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After the storm

Since I went all post-crazy yesterday, let’s take it a little easier today, and start with some personal notes:

Thanks to Kozo over at Lovehkfilm for mentioning this blog, and actually calling me an all-around great guy, although you probably can’t tell by the antagonistic attitude I’ve got on this blog. Traffic has gone up considerably since that link went up, so thanks for stopping by.

munin left a comment (sorry I’m singling you out, but I do have to single out your comment to make a point) down at the Departed-Hong Kong-China article. Your corrections are all correct…..because that’s exactly what I corrected in my response to what Professor Fung wrote in his article, which I translated. I’ve now put bold on my response to clear up any misunderstandings. Thank for coming anyway.

Also added some new blogs on the favorite menu on your right - YTSL, whose top 10 list I’ve mentioned before has Webs of Significance, Brian, the webmaster of Hong Kong Cinema - View from the Brooklyn Bridge has Asian Cinema-While on the Road, and Sanney Leung, the ex-webmaster of Hong Kong Entertainment News in Review (which I honestly did not frequent much because I probably had the same source for news as him, except he took the effort to spread it, which deserves any Hong Kong film lover’s respect) is back with The House Where Words Gather.

Jason Gray, in his comment for my entry yesterday, has cleared up the discrepancy in the data that Box Office Mojo and Eiga Daisuki! has regarding box office numbers. Here is his comment:

“As you guessed, Kôgyô Tsûshin’s weekly ranking, which is in turn used by sites such as eiga.com, is based on total admissions (全国動員集計).

Box Office Mojo is ranked by earnings. The problem with that site is that they don’t post the original yen figures. You can back calculate it using their exchange rate, but that’s only good for the 1 minute on the 1 day that rate was in effect.

At Screen (which is subscriber only, unfortunately) we publish the original figures and $ amount.

Sakuran earned Y44,855,778 while Marie pulled in Y43,975,895. Sakuran’s per screen average was Y879,525 from 51 screens, which is not incredible but still pretty good.

As for the discrepancy in earnings vs. admissions, there are lots of ticket-related reasons for that such as discounts for groups of 3 high-school students, Y1000 Ladies Day, maeuriken (advanced tickets), people going to discount ticket shops in urban centers, comp tickets related to campaigns etc. etc.

So, that’s why Sakuran/Marie Antoinette and I Just Didn’t Do It/Battle Of Wits were flipped.”

There ya have it. Thanks, Jason!

- Also saw A Battle of Wits with Andy Lau and The Lives of Others (the best foreign film winner at the Academy Awards).

A Battles of Wits is an immensely entertaining war epic by Hong Kong veteran director Jacob Cheung and stars Andy Lau as a war advisor from the Mozi tribe to help the Liang city from being destroyed by the Zhaos. It’s ok, just think of it as big army A attacks small city B, so Andy Lau comes and defend small city B without wanting to wipe out big army A. But things are complicated when the Mozi war advisor pisses off the king with his pacifism and general likability. Despite being a very entertaining war epic (without going into laughable territory like The Promise), A Battle of Wits feels very impersonal. Cheung chooses to constantly shoot scenes at a certain distance, allowing his actors to really be in the middle of things, but it also feels detached. There aren’t many close-ups, and when the camera does get up close, the 2.35:1 ratio always manages to fit at least 2 faces in there. While some of these scenes are compelling thanks to Cheung’s handle on interpersonal tension (he’s known for making human dramas, not large-scale epics), A Battle of Wits takes a while to get used to.

Of course, credit to Cheung for creating a realistic period film without resorting to martial arts and flying people. Despite its comic roots, A Battle of Wits is largely grounded in reality, and the battles are fought with real smarts rather than supernatural powers. And Micheal Jackson would surely love at least part of the ending.

A lot of people felt that Pan’s Labyrinth was robbed when The Lives of Others won the best foreign film Oscar. But here I can tell you that it was largely deserved. Taking place in 1980s East Germany, The Lives of Others is about an East German State Security Agent charged with spying on a loyal communist playwright, but begins to grow sympathetic towards his target. It’s gripping, tense, involving, and even touching. Pan’s Labyrinth was a very strong contender, with beautiful set designs, great cinematography (although it robbed Children of Men), and it’s a work of great imagination. But The Lives of Others have a stronger script, strong performances, mature direction, and it’s more grounded in its humanity. Both films take place at times when the country is under great oppression, but while Pan’s Labyrinth used graphic (sometimes even exploitive) violence, The Lives of Others uses its script and its atmosphere to build up the possibility of the oppression. And what an ending.

