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Archive for May 21st, 2007

The Golden Rock song of the day - 5/21/07

Today’s song is again featured very often in films, and remains one of my favorite love songs. My favorite use was in the ending montage for Boogie Nights, although the use of it in the ending of Love Actually is quite popular as well. From the 1966 album Pet Sounds, it’s The Beach Boy’s “God Only Knows.”

Yawn

The Cannes Film Festival has been going on for about 6 days now, which means it’s time for a bit of roundup. Variety says that the festival has been pretty mellow so far, with the Coen Brothers’ “No Country of Old Men” and the grim drama “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” as the frontrunners for the Palme D’or.

On the other hand, the Cannes market has been very healthy, with the North American rights for Wilson Yip’s “Flash Point” already sold.

I posted a link to Twitch’s review of the film “Dai Nipponjin,” which had its premiere on Saturday. Already there are distributors from ten different countries hoping to snatch up the film, which means we can see oversea releases pretty soon.

Kim Ki-Duk’s Breath, starring Chang Chen, is getting pretty good word-of-mouth as an in competition film. It’s also attracting quite a few buyers at the market as well.

- As expected, Spiderman 3 crossed the HK$50 million mark on Sunday in Hong Kong. The sequel made another HK$1.8 million on 65 screens, and has now made HK$50.73 million after 20 days of release. Of course, next weekend sees the opening of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, so it should die down right about then all around the world.

As for other films, the Korean blockbuster 200-Pound Beauty perked up by quite a bit, making HK$500,000 on 21 screens for a 4-day total of HK1.48 million. Herman Yau’s Gong Tau and Whispers and Moans (both category III, meaning no one under 18 can be admitted) made HK$210,000 and HK$70,000 on 25 and 5 screens, respectively. Gong Tau has now made HK$1.3 million after 6 days plus previews, while Whispers and Moans (which Twitch just recently reviewed as well) has made HK$360,000 after 4 days. Leon Lai-starrer The Matrimony made only HK$50,000 on 15 screens, while Audrey Tautou-starrer Priceless actually saw an increase in business with HK$150,000 on 7 screens.

(For reference: US$1=HK$7.8)

- In Japan, the latest box office ranking shows that most of the film on the top 10 last week stayed where they are, except in two spots - the sequel Pacchigi - Love and Peace lands on 7th place, while the Will Farrell-starrer Stranger Than Fiction lands on 10th. More numbers tomorrow.

- In South Korea, Spiderman again led the pack, but it’s counter-programming film Unstoppable Marriage that’s taking the spotlight. Also, Japanese films are suddenly performing really well there, with Memories of Tomorrow’s strong opening last week and the surprising 4th place opening for the pop-song-inspired “Tears For You.”

- This week’s Japan drama ratings are doing a bit better(See here for all the drama introductions), with Proposal Daisakusen, Sexy Voice and Robo, Bambino, and quite a few more dramas seeing higher ratings. Proposal Daisakusen is pulling its lead with a 16.6 rating average to be the current leader with no other drama close by. On the other hand, Yuji Oda’s Joudan Janai freefalls from its stable 14 rating range the last two weeks to a disastrous 11.7 this week, marking the drama’s lowest rating yet. This season just isn’t much for dramas.

- When India is a huge movie industry with production number matching Hollywood, it’s natural that they would start making movies of similar scale, right? And it’s also no surprise that Indian producers would eventually put their money into Hollywood.

- In fact, now Bollywood filmmakers are beginning to stray from the traditional formula, meaning less songs or different formulas. Apparently it’s a pretty huge deal if a 107-minute movie only has one song.

- On the other hand, Chinese producers are still hanging on to the martial arts/period epic formula to make money (with the somewhat disappointing showing of The Banquet and Curse of the Golden Flower, I was hoping it’s starting to end), and here is another example. Honestly, I haven’t been so indifferent to a huge Chinese period epic since…A Battle of Wits. Maybe it’s an Andy Lau thing.

- Some Westerner wants to do a biopic of Mao Tse-Tung, and he’s looking for the Chinese government approval to get production support. “This is a very positive portrayal of Mao,” the producer said. That’s Chairman Mao to you, foreign devil.

- Jason Gray has seen Takeshi Kitano’s “Kantoku Banzai,” but has sworn to secrecy. So good luck trying to decipher his response, completely done in Japanese smiley faces.

- How can you get your movie into China without having to worry about blackout dates and import quota? Engage in an artistic battle royale with your fellow filmmakers at the Shanghai International Film Festival, and you shall get your wish.

- What i love about the English stations of the two free broadcasters in Hong Kong - TVB and ATV - is that they would show Japanese dramas every week. It’s a good alternative to the same old melodramatic series on the Chinese channels, and they even sometimes pick pretty good American dramas too. This is all thanks to a flexible schedule, which means not having to worry about TV seasons or sweeps.

