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Archive for June 24th, 2007

Best of Golden Rock - June 18th to June 24th, 2007

The following is a compilation of the most notable news covered by The Golden Rock from June 18th to June 24th, 2007:

- I’ve never been a fan of Jia Zhangke. In fact, I have a legit copy of Still Life sitting here, waiting to be watched. Recently, director Jia was asked to write an editorial about the word “perplexity,” and he chose to write about Xiao Wu’s banishment due to someone in the film industry denouncing it. Since then, it has stirred a controversy because the media found its suspect. I might not have liked Ziao Wu, but I am certainly sympathetic with the ridiculous treatment of the film.

- r@sardonicsmile warns that if you’re a celebrity in Hong Kong and you have a personal blog, you might want to watch what you even dare to hint at, because the Hong Kong media will jump on you like a shark looking for even the slightest hint of red. One thing: Is the Storm in a teacup reference to the old Commercial Radio Hong Kong talk show, or is it actually a pretty widely-used phrase?

- Doing my part to spread the word, a Hong Kong blogger realizes that one of his posts was recently plagiarized by a writer for Hong Kong pop culture magazine Milk. However, the editor was confronted, only to say that it was entirely coincidental that the feature happens to match the original entry 90% of the time (even the two glaring mistakes in the entry was carried over). I’m even ashamed now to admit that I do read Milk Magazine with some enjoyment, which makes the disappointment even greater.

- The teaser for P.T. Anderson’s There Will be Blood is up and running. It looks different than anything he’s done, but he’s one of my favorite filmmakers, so I’m looking forward to it big time.

- A sequel to the mega Korean blockbuster The Host is now in pre-production. I know monster flicks are prone to sequels, but there’s almost no way this is going to top the original.

- The website for Feng Xiaogeng’s latest film The Assembly, which seems to be next year’s big Chinese New Year film in China, just uploaded a trailer. It looks technically accomplished, but it still seems pretty derivative to me.

- With the latest chapter of the China-vs-Japan-history saga taking a turn for the worse, it’s good to see some people still acting pretty sane. Toho/UniJapan and China film are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding for cinematic cooperation. What does that mean? It means China and Japan are now one step closer to collaboration on film, strengthening the role of Asian films around the world, politics be damned.

- In Taiwan, three Hong Kong/Macau university students decided to show how ineffective news reporting is by creating fake news items and forwarding them to television stations. And those stations actually ended up running the stories without any verification. Someone’s in the big trouble, and it’s not the students.

By the way, I watched part of the documentary the students made about their experiment, and it’s a pretty damning look at the Taiwan television media that includes a lot of interview with media experts and students. Definitely worth a look if you speak Chinese.

- Sales are down this year at the Shanghai Television Festival, especially historical dramas. Good news is that over 40% of the stall holders were from outside Mainland China, which means it’s no longer just a place for the Chinese market. However, only 1.2% of the buyers were from Europe and the U.S..

- Andy Lau pisses off a CCTV program by refusing to appear on their human interest show. But then they piss off the people by complaining about it. This comment is my favorite: “If Andy Lau won’t come, you criticize him. What if Andy Lau criticizes you directly? Are you going to give him a physical beating?”

- The American Film Institute, in their holier-than-thou glory, updated their 100 best films list after they made their first list 10 years ago. Since then, a few films were added (The General! Shawshank Redemption!), which means that a few films dropped out as well. In a further attempt to undo any credibility I have built, I admit now that I have only seen 35 of those 100 films.

- In addition to possible co-production opportunities with Japan, China Film has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Korea’s CJ Entertainment, which will lead to at least two co-productions. How huge is CJ Entertainment? I have CJ brand rice at home. No kidding.

- The Tokyo Project Gathering, a meeting that will hook up future productions with international co-production partners, is upping their goal for submissions (but they’re looking for more novel adaptations and remakes, ugh), so apply if you got a few million bucks to spare and a really good screenplay. I have neither, so I’ll just have to miss out on it.

- Business Week offers a possible way to fix the Chinese piracy situation: It’s the prices, stupid.

- Yoshimoto Kyogo, one of Japan’s premier managing agencies for comedians, has established a project to get 100 (!!!!) of its comedians to direct their own short films. This just goes to show that anyone can make a movie. However, their quality is highly doubtful at this point.

- I really really liked the Panasian omnibus film About Love, which put together somewhat intertwined stories with directors from Taiwan, China, and Japan. The director of the Chinese segment, Zhang Yibai, goes back to the Japanese-Chinese romance formula of his segment with his new film The Longest Night in Shanghai. Filmphilia has more information and link to a trailer.

