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Archive for October, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 5th, 2007 Edition

As the second round of filmmaking starts in film school, expect updates to be somewhat short in the next few days.

- The Pusan Film Festival is now fully under way. This year, there’s a retrospective on New Taiwan Cinema director Edward Yang, who passed away earlier this year from colon cancer. Variety Asia has a feature on Yang’s filmography and also another feature by Derek “Too Little Lust and Too Much Caution” Elley about his own experiences with Yang.

- There’s also a report on Variety Asia about the festival’s opening film The Assembly.

- Just as the film festival is starting, the Pusan (or Busan?) film critics are also taking the opportunities to give out their film and rising stars awards. Most of the awards have already been announced: Im Sang-Soo will win best director for The Old Garden, Song Kang-Ho will win best actor for The Show Must Go On, Yeh Ji-Won will win best actress for Old Miss Diary, and Tezza: The High Rollers will win for best screenplay. Also, Daniel Henney will win best actor at the rising star awards. I guess now I should check out My Father, I expect he would act better than he did in Seducing Mr. Perfect.

- Turns out the rumors out there about the Hong Kong “relay film” Triangle being brought back for a major re-edit after Cannes are not correct - the film only went back for audio remix and “print tuning,” which means everyone in Hong Kong will be seeing the Cannes version all the critics were panning about.

- It’s reviews time! Variety has a review for Singaporean best foreign film Academy Award entry 881 and a review for Yoichi Sai’s Korean debut Soo, which I also reviewed a while ago.

That’s it for today. No, really, it’s the weekend. I need to save some news for the rest of the weekend.

The Golden Rock - October 4th, 2007 Edition

- I’m sure you all now know how well the uncensored prints of Lust, Caution have done in Asia, but what about the censored versions? As far as I know, a version that’s been cut by 11 minutes have been playing in at least Malaysia and Singapore. However, Malay censors went ahead and cut and another 3 minutes and barred anyone under 18 from seeing it anyway. Still, the formerly-erotic espionage drama. According to the distributor, the film is still doing rather well considering the genre, despite netizens aware and complaining about the censorship.

- Speaking of censorship, how will they pull this off? China’s Shenzhen Golden Coast Film had just optioned the remake rights for a Spanish comedy about an encyclopedia salesman who turns to making porn. The film is due to start production in the fall, and will of course have to be clean enough to clear Chinese censors.

- Eiga Consultant, in light of the recent controversy surrounding actress Erika Sawajiri, posted poll results to why people showed up to her latest film Closed Note. The ratio of male to female audience is 37 to 63, and a majority of audiences are in their 20s and under. When asked why they decided to go watch the film, 26.8% said the content seemed interesting, and the second biggest reason, with 14.4% of audience choosing it, is actually because they were fans of Sawajiri (as opposed to fans of Yuko Takeuchi, which only made up 10.8% of the audience). How come no one says it’s because of the director, especially since he made one of the biggest Japanese romantic blockbusters in recent years?

- The first Asia Pacific Screen Awards, which isn’t even taking place in Asia, has announced its nominees. The fact that I don’t know most of the nominated films means that they really are trying to look for the best Asian films out there, rather than your usual crowd favorites. An especially pleasant surprise for me is Ryu Deok-Hwan’s best actor nomination for Like a Virgin. Who says you can’t give a great performance in a comedy?

- Under your daily Pusan Film Festival news today, Japanese broadcaster TBS (TV networks are actually the biggest film producers in Japan) is sending quite a few interesting films to the festival. While many people are surely interested in Takashi Miike’s Crow Zero, I myself find Kenji Uchida’s After School the most interesting after his promising debut A Stranger of Mine. Is it really not coming out until May?

- On the other hand, meet Korea’s latest export to Hong Kong - Korean idol Lee Jun-Ki has just signed with Hong Kong entertainment conglomerate EEG. Unless he speaks really good Cantonese already, I have no idea what EEG will be doing with him, except making movies where his voice will be dubbed anyway.

- Also, yet another Korean-Chinese-Hong Kong co-production is on the way. This time it’s the Chinese comedy Let’s Fall in Love, with no actors or directors announced yet. That makes this news a bit of a waste of space.

