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Best of Golden Rock - May 28th to June 3rd, 2007

The following is a compilation of the most notable news covered by The Golden Rock from May 28th to June 3rd.

- Very sad news also coming from Japan. Izumi Sakai, the lead singer of the pop group Zard passed away yesterday after an accidental fall. She was 40 years old.

- After its win at the Cannes Film Festival, Variety finally has a review of Naomi Kawase’s The Mourning Forest. Reviewer Russell Edwards says its ambitions are undercut by conveniently underarticulated affections, and won’t reach far beyond festivals and European arthouse audiences.

Meanwhile, Jason Gray updated his previous about with a few more words about the film and its upcoming limited release in Japan.

Eiga Consultant questions its commercial prospects. While The Mourning Forest is set for a 5-screen limited release nationwide, its success in Cannes may push it to become a small indie success like “The Seagull Diner.” However, it’s also going to be broadcast on the pay satellite channel for NHK in HD on May 29th, 3 weeks before its theatrical release.

- r@sardonicsmile has a look at the Hong Kong band scene, which include a clip of the documentary on my favorite HK rap group LMF. However, if you’re in a Cantonese-speaking work environment, the language is not work-safe.

- Stephen Fung’s Enter the Phoenix has been sold to be remade in Hollywood. I shuddered when the producer says “this movie should be remade for a bigger, broader audience.” Can you say bad gay jokes all around? Then again, the original has a kid smiling after a thermometer goes up his anus, it can’t really get any broader than that.

- Japanese drama Liar Game, which has been doing gradually better in the ratings, as well as the satisfaction scores in most age groups, has gotten Fuji TV so excited that they’re going to expand the finale to a three-hour special. Most drama finales are only expanded by 15 minutes.

- On the Hong Kong Broadway Cinema website has the trailer for “Mr. Cinema,” which I introduced before as “Call me Left.” Directed by Samson Chiu and starring Anthony Wong as the title character, “Mr. Cinema” tells the story of a theater projector (at an old-school cinema that’s still up and running in my home turf Kwun Tong) and his family over the course of 40 years. WARNING: trailer features Anthony Wong trying to sing.

- Doraemon, or known as “Ding Dong” when I was growing up, is my favorite comic ever. Even though I own every issue that was translated into Hong Kong’s Chinese version under the title “Ding Dong” (It was later reprinted under “Do la A Mong,” which follows the Japanese title Doraemon), the comic never reached an ending because the creator Fujio F. Fujiko passed away. Over the years, there have been speculations of how the story ended, including one that showed Doraemon was a figment of protagonist Nobita’s imagination (which would’ve really pissed me off). The one I liked was Doraemon’s battery runs out and is revived by the adult Nobita, who becomes a scientist to revive his robot cat friend. Turns out that ending was just drawn by a 37-year-old man who drew up this “final episode” and sold it at Akihabara bookstores and the internet. Now he has come out to apologize for the copyright violation and has paid royalties to the copyright holders. So it’s official: There IS no ending to Doraemon. That should put the rumors to rest.

- Screengrab has a hilarious deleted scene from Terminator 3 that would explain an awful lot.

- 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.

- 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.

- After game developers Midway’s abrupt resignation as the official sponsor of the New York Asian Film Festival, Twitch has decided to call a boycott of Midway because of their unethical practices.

On the other hand, Suntory (yes, as in “For relaxing times, it’s Suntory time” Suntory) and the Weinstein Company’s Dragon Dynasty have stepped up to become sponsors, though the financial gap left by Midway’s departure still hasn’t been filled, which should say how big of a presence they would’ve been.

- 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.

- Youtube/Google and record company EMI have struck a deal to place video contents on Youtube legally. Artists under the EMI label include Coldplay and David Bowie (wait, does David Bowie even make music anymore?). Universal music also has a similar deal in place with Youtube. Too bad only North American music labels have deals so far, everything else is just getting their copyrights violated.

- This weekend, two films by two major comedians in Japan opened. First, there’s Takeshi Kitano’s latest “Kantoku Banzai” (”Long Live the Director!”), which is supposed to be quite strange and alienating like Takeshis’. There’s also “Dai Nipponjin,” the directorial debut of famous comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto (he’s the bald guy that does those batsu games). There were rumors that the films are opening on the same day to allow some cross-promotion, since the two comedians seem to cross paths on TV quite often. I can’t seem to find any articles about it (though I remember I read something about that), but if you need any proof that there’s any of that happening, just look at the following clip of Hitoshi Matsumoto on the comedy show “Waratte Itomo,” where he not only talks about his Cannes experience, but also have a crew member hang posters of his own film AND Kantoku Banzai in the back. Damn it, I want both of those posters.

