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Archive for September, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 9/23/2007

The first song of the week came to mind when I wrote the review for the soundtrack to the Jay Chou film Secret. Chou said that the film’s theme song is supposed to be influenced by Brit rock. However, I wrote that the song is “more Mayday than Keane”, which I wonder riled up anyone.

……ok, no one cared. So this week’s song is what the theme song to Secret should’ve been - from the album Hopes and Fears, it’s “Somewhere Only We Know”

The Golden Rock - September 23rd, 2007 Edition

Like I wrote before, not much news for the weekend, finishing off what I gathered from Friday and some

- After winning at Berlin and the Fribourg Film Festivals, Japanese actress Kaori Momoi’s directorial debut Faces of a Fig Tree just picked up the best director and best actress awards at the Vladivostok International Film Festival of Asian Pacific Countries, with both awards going to Momoi. It looks interesting, but its official website doesn’t even seem to have a trailer.

Meanwhile, here’s a review by Russell Edwards of Variety.

- Luc Besson - AKA European cinema’s favorite Asianphile - speaks to the Daily Yomiuri during his promotional tour in Japan to promote his animated film Arthur and the Invisibles. What does this have to do with Asian cinema, you ask? The American distributor of Arthur and the Invisibles is the Weinstein Company, who cut Besson’s film for the American release, and Besson was definitely not happy about that.

- It’s reviews time! From Lovehkfilm’s Kozo comes two reviews - one for Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises, and one for the Jet Li Hollywood B-movie War/Rogue Assassins. From Sanjuro is a review of the Korean family comedy Bunt. The Daily Yomiuri has a review of Ryuichi Hiroki’s M. Isn’t this already his second or third theatrical release of the year?

- China continues to attract outside talent as they just signed co-production deals with two Asian countries. Korea’s CJ Entertainment will be co-producing the latest film by Jacob Cheung (Battle of Wits) - a martial arts epic named Thangka to be released in Lunar New Year 2009 - and they will also be part of a joint venture with 3 other production studios based out of China and Hong Kong to nurture young Chinese filmmakers.

Meanwhile, China and Singapore have sign agreements to help on each other’s film festivals. For example, there will be a Singapore film festival in Beijing, and there will be a section devoted to Chinese films in the next Singapore Film Festival.

- Now to the more negative side of Chinese entertainment, the government has published a new mandate that will pretty much kill the reality talent show genre on Chinese TV. The new rules stipulate that the shows cannot be shown between 7:30pm and 10:30 pm, “scientific judging standards” for the contestants, allowing only live voting, and each show may not last longer than 2 months, or no more than 10 shows at 90 minutes each. Just when you thought things were looking better…

The Golden Rock - September 22nd, 2007 Edition

The Golden Rock just finished his first short film in Hong Kong yesterday, so we decided to take a little break yesterday. Plus, there’s just not enough news to spread out over three days anyway.

- After last reporting that the US-based Viz Media picked up the two Death Note movies, they have also announced that they picked up the film festival-favorite/weirdfest Funky Forest.

In a related note, Grady Hendrix also has an interview with Manami Iiboshi, the Director of Marketing for Viz Pictures, who mentions that Viz is actually building their own arthouse theater is San Francisco to push their Japanese live-action film acquisitions.

- It’s not a first in terms of film, but I guess it’s a first for him. Korean actor Kim Rae Won will be starring in his first Japanese film alongside Japanese actress Mirai Yamamoto. As always, it’s yet another love story between characters whom I presume to be Korean and Japanese, and hey, you won’t have to wait long: the filming already took place this past Spring.

- Two more Asian countries decide on what film to submit to compete for the Academy Awards for the best foreign film - Singapore will send the hit musical 881, while the Philippines will send Donsol, which has won awards at several film festivals.

- This weekend, the Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review of Naoko Ogigami’s Megane, her long-awaited follow-up to the indie hit The Seagull Diner.

That’s it for today, but look for a long-awaited entry in the spin-off

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/22/07

You know when I said the Hong Kong box office was really quiet last week? If the figures on Thursday opening day hold up, then get ready for an even quieter weekend in Hong Kong. This week sees 5 new movies opening, with only two of them wide releases. Neil Jordan’s The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster, opened with the number 1 spot. The bad news is that it only made HK$190,000 from 30 screens for that top spot. In fact, Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus actually also made HK$190,000, but since it was from 33 screens, that means it just didn’t do as well as Jodie Vigilante. After 8 days, the art film has made HK$2.5 million.

