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Best of Golden Rock - June 4th to June 10th, 2007

The following is a compilation of the most notable news covered by The Golden Rock from June 4th to June 10th, 2007:

- The recent blockbusters have been taking up so much screens in Korea (and pretty much everywhere else, come to think of it) that the Korean government is actually looking into whether studios are breaking monopoly laws. However, since these screen counts were reached by consensus between theaterowners and distributors (more demand=more screens=bigger cut), not much wrongdoing is likely to be found.

- After appearing in 6 films, starring in one TV drama (Taiyou no Uta, or the drama version of Midnight Sun, which was confirmed to be inspired by the Hong Kong film C’est la vie, Mon Cheri), and releasing a single under said drama character’s name, Erika Sawajiri may be headed for a singing career. Sony Music has introduced a new singer named Erika who happens to look like her, has the same birthday as her, and even has the same voice….except she was born in Paris, unlike Sawajiri. But, but, she’s not even much of a singer.

- Jim Carrey is getting to be more of an actor than just another funnyman - I loved his performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I guess taking on a thriller like The Number 23 sounded pretty good on paper. Now he’s taking on the dark comedy I Love You Philip Morris, as a real-life character who escaped prison four times after falling in love madly with his released-cell mate.

- The “HOCC vs Leo Ku” debacle has blown up just a little bit more when the two showed up for a concert put together by a radio station. And of course, the media is fanning the flame to sell more newspapers:

基仔甫坐下即說新歌《錢錢錢錢》的種類屬於Progressive Rock,與Queen的《Bohemian Rhapsody》屬同一種曲風,但兩首歌的旋律絕不一樣。

(in translation)Leo immediately said that his new song “Money Money Money Money” belongs in the category of Progressive Rock, the same style as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but the melodies are absolutely different.

OK, Mr. Ku, I’ll buy that your song doesn’t sound like Bohemian Rhapsody, but let’s make this clear - this song is Progressive Rock; your song is not.

Meanwhile, Paco Wong, the manager of all Gold Label artists, has this to say:


(in translation) “Perspectives are different. Denise Ho expressed her opinion without naming any names. That is her personal opinion; if she says that it’s Mark Lui and Leo Ku’s song, then thanks for helping with the promotion, but please clear up the names.” Then Leo pat his manager’s shoulder, trying to make peace saying, “she didn’t say any names, do not jump to conclusions.”

This is essentially a battle that the press started. HOCC didn’t even write that anyone copied any songs. Anyway, I won’t be translating the next line about Leo not smiling when they greeted each other since that’s just gossip. You can read the Chinese report to read about it.

- Twitch has the first trailer for the Tsui Hark/Ringo Lam/Johnnie To collaborative experiment Triangle. I don’t care what the critics say, I still think it looks like a hell of a ride. Be sure to use Internet Explorer to watch the link.

- The first English review for Takeshi Kitano’s Kantoku Banzai (Glory to the Filmmaker) is out, and with a 3.4 stars out of 5…..I guess it’s good, right?

- Twitch has a link to two more fragmented trailers to Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights. In line with the episodic structure of the film, the first trailer, released just before Cannes, showed the Jude Law subplot, while the second trailer is about Rachel Weisz’s subplot, and the third trailer is on Natalie Portman’s. It still looks pretty, but I’m not so sure about Portman’s country accent myself. By the way, you have to click on the French yellow button under that poster of Wild Hogs to get to the trailers.

- After a bit of rescheduling and whatnot, the New York Asian Film Festival finally announces its lineup, and it’s looking real good (so good that I wish I can fly to New York for it).

Looking even better is Japan Society’s own film festival Japan Cuts, which has quite a lineup this year as well, some of which is part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

- I first picked it up here, which somewhat wrongly translated the article. John Cameron Mitchell’s controversial film Shortbus is finally making its way to Japan, but not without a few modifications. According to the director, he personally supervised the placing of mosiac at 100 different places for the Japanese theatrical release due to the watchdog Eirin, who is basically the MPAA of Japan. Still, it’s not exactly the kiss of death, because unlike America, about 100 films are rated R-18 each year, including American Beauty. In fact, this news might even attract more people to see Shortbus in its limited run. Then again, Eirin is kind of weird, because even a violent war film like Letters of Iwo Jima got away with a general rating, while Flags of Our Fathers was a PG-12.