- I know Ryu Seung-Wan (City of Violence, Arahan, Crying Fist) is a favorite among Asian action film fans out there. After exploring contemporary films, now he’s kind of moving on to period films….except said period film will have zombies in it too.

- Joost is supposed to be the high-quality alternative to Youtube, plus legal content. I have it, but it doesn’t have much to keep me tuned in. This isn’t going to help me keep tuning in, but I think this might encourage some other people to try it. However, Joost is currently invitation-only. Still, just google “Joost invite” and you can find one easily.

- Korea Pop Wars has a link to a very good editorial about the way the Korean Wave is going.

- Nominees for the 44th Grand Bell Awards in Korea have been announced. They’re still busy giving awards to The Host? That felt like it was so long ago. The biggest surprise is to see films that I didn’t particularly care for (Seducing Mr. Perfect and Ice Bar) in the nominations.

- Anyone who follows this blog and Hong Kong music at the same time would know that I don’t have much love for Mark Lui, whose pop duplication skills is only second to Hanjin Chan (Edison Chen vs 2Pac, Jordan Chan vs. Justin Timberlake). But I have to admit that Hong Kong press tends to make far too much out of nothing, even when it’s about Mark Lui’s copycat skills.

Case in point, I point you to the blog of Hong Kong pop star Denise “HOCC” Ho (yes, that is actually her real blog). In a recent entry, she wrote:


(in translation)
I was unconsciously listening to the radio today.
I unconsciously heard such a thing.
I wanted to die listening to it.
Someone turned the thing I love the most into something like that……
I pray that I won’t have to listen to it ever again.

Somehow the Hong Kong media (and by that, I mean the Oriental Daily, circulation over 2,000,000 in Hong Kong, plus however many internet visitors it attracts) has connected it with reports that Mark Lui’s latest work “Money Money Money Money” by Leo Ku has been accused of copying Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Then somehow, Oriental Daily connected it with HOCC’s post about listening to a song on the radio that has ruined the thing she loves, which is conveniently Queen. Thing is, she has nothing to deny because she never named the song, and the report states that HOCC admits to have heard the song, but doesn’t wish to criticize it. Then the reporter apparently continued to pursue the question, prompting her to say the following:

「 創 作 人 同 音 樂 人 心 中 有 把 尺 , 我 把 尺 set 得 好 高 , 自 己 盡 量 避 免 ( 抄 襲 ) , 其 實 歌 手 都 應 該 有 責 任 ! 」 阿 詩 最 後 暗 寸 Mark 說 : 「 有 抄 襲 成 分 話 係 冇 得 追 究 , 不 過 總 會 有 人 知 ! 」

(in translation from the report)”Musicians have a bar in their hearts; I set the bar very high, and I try my best to avoid (copying). Actually, all artists have that responsibility!” Ah C also finally subtly criticizes Mark, saying “If there’s copied elements then it can’t be pursued, but someone always knows eventually!”

I love how these reports love to assume what the people are trying to say just by the report’s agenda.

Anyway, here’s the song in question, and here’s Bohemian Rhapsody. There’s a saying in Chinese, “The eyes are tall, but the hand is low,” meaning that the vision is ambitious, but the way it’s done is lackluster, which is the best way to describe the Leo Ku song. Lui’s ambition is high, trying to create a pop song that attempts to emulate Bohemian Rhapsody’s structure (it’s not the only song to do so anyway) and avoiding the Karaoke-friendly cliches. But the song sounds like a bunch of random melodies that Lui’s written before held together by the chorus; the whole thing just sounds like one of those bad pop song medleys… this one by Leo Ku rather than an actual song. Furthermore, Ku’s whole “can you hear me trying to sound like I’m having fun?” tongue-in-cheek delivery is irritating, especially when he does it for five minutes. I’m sure Leo Ku is a talented singer (though his “I love to sing” shtick is a little tiresome), but he’s no Freddie Mercury. And yes, the beginning and the random a capella does sound a bit like Bohemian Rhapsody’s structure, but saying that “Money Money Money Money” is copying from Bohemian Rhapsody is an insult.

….an insult to Bohemian Rhapsody, that is.

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