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It was a shock to see the trailer for Memoirs of a Geisha and see Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh speaking english to each other. When I see them, I naturally look down for the subtitles. Of course, they are Chinese actors playing Japanese characters in Memoirs of a Geisha, so why not english. Zhang and Yeoh appeared together, most famously, in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Zhang appears, more conventionally, speaking chinese with subtitles in the new film, 2046. This film has had a lot of buzz, including being nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes. This film tells the story of a newspaperman (Tony Leung) in Hong Kong in the 1960's. We see his life primarily through his relationships with women (Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li, Faye Wong) who all live in the same residential hotel. Leung lives in Room 2046. This is also the title of a science fiction story that he is writing about a train that goes to the future carrying people who want to recapture their lost memories. The characters in his real life get projected into the SciFi story, 2046. The film 2046 follows Leung's life in vignettes, timed near Christmas year after year, so that we can see how his life has or has not progressed and which woman has his interest.
I really liked this film. It has a great slow visual style created by the director, Kar Wai Wong (Chungking Express). And Tony Leung is amazing. He is one of the most famous actors in Hong Kong but this is my first chance to see what he can do. He was in Hero but I didn't get much of a hit off him in that movie. This one of the few movies with subtitles where I was really drawn to the voice of one of the actors and was able to feel the emotions in what he was saying. The supporting cast is very strong. It is interesting to see Ziyi Zhang and Gong Li in the same movie. Zhang has the nickname, "little Gong Li" in China. Both were discovered by director, Zhang Yimou (Hero, The Road Home, Raise the Red Lantern). Zhang and Li are great. It is nice to see Zhang in a more normal role after her many costume dramas (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, House of Flying Daggers). Also appearing is Faye Wong, known as Asia's "Bjork." She is better known for her music in China but does a very good job in 2046.
All of the characters in 2046, with the exception of Leung's character, are sad and seem to have lost any chance for happiness. Leung doesn't lose hope despite passing up many chances with Zhang, Wong and Li. His book 2046 is his therapy, his way of working out his issues with relationships. And so by the end of the movie, he is ready to change and move on with his life. 2046 is a really interesting movie, probably not for everyone, but go see it as a nice antidote for The 40 Year Old Virgin.