rob Marshall, as he did in Chicago, plays the movie as though it's all an embellished memory inside the head of geisha Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang), but why would she remember everyone speaking in choppy English? It's hard to tell, at least for the movie's first half, whether the mostly Chinese actresses are deliberately doing bad broken-Engrish Japanese accents. Gong Li excels as the perpetually drunken villain, but Sayuri's romantic pursuit of an older man (Ken Watanabe) who was kind to her as a child feels a little creepy -- like one of the Olsen twins dreaming of boffing Bob Saget.
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: Akiva Goldsman, Ronald Bass and Robin Swicord
Producer: Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, Ian Bryce and Bonnie Curtis
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Yoki Kudo, Gong Li, Kaori Momoi, Paul Adelstein, Anthony Begonia and Tsai Chin