- After D-War/Dragon Wars have made millions and millions of dollars around Korea and North America, director Shim Hyung-Rae has announced several follow-up projects, including the film’s sequel and a movie called Fish Wars. Really, I’m not shitting you.

- This blogger’s idol Hikaru Utada has broken yet another record - she is now the first artist in the world to break the 10 million-mark in digital sales within a year. Too bad her works this year just haven’t been up to par.

- Forget about remaking films based on novels, Hollywood is now going straight to the source, as Fox is planning to adapt the Japanese novel Goth with publisher Kadokawa Shoten producing. At least now they don’t have to worry about people comparing it with the original Japanese film because it doesn’t exist.

- There’s an English-subtitled trailer for the Korean film Le Grand Chef, a film based on the comic by the same author of the comic Tezza: The High Rollers. It’s a bit of a stretch, yes, but it still looks pretty interesting.

- There’s a review for Feng Xiaogang’s war film The Assembly by Variety’s Derek Elley (aka the guy who inexplicably panned Lust, Caution), which just had its world premiere today at the Pusan Film Festival.

The Golden Rock - October 3rd, 2007 Edition

- It seems like I made a mistake last week in predicting this week’s Oricon charts because the daily charts at the time had not included the new singles yet. So the predictions from last week are completely wrong. On the singles chart, YUI’s latest, the theme song for the film Closed Note, debut at number one with about 87,500 copies sold. BoA’s latest is far far behind at 3rd place with about 28.400 copies sold. Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest actually did not top the charts again, falling to 4th place with just 18,700 copies sold. Next week (and this should be correct), expect rock superstar band B’z’s latest single to top the chart.

As Tokyograph predicted, Ai Otsuka’s latest album topped the albums chart with about 208,000 copies sold. Not too close behind at second place is personal favorite Tokyo Jihen’s 3rd album, which sold about 101,000 copies in its first week. Angela Aki’s album falls to 3rd place in its second week, and I can’t believe Hideaki Tokunaga’s cover album is still going this strong at 4th place. Next week, expect the album chart battle to be between Yuki’s or Yuzu’s compilation albums.

- I’m combining the box office and the regular entry into one today. The Japanese box office numbers came out, and there are a bunch of discrepancies between the numbers and the admissions ranking. Apparently the Isao Yukisada film Closed Note may have attracted less people than Perfect Stranger, but it make more cold, hard cash, putting it at 2nd place. The same thing happened between Fantastic 4 and No Reservations. Also, La Vie En Rose actually opened on 196 screens, which makes it 8th place opening kind of disappointing.

Actually, Closed Note’s second place opening isn’t all that swell, either. While it is 176% of the opening for Sugar And Spice ~ Fumi Zekka, it’s only 94% of the opening for Yukisada’s Haru no Yuki, which means the film will barely pass the 1 billion yen mark in box office.

- Speaking of Closed Note, its star Erika Sawajiri has apologized for her rudeness in a recent press conference for the film. Still, her appearance at the film’s screening at the Pusan Film Festival has been canceled due to the incident. I’m not exactly sure how not having her take an extra trip to Korea to promote a movie is punishment unless she was going to get paid.

- Speaking of Pusan, Hollywood Reporter has a bunch of reports from the festival. First, a general overview of this year’s festival, then a report on the new anti-piracy campaign being launched at the festival, and a preview of opening film The Assembly, which will see its world premiere on Thursday.

- Speaking of Feng Xiaogang, he has already casted Jiang Wen and Ge You for his next film, a comedy that pokes fun at the new overnight millionaires of China. Sounds like Feng is going back to his roots as a commercial comedy director.

- As a young aspiring filmmaker, this news is quite disappointing: The new Film Development Council of Hong Kong has announced their terms for disburse the HK$300 million film fund - by giving it to commercially-appealing films made by experienced filmmakers/producers. That means your director or producer has to have made at least 2 films, but yet your budget has to be kept under US$1.55 million (HK$12.1 million). Not that they’ll actually give you more than 30% of your budget anyway.