- Eiga Consultant reports that Norbit just went straight-to-DVD in Japan! Eddie Murphy comedies have always done badly in Japan, with 4 of his last 6 films (the other 2 being The Haunted Mansion and Dreamgirls) making less than 300 million yen (that’s less than US$3 million). Its title in Japanese? Mad Fat Wife (Maddo Fatto Wifu). No kidding.

- Andrew Lau has hooked up with the Weinsteins to produce three films under his new production company. Lau and Weinstein - now that’s a formula for crappy commercial films. Honestly, I can’t ever get excited about neither Lau or Weinstein’s Asian stuff, so just go to the link to read more.

- Hate to say it, South Korea, but your Korean Wave in Japan has pretty much ended, no matter how much you might deny it.

- Then again, looks like Rain (the Korean superstar, not the Beatles Cover Band from Nevada) will just continue invading North America after the lawsuit against his use of the name was dropped by a judge. Dance on, Rain. Dance on.

- This is in no way confirmed, but Amazon seems to be listing a DVD called Kill Bill - The Whole Bloody Affair on their site for release on November 6th, If this holds up, this might be the singular uncut version of Kill Bill that Quentin Tarantino said he was putting together for DVD a long time ago. I still won’t be selling my Japanese DVD of Kill Bill 1 though, especially if Tarantino doesn’t restore the fight scene with color.

- The Chinese state-run broadcasting authority stopped two television stations from playing any commercials after they continued to run banned ads for some shady weight loss products despite being warned. I can’t argue whether it’s right for them to do it or not because I hate both the broadcasting authority and medical informercials, but the authorities certainly did their jobs by warning against bribing censors. Those censors could at least do what they were bribed to do, for crying out loud.

- A trailer has surfaced for Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets. I don’t think Jay Chou is very qualified to be a director judging from the music videos he directed before, and the trailer isn’t exactly promising much more than flashy music video stuff. That overdramatic score doesn’t help, either.

- Jason Gray met up with Ryuganji’s Don Brown and pretty much shot the breeze for his first podcast. For those really into the current Japanese film industry like I am, it’s a fairly entertaining and educational hour to spend at the computer (or on your iPod, which I don’t own one of).

- During Cannes, the new Hong Kong film production company Big Media announced that they would make 100 movies. Turns out the Mei Ah website has a bunch of promotional posters for some of those projects, though at least half of them don’t even have directors attached. Biggest surprise? Wong Ching-Po taking on Young Men Suddenly in Black. Apparently Eric Tsang really likes to tell stories about men who screw around.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 6/24/2007

Rarely do I pick a song of the day because of the MTV I put here, but today’s is one of those choices. Originally from the album Dreaming, it’s Leslie Cheung’s “Side.”

So why did I pick this particular (incomplete) MTV? After the 2-minute mark, you actually can clearly see a very young Jordan Chan Siu-Chun dancing right behind Leslie. So now we know where Little Spring started his career.

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2007 Edition

- Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto went wide to 147 screens last weekend in Japan after a week of exclusive run in a Tokyo theater, and managed to make only 41.13 million yen. According to Eiga Consultant, the opening is only 24% of The Passion of the Christ (which actually made only 1.4 billion, which is pretty kind of weak compared to how much it made elsewhere). That makes people wondering whether people had just mistaken this hardcore action film for another art film, especially since it follows the limited release pattern.

- A trailer has surfaced for Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets. I don’t think Jay Chou is very qualified to be a director judging from the music videos he directed before, and the trailer isn’t exactly promising much more than flashy music video stuff. That overdramatic score doesn’t help, either.

Ming Pao’s columnist, which some people say is screenwriter/director Chan Hin-Ka, writes about the commercial potential of Secrets. Specifically, he wonders whether Hong Kong audiences would go for Jay Chou. Excerpts as follows:

香港電影觀眾分得清楚,唱歌與拍電影是兩回事,紅歌手拍戲,不一定捧場,要視乎電影拍得是否好看。

The Hong Kong moviegoing audience separates singing and filmmaking very clearly; When a pop star makes a movie, they only go depending on the quality of the movie.

無論是自導自演的《不能說的.秘密》和《灌籃》,估計在中、台的票房成績一定比香港好。

Regardless whether its self-directorial/starring Secrets or Kung Fu Dunk, the box office gross in China and Taiwan will definitely be better than in Hong Kong.

