July 15th, 2007
I couldn’t find the time to record and edit the Podcast today, so it’ll most likely come tomorrow.
- Kenichi Matsuyama got his big break playing the eccentric detective L in the Death Note movies, but except for scoring his own spin-off film, he has found little success beyond the successful franchise. For instance, his drama Sexy Voice and Robo crashed and burned in the ratings, and his last starring role in the indie film Shindou didn’t even attract the audience to make it a successful indie film. Sadly, his latest film Dolphin Blue continues his slump at the box office. On 100 screens, Dolphin Blue opened with only 25 million yen for only a 250,000 yen per-screen average. His last challenge, and the one most likely to resuscitate his popularity, is the Death Note spin-off L. If even that doesn’t bring back to audiences, he can kiss his leading man status goodbye pretty soon after that.
- Meanwhile, the biggest release in Japan this holiday weekend, next to the Harry Potter previews, is Saiyuki, the film adaptation of the TV drama based on the famous Chinese tale Journey From the West. Apparently, its release on 461 screens is the widest release ever for a Japanese film (even the Death Note sequel got only a comparatively moderate 362 screen-release), and distributor Toho somehow pinpointed on predicting the film would make 5.9 billion yen. Maybe? Judging from the trailer, I’m leaning towards “maybe not.”
- A week or two ago I wrote about the first Disney Chinese production about to open in China. After two weeks, The Magic Gourd has done rather well, already having attract 750,000 admissions for a 16 million yuan total so far. With the weekend gross dropping very slowly, this movie might overtake Protege as the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year. Thus continues Disney’s plan of global domination….
- After the Japan Society in New York’s own Japanese film festival, the Korea Society has announced the lineup for their own Korean Film Festival. However, the lineup just simply isn’t as exciting as the recent Asian film events in New York. Secret Sunshine isn’t even on there.
- Two Chinese directors have just finished documentaries that are worth noting, but for different reasons: First, Jia Zhangke has already finished his follow-up to his award-winning narrative film Still Life and companion documentary Dong with Wu Yong, a documentary about the path of fashion from the assembly line to the catwalk. The other is a documentary on the Yasukuni Shrine by unknown Chinese filmmaker Li Ying, who filmed at the controversial Japanese Shrine for over a decade. It’s a brave attempt at what seems to be an unbiased view at a subject that has caused such strong emotions in China.
- This weekend, the long-awaited Hong Kong action film Invisible Target finally comes out, and there’s a new poster out to further whet your appetite.
- Speaking of TV in Japan, the American cartoon Spongebob Squarepants (heard of it, never watch it) has caught on after arriving on the public television NHK network. And it’s not even the kids that are loving it.
- The next “city” omnibus film to follow Paris je t’aime is, as reported previously, Tokyo! (That’s the title. And I know that a New York I Love You is on the way as well). In addition to the three directors involved - Michel Gondry, Leo Cerax, and Boon Joon-Ho - there’s also more information about the films, courtesy of Tokyograph.
- I wrote about Twitch’s coverage of the film The Wonder Years, about a young girl’s search for a rock star she presumes to be her mother, a while ago. Turns out the movie flopped at the box office, and it’s coming to DVD with a mere 6-week theatrical-to-DVD window.
- The Motion Pictures Association continues to stick their nose into Asia’s business by helping Japan in a campaign to stop Peer-to-peer downloading.
- Get ready to start looking around eBay, because a thief just stole about 25,000 yen worth of clothes from the set that was used for the hit Japanese film Tokyo Tower. The set remained opened for public visitors after the film finished shooting.
- Yuki Tanada, whose last film credit is apparently the screenplay for Sakuran, signed award-winning actress Yu Aoi on for her latest directorial effort Hayakumanen to Nigamushi Onna, about a girl who flees from home to save up money after she was convicted of a crime.