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Archive for October, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 10/14/07

The Golden Rock should be back from its break tomorrow. Until then, it’ll slowly get back onto schedule.

This week’s artist was almost completely forgotten by this blogger until he started listening to their last album on MD. It’s kind of commercial, and I expect choosing it would make my credibility as a music critic go down further, but I’ll risk it. From A Rush of Blood to the Head, it’s Coldplay’s The Scientist.

An interview with Ryo Nakajima, the director of This World of Ours

Photo courtesy of Peija Films.

Recently, I raved about a small Japanese independent film named This World Of Ours on Lovehkfilm after I received a copy of the film from its director Ryo Nakajima and enjoyed it thoroughly. Through our e-mail correspondence, Nakajima-san also graciously agreed to an e-mail interview for The Golden Rock. This is the result. Please note that English is not Nakajima-san’s first language, and that none of his answers have been edited from his email replies.

Answers are in bold.

1) Please tell the world about yourself - your background, your life,
etc..

I am an only child. My parents brought up me with loving care.
i was a spoiled child.
My world was very small.

I began working on the screenplay when I was 19 going 20 ; at the
time, I was a hikikomorin which means I was socially withdrawn and
never left the house.

I could not find my place in life, and through days of doing nothing,
because emotionally cornered.
I decided to make a film back then because I felt a strong desire “
to connect with somebody and break out of my own shell”.

2) Why did you name the character acted by Okutsu Satoshi as Ryo
Nakajima? Does he represent your personality/thoughts the most?

I was asked this Question in Vancouver.
Ryo is not me. He is Dark Hero for me .
It represent that I want to be Dark Hero.
Hiroki represent my personality / thoughts most.

3) Has your views of the world, specifically of Japanese society,
changed since the making of the film?

No.
Now our surroundings changes more hopeless ( environmental
pollution,uncertainty over the course of the economy, inconvenience
of he mind and the body and so on)
I am having difficulty in breathing in my life.
But I found a ray of hope.
That is to develop rapport with somebody.
for example ,I and you have communication through the movie.

4) Some reviewers have compared your film to those of Shunji Iwai.
How do you feel about that? And what are some of your cinematic
influences, both foreign and Japanese?

The honor is more than I deserve.

In Japan , Most young people like my movie, But most adults feel
unpleasant. They said it is full of Violence and ill.
So far ,some of foreign people like my movie. I have posted about
25~30 DVD.
5 people mailed me and liked it.

(regarding cinematic influence)

Lars von Trier and Fernando Meirelles(city of god)
They are the best directors for me

5) You mentioned on your website that you ran into many obstacles
during production, what were some of them specifically? And how did
the cast and crew help you overcome them?

Mr Taniguchi, main actor, played Hiroki, was stabbed with knife by
madness man.
The shooting was adjourned until he recoverd.
Fortunately he got smoothly better, and his passion to make this
movie became even stronger since he overcame his own death.
It also strengthened the bonds of all the casts and staffs, and the
story that young people fell into the attraction of destruction in
despair changed into the one that they struggle to reach for hopes.

6) You didn’t have introduction of two of your stars - Hata Arisa and
Okutsu Satoshi - on the website. Who are they, and will they continue
to act in the future?

They quit to be an actor and actress. Now Okutsu is married. He is
working on Hospital. Hata is fickle girl. Now She wants to be a
singer. She takes lessons twice a week.
I want them to became good actor and actress. But it cannot be helped.

7) I read recently that you were hired by a major Japanese production
company. Do you plan to continue making films about tough topics like
those you explored in your film, or will it be time to explore new
directions?

I got a job in Star Dust Pictures.  It is difficult to make
Tough topics movie in Star Dust Pictures.
But I have a strategy. At first I make a typical a popular movie. If
I make an enormous profit on that movie, I will have an increasingly
powerful voice within the company in the future. Then I make a movie
whatever I want.
I wish I can do it.

8) Are you already working on first film under Star Dust Pictures? If
so, can you give any information about it?

Now I am taking part in the Film of Miki Nakatani.
She is actress ,「Memories of Masuko」so on. She is trying
to make her own film.
I am her assistant.

