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Best of February

Since the traffic at this site has gone up considerably (more later today on responses and thanks), I decided to round up some news from February that is most worthy to repost. If you have any news that you think belong here, but didn’t, be sure to leave a comment:

By the way, these are all just copy and paste jobs:

– This is why there needs to be a free flow of information on the internet: A Hong Kong blog has an expose on Hong Kong’s so-called hottest MTV director, nicknamed “Jacky” (who has done MTVs for mostly EEG artists). In an interview for Easyfinder, he talks about his MTV for Yumiko Cheng’s single “Up and Down,” which is outright copied from Goldfrapp’s Strict Machine MTV. This is a (translated) excerpt about his “creative process”

“A lot of dance songs are just pure Music Video (earlier in the article, he mentions three types of music videos - pure music videos, ones with story, and ones for advertisements), because inserting a story would just be hackneyed. I use a lot of graphics and abstract color tones to package it. The record company already decided that Yumiko would wear Chinese-style red and green clothes to dance. I felt that the clothes is like a kaleidoscope, so I found a lot of vintage toys to create that kaleidoscope effect.”

Yeah, I’m sure he’s that much of a genius.

the blog entry is here (The pictures on the left are from the Goldfrapp video while the ones on the right are of Yumiko Cheng’s)

You can watch Goldfrapp’s Strict Machine here, and Yumiko Cheng’s Up and Down here

- YTSL, a writer for the site Hong Kong Cinema: View From the Brooklyn Bridge, has posted a top 10 list for 2006 Hong Kong films on her blog here. She amazingly includes McDull the Alumni, which I’ve always contend is Hong Kong’s answer to the Monty Python films and comes even with a hell of a monologue by Jim Chim.

– I don’t watch much Thai films, honestly, so you can’t blame me for not catching SARS Wars, although it does sound real wacky in that good way. Now the director Teewewat Wantha is back with a new work, and it sounds wackier than ever. Honestly, with a title like The Sperm, how can it not be wacky? Twitch has posted a teaser up, and it may be the funniest teaser I’ve seen in a while. Don’t worry, I don’t speak Thai either, and I thought it was funny, so there.

- Lovehkfilm’s 2006 Awards.

- - On that note, the new years installment of TVB variety show Beautiful Cooking is up on Youtube (I’m not condoning piracy here, I’m just taking advantage of the free flow of information). Essentially, it’s a show where three females celebrities go on the show and test their cooking skills (or often, the lack thereof) for the male judges. Of course, it features the same old canned laughter and lame musical segments that only TVB can think of. Most amusing is Alex Fong Lik-Sun lip-syncing to the theme song to It’s a Wonderful Life, except he even lip-synced to Tony Leung Ka-Fai’s line.

Through further research on Youtube, I have found a clip of long-running Japanese variety show called “Ai no Apron” (or the Apron of Love), and it’s basically where the cooking skills of female idols are tested for a male judge…wait a minute, that sounds like exactly what Beautiful Cooking is! This Wikipedia entry in Japanese shows that it at least goes back as far as 2005 (Beautiful cooking debuted in fall 2006)And here are those poor posters of Asian Fanatics Forum believing that TVB has come up with something original. Unless TVB’s got the rights to it, they better start preparing for a lawsuit.

This is why there should be free flow of information on the internet.

Note: looking up “Ai no Apron” or “愛のエプロン“( Japanese name) will not get you any result on youtube because of the copyright claims by Japan’s copyright people. Sorry.

- - Back to more positive things, Twitch has a great interview with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (whose new film Sakebi is coming out soon in Japan). But the interview isn’t about his new film, but rather about Japan’s response to Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed Letters From Iwo Jima (which has finally made its way to the imdb top 250!…..then dropped back out). It’s very informative, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

- The Japanese Academy Awards results are out, and I was kind of right - Memories of Matsuko’s Tetsuya Nakashima did not get the best director’s award. Instead, it went to Hula Girl’s Lee Sang-Il. Apparently, since Hula Girls was not produced by the big three (Toho, Shochiku, and Toei), this is pointing to further diversity in the industry….even though Hula Girls’ fate was written in the wind when it was picked for Academy Award consideration last year.

Hoga Central analyzes the awards and has the winners list here.

– Going over the China, it seems that the filmmakers behind the controversial Lost in Beijing has decided to screen the uncensored version for the public audience in Berlin, regardless of what the Chinese censors say. Ballsy move, indeed.

Source: Variety Asia

– Johnnie To has also apparently signed a deal to make his English debut - a remake of the French film Le Cercle Rouge. Good news is the To is now asking legendary French star Alain Delon to be in the film (who is apparently quite interested), bad news is that it’ll be produced by the producer of Rush Hour Arthur Sarkissian. Judging from the plot of the French original, this seems like the perfect way for To to break into the West. Just don’t forget about Hong Kong!

Source: Variety Asia.

- David Mamet has written a book about his experiences in Hollywood and advice for those who would like to enter that elite world. My favorite quote from the review on Yahoo News refers to film school: “One can study marching, the entry-level skill of the military, until one shines at it as has none other. This will not, however, make it more likely that one will be tapped to be the Secretary of the Army.” Mamet films are a bit of hit-and-miss for me, but you can’t deny that he’s a pretty damn good writer.

The review of the book is here.

- Variety Asia reports that Jia Jiangke’s film Still Life, which was shot and projected in Hong Kong in digital, was taken out of the Hong Kong Film Award best Asian film race because the award has a rule that stipulates films must be shot in 35mm. According to vice-chairman director Gordon Chan, the rule is to “protect movies” and that they are aware that more and more films are being shot in digital but they are “not ready to include them.” In other words, they’re trying to protect high-budget blockbusters produced by the committee members’ (quite a few of them producers and filmmakers themselves) bosses so they can get their next films funded. I’m not a fan of Jia Zhangke at all, and I don’t mean to be on a personal attack mode, but the man who made this movie shouldn’t talk about protecting movies anyway.

- - Johnnie To seems like a far more productive version of Wong Kar-Wai; while he does put out up to two movies a year, he can’t seem to decide what to do. News reported that shooting for a PTU TV series have been underway with different directors, but now comes the announcement that Johnnie To himself is going be making 5 films under the PTU series, with one being a theatrical release and the others being straight-to-video releases. He’s also in post-production for two films - Sparrow, which he’s been shooting on-and-off for a while, and his third of “The Iron Triangle,” co-directed by Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam. He’s probably shooting three more films we don’t know about that has no script, but who cares? He’s Johnnie To. As long as he keeps churning out more Exiled than Yesterday Once More, I ain’t complaining.

Wow, that was a lot. Anyway, starting next week, this will become a weekly thing, so to add to the daily entries, I’ll be doing an additional weekly round-up entry on Sunday as well. More the reason to check back everyday.

Anyway, a real entry will come later today. Promise.

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