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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:


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.


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.


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.


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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