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Back with a vengenace

After a small break yesterday, it’s time to catch up - in a big way.

- As always, let’s start with box office reports. Japan had the beginning of its Golden Week holiday this past weekend (Tuesday and Wednesday are technically business days, but people take them off anyway), so obviously numbers are gonna be pretty huge. However, Box Office Mojo doesn’t have their charts updated yet, so I’m relying on audience ranking for now. The big battle for this Golden Week weekend is the highly anticipated-Babel (due to the Academy Award nominated performance of Rinko Kikuchi) and the classic cartoon adaptation “Gegege Kitaro.” And the winner is…..neither. Conan the child detective film won the weekend at number 1, while “Gegege” does win the duel at number 2, and Babel still manages a number 3 opening. All the other top 10 movies stayed pretty close to their rankings last week, but expect Spiderman 3, which already opened today Japan time, to come and wipe them all out this coming weekend. Hell, its first day already attracted 400,000 people, which far surpassed the opening days of the last two films (248,000 for the first film, 301,000 for the second film). That’s OK, Babel was never meant to be a crowd-pleasing hit anyway.

- Speaking of Babel, after the negative press it got earlier in the year when the deaf community in Japan rightfully complained the lack of Japanese subtitles made the film hard to understand for them, the film is under fire again for making people sick. In one theater in Nagoya (funny how the press is only covering one of the some-300 screens it’s playing at), several moviegoers complained of feeling sick during the club scene, which features strobe lights. I rewatched the film recently, and having seen it on the big screen, I can see why that scene would be a problem, especially for those sensitive to such effects. But when I got uncomfortable, I just turned away for a second, which I think any sensible person would do….right?

Of course, it’s funny to see how comments on various Japan blogs that carry the story would go off-topic and take the opportunity to blast the film.

- Another weak weekend at the South Korean box office, as Paradise Murdered rules again. My Tutor Friend 2 (which I hear has nothing to do with My Tutor Friend 1, which I wished I enjoyed more, but didn’t) is a flop.

- I had thought that Election 2 (renamed Triad Election in the United States) would not do very well, even in a cinephile city like New York. But look - at 71st place, it actually made a very impressive $10,811 on just one screen! I wonder if the theater is counting Election and Election 2 as one film, and since the two films require separate admission, it just happened that people stuck around for both films, thus inflating the gross? Who cares, the numbers look good either way.

- The Tarantino/Rodridguez flop Grindhouse was originally going to be released as a double feature in many European regions (apparently, Asia doesn’t “get” the idea of double features.). Looks like the Weinsteins are changing their tune now.

- Someone correct me if I get this wrong, but looks like both the big Japanese comedies expected this summer - Takeshi Kitano’s “Kantoku Banzai” and Hitoshi Matsumoto’s “Dai Nipponjin” - are both going to Cannes. “Kantoku” was previously reported to be in competition, and “Dai Nipponjin” had just been invited into the Director’s Week lineup. According to the report, Matsumoto was not intending to join the Cannes lineup, but seems to be changing his mind now.

- Twitch reports 2 upcoming DVD releases - the region 1 DVD for Katsuhito Ishii’s A Taste of Tea, which I marked down as a film I should have saw when I was in Japan, but just couldn’t get the motivation to rent the damn thing (or was it because the rental DVD didn’t have English subtitles?) on July 3rd, and Danny Pang’s Forest of Death (LoveHKFilm review) on May 10th.

- The Udine Far East Film Festival wrapped up on Saturday, and the Korean film No Mercy For the Rude won the audience prize, with After This, Our Exile at 2nd place and Memories of Matsuko at 3rd.

- With that, Variety Asia also covers the Udine Far East Festival as part of a trend that’s seeing Asian films penetrating into the mainstream market in Europe.

- File this under “idiotic Asian pop decisions”: The huge Taiwanese boy pop group F4 (the F stands for Flower), which got its name from their drama Meteor Garden, which was based on the Japanese comic Hana Yori Dango anyway (still following me?), is now changing their name to… ready for this? JVKV. The new name is comprised of the first letters of the members’ respective names - Jerry, Vic, Ken, and Vanness (which is a name I’ll never take seriously, seeing how we have a Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco). Just because I filed this under humor, don’t think that I made it up. I totally didn’t.

- And file this one under “bad gimmicks”: The second trailer for Takeshi Miike’s so-called “Sukiyaki Western” film “Django” is on the website (I suggest watching the Windows Media Player version), and it honestly looks pretty bad. The trailer itself is ridden with horrible English narration (I swear it sounds like it comes from a mock Grindhouse trailer), and the trailer shows that the film is actually completely in English (The problem lies in that the film has an all-Japanese cast). Yikes.

- Professor David Bordwell and Dr. Kristin Thompson go to Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival (which apparently will be renamed Ebertfest next year), where Ebert himself made an appearance, despite his recent condition. Oh, and they watch a couple of movies too.

- This is nothing new, but the U.S. decides to remind which Asian countries suck at protecting copyright.

- Daniel Wu and the alive boys really DID show up at the San Francisco International Film Festival. And SF360 has an interview with them that the Hong Kong media might have a field day with.

An interesting thing to note - there were quite a few Chinese people at the After This, Our Exile screening on Sunday, but at 22, I think I was the youngest person in the entire screening. As I was leaving, the line for The Heavenly Kings rush tickets, which was to be shown in about half an hour after that, was forming. Instead of the mature crowd that was at my screening, the people in line were much younger in comparison. I could see it already: screaming ABC girls as Daniel Wu comes out to introduce the film. That wouldn’t have been very pleasant. Who knows, there’s still one more chance to see the Alive boys….nah, probably not.

Instead of the song of the day, there will be a feature coming up.

One Response to “Back with a vengenace”

  1. Willow Says:

    I made it to The Heavenly Kings showing at the Kabuki last Sunday (2 days ago? wow.) I was at the head of the line, inside the theater though. The four showed up for the Q&A after the film; no intro. What sucked was people from theater #6 had to move to #5 before the Q&A could begin in #5, so valuable time was lost.

    While in line, I thought the audience would consist mostly of younger women, but was glad to see many older (aged 30 - 60) folks showing up. In the theater, the younger ladies sat at the seats closest to the screen. And I was in the front row. In theater 5.

    I need to do a blog on this. Soon.

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