The week’s other wide release is the Disney film Underdog. From 20 screens, it made just HK$110,000, although business is expected to pick up over the weekend since kids don’t go to the movies until the weekend. As for the limited release, Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises made HK$30,000 from 5 screens. Starring Hong Kong actors such as Anthony Wong and Jaycee Chan, the Mainland Chinese art film may see bigger business when we go over the Sunday box office. Also, in two theaters is the Japanese animated film 5 Centimeters Per Second, which made roughly HK$10,000 from its opening day. The only opening film missing is the Japanese film Udon, which is playing in just one theater after it sold out at the summer edition of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

- After Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance got relatively wide releases in Japan, his latest I’m a Cyborg but That’s OK is seeing only a limited release in Japan. However, that didn’t stop fans of those involved, as the film managed to attract 821 people/1.26 million yen on opening day, meaning all 6 shows were over full house. With Sunday added, the first two days earned the film 3 million yen on one screen alone. With 2680 advance tickets sold, could this be the year’s limited release hit?

The Golden Rock - September 20th, 2007 Edition

- I know I didn’t really follow the rest of the Summer 2007 drama season, but now that’s it’s one or two finales away from being officially over, let’s look at how they did.

The highest-rated drama of the season is the comic-based Hanazakari No Kimi Tachi He, which ran into a bit of a tough spot in the middle, but came out on top with a 21.0-rated finale and a 17.0 average rating. The biggest disappointment is the Monday 9pm Fuji drama First Kiss, which started strong with a 19.7 rating but fell quickly to a 12.4-rating finale and only a 14.1 average. On the other hand, Fuji continues to find success in their new experimental Saturday nights 11 pm period with second drama Life. It started with just a 11.0 rating, but it kept up over the course of the season. In the end, it scored a 17.0 rating finale (extremely good for that time slot) and a 12.2 average. That’s actually even better than last season’s Liar Game.

With an average of 7.5, I have no idea who’s going to be showing up for the Sushi Ouji movie.

Tokyograph also has a preview of the Fall 2007 dramas already, so start your engines and get to picking which ones to downl…buy in a legitimate fashion when they come out with English subtitles.

- Not that anyone out there needs to be reminded, but the first Japan International Content Festival (CoFestaaaaaa!) started on Wednesday. It had some big opening ceremony (anything even that goes for 40 days and 40 nights ought to), and now the Tokyo Game Show is under way with a record number of exhibitors.

- This is for real - apparently the South Korean government is planning to present North Korea dictator Kim Jong-il, an avid movie buff himself, not only a home theater set, but also a bunch of South Korean movies. One of the possible flicks? D-Wars.

- A personal note of interest: Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film The Dark Knight will be coming to shoot in Hong Kong for 9 days in November, and they’re planning to shoot around Central. Time to mark my Hollywood film production stalking schedule.

- American home video distributor Viz Media has picked up the theatrical and home video distribution rights for the two Death Note movies. This is a surprise to me in that I wonder why Warner Bros., whose Japanese division co-produced the film, didn’t sell the hell out of it for the American release themselves. Then again, Viz Media were great enough to bring Linda Linda Linda and The Taste of Tea to the United States, so maybe they’ll do ok with this one. But no DVD release until Summer 2008? That’s a mighty long wait.

- Lastly, Variety has the reviews for Chinese-American director Wayne Wang’s latest two films, which see the director returning to his indie roots, and both shown at the Toronto Film Festival - The Princess of Nebraska and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.

The Golden Rock - September 19th, 2007 Edition

- Looking at the Oricon charts, it was a pretty busy week for the singles market. KinKi Kids’ latest takes the top spot with an impressive first-week sales of 190,500. On the other hand, Koda Kumi’s latest sold 65,000 copies, which would’ve earned it a number one spot any other week. Ken Hirai’s latest’s debut is a little soft, selling just over 20,000 for 6th place. Also, at 7th place is the latest electropop group Perfume, and it’s also their first single to debut on the top 10. Next week, expect Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest (that was fast) to take the top spot yet again.

Things were slower at the albums chart. As expected, Johnny’s Entertainment’s V6 took the top spot with their latest album, selling 76,000 copies in the first week. The Cro-Magnons, whose lead and guitarist were part of the legendary The Blue Hearts, saw their latest album sell 32,000 copies for a 7th place debut. Somewhat disappointing is the debut of model-turn-pop-star Leah Dizon, whose debut album sold only 27,000 copies for a 9th debut. Looks like the Japanese public knows there’s a difference between being able to model and being able to release a competent album. Next week, expect a busy albums chart, but nothing will sell very spectacularly.

