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Nippon Sunday

I know I promised the box office estimates for North America yesterday, but The Host isn’t on the estimates (which cannot be spelling good things for the critically-acclaimed film), so I have no reason to care.

- Don’t assume that the made-for-TV genre only exists in America, NTV has its own series of made-for-TV films (they call it dramas, but I call it made-for-TV movie, let’s call the whole thing off) every Tuesday night. Being the sometimes-creatively-drained industry that is TV, Japan loves doing one story in as many formats as possible. Look at Tokyo Tower - which was first a hit novel, then a made-for-TV film, then a currently-running drama, and coming in April, a feature film starring Joe Odagiri. That’s three incarnations of the same damn story within a half-year period.

This past week, the NTV movie-of-the-week is “The Eraser in My Head,” which is the Japanese title of the hit Korean film A Moment to Remember (it was a surprise hit in Japan, and was credited as an integral part of the Korean wave in Japan). Before I assumed it was just a rip-off of the Korean film (the credits on the website does not credit the Korean film), I found out that the film itself was based on a 2001 Japanese drama named Pure Soul, which is what NTV credited as the source material. Even though it was based said drama, you can’t deny that this incarnation was inspired by the success of the Korean film….can you?

This coming week’s movie-of-the-week is miniseries “Ai No Ryukeichi,” based on a hit novel and was made into the movie “Love Never to End,” which was a moderate success in January. I’ll assume that this TV version won’t be as explicit as the film, which earned an R-15 rating due to its sexual content.

- Speaking of Joe Odagiri, Hoga News has a story on the latest surge of his exposure rate in Japanese media.

- Japan Time’s notable reviews for the week are the Japanese fantasy fable “Argentine Baba” (Argentine Hag) and documentary Crossing the Bridge by Fatih Akin, whose devastatingly Head On was one of my favorite films last year.

- Twitch has the link to a second trailer for a possible Japanese comedy hit this summer “Maiko Hannnnn!” written by Kankuro Kudo, who wrote Go and Ping Pong. It looks just strange enough that it might be one of those sleeper hits.

- I reported a while ago about the opening of the Wald 9 Cinemas in Shinjuku. The Daily Yomiuri has reported on its effect on Shinjuku, which has one of the highest concentration of cinemas in Japan. I saw The Incredibles at this incredible 800-seat theater (I believe it was the Piccadilly, but I can’t recall the name. It was a multiplex of sorts, since it did have 3 screens) there. And now the opening of the Wald 9 has driven it to be closed down (maybe it’s the theatre the report cites as being rebuilt), which is a shame, because huge screens like that has ceased to exist in San Francisco (I saw Star Wars episode 1 at the Coronet, where the original Star Wars film premiered 20-odd years before that), and now it’s slowly dwindling away in Tokyo as well. Too bad, it was worth every one of those 1500 yen I paid for, and now those money are going towards small auditoriums with small screens.

- Anyone tired of those Samurai period dramas from Japan lately? Then start rejoicing, because a non-samurai period film is coming soon. Originally a novel, the film “Akane Zora” is about a tofu maker’s business and his family.

- The Daily Yomiuri also shows off how awesomely unbelievably great Japanese mangas are by pointing out all the adaptations of them in other Asian countries. MANGA BANZAI!!!!!

The Daily Yomiuri links are courtesy of Ryuganji.

- Danwei, an English blog on the Chinese media that is far better organized and written than this site, has a translation of an article about how one phone call stopped the Chinese film rating system. The idea of the film rating system is good, but when you have conservative middle-aged men behind the system with an agenda, it’s bound to be corrupted. Kinda like the MPAA.

Link courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth

Related news, a Chinese blog has detailed the cuts done to Babel for Chinese viewing, and it pains me to list all these out (WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS):

- The Moroccan kid masterbating
- The chicken killing shot in Mexico
- Rinko Kikuchi’s character taking off her panties
- Rinko Kicuchi’s character opening up her skirt
- Rinko Kikuchi’s character grabbing the dentist’s hand and bringing it to her crotch (fully dressed)
- Rinko Kikuchi’s charater’s nude scene, where she attempts to seduce the policeman.
- Rinko Kikuchi’s character nude at the balcony (which probably killed the entire final shot).


- Ming Pao has an editorial about how Hong Kong is attempting to save itself from total destruction. Excerpts are as follows:


Andy Lau not only invests in new directors in Hong Kong through low-budget productions, he also invested in other regions in Asia.


Eric Tsang bravely used fresh talents in his productions. Director Wong Ching-Po and screenwriter To Jing Lang were his discoveries.


Johnnie To, who’s been quite strong these few years, has seen his Associate director Law Wing-Cheong and screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi become directors.


Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, who is triumphing overseas, is using HD films to teach newcomers, allowing them to take bigger risks.


Outsiders believe that Filmmakers only know how to ask the government for help while doing nothing, and that’s just not true.


There are very few news about the film industry in entertainment news, which only knows how to report on celebrities’ private lives. Outsiders know nothing at all about the changes going on in the film industry.


Small-to-medium budget productions are the best tool to try new themes and train newcomers. Those who don’t know films think that movies are products of genius, when the truth is that those who have succeeded grew up from past failures.


To win the faith of financiers, the products of those success stories should use their reputations to vouch for newcomers. In these few years, there is a notion from those who haven’t been to the movies in years that all Hong Kong films are bad films. To change their attitudes, we can’t just rely on 300 million dollars from the government to do the job.

How about changing the notion among Hong Kong youths that movie should be downloaded?

The original Chinese article is here.

Coming up: Best of the week, and song of the day.

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