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Archive for July, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/28/2007

Call it a half-joke song, or call it a bad choice, but I originally wanted another song from this album. Instead, I shall offer the more popular song from this soundtrack/short film combo.

Don’t laugh, it’s in the house, but this isn’t even mine.

From everyone’s favorite Goo Wat Jai, it’s Ekin Cheng showing his sensitive side with “The Weather’s Fault.” Hey, it’s perfect for typhoon season.

The Golden Rock - July 28th, 2007 Edition

I apologize for the lack of post yesterday. At least it would make longer weekend entries.

- Sequels tend to open higher anywhere you look, unless when it looks very underwhelming. The rule applies to Hong Kong as well, which is why Michael Bay’s Transformers, despite all the hype and the worldwide invasion, had a spectacular opening with HK$2.8 million from 74 screens in Hong Kong on Thursday and still manage to look disappointing. The major sequels - Spiderman 3, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean - have all opened huge with HK$3-6 million opening days on some 100 screens. I keep telling myself that this, in all logic, is a huge opening and it can only get bigger. There must be some sickening obsession in me to see this one fail somewhere in the world.

In other movies, Harry Potter is beginning to slow down, making HK$690,000 on 50 screens for a damn good 16-day total of HK$41.17 million. Benny Chan’s Invisible Target looks to hold strong this weekend thanks to word-of-mouth, making HK$560,000 on 36 screens for an 8-day total of HK7.78 million. Look for this to pass the HK$10 million mark by Monday. There were two more openings this week - the latest Doraemon movie made just HK$160,000 on 21 screens (though business will pick up for the weekend, and these things do better on home video anyway), and Hula Girl made a sad HK$10,000 on 3 screens. If you’re in Hong Kong and haven’t watched Hula Girl, go. There’s a reason this ALMOST won the audience award at the New York Asian Film Festival, it’s a good syrupy crowdpleaser.

- There’s some rumors out there explaining why Kenneth Bi’s The Drummer was suddenly pulled from the Hong Kong International Film Festival Summer Pops lineup. Apparently, in order to get into certain festivals, films are required to not having screened in its country of origin(Can anyone confirm this?), which means Bi and Co. chose to get its film into a foreign film festival (in this case, the Locarno festival) for sales possibilities rather than pushing local buzz. I don’t blame them, but that’s a pretty major diss for the local audiences, and proof that perhaps Asian films are no longer made for their local audiences any longer.

Even Vexville, another competitor at the Locarno Film Festival AND part of the Summer Pops lineup, has yet to open in Japan.

- Hollywood has gotten out everything they’ve got for Comic-Con, where it’s not just about comics. It’s like the new ShoWest (a yearly convention for exhibitors) for the ticket-buying fanboys (or now, even film buffs).

- zzzzzzz, the MPA continues their crusade in Asia by bringing a 23-minute documentary to Indian students about intellectual property. I want to stop reporting this too, but I’m relaying it just to show how annoying they are about showing off their efforts.

- It’s redundant but less boring because of its ridiculousness, the Chinese government continues to dictate how to fuck up youths in their own special way by continuing to crack down on anything related to the Japanese comic Death Note. Now they have gone as far as shutting down websites that have anything to do with it. And the MPA is confused why people still violate intellectual property in China?

- Youtube is set to put in place their copyright recognition software, stopping any files that are copyrighted from being put on the site in September. This is going to mean that the Song of the Day feature would be in jeopardy, and also means your votes will fail to count anyway.

But hey, be sure to keep voting anyway, because democracy is fun and exciting.

- Korea Pop Wars writes about the new DVD set of Shin Sang-Ok movies. For those who don’t know, Shin is one of the most important Korean directors in Asian film history and has worked on everything from classic 60s films to the Three Ninja movies in Hollywood.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a review of the Nobuhiro Yamashita youth film Tennen Kokkeko. The Japan Times review from last week is here.

Tomorrow, more news and the final Golden Rock Podcast for a while.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/28/2007

Call it a half-joke song, or call it a bad choice, but I originally wanted another song from this album. Instead, I shall offer the more popular song from this soundtrack/short film combo.

Don’t laugh, it’s in the house, but this isn’t even mine.

From everyone’s favorite Goo Wat Jai, it’s Ekin Cheng showing his sensitive side with “The Weather’s Fault.” Hey, it’s perfect for typhoon season.

The Golden Rock - July 28th, 2007 Edition

I apologize for the lack of post yesterday. At least it would make longer weekend entries.