- This news is too big not to be at the top. Chow Yun-Fat is looking at a possible collaboration with Hong Kong director extraordinaire Johnnie To on an action movie that might begin to shoot as early as next month. To, who always seems to be juggling several movies at once, has cleared his schedule for this film and is working on the script with frequent collaborator Wai Ka-Fai.

- With just a little more than a month to go, the Tokyo International Film Festival has finally released its full line-up. As announced beforehand, the action film Midnight Eagle will open, and the French period drama Silk will close. the busy Takashi Miike’s latest Crows will also have a special screening at the festival.

- The hit comic/animated series Detective Conan will come back for another live-action TV special. Shun Oguri, who was in the first TV special, will reprise his role, and it will be shown on TV in November.

- A television network in Japan decided to cancel the broadcast of the last episode of the animated series School Days after a 16-year-old girl killed her police officer father with an ax in Kyoto recently. The final episode apparently features high school girls acting violently, which I’m sure never happen in real life.

- Under “Doesn’t he have anything better to do” news today, Francis Ng is reportedly publishing an English novel about a Tibetan monk. However, he admitted that his writing is not good, and that he would find a ghostwriter. But shouldn’t writing well be a basic criteria for publishing a novel?

- Variety’s Dennis Harvey gives us a short review of Hollywood Chinese, a documentary about Chinese people in Hollywood (mostly the lack thereof).

- Quite frankly, I wasn’t all that thrilled about a lot of the news today (although I’m sure you would be if you’re a fan of anything I mentioned here today), so I should give myself some motivation by devoting this entire paragraph to the news that the Shiina Ringo-led Tokyo Jihen will be providing the ending theme song to the film Myoro No Hako. I care because this is the first time the Jihen will be providing a song for a film. Also, I’m sure Shiina Ringo will subsequently sing about 20 covers on it on different albums and concerts.

- According to Apple Daily (NOT one of the more trustworthy newspapers in Hong Kong), netizens have been trashing Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus quite brutally. One netizen wrote this in reference of the film’s message: “When a movie becomes so bad, some people might believe it’s art. But it doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as a bad art film.” Another person wrote: “The more incoherent it is, the more it means it’s an exceptional film.” Ouch…..?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/19/07

- Those Japanese box office numbers finally came out. However, they are only for the two-day weekend of Saturday and Sunday, which means it didn’t include the holiday on Monday. Anyway, it shows the TV drama adaptation Hero dropping only 18.4%, and apparently it’s total gross has already sped past 3.3 billion yen. This will be on track to be the biggest Japanese film of the year, but will it surpass Umizaru 2?

The only discrepancy between the attendance ranking and the numbers is in the film Free and Easy 18. On the attendance ranking, Free and Easy 18 is in 6th place, above Sukiyaki Western Django, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Transformers. However, when it comes to earnings, it actually dropped all the way to 9th place, and Ocean’s Thirteen even got bumped up above Sukiyaki Western.

Everywhere on the top 10 only suffered small drops, thanks to the holiday weekend.

- Just to fill up the box office report, let’s look at the Hong Kong Tuesday numbers. Just like the Sunday numbers, 1408 is on top again, making just HK$270,000 from 27 screens for a 6-day average of HK$2.67 million. Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus, amidst really bad word-of-mouth (more on the news entry), is already seeing a drop in its gross, making just HK$260,000 from 33 screens for a 6-day total of HK$2.07 million. Everything else is kind of ho-hum, but that’s the way it goes at the Hong Kong box office.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - FINAL EDITION

After 139 Songs of the Day, it’s time to retire the feature. After 140 days of sending in some of my favorite music, it’s time to push the feature to weekly, because 1) I just can’t think of so many songs without repeating one artist within a month, and 2) I just can’t find so much songs on Youtube anymore.

So now I will be posting Songs of the Week on Sunday to replace the Best of the Week and Podcast features (no, my voice shall not be heard on the internet any longer). It will start this Sunday.

Until then, I offer you a chance to tell me your songs of the day. Just send a email at TheGoldenRock AT gmail DOT com, telling me why you love a certain song, send me any video link that i can embed onto the blog, and it will all be copied and pasted (i.e. no extra work for me) as an individual. Sorry, no reward except for one day of internet glory, and only “serious” submissions will be considered.

