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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.

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