- Sequels tend to open higher anywhere you look, unless when it looks very underwhelming. The rule applies to Hong Kong as well, which is why Michael Bay’s Transformers, despite all the hype and the worldwide invasion, had a spectacular opening with HK$2.8 million from 74 screens in Hong Kong on Thursday and still manage to look disappointing. The major sequels - Spiderman 3, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean - have all opened huge with HK$3-6 million opening days on some 100 screens. I keep telling myself that this, in all logic, is a huge opening and it can only get bigger. There must be some sickening obsession in me to see this one fail somewhere in the world.

In other movies, Harry Potter is beginning to slow down, making HK$690,000 on 50 screens for a damn good 16-day total of HK$41.17 million. Benny Chan’s Invisible Target looks to hold strong this weekend thanks to word-of-mouth, making HK$560,000 on 36 screens for an 8-day total of HK7.78 million. Look for this to pass the HK$10 million mark by Monday. There were two more openings this week - the latest Doraemon movie made just HK$160,000 on 21 screens (though business will pick up for the weekend, and these things do better on home video anyway), and Hula Girl made a sad HK$10,000 on 3 screens. If you’re in Hong Kong and haven’t watched Hula Girl, go. There’s a reason this ALMOST won the audience award at the New York Asian Film Festival, it’s a good syrupy crowdpleaser.

- There’s some rumors out there explaining why Kenneth Bi’s The Drummer was suddenly pulled from the Hong Kong International Film Festival Summer Pops lineup. Apparently, in order to get into certain festivals, films are required to not having screened in its country of origin(Can anyone confirm this?), which means Bi and Co. chose to get its film into a foreign film festival (in this case, the Locarno festival) for sales possibilities rather than pushing local buzz. I don’t blame them, but that’s a pretty major diss for the local audiences, and proof that perhaps Asian films are no longer made for their local audiences any longer.

Even Vexville, another competitor at the Locarno Film Festival AND part of the Summer Pops lineup, has yet to open in Japan.

- Hollywood has gotten out everything they’ve got for Comic-Con, where it’s not just about comics. It’s like the new ShoWest (a yearly convention for exhibitors) for the ticket-buying fanboys (or now, even film buffs).

- zzzzzzz, the MPA continues their crusade in Asia by bringing a 23-minute documentary to Indian students about intellectual property. I want to stop reporting this too, but I’m relaying it just to show how annoying they are about showing off their efforts.

- It’s redundant but less boring because of its ridiculousness, the Chinese government continues to dictate how to fuck up youths in their own special way by continuing to crack down on anything related to the Japanese comic Death Note. Now they have gone as far as shutting down websites that have anything to do with it. And the MPA is confused why people still violate intellectual property in China?

- Youtube is set to put in place their copyright recognition software, stopping any files that are copyrighted from being put on the site in September. This is going to mean that the Song of the Day feature would be in jeopardy, and also means your votes will fail to count anyway.

But hey, be sure to keep voting anyway, because democracy is fun and exciting.

- Korea Pop Wars writes about the new DVD set of Shin Sang-Ok movies. For those who don’t know, Shin is one of the most important Korean directors in Asian film history and has worked on everything from classic 60s films to the Three Ninja movies in Hollywood.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a review of the Nobuhiro Yamashita youth film Tennen Kokkeko. The Japan Times review from last week is here.

Tomorrow, more news and the final Golden Rock Podcast for a while.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/26/2007

Today’s Song of the Day and I have a bit of history. I first heard it many years ago as a commercial song for an All Nippon Airlines commercial (it was during my high school youtube-less days, I believe). It took me months, and maybe even years, before I found the song’s artist, then the song’s name, then the album. Luckily, my search was not fruitless, as I eventually grabbed the album from a local Japanese bookstore.


Then the album turned out to be not really that good. Still, the song is still good and possibly worth the search. From Steady & Co. and their album Chambers, it’s “Only Holy Story.”

I couldn’t find the original commercial, so here’s 20 minutes of Japanese commercials to make it up. There are some gems in there.

The Golden Rock - July 26th, 2007 Edition

- Apparently there are quite a few fans of David Lynch in Japan. His latest Inland Empire, which I honestly think it looks too weird to be my kind of film, opened on two screens in Japan this past weekend. With three shows a day over two days, the film attracted 2031 admissions and grossed 3.24 million yen. Considering one theater seats only 111 and the other seats 232, that’s a pretty good opening. According to Eiga Consultant, people started lining up at the Tokyo cinema 2 hours before the first show and the last show was sold out three hours beforehand. Also, the pamphlet/program had a 40% sales rate. Either that means good-of-mouth or it means people just plain don’t get it. Return business, anyone?