By the way, you will be limited to one song a week.

Until then, I offer you a last song of the day. From their self-titled debut album and also their latest compilation of remastered tracks, it’s Three Dog Night’s “One.”

Why did I pick this? Because it was looped for 8 minutes for the introductory sequence of one of my favorite movies Magnolia. That cover was by Aimee Mann.

The Golden Rock - September 17th, 2007 Edition

It’s still Sunday in the states, and Asian films didn’t win anything in Toronto, so there’s just not that much news out there today:

- Apparently there is such a thing called “sex radio” in China. At least, radio shows that talk about sex. However, I will never be able to find out what they’re like, because they just got banned. I really wanted to know about the “efficacy of certain drugs for sex” too.

- Yutaka Takenouchi, whom I always believed to be a cooler version of Takashi Sorimachi, is returning to film after he was in Calmi Cuori Appassionati 6 years ago. This time it’s an adaptation of the story “Wenny Has Wings,” about how a tragic accident strains the bond of a family. I was really hoping he would just lighten up and do a comedy.

- After Hong Kong-based Max Makowski works on the ill-advised remake of Shinobi (the one that will be about Hong Kong triads instead of ninja clans), he will help revive the 70s television series Kung Fu for film after Allen and Albert Hughes (these guys haven’t really worked for a while) decided to take on another project. Please don’t tell me this one will involve triads too - just because you’re based in Hong Kong doesn’t mean it always have to be about triads.

- It’s more French than Asian, but Variety’s Ronnie Scheib has a review of the French film Plum rain, about a stage director who goes to Japan to oversee his play being performed there. That in itself makes it worthwhile of the blog.

- If you’re in Spain in October, be sure to check out the Sitges film festival. This year, you would apparently get to see Dai Nipponjin, Vexville, and Sukuiyaki Western Django, among other films.
- How can Toho simply let people take their most acclaimed films get into the hands of pirates? A Tokyo court has now ordered a company to halt production on their Kurosawa collection. Er….doesn’t that mean it’s time for Toho to release relaible and cheap DVDs of Kurosawa films?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/17/07

I was going to do one of these last night, but since it was close to the end of the weekend, might as well just do the weekend box office today.

- Hong Kong box office was pretty quiet on Sunday, with the Hollywood horror flick 1408 leading the pack with HK$590,000 from 27 screens. Considering it’s just John Cusack, and that a Japanese film with a similar name opened last weekend, this is a really impressive gross. After 4 days, the Weinstein company film has made HK$2.18 million. At second place wit ha so-so HK$450,000 from 33 screens is Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus. Probably helped by Friday’s headlines about the film’s curse words (category III-worthy Cantonese curse words in a category II-B film?!), the audience-unfriendly black comedy has made HK$1.55 million after 4 days.

With a better per-screen average is the Hollywood comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. It also made HK$450,000, but from 27 screens. Staying pretty close behind is the Jet Li b-grade action flick War/Rouge Assassin, which made HK$430,000 from 29 screens, and a 4-day total of HK$1.46 million. For some reason, the other weekend opener - Tokyo Friends, starring J-pop star Otsuka Ai - did not get into the top 10. Anyone know how it did?

In holdover, Hollywood musical Hairspray is still strong in the per-screen average department, making HK$290,000 from 17 screens for a 11-day total of HK$2.95 million, which is not bad, considering that its daily average has more than HK$10,000 per-screen. Lastly, score another disappointment for Hong Kong films, as Carol Lai’s teen horror film Naraka 19 made only HK$50,000 from 16 screens for a 11-day total of HK$1.85 million. Ouch for Ah Gil and co.


- In South Korean box office, The Bourne Ultimatum came out on top with an OK-485,000 admissions. It’s also pretty amazing to see 7 Korean films taking the top 10 slots, with D-War and May 18 still hanging on that top 10. However, apparently two of those Korean films are looking to be flops.

-Speaking of Korean films, Dragon Wars, aka D-War, is now the highest-grossing Korean film in the US after getting a 2000-screen release this past weekend (how an independent company managed to book that many screens is beyond me). It’s in 4th place, but it only managed to make US$5.3 million for a US$2,363 per-screen average, which is not very good. However, it seems like a Korean newspaper has already managed to make it sound like good news (courtesy of Asian Popcorn)

It was a public holiday in Japan today, so expect numbers to not come in until tomorrow or Wednesday. Copyright © 2002-2019 Ross Chen