Again, I would like to thank director Ryo Nakajima for his candid answers. I wish him all the best with his future endeavors. Please do find out more about the film at its official website.

A short break

As you can see from the wrong date in the last entry, this week has been quite tiring for this blogger. With at least two more student productions to work on the next two days and all the news about Pusan not all that engaging, the news entries will be taking a short break. There will probably be a box office report tomorrow, and if there’s something interesting, I might do a news post. But until the end of the weekend, don’t expect too much.

The Golden Rock - October 10th, 2007 Edition

- It’s Oricon charts time! As expected, B’z tops the single chart with their latest, selling 180,000 copies to make it their 40th consecutive number-one single. This also puts them above SMAP as their 41st consecutive single in the top 10. Meanwhile, Dreams Come True scores a number-two debut on the same week as the film based on their songs open this past weekend. The new single sold more than 81,000 copies, which would’ve earned it a number 1 spot on any other week. Lastly, Mika Nakashima’s latest could muster only a 5th place debut with 13,600 copies sold. If the daily charts hold up, expect L’Arc~En~Ciel’s latest to top the charts next week.

On the album chart, two compilations topped the chart. Yuki’s compilation is far and away the number 1 album with 180,000 copies sold. Far far behind is Yuzu’s compilation, which sold 95,500 copies. Last week’s winner Ai Otsuka’s album (this one’s for you, Tokyograph) drops to 3rd place with a still-pretty-strong sales of 66,000 copies, and last week’s second place album, the latest from Shiina Ringo’s Tokyo Jihen, tumbles to 5th place with just 26,700 copies sold. As for daily rankings, Spitz’s latest album should take the top spot if they hold up through the week.

Today in Pusan Film Festival news:

- Director Peter Greenaway would like you to know that cinema has been dead since 1983. Yeah, I saw his 1999 film 8 1/2 women - it wasn’t much of a movie indeed.

- The Hollywood Reporter critics report on the critical and audience reactions for some of the films at the festival.

- Variety also has their own report, but concentrating more on the Asian Film Market rather than the films themselves.

- It’s festival reviews time! From Pusan comes Russell Edward’s review of Isao Yukisada’s Into the Faraway Sky and Derek Elley’s review of Takashi Miike’s Crows: Episode 0, which seems to be the talk of the town so far.

- This year marks the first ChinaBizCamp, where Chinese film industry professionals teach Korean audiences how to sell their movies in a market that restricts foreign films imports to 20 a year and where piracy is rampant partly because of said laws.

- There’s an interview with director Lee Chang-Dong, who is currently a jury member on the New Currents section. His award-winning Secret Sunshine is opening in Hong Kong today.

- Lastly, J-Pitch, where Japanese producers try to sell ideas to foreign investors, took its show on the road to Pusan this year with three presentations. At least two of them sound promising. No, I’m not telling you which two.

Back to a short version of your regular news:

- Remember I mentioned in a previous entry that Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django is being criticized for featuring a character hung on a Shintoist gate? Twitch has the offending image that’s now been deleted from all the promotional materials. It’s in the movie anyway, people.

- After weeks of secrecy, China has revealed that they submitted the carefully calculated war drama The Knot as their pick for a nomination for best foreign film at the Academy Awards. For weeks, there were speculations that China would also pick Lust, Caution (Taiwan’s entry) after Peter Chan announced that The Warlords won’t be ready on time.

- Good for him. Feng Xiaogang says openly that he hopes to shed the propaganda image of recent Chinese war films with his latest The Assembly. However, it still features an ending fit for both government and audiences.

- Lastly, there’s a teaser for Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdom: Resurrection of the Dragon, starring Andy Lau and Maggie Q (wtf?). Honestly, it’s always been hard to get me excited about a Daniel Lee film, even one with Andy Lau.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/10/07

- The Japan box office numbers are out, but there are no standings, and the “pure love” film The Sign of Love (from the two songs by the group Dreams Come True) only got into the admissions ranking. As a result, I wouldn’t call it the most accurate ranking. Still, you can find out that Hero is still on top (and showing little sign of slowing down), and Pan’s Labyrinth had an OK opening on a 28-screen limited release.

