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Best of Golden Rock - April 9th to April 15th

The following is a compilation of the most notable news covered by The Golden Rock from April 9th to April 15th:

- Those censors strike again. No, not China (more of those guys later), this time it’s Thailand, who has banned internet video service Youtube after anti-monarchist films appeared on the site. Youtube offers to help the Thai authorities delete the films in question without really going to the point of censorship.

- OK, China, your turn. Remember the Chinese idol show Super Girl that got renamed to Happy Boy? Well, not only does the Chinese government hate girls that are happy, they are forcing the show to follow a strict set of guidelines that include no “weirdness” or “low taste,” allowing only “healthy and ethnically inspiring songs,” and no screaming fans or crying contestants, because god help them if the winner might be popular enough to be the next Premier of the Communist party.

(not sure where the link went here)

- Japanese pop queen/suspect outer space alien Ayumi Hamasaki had her sold-out concert in Hong Kong, and with Eason Chan’s tendency to speak his mind, he decided to say that she was probably lip-syncing. Ming Pao has the report, and excerpt is as follows:

Eason形容濱崎步的演唱會是高成本製作,燈 光、爆破效果,以至整個演唱會的製作都很好,水準之高是本地演唱會難以做到;不過,他說:「看見濱崎步的勁歌熱舞,懷疑她有三分之一時間是『咪嘴』,而且 『咪嘴』功夫很到家。我看麥當娜的演唱會就覺得沒有『咪嘴』,雖然歌聲可能沒有唱片中的水準,但也很好看。」

Eason describes Ayumi Hamasaki’s concert as a high-budget production thanks to the lights and pyrotechnics. That type of quality is one that Hong Kong concerts have difficulty achieving. But he said “Seeing Ayumi Hamasaki’s singing and dancing, I suspect that she’s lip-syncing for 1/3 of the time, and her lip-syncing skills are quite good. I saw Madonna’s concert and didn’t feel she was lip-syncing. Though she didn’t sing as well as she does on her albums, it was still very good.”


In response, the organizers insist that Ayumi Hamasaki was not lip-syncing, “Ayumi Hamasaki sings too well, and plus all the audio equipments came from Japan, so that’s why there’s such a misunderstanding.”

Original Chinese text is here.

I’ve seen Ayumi Hamasaki’s live performance videos, and she can’t even hit those high notes when she’s NOT dancing. Plus, from Eason Chan, who still lip-sync some of his TV performances, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true.

- Then again, it’s hard to tell whether one can trust Ming Pao’s reporting. Yesterday, they reported Professor David Bordwell’s visit to Johnnie To’s set for “Triangle” (which they got from his blog), but they seemed to have gotten some facts wrong, particular in its last section. Chinese excerpts (followed by translation) are as follows:

發覺杜琪㗖喜用手提拍攝,與荷李活所用的路軌拍攝不同,不過用手提拍攝確較靈活。David Bordwell亦認為香港製作有時不夠精細,如電影《放逐》中有一幕講述澳門酒店的場景,原來是在杜琪㗖公司的天台搭景,就嫌太過草率了。

[David] discovers that Johnnie To likes using handheld camera, unlike Hollywood, which favor tracking, but using handheld camera is more flexible. David Bordwell also thinks that Hong Kong productions are not meticulous enough, such as the hotel scene in “Exiled.” Turns out that the “hotel” was a set on the roof of Johnnie To’s production company, and he thinks that it’s too sloppy.

Original Chinese text is here.

The entry that report is referring to is here, and here are the mistakes the reporter at Ming Pao made:

The report writes that Johnnie To prefers handheld, but this is what Professor Bordwell wrote:

“To’s art is furthered by his craftsmanship in shot composition. Composing in anamorphic (2.35:1), nearly always putting the camera on a tripod or dolly, he gets precise results with few lighting units. When I complained that all the new films I saw at Filmart were shot shakycam, Shan Ding reported a neat saying that HK DPs have. The handheld camera covers 3 mistakes: Bad acting, bad set design, and bad directing.”

The report also wrote that Professor Bordwell complained that the hotel set in Exiled shows the sloppiness of Hong Kong filmmaking, but there is no such complaining in his entry. This is what Professor Bordwell wrote in regard to the rooftop set:

“In another echo of old production methods, To’s films sometimes use rooftop sets. Last year the set for the hotel in Exiled was erected on the top of the Milkyway building. Its Demy-like pastels looked very artificial in daylight.”

Any complaining in there? I don’t see it. That’s why Hong Kong Chinese reporting should always be taken with a grain of salt.

- Plagiarism is a plague in the Asian music industry - everyone is copying off each other, and they’re only spread around like urban legend on the net while it continues. That’s why I’m happy to see one of these cases go to court, as a South Korean court ruled that a MTV for a song by Korean pop singer Ivy was illegally copied off a scene from the movie Final Fantasy: Advent Children. According to the comments there, representatives for Ivy’s side are just blaming it on some Chinese guy. Riiiigggght.

Look for the rip-off of the song by Mark Lui for the HK pop market in the coming months.

- Korean films seemed to have hit a slump for March, taking only 21.6% of the market. But the fact that the big picture shows that Korean films is still enjoying a 55.3% share for the year, the reports may be blowing it out of proportion a little bit. Hong Kong would kill for that kind of number, people.

- The Hong Kong International Film Festival is coming to an end, with the Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday (I’ll be watching it on Sunday night on the tape-delay broadcast by the local TVB channel in San Francisco), which means Professor Bordwell is leaving. But before he leaves, he shares a ton of pictures, and even mentions this blog! Thanks, Professor, I enjoyed your coverage of the HKIFF!

- Remember the highly-anticipated Jackie Chan-Jet Li project that turned out to be a kids’ movie? Variety Asia offers us more details, including the director (guy who did Lion and Stuart Little), and the plot, about an American teenager transported into ancient China, where he would join a crew of warriors (with it reportedly based on Journey to the West, it would probably be the monk and his disciples, which include the Monkey King) to free an imprison king. Holy ethnographic gaze, Batman!

- . Today, I offer Korea Pop Wars’ Mark Russell’s look at the ongoing struggles of vendors that sell pirated discs, only to find out that it’s all about location, location, location.

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