- The Stephen Chow-approved Japanese spinoff of Shaolin Soccer “Shaolin Girl,” has started shooting for a while, and apparently there’s a blog on its website, although I have no idea who’s writing it. It has already written about shooting the cameos by a couple of the Shaolin Soccer guys.

An Eye on the Storm - The Chinese University of Hong Kong and freedom of speech

Some might ask, what does a student newspaper in Hong Kong have to do with an Asian entertainment blog? The way I report things is that all media is considered “entertainment,” and if the freedom of speech in one form of entertainment is threatened in Asia, that makes it The Golden Rock’s business.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning: There are three “categories” for printed and film materials in Hong Kong. For printed material, a category I is considered “neither obscene nor indecent,” a category II is considered “indecent” and would publishers would subjected to heavy fines and/or jail time (the Easyfinder issue that featured pictures of Twins’ Gillian Chung changing taken by paparazzi was given a categoryII) if it was released to the general public with no warnings and not wrapped in plastic bags. Lastly, a category III would just be flat out “obscene.”

Apparently, I’m risking being complained to the Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority for linking you to this material, but I’m not in Hong Kong, so here.

The link above shows scans of either the February or March “sex page” of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Newspaper, which started in December of last year. Now, even though my own college newspaper (or any American college newspaper, for that matter) didn’t have a sex page, these things are actually quite common even in Hong Kong mainstream newspapers. Basically, they include things like prostitution experiences and sex discussions, so a sex page in a student newspaper is actually not that huge of a deal. If you can read Chinese, the CUHK newspaper page has the typical sex columns and Q&A’s. It’s not particularly explicit, though it’s surprising to see a Hong Kong publication to deal with the subject in a rather frank fashion rather than a sensational fashion, as the mainstream papers often do.

However, in the March issues, there was a questionnaire for its readers that ask questions about their thoughts on incest and bestiality (translated by EastSouthWestNorth), and over a 100 complaints started streaming into the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority and the school. The school immediately reprimanded the newspaper and it has been told by the authorities that the questionnaire will cause that issue be upgraded into category II (it’s an interim decision, meaning they are sending the paper to the Obscene Articles Tribunal, and is telling the newspaper that they MIGHT just classify it as category II), setting off great controversy on the campus and the city. Since the newspaper was already released to the general public without plastic bags and warnings, the CUHK newspaper would be fined, and its editors may even face jail time if the tribunal decides to classify the paper as category II material.

On one side, your conservatives (based on this recent discussion show, which featured director Wong Jing on the forum) are saying that speech should have a moral limit, that the whole thing was done not only in poor taste, but offensive to parents who just want their kids to get a “straightforward education.” On the other hand, the editors protest the decision, saying the school is restricting their freedom of speech and saying that they are using such a paper to engage people to think about sex. Ming Pao Daily is also now risking having one of its issues classified for reprinting the pages in question on the newspaper, pushing the controversy even further.

With most Hong Kong Chinese language bloggers supporting the school newspaper, 1,700 people started a movement, complaining about the contents of the bible to the TELA in order to show the absurdity of the system, not just to mock it. They argue that the bible contains incest and violence, which makes it indecent material. However, the TELA decided not to send the bible to the Obscene Articles Tribunal for classification because it’s a historical document that has been generally accepted by respectable members of the community. This sparks another question (also raised in the discussion show I linked above): If one million people in Hong Kong vote that the CUHK newspaper is not obscene, would that make it “generally accepted by respectable members of the community?”

Not struck down, complaints against other publications are being lodged with the TELA, including the Koran, Oriental Daily (which has a pretty big sex page that they call “the Male Extreme Circle, a wordplay on the Chinese word for Antarctica. Don’t ask), and even Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile, Ming Pao polls several adjudicators from the Obscene Articles tribunal with random sex pages from newspapers, along with the CUHK paper. Seven of the adjudicators would actually only classify the CUHK page as a category I, and six of them actually rated it the tamest out of the four samples.

Like Wong Jing said in the discussion show, it’s OK to bring up things like incest and bestiality. The newspaper did not encourage such actions; they only meant to stir readers’ thoughts and think about their own views about such issues. However, even in America, the term “freedom of speech” is subjected to “community standards.” This means “acceptable” words are purely dependent on whether it’s acceptable by the community in which the word was said, which would put CUHK in a precarious position. The mainstream isn’t ready for things like incest and bestiality, which means they would deem it “indecent.”

Of course, Wong Jing also criticized that the page’s problem was that it “sucked,” and while I would certainly agree it’s done in poor taste, I don’t believe that these students should be punished so heavily for it. Reprimanded, maybe, but heavy fines and jail time just seem an awful lot for a tasteless sex survey.

Of course, maybe it’s just because I’m a dirty non-Christian liberal with no sense of morals.

 
 
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