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Bit of everything

Since there isn’t a lot of new from Cannes, we’ll just do it the way we always do it around here.

- First, some news out of Hong Kong in a follow-up to the Chinese University of Hong Kong newspaper scandal. After the news broke out that the student newspaper was slapped with an interim category II rating (ruling it as indecent), Ming Pao Daily reprinted the page on one of their Sunday issues in an attempt to show what the hoopla’s about. After receiving more complaints, the TELA has also given that issue an interim classification of category II. Meanwhile, a survey was also done with over 1000 people about the CUHK newspaper, and to further complicate the definition of obscene, the general public seemed to have been offended by the CUHK newspaper.

Besides the obvious problem stated by EastSouthWestSouth, that most of those people haven’t even read the page themselves because the law won’t allow anyone to reprint it, what about the issue of target audience? The newspaper is not produced nor distributed for the general public, but rather just a small number of people that goes to Chinese University. Some people say that students might bring it back home, where kids can get to it. Then it’s the student’s fault for laying a sex page around the house, not the fault of the editors. Until then, only the students of CUHK should have the right to decide what they can or cannot read.

This is a frustrating situation, because people who have no business in denouncing a newspaper is doing so, and there’s such a hypocrisy going on in the media that I’m surprised no one is pointing it out. This is the Oriental Daily “Male Extreme Section.” It comes out once a week, and it contains articles about how prostitution is a natural thing in society, a column about a woman’s experience with a younger man, a guide to having sex during the summer heat, among other things that would not be very acceptable in a mainstream newspaper. So why hasn’t these people been fined week after week?

Same reason why Easyfinder has managed to survive week after week of exploiting female celebrities: It’s titillating. The contents in the sex pages of mainstream newspapers are meant to encourage people to feel sexual desire, which is why they are often sensational and written in casual Chinese. Though Easyfinder is now closing after years of public pressure, it only got into trouble because of clear acts that are illegal (such as violating Gillian Chung’s privacy by printing the pictures of her changing). Other than that, no one points out that it’s been nothing more than a trashy tabloid that’s meant to entertain.

On the other hand, the CUHK newspaper forces people to face their hidden fantasies, and it pretty much presents the same thing the other mainstream newspapers write about. As for the questionnaire problem, it doesn’t even encourage such behavior, nor is it even meant to be taken seriously. Look at the choices: There are four relatively short answers and an extended mock answer that’s just played for laughs. Hell, for the question about whether readers thought about bestiality, the closest thing to a “yes” choice is the mock answer. Maybe it’s in poor taste, but I don’t see anything particularly obscene about it, as long it’s not encouraging people to engage in such behavior, and that’s my conservative side talking already.

Anyway, on to regular news already.

- Legendary Japanese director Kei Kumai passed away on Wednesday morning Japan time.

- It’s time for the Japanese Oricon charts. On the singles side, Keisuke Kuwata’s latest single “Will It be Sunny Tomorrow,” also the theme song for popular drama Operation Love, debuts at number 1 with 167,000 copies sold. The single also marks his first solo effort in 5 years, and his 5th consecutive number 1 as a solo artist. The debut breaks the record for the consecutive number of number 1 debuts for a solo effort from a band member. Meanwhile, Exile’s latest debuts at a weak number 3 spot with only 89,000 copies sold as the singles market continues to weaken over time. Next week, expect boy band V6’s new single to rule the charts, only to see a huge drop off afterwards.

On the album chart, Linkin Park debuts at number 1 with 150,000 copies sold, while Maroon 5 debuts at the number 3, selling 64,000 copies. The biggest news is the new album by Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi, who is also starring in Kenta Fukasaku’s latest film, debuted only at number 4 with 61,000 copies sold. If the daily rankings hold up, then we should see Japanese albums ruling the charts again.

- Anyone that’s looking to watch Sexy Voice and Robo episode 7 online (I’m not, but I’m just saying) can forget it - NTV pulled the episode after an incident last week where an ex-Yakuza holed up in an apartment shot and killed a police officer during the stand-off. They also have no plans to air the episode yet, as they’ll just skip straight to episode 8 next week.

- Last weekend, the distributor for the independent film sequel Pacchigi - Love and Peace predicted that its gross would past the 1 billion mark based on the opening day of the first film. And it’s true, Love and Peace did indeed open at 150% of the first film, except the distributor didn’t take into account that the first film played to strong word-of-mouth for 22 weeks. Considering that the opening was also only 59% of last year’s indie hit Hula Girl, perhaps expectation is a little high.

- On the other hand, Indies are now all the rage in North America as a form of counter-programming.

- Reviews from Cannes time. The latest film by Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Invisible Waves, Last Life in the Universe) Ploy premiered as part of the Director’s Fortnight. Variety didn’t really like it, saying that it made the slow Invisible Waves look like a rapid approaching tsunami in comparison (that was a pun in bad taste, I say). On the other hand, Twitch likes it a lot, calling it beautiful, thought, and mediative.

- The Edge of Heaven, the new film by Fatih Akin, the director of the great “Head-On” (the film, not the product), is competing in Cannes. Looks like both Variety and Hollywood Reporter liked it. Variety calls it utterly assured and profoundly moving, while Hollywood Reporter calls it intricate and moving. I’m looking forward to it already.

- There have been clips of Sammi Cheng’s Hong Kong concert on Youtube, prompting the record company to ask Youtube to take it off the site. Problem is that these are just badly recorded clips from cell phones of digital cameras, so why start some petty copyrights fight to give up some promotion for the concert DVD?

- The Korean film I’m anticipating the most right now is probably Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird, and it was recently sold to France in a 6-figure deal. Good for them.

- Dave’s Trailer Page has a link to a pretty good trailer for the fabulous Paris Je T’aime. I have the Hong Kong all-region DVD, but I urge everyone to give this a try in the theaters. Trust me, it’ll appeal to a wide audience better than the arthouse ones, except for a few of the shorts.

- Chow Yun-Fat wants to take on romantic or dramatic lead roles in Hollywood. At least he’ll do better than Jackie Chan, who pretty much said the same thing a year or two ago. But….but…what about Hong Kong??

- Apparently someone used a digital camera or something and bootlegged some footage from the reel for Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly from the Cannes Film Festival. It looks technically accomplished, with huge explosions and whatnot, but Feng Xiaogang is first and foremost a commercial filmmaker. And honestly, the battle scenes look like they were taken straight out of Taeguki, which took its battle scenes out of Saving Private Ryan.

- Who says that playing video games ruins your mind? Well, maybe in America, but in Japan, the Nintendo DS is actually being used effectively to learn English.

- Oh, there’s another positive review for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, though right now it’s only at 50% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. I still can’t get over the 2 hours and 48 minutes length myself.

- China is not just looking to Hong Kong for co-production. Those promiscuous bastards are looking all over the world.

- Isabella Leung is going to Hollywood. The star of…Isabella is set to play Michelle Yeoh’s daughter in The Mummy 3, also known as “the latest way to fuck up Chinese culture for worldwide consumption.” Stop taking our people down with you, Hollywood.

- Cannes isn’t even over yet, and the Venice Film Festival is already announcing that Robert Zemekis’ latest film, the 3D Beowulf (can he just go back to doing live-action films already?), will be opening the festival. Also, Ang Lee and Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest films also have a pretty good chance of showing up there as well.

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