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Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with The Golden Rock.

The Golden Rock - May 31st/June 1st, 2007 Edition


Took the three hours to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End yesterday. Surprisingly, the 165-minute length went by fairly quickly, maybe because everyone was double-crossing each other the first hour and a half. Unlike Dead Man’s Chest, which sprinkled bits of action moments throughout to keep the audience pumped(including the Krakin beast thing that I have a personal affinity for, though it didn’t appear much in At World’s End), At World’s End is really one big setup for a somewhat underwhelming final battle that feels much like the second half of a huge 5-and-a-half hour film. This one really tests the audiences to see whether they actually care about the plot or not by stuffing as much into the journey between point A to point B as they can. It’s still very entertaining with the silly sense of humor and penchant for excess still around, but Verbinski and his writing team of Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio take the whole thing so seriously that Verbinski actually went as far as trying to channel Sergio Leone in a pre-showdown scene, Western music and extreme close-ups and all.

As expected, Johnny Depp steals the show as Jack Sparrow, even though he doesn’t appear until about 30 minutes in. While the Elizabeth Swann and William Turner plot line’s resolution was better than I expected, they are still the usual straight characters that were obviously misconceived when the writers wrote the original characters, not knowing that Depp’s performance would be so over-the-top. Chow Yun-Fat was great to see on the big screen, but that’s only because of the man’s reputation in my mind; he really doesn’t get much to do. The special effects are…..special, especially the Davy Jones character design. The credits showed at least 5 different special effects firms worked on the film, and it shows how much work they put in to make everything look real nice. Essentially, with all the money and audience love it’s gotten (which I honestly admit I’m a little baffled by, though I think a large percentage of the audience go purely for Johnny Depp and/or the special effects without even caring about the mythology and the plot), this movie is critic-proof. So go catch up with the second movie on DVD (trust me, you’ll need to), sit yourself in a movie theater with a good setup (I watched it in digital projection myself), and just enjoy the hell out of it. Word of warning, though: This movie is the most violent of the three, with people getting stabbed and shot in the head (though no blood). So don’t let the Disney label fool you into thinking it’s a kids film.

Note: Do stick around for past the credits. The post-credit scene this time actually matters, unlike the one in the second film (I had predicted the post-credit scene in the first movie mattered in the resurrection of Barbossa - it didn’t), because it wraps up a pretty important plot line. While I admire the team’s effort to make people watch the credits to recognize all the people’s hard work, it’s already been 160 minutes by the time the credits start. Just show what you need to show and let people go home.

- In Hong Kong, Pirates already seems to be slowing down a little bit. On Thursday opening day, Pirates made only HK$1 million on 88 screens for an 8-day total of only HK$25.85 million. One can argue that reduced running time means less shows, but I blame it on the ticket increase (theaterowners added HK$15 to the ticket price because of the length) and people just kind of balked at a 3-hour long movie. I don’t see this going past $HK40 million, which King Kong managed to do under the same condition.

In opening films, Hong Kong romantic comedy Single Blog (which actually claims in its trailer that 99% is not created, but rather situations taken from Hong Kong people’s blogs…someone should ask for royalties) made HK$220,000 on 25 screens, which is bad, but could have been a lot worse. Premonition starring Sandra Bullock makes HK$100,000 on 15 screens, Disney’s Bridge to Terabithia makes only HK$60,000 on 19 screens, and the weekend is just looking pretty yawn-y.

- Borat opened on 31 screens in Japan this past weekend, and it did pretty well in at least one of them. A theater in Shibuya is reporting that the film got off to an extremely good start, with hip people from their 20s to their 50s attending, and that people are taking advantage of the Monday discount….except the theater gives no official numbers, and no one knows how it did in the other 30 theaters. According to Box Office Mojo, it only made 7.3 million yen, for a not very good per-screen average of 237,000 yen (US$1=121 yen). But considering that it’s playing in small art house theaters that sit only about 150 people (at most 200), the houses are definitely getting filled….just not as filled as some might suggest.

- When my friend told me about the ridiculousness of this, I thought he was behind about 2 months, because I thought Norika Fujiwara’s wedding already happened. Turns out they held a Western wedding reception, and for some reason, Nippon TV thought it was important enough to broadcast it live. Then viewers thought it was important enough to tune in. In the Kansai area, where Fujiwara is from, the ratings for the wedding actually reached 40%. It didn’t do too shabby in Kanto, either; it reached 24%.

- In Europe, authorities report that they seized 23.2 million copies of entertainment goods such as DVDs, CDs, and software. And they’re blaming China, reporting that 93% of what they seized came from there.

- Taiwanese music channel Channel V is signed on to broadcast on the Hong Kong pay network Now TV. The thing is, Channel V was already in Hong Kong when Star TV was still playing in Hong Kong before joining Now TV, so how is this news? I know, I’m wasting your time too.

- There’s a sales poster up for Johnnie To’s romance Linger. Is that what passes for a poster of a Johnnie To movie nowadays? And that title, “Butterfly Fly?” This might be the first time I’m actually avoiding a Johnnie To movie.

- Japan Times has a feature on Japanese cinema’s newest hero Naomi Kawase, who won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival with her drama “The Mourning Forest.” They also have a feature about the making of the film as well, including her frustrations of working with foreign investors.

- Seems like the New York Asian Film Festival is running into some troubles after sponsor Midway Games decided to pull out of the festival. Now things are being rescheduled, but the festival is still on. I won’t be able to attend (due to the fact that i’m on the opposite end of the country), but I wish them mucho luck.

- Australian screenwriter/director Tony Ayres’ autobiographical film The Home Song Stories, starring Joan Chen and her daughter Irene, won a A$15,000 prize for its screenplay.

- Sai Yoichi, the Korean-Japanese director who made the brutally powerful Blood and Bones, made his Korean directorial debut with Soo, a violent revenge action thriller that sounds really promising. It’s coming to DVD on June 15th.

But then today Twitch’s Todd posted a fairly negative review that now has me wondering whether it’d be any good. I’ve read positive reviews of the film as well, so perhaps it’ll be one of those love-it-or-hate-it films that I might end up liking.

- The Galaxy Award, held by the Japan Council Better Radio and Television (there should be a council like that everywhere), was recently given out. I’ve never heard of this award, but since it’s in its 44th year, it must mean something. Notable winners include drama “Dr. Koto’s Clinic 2″ and actress Ryoko Shinohara for her several roles (including her lead role in drama Haken no Hinkaku).

- For anyone that wants to know more about the Japanese pop music world, Japundit has a really long feature on the infamous Japanese talent management firm Johnny’s Entertainment. Sounds a bit like Hong Kong’s EEG too.

That’s it for today, more over the weekend.

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