- A quick rundown on the Hong Kong mid-week numbers: Lust, Caution made another HK$1.04 million from 60 screens for a total of HK$24.61 million. Resident Evil 3 made HK$530,000 from 36 screens for a 6-day total of HK$6.37 million. Oxide Pang’s The Detective is slowing down with just HK$140,000 from 28 screens for just HK$4.79 million after 13 days (yes, I did pay to see this as well. More on an entry on the spin-off later). There’s no real wide releases this weekend, which means it’ll be Lust, Caution on the top of the charts on Friday again.

The Golden Rock - October 8th, 2007 Edition

Tons more news Pusan Film Festival news today:

- The Asian Film Market is kicking off, but like we mentioned yesterday, both attendance and market screenings are going down.

- Meanwhile, a bunch of production/co-operation deals are going down: the Korean Film Council and the British Film Council have teamed up to help distribute each other’s movies in each other’s countries, namely in publicity support. Also, the film festival has become the launching pad for Taiwanese international sales firm Joint Entertainment, who hopes to bring Taiwanese films abroad to different film markets.

Also, from last week is a set of features about the Taiwanese film industry - a slate of upcoming releases, the slow action by the government to help the struggling film industry (sounds a bit like Hong Kong to me), and the industry’s own attempts to put away its arthouse label in recent years.

Other project announcements includes Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s latest project, a period martial arts film (12-minute long one-take fight scene?), and a Taiwan-Korean co-production from Eternal Summer director Leste Chen.

With so many Korean-another Asian country co-productions going on, it seems like the Korean industry is learning the only way to ensure its survival is to play nice with others.

Now, back to your regular programming:

- Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django has run into some problems with the Shintoists in Japan because of an image of people hanging from the shinto gate. While Sony has removed the offending image from all of its promotional materials, the shot remains in the film.

- There’s a bit of confusion going on about whether the Hong Kong relay-crime film Triangle was really re-edited after its Cannes screening. While the various reviews at Cannes put the film at 100 minutes (a running time they probably got from the booklet), Hong Kong’s Television and Entertainment Authority (who give ratings with exact running times on the certificates) puts the film at 93 minutes. I doubt the film runs exactly at 100 minutes, especially when the rules stipulated that each section needs to run at 30 minutes.

- Universal, who is already co-releasing the Japanese action flick Midnight Eagle in Japan, has also signed on to release the film in North America. However, the trailers have left me fairly cold, so how are they going to be selling in to American audiences?

(Yes, I know the trick answer is: they don’t try to tell it. They just keep in on the shelves a couple of years, then release it straight to DVD with some sexy woman on the cover)

- Lastly, Jackie Chan does something he doesn’t whine about on his blog: A Japanese commercial with model/actress/singer Aya Ueto.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/8/07

- There was no Friday update of the hong Kong box office, so I couldn’t predict what happened yesterday. On Sunday box office in Hong Kong, Lust, Caution continued to perform extremely well, earning HK$1.9 million from 61 screens. After 12 days, Ang Lee’s erotic thriller has already made an amazing HK$22.76 million. According to the Hong Kong Film Blog, it’ll beat Basic Instinct as the highest-grossing category-III film in history (no one under 18 may be admitted) once it grosses an additional HK$5 million, which will probably happen by the weekend.

From the same distributor in Hong Kong is last week’s only opening film Resident Evil. On 36 screens, the second sequel from the sci-fi horror series made HK$1.4 million for a 4-day total of HK$5.27 million. Continuing with a bit of legs is Oxide Pang’s The Detective, which is hanging on with another HK$310,000 on 28 screens. After 11 days, the mystery thriller has made HK$4.53 million. The Hong Kong loser from last week’s mid-autumn festival Beauty and the 7 Beasts limped through Sunday with just HK$100,000 from 14 screens for just HK$2.37 million after 12 days. Quite frankly, I’m even surprised that this got past HK$2 million.

- In North America, Lust, Caution expanded by 16 screens to the other major cities, and it made $369,000 at 26th place for a per-screen average of $21,705. However, I don’t expect it to have any commercial success later on due to the NC-17 rating and the not-so-positive reviews from Western critics.