- Inland Empire was released by Kadakawa films in Japan, who also released the remake The Murder of the Inugami Clan, a ton of smaller films, and a bunch of TV shows after ruling the Japanese film world way back then. Now they are planning to do their own “fight fire with fire” strategy by posting their copyrighted material onto Youtube. However, they are also developing a program that would find internet video content that are violating copyright, though I’m not exactly sure whatever that means.

- Hollywood Reporter has more on the hit opening weekend for the Thai horror film Alone at the Korean box office, including the distributor’s strategy to market Thai horror as the next big wave and that J-horror is over. They’re a couple years behind, but hey, whatever works for them.

- Recently, Japan entertainment trend reporting website Oricon polled people on what they thing is the scariest J-horror film. The results aren’t really all that surprising.

- Time for Venice festival news - First, Jason Gray has information on the Japanese selections, both in and out of competition (They even gave an in competition spot to Takeshii Miike. Is this a first for Miike in a major European film festival?). Then you can just go and check out the entire list at Variety, which includes quite a few major Asian films.

- On the other hand, things are definitely not going very well at the Bangkok International Film Festival, where there are more sellers than buyers at the market, films are not well-attended, and one Thai executive even said the money spent should’ve gone straight to the film industry instead. Ouch.

- It’s reviews time! Twitch has a review of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution, a rather long review of the new Korean film May 18th, and a shorter one for Japanese blockbuster Dororo. Then, Variety’s Derek Elley turns in a review for the opener for the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Eternal Hearts.

- The Weinstein Company has snapped up another Asian film that they could potentially ruin, this time one of Vietnam’s biggest films ever.

- Yesterday I reported the misreporting of casting news regarding Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. Today Hollywood Reporter, whom I consider to be a pretty accurate news reporting organization, reports that China Film Group is onboard as a co-producer, which means you know the good guys and/or the Chinese will again win in the end.

- Apparently Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s latest single, the theme song for his directorial debut Secrets, is suggested to be a breakthrough in style by incorporating British rock influences. Why is this news, especially when he’s done it before already?

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/26/2007

Today’s Song of the Day and I have a bit of history. I first heard it many years ago as a commercial song for an All Nippon Airlines commercial (it was during my high school youtube-less days, I believe). It took me months, and maybe even years, before I found the song’s artist, then the song’s name, then the album. Luckily, my search was not fruitless, as I eventually grabbed the album from a local Japanese bookstore.


Then the album turned out to be not really that good. Still, the song is still good and possibly worth the search. From Steady & Co. and their album Chambers, it’s “Only Holy Story.”

I couldn’t find the original commercial, so here’s 20 minutes of Japanese commercials to make it up. There are some gems in there.

The Golden Rock - July 26th, 2007 Edition

- Apparently there are quite a few fans of David Lynch in Japan. His latest Inland Empire, which I honestly think it looks too weird to be my kind of film, opened on two screens in Japan this past weekend. With three shows a day over two days, the film attracted 2031 admissions and grossed 3.24 million yen. Considering one theater seats only 111 and the other seats 232, that’s a pretty good opening. According to Eiga Consultant, people started lining up at the Tokyo cinema 2 hours before the first show and the last show was sold out three hours beforehand. Also, the pamphlet/program had a 40% sales rate. Either that means good-of-mouth or it means people just plain don’t get it. Return business, anyone?

- Inland Empire was released by Kadakawa films in Japan, who also released the remake The Murder of the Inugami Clan, a ton of smaller films, and a bunch of TV shows after ruling the Japanese film world way back then. Now they are planning to do their own “fight fire with fire” strategy by posting their copyrighted material onto Youtube. However, they are also developing a program that would find internet video content that are violating copyright, though I’m not exactly sure whatever that means.

- Hollywood Reporter has more on the hit opening weekend for the Thai horror film Alone at the Korean box office, including the distributor’s strategy to market Thai horror as the next big wave and that J-horror is over. They’re a couple years behind, but hey, whatever works for them.

- Recently, Japan entertainment trend reporting website Oricon polled people on what they thing is the scariest J-horror film. The results aren’t really all that surprising.

- Time for Venice festival news - First, Jason Gray has information on the Japanese selections, both in and out of competition (They even gave an in competition spot to Takeshii Miike. Is this a first for Miike in a major European film festival?). Then you can just go and check out the entire list at Variety, which includes quite a few major Asian films.

- On the other hand, things are definitely not going very well at the Bangkok International Film Festival, where there are more sellers than buyers at the market, films are not well-attended, and one Thai executive even said the money spent should’ve gone straight to the film industry instead. Ouch.

- It’s reviews time! Twitch has a review of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution, a rather long review of the new Korean film May 18th, and a shorter one for Japanese blockbuster Dororo. Then, Variety’s Derek Elley turns in a review for the opener for the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Eternal Hearts.