周杰倫在中、台的「粉絲」多不勝數,他們捧偶像也比香港「粉絲」瘋狂,只要周董做的,一定會捧場。

Jay Chou has an enormous amount of fans in China and Taiwan, and their fandom is often crazier than Hong Kong fans. As long as “Chou Dong” (Chou’s nickname amongst his fans) is in it, they will definitely show up.

難怪行內說,中、台市場,比香港易做。

No wonder industry people say the Chinese and Taiwanese market are easier to do than Hong Kong.

Original Chinese column here.

Of course, I don’t quite get his argument, since a bulk of the people who made Curse of the Golden Flower a HK$20 million hit probably showed up because Jay Chou was in it (and sang the theme song, which I don’t remember off the top of my head anymore), and they’re probably just as willing to see Jay Chou is a youth romance. The very very basic reason why his two films this year will do better in Taiwan and China is that those two places have more screens and more audience.

Then again, I’m not a screenwriter who just co-directed the first Hong Kong hit of the summer, so what do I know?

- I forgot to mention that Lovehkfilm updated at the end of last week with a review of Samson Chiu’s Mr. Cinema. A review of the Japanese blockbuster Star Reformer by this blogger was put on the website as well.

- EastSouthWestNorth actually notes Kozo’s review of Mr. Cinema because it points out the film’s dubious stance on Chinese historical events, particular the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989. I was looking forward to it quite a bit, but now I’m second-guessing my anticipation.

- Jason Gray met up with Ryuganji’s Don Brown and pretty much shot the breeze for his first podcast. For those really into the current Japanese film industry like I am, it’s a fairly entertaining and educational hour to spend at the computer (or on your iPod, which I don’t own one of).

- Dennis Law, who’s currently around my filmmakers shit list for Love@First Note, has announced that he’s going to make yet another martial arts film after Fatal Contact. The triad film Duo Shuai stars Sammo Hung, Wu Jing, and Danny Lee, and will start filming in July. No Gold Label pop stars?! I might just show up for this one.

- The Toronto Film Festival will official announce its lineup this week, but Hollywood Reporter reports that a couple of films that made their debut at Cannes such as Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon will show up here as well. The most surprisingly pick is actually the sequel to Elizabeth, which will see original director Shekar Kapoor and star Cate Blanchett reunite.

- Shinji Aoyama’s latest film Sad Vacation has a new trailer up on its website, except it’s still kind of hard to know what to expect from it.

- Actor Takayuki Takuma, who actually also writes dramas such as the Hana Yori Dango series under a different name (for reeeeaaal?), is making his directorial debut. Not only is he writing and directing it, he was also picked to star in it. People who read this blog regularly know I don’t have much love for Hana Yori Dango, but its syrupy gimmicky subject matter is slightly intriguing me.

- Twitch has a review of a new Francis Ng flick Our Last Dance, which co-stars Harvey Keitel. They don’t make the film sound very promising, but I might just search this out to see Francis Ng’s performance.

- During Cannes, the new Hong Kong film production company Big Media announced that they would make 100 movies. Turns out the Mei Ah website has a bunch of promotional posters for some of those projects, though at least half of them don’t even have directors attached. Biggest surprise? Wong Ching-Po taking on Young Men Suddenly in Black. Apparently Eric Tsang really likes to tell stories about men who screw around.

- The Film Center at The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo is putting on a retrospective in remembrance of important film figures that passed away in the years 2004 to 2006. The page is apparently still under construction, but at least we know it will run from July 27th to September 26th.

- Lastly, there’s a new documentary called Tokyo Cowboys, which again puts an ethnographic eye (Look, it’s kimono! The Harajuku girls! They look stranger than we do!) on privileged Caucasian men who live the Roppongi nightlife, end up scoring Japanese girls, and stick around to complain about racism.

Not that I don’t sympathize with their plights (OK, only just a little bit), but why do these documentaries only focus on Caucasian men, who actually has it the easiest among the foreign minority in Japan? Of course, the Japanese media also perpetrate the stereotypes of foreign=white. But what about Asian-Americans such as myself, who ended up being seen as someone who was supposed to know better because of the color of my skin, but also had to carry this foreign identity once people realized that we actually didn’t know any more than those Americans do? Better yet, how about a Caucasian man who ended up NOT living the nightlife and NOT ended up with a Japanese girl?

Then again, maybe guys like that just aren’t very interesting.

 
 
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