Both are great movies, but in my humble opinion, The Lives of Others deserved that Oscar.

- Moving on, looks like we have more details about the limiting of competition shows in China. It seems that the move is due to the authorities believing that shows are being dragged on to to make more money from SMS voting. I can buy that reason.

- German firm Contraco will be collaborating with a Korean firm to create a film fund, and it will be the first Korean film fund to include foreign capital. The entire fund of $42 million will launch its first film in May, though there are no announcements regarding what the film will be.

- In Japanese music news, Shiina Ringo’s first solo album in 4 years (I introduced two of the track in last night’s entry) has debuted at number 1 on the Oricon weekly chart, selling 97,000 copies. It’s not a great number, but a number one debut is a number one debut. Meanwhile, in the singles world, Arashi has the number 1 single from last week, while Ai Otsuka debuts only at 3rd place, and Mika Nakashima, despite having a theme song to a fairly popular drama, can only muster a 4th place debut.

On the daily chart, Utada Hikaru has a first-place debut with Flavor Of Life.

Singles ranking is here, and album ranking is here.

- Speaking of music, the New York city council seem to symbolically banned any racial slurs, which would mark trouble for rappers who like using such slurs in their music. Apparently, using it carries no penalty; instead, you just get a wag of the finger. Chris Rock has a funny remark at the end of the article that I can’t write out again, but trust me, it’s funny enough to warrant checking it out.

- Last week, I mentioned that Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl is getting an encore run at a limited amount of screens at 1000 yen per ticket. Eiga Consultant has analyzed its first day earnings, and it made 18.24 million yen on 52 screens nationwide. At 1000 yen a pop, that means 18,240 people showed up, averaging about 350 people per screen.

FYI, though, the DVD is coming out on March 16th.

- I’m personally not an anime fan (I don’t really watch it….at all), but Twitch reports that John Woo is producing the sequel to the animated film Appleseed, and they also have a teaser up now. I watched it, and it looks just like an ad for another video game. But I’m not an anime fan, so maybe i have no right to talk.

- As we reported before, the Japanese Genghis Khan movie (honestly, the full name takes too much effort to type right now) is coming out this Saturday with huge fanfare and widespread advertisement (I’m not in Japan, so I don’t know). But as they say, the higher you climb, the harder you fall. Someone is already suing the production company for never signing the official document to get the rights transferred from her in order to produce the film. This is why you never transfer anything without signing an official document.

Tomorrow, looks like we’ll have Hong Kong numbers, and the new Japan Times reviews.

3 Responses to “After the storm”

  1. YTSL Says:

    Thanks for the mention of my blog. And sorry for being nitpicky but its title’s actually “Webs of Significance” (rather than “Web” in the singular). Also, if you’re wondering, it’s derived from the Clifford Geertz quote — i.e., “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun…” ;)

    Also, re your comment of “Thanks to Kozo over at Lovehkfilm for mentioning this blog, and actually calling me an all-around great guy, although you probably can’t tell by the antagonistic attitude I’ve got on this blog”:-

    Sorry to hear re the antagonistic attitude you’ve gotten. Is this why you’ve enabled the comment moderation setting on your blog?

  2. GoldenRockProductions Says:

    YTSL:

    No problem, the names have been corrected =)

    And as for the antagonistic attitude, I mean by my constant criticism of the Chinese government, Japanese TV (and the copyright people in general), and even TVB. I think I’m a little mean sometimes, but I think they’re worth pointing out.

    I set up the moderation setting is because I allow anonymous comments, so I just don’t want to accept every single comments that comes this way.

    Thanks for stopping by again.

  3. YTSL Says:

    Hi again –

    Hmmm, the name has been corrected on your recent blog entry but not the blogroll! ;(

    And oh, I see more clearly now re your “antagonistic attitude” comment! ;D

    Also, I guess that if you stop by at my place regularly, it’s only courtesy for me to check back at yours at least every once in a while… ;)

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