- The Weinstein Company has snapped up another Asian film that they could potentially ruin, this time one of Vietnam’s biggest films ever.

- Yesterday I reported the misreporting of casting news regarding Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. Today Hollywood Reporter, whom I consider to be a pretty accurate news reporting organization, reports that China Film Group is onboard as a co-producer, which means you know the good guys and/or the Chinese will again win in the end.

- Apparently Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s latest single, the theme song for his directorial debut Secrets, is suggested to be a breakthrough in style by incorporating British rock influences. Why is this news, especially when he’s done it before already?

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/25/2007

Today’s Song of the Day is an attempt to continue the summer motif, and to I guess continue this week’s unofficial theme of male pop songs. From the album Amazing dream, it’s Aaron Kwok’s Summer Aloha:

Honestly, I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact that I like singing this at Karaoke, or the fact that I bought the album way back when. That would make a good poll.

The Golden Rock - July 25th, 2007 Edition

- Starting with those Oricon charts, both the singles and album charts saw very good sales this past week. On the singles side, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest (which features a short film co-starring Hong Kong actor Shawn Yu in the more expensive version) scored a huge debut, selling 110,000 copies for an easy first place finish. This is Hamasaki’s 9th consecutive year of having a number 1 single, which ties the record set by Akina Nakamori throughout the 1980s. Actually, in the rest of the top 10, there’s only one single that’s not new on the chart, and that is Erika (as in Sawajiri)’s debut single, which sold another 18,800 copies in its third week. A little unlucky on the charts this week are Porno Graffiti and Orange Range, whose latest both hit chart-topping numbers (90,000 and 64,000 copies, respectively), but ended up at 2nd and 3rd place instead. In fact, looking at the daily charts, next week’s predicted winner Morning Musume isn’t even likely to sell more than 80,000 copies of their latest, although Ai Otsuka is following close behind to fight for that top spot.

- In the equally busy albums chart, another Johnny’s Jimusho group KinKi Kids wins the top spot, selling 301,000 copies of their latest album. Far far behind is American band Sum 41 (holy shit, they’re still around?), who sold 62,000 copies of their latest album a week ahead of the American release. Amazingly, hip-rock band (that’s a made-up genre by yours truly) Greeeen’s debut album continues to hang on at 3rd place, while Namie Amuro’s latest (which, in a shameless plug, I reviewed recently) also remains consistent at 4th place. According to the daily charts, the two Orange Range compilations is expected to win the upcoming week, with Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik’s latest album right behind them.

- I don’t mean to trash the Japanese blockbuster film Monkey Magic so consistently, but bad news just keeps coming in one after another, so I can’t help but report it. According to this blog post linked by Eiga Consultant, Monkey Magic suffered a huge loss not only due to the arrival of Harry Potter, but also because the film has earned horrible word-of-mouth, with comments like “childish” and “unnecessary” being thrown around on the internet. Also, the excessive television appearances by star Shingo Katori has led audiences to be fed up with his attempt to promote the film. With a budget of 3 billion yen (mostly spent on advertising and CGI), no wonder Fuji TV needs a 5.9 billion yen gross.

By the way, I’m going on this by my barely-intermediate Japanese knowledge, so feel free to correct me.

- Speaking of mis-reporting, there are reasons why I don’t look at Mainland Chinese websites for movie news. First, I don’t read simplified Chinese (at least not good enough to translate), and second, I have a personal vendetta against one particular English site (coughcrienglishcough). Now a case of misreporting rumors has been added to that list of reason. According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao’s entertainment columnist, who is possibly screenwriter Chan Hing-Ka, a rumor from a Mainland China website reported that Ken Watanabe and Hideaki Takizawa has joined the cast of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. The rumor was spread quickly, prompting Yee to come out and denied it. Excerpt from the Chinese article translated here:

娛樂圈這一行很敏感,演員如看到報道指某部電影打算找某位演員主演,後來自己又被邀請,很易聯想到自己是「執二攤」,即有其他演員在自己之前推掉角色,所以才輪到自己。

經理人公司特別在乎這方面的報道,別以為日本經理人公司不會留意中、港、台新聞,他們是很清楚的,只要一有相關報道出來,他們會立即四出查證。

The entertainment industry is a very sensitive one. If an actor reads a report about a film casting another actor, only to see him/herself also invited afterwards, then they might see themselves as “scraps.” That means he/she only got invited to join a film because another actor turned it down.

Managers/agents show special care into these kind of reports. Don’t think that Japanese agencies don’t look at Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese news; they are actually quite clear on it, and once such report comes out, they would immediately verify it.