- In Korean box office, Hur Jin-Ho’s Happiness (which looks kind of blah to me, and I’m a fan. Then again, I don’t understand a word of Korean) led the charts with 583,000 admissions, while Rush Hour 3 flopped with a 2nd place opening with just 354,000 admissions. This week, 5 of the 10 films on the top 10 were Korean, though most of the Hollywood films were just holdovers.

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 10/7/07

This week’s song is more for the album than the song itself. A month ago, I bought a compilation named Tokyo Cafe Vol. 2, which I guess plays songs that would recreate the feeling of being in a cafe in Tokyo. Even though it opens with a Lisa Ono song, the rest of the album isn’t quite like that. It combines R&B, acoustic guitar pieces, and even old pop songs like today’s song. You can find it on the Tokyo Cafe compilation as track 3, or find it on a compilation by the group, it’s Original Love’s “Kiss.”

The Golden Rock - October 7th, 2007 Edition

More coverage of other people’s coverage of the Pusan Film Festival:

- I mentioned that New Taiwan Cinema filmmaker Edward Yang’s films are getting a retrospective in Pusan. I was wrong. He’s actually getting a posthumous Filmmaker of the Year award.

- Variety, meanwhile, has two new reviews from the festival - a rave by Derek Elley for the hit Japanese drama adaptation Hero, and a review by Russell Edwards for the Taiwanese coming-of-age film Summer’s Tail.

- Meanwhile, the attendance at this year’s Pusan film market may be around the same, but it seems like the decline in Korea’s film industry, not to mention Japan’s own Content Festival still underway, does seem to have an effect this year.

- Lastly, there’s an interview with David Shin, the head of Korea’s CJ Entertainment.

Now back to our regular coverage of the news:

- Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Life wins the satisfaction poll conducted by Oricon. Last season, the time slot’s first drama Liar Game won second place with an even higher score than Life, proving that putting edgier dramas there may equal to success. However, people don’t seem very excited about SP, this coming season’s drama in that time slot.

- In light of the Olympics next year, there will probably be a lot of “ethically inspiring” sports films coming out of China. There are already two basketball movies. In fact, someone should make a movie out of this, it’ll be called Olympic Fever Gone Wild.

- It may not be the final image, but Hong Kong animation firm Imagi’s Astro Boy is looking pretty good.

- Lastly, it seems like someone is trying to submit Lust, Caution as their region’s official representative for the best foreign film award at the Academy Awards, but China and Taiwan can’t seem to decide. Then again, Taiwan followed the rules and played the film for 7 days before submitting it, China didn’t. You snooze, you lose.

The Golden Rock - October 6th, 2007 Edition

- Continuing our coverage of other people’s coverage of the Pusan Film Festival, Hollywood Reporter has an interview with John Woo’s producer Terence Chang, who’s in the town for a screening of Lion Rock Picture’s latest producing effort Blood Brothers. According to him, the disappointing film noir-wannabe was “well-received” in Venice and that “a lot of foreign people really appreciate the film.” You know, I always just use the “quite loved in Europe” thing as a joke, I didn’t think that would really happen, especially to a movie like Blood Brothers.

- Of course, if Hollywood Reporter has interviews, Variety has to have them too. So they have an interview with festival director Kim Dong-Ho, although a portion of the interview is devoted to Korean food and when he would be hanging out at the bars.

- While America’s film censorship body MPAA considers giving films with scenes of smoking an automatic rated R (restricted - no one under 17 admitted without parent or guardian), the Chinese government are actually listening to public complaints and will be asking TV/film producers to cut down on “unnecessary” smoking scenes. However, since there are no laws banning smoking, the request obviously simple remains a request.

- There’s a first teaser for the officially approved sequel/spinoff for Shaolin Soccer. Moving the action to the Lacrosse field, Shaolin Girl stars Kou Shibasaki as the titular character, it’s directed by Bayside Shakedown director Katsuyuki Motohiro, and will even feature cameos by some of Stephen Chow’s favorites. It looks pretty silly (OK, I get that the ball is going fast by the intense flame), but I have faith in Motohiro to deliver something watchable.

- It’s reviews time! Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review for the new Yoshimitsu Morita film (I presume he made this before the Sanjuro remake) Southbound.

That’s it for the day. Time for this blogger to get some much-needed sleep.

 
 
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