- Ryuganji has a really interesting commentary on a Japan Times commentary about the state of Japanese films. One is bleak about the state of Japanese films, the other says “hey, it ain’t so bad out here.” Guess which is which.

- Professor Bordwell writes about the recent wave of omnibus films, especially the Cannese 60th Anniversary anthology film To Each His Own Cinema.

- Naomi Kawase (director of the Cannes Grand Prix-winning The Mourning Forest) announced at Cannes that her next film will be a romantic comedy. Now more details have emerged that it’ll be shot in Thailand with Japanese drama star Kyoko Hasegawa. According to Ryuganji, just because Kawase is using a major actress for the first time doesn’t mean she’s going to be any easier on Hasegawa. She also wants to be among the ranks of Akira Kuroasawa and Nagisa Oshima as the “Japan’s Kawase” by the next generation and that she’ll win the Palme d’Or next time, though The Daily Yomiuri adds that she said it with a smile, suggesting that she might have just been half joking. Because, you know, I half-joke about winning the Palme d’Or all the time.

- The trouble is over, as Midway has now rejoined the New York Asian Film Festival as a sponsor. However, they are no longer the main sponsor, as Dragon Dynasty has taken that spot while they were gone.

- China is suspending the issuing of internet cafe licenses as they do a thorough investigation to make sure the customers are behaving properly, as in they’re not playing violent games, looking up porn, or speaking ill of the nation. In other words, what Americans do on the internet most of the time.

- In a piece of more serious news, the erotic pages of major Hong Kong newspapers were sent to the Obscene Articles Tribunal recently for classification after some accused the TELA of having a double standard in the classification process, especially in the handling of the Chinese University of Hong Kong student newspaper case. Well, it seems like these erotic pages were classified as category I: Neither obscene nor indecent, which is baffling to me, since they are saying that kids are allowed to read erotic pages of mainstream newspapers without any warning printed on its pages.

Oh, I got it, they must’ve figured out that since Apple Daily, The Sun Daily, Oriental Daily have some of the least credibility among Hong Kong newspapers, no one would take them seriously anyway, right?

- After a week, there are finally more English reviews of Hitoshi Matsumoto’s deadpan superhero comedy Dai Nipponjin. Variety’s Russell Edwards (who also wrote a too-short review for the film version of Tokyo Tower) calls it tears-down-the-face funny and a genuine jaw-dropping oddity.

Mark Schilling of Japan Times reviewed both Dai Nipponjin and Takeshi Kitano’s Kantoku Banzai, and he declares a clear winner.

It seems like the Western reviewers are really loving Dai Nipponjin, but why is the Japanese audience ripping it to pieces? The most popular film review blog in the Japanese blogosphere gives the film only 915 yen out of a full score of 1800, and 38% of votes at Walkerplus are one star out of five. Perhaps that goes to show that general audience’s disdain for cult films aren’t all that different across cultures.

- The Korean film Failan, the story about a low-life gangster investigating the life of the wife he never met, was a hell of a heartbreaker. Finally someone seems to have appreciated it enough to pick it up for a remake, and the plot seems pretty faithful to the original, too. However, the revenge thing seems to indicated that it might even be more violent.

- The trailer for the New York Asian Film Festival is up (thanks to Asian Cinema - While on the Road for the link), and I think in my humble opinion that it’s quite awesome.

- Two NHK mini-dramas were recently announced, but the reason we care here is because one of them is a milestone of sorts. The six-episode drama Shanghai Typhoon will be the first NHK drama to have a non-Japanese lead with Taiwanese star Peter Ho. Apparently, he will plays a Chinese exchange student in Japan that will be a romantic interest for the female lead, played by Tae Kimura. According to Ming Pao, it’ll play at the very time slot that the hit Korean drama Winter Sonata played in 3 years ago, and Ho said like Winter Sonata star Bae Yong-Joon brought on the Korean Wave, he hopes to bring in the Chinese Wave. I doubt it, but go for it, Peter.

- The winners of the 44th Grand Bell Awards have been announced (didn’t I just write about the nominees last week?). Family Ties picked up best picture, while The Host still managed to grab best director. My favorite win of the whole award, though, is Ryu Deok-Hwan’s best newcomer award for Like a Virgin. It’s most definitely well-deserved!

- Jason Gray reports that Japanese director Sabu’s (whose Dead Run I sort of liked) first foreign language film Arrested Memories, which Gray did the English translation for, has been green-lit.

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