試過有一位本地導演太早公布了與某日本演員合作的事,報道一出,其經理人公司當日就有電話打來查詢,那時互聯網還沒有現在般流行。

Once, a local director reported collaborating with a Japanese actor too early. Once the report came out, the actor’s agency called to verify on the same, and the internet wasn’t even as popular at the time as it is today.

某些傳媒在未經查證之下,會把網上的傳聞照搬過來,其實有時只需打一、兩個電話就可以求證,偏偏就不去做,假消息愈傳愈開,給當事人造成的困擾和傷害也愈來愈大。

Some media would post certain rumors without verification. Sometimes, a call or two can verify the news, but they don’t do it anyway. As the fake news spread gradually farther, it would concurrently cause more and more harm to those involved.

Of course, this isn’t the only fake report spreading around these days. After reports of Stephen Chow signing on to play Kato in the Green Hornet, Chow’s management came out the next day to deny it, even though the original post only says the film’s writer would LIKE to Chow for the role.

Don’t worry, The Golden Rock always strive to report the most accurate and verified news on Asian entertainment with the most bias a hypocrite like me can give out. Why do you think it takes me 2 hours a day to write an entry? Nevertheless, corrections to any possibly misreported stories are welcomed.

- Shinji Aoyama’s latest Sad Vacation is going to Venice. However, it will not be in competition, but in the Orizzonti sidebar section instead.

- Those in Hong Kong take note: Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets is having sneak previews this coming weekend. Just get your tickets early, they’re getting snapped up fast. Oh, and Jay Chou will be at two of those shows on Sunday, which seem to be sold out by now anyway (that would be the seating charts filled with red you see in the post).

- Joel Schumacher, who has been blamed for single-handedly screwing up the Batman franchise once upon a time, is in talks to direct the remake of Johnnie To’s action flick Breaking News. I enjoyed Tigerland and Phone Booth (another thriller set in limited space and time compression), so this might turn out OK.

- Malaysian major bookstore chains, in protest of grocery superstore slashing book prices, boycotted the latest Harry Potter book. Of course, the bookstores have ended the ban because the “customers are the ones would suffer.” 1) Can’t they just go to the grocery superstores to buy the book at a lower price anyway? and 2) Am I the only who find an irony in huge bookstore chains protesting cheaper book prices when these chains were once responsible for putting mom-and-pop bookstores out of business with their lower prices?

- The nominees for the Seoul Television Festival is out, and one drama’s nomination seems a little absurd to me. The Japanese comic adaptation-Taiwanese drama Hanazakarino Kimitachihe, which is seeing its own Japanese adaption on TV right now, was apparently nominated because the judges thought the drama’s style was fresh, which is weird considering it’s an adaption of established work. Then again, I’m just picky against idol dramas.

- Speaking of bad TV dramas, Japan’s own foreigners’ rights crusader Arudou Debito is up in arms about a clip from the popular drama Hana Yori Dango 2, in which the only African American presence in the show happen to come in the form of only criminals. While I’m not as angry as he is (American dramas do the same to minorities - remember the first episode of Heroes?), this only goes to show that bad TV is universal. And this was the top-rated/top satisfaction/most illegally-downloaded drama of that season, people.

- This is the perfect follow-up. NHK is planning a three-part drama special about an international romance that blossoms between a Korean man and a Japanese woman. Um…they already did this a few years ago, guys. I know, I saw it. It wasn’t that good.

- Before everyone else, namely Hollywood, blames China for selling all this pirated movies, China would like to let you know that the technology came from everyone else! Yes, we knew that China is not exactly the most technologically innovative country in the world.

- From the Japanese trailer blog comes a trailer for the film Grow (Guro), about a high school boy who runs into three ghostly mentors before his death and learns to…well, grow.

- If anyone out there thought those “Hong Kong handover commemoration films” were a good idea, get ready for “2008 Chinese Olympic commemoration films!” According to this blog post, the first one up is “The Romance of the Pheonix,” starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Clifton Ko. I’ll probably be watching this anyway just because I’m a completist.

- Right on time for the 60th anniversary of its independence, there will be a 6-day long showcase of Indian culture in LA come mid-August. The focus is said to be on Indian cinema, which means I’m sure there will be some awesome dancing involved.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review of Takeshii Miike’s latest theatrical release from a few months ago - the video game adaptation Ryu Ga Gotoku, better known in the states as just Yakuza.

- Lastly, but certainly not last, German actor Ulrich Muehe, who starred as a conflicted agent for the East Germany secret police in the brilliant The Lives of Others, has passed away at the age of 54.

 
 
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