Do these people actually know how much it cost to make an audience-friendly, commercially-appealing movie these days? Your average movie star take at least HK$4 million already, and what commercially successful HK movie this year actually cost just HK$12 million? Obviously, the money should’ve gone more to developing young talents, but what can I say? I go to film school in Hong Kong, so that makes me biased by default.

- On the other hand, legendary Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada is working with the students of a film class he is currently teaching on a new film as part of a collaboration between Shochiku and a university in Kyoto. Eventually, the studio will establish a training facility with the students of the university as research interns. THIS is how you develop young talent, Hong Kong Film Development Council.

- Meanwhile, Yamada’s latest film Love & Honor, starring Kimura Takuya, has been picked up by tiny American distributor Funimation, and will be released in one New York cinema in November.

- It’s reviews time! From Variety, we have a short review by Robert Koehler for Christmas in August director Hur Jin-Ho’s latest film Happiness, and a review by Russell Edwards for the Japanese film Sea Without Exit.

- From Lovehkfilm, Kozo has reviews for Oxide Pang’s entertaining mystery-thriller The Detective, the shitter Wong Jing comedy Beauty and the 7 Beasts, the independent film Breeze of July, the Taiwanese film The Most Distant Course, and the 80s action film Angel. From Sanjuro are reviews of Japanese sports drama Rough and the Japanese drama A Long Walk. From yours truly are reviews of the Japanese art film The Many Faces of Chika and the independent award-winning film This World of Ours. Expect an interview with the director on this blog soon.

- Variety Asia has a feature on the future of film investment in Asia, as many major film markets in the region have been seeing a downturn in the number of productions. Of course, it was eventually going to happen anyway after so many years of growth.

- With over 200 million yuan, Michael Bay’s Transformers have become the second highest-grossing foreign film in China, just behind Titanic. I could say something about this, but I’ve run out of energy.

- World, meet Jeong Seung-Hye, one of Korea’s most promising up-and-coming producers.

- Creepy news coming out of Belgium, it seems like a note was found near where severed body parks were found in a park that may be connected to the Death Note comics. I think the killer forgot the part where he’s not supposed to do the murdering himself.

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 9/30/2007

I know it’s late by two days, but here it is anyway. It’s a little funky, and it was a drama theme. From Crazy Ken Band’s latest album Soul Dempa, it’s “Tenyawaya Desu Yo” (It’s So Topsy-Turvy).

The Golden Rock - October 2nd, 2007 Edition.

- Grady Hendrix has picked up on the Jackie Chan blog posts controversy. It kind of started when he wrote in his own blog telling audiences to not have much expectation for his latest Hollywood film The Forbidden Kingdom. Then the press picked up an “old post” where he even admit that he doesn’t care much for the Rush Hour films (I don’t blame him for that at all). However, Jackie also admitted that he only did them for money, which begs the question: Why is he just settling for lots of money instead of trying to make better movies?

A blog post I found at EastSouthWestNorth pretty much takes the argument back to Chan as well: Why blame Hollywood when he’s the one that took all those jobs? And why blame audiences when no one really liked The Tuxedo?

Speaking of Jackie Chan still being in shitty movies, he has reportedly signed up to play Mr. Miyagi in the Will Smith-directed remake of The Karate Kid. Who will play the titular Karate kid? Smith’s own son. Say it ain’t so, Jackie! (thanks to Steven for the link)

- In Japan, the daily NHK drama Dondo Bare ended with a solid rating of 23.2% rating for its finale (that’s actually the highest-rated finale of the season) after scoring the lowest-rated premiere in the history of NHK’s morning dramas.

Following it is Chiritotechin, which did not premiere to the worst ratings in NHK morning drama history. Instead, it scored an average of 16.5% rating, which is only the third worst morning drama rating in history.

- Under “the death of Hong Kong cinemas” news today, The Queens Theater had its last show this past Sunday, which means Hong Kong has lost yet another single-screen theater from the old golden days.

Of course, when a theater goes away, there’s always a multiplex to replace it. Get ready for The Grand Theater and its 12 screens with 1600 seats (that’s a sad 133 seats per theater on average).

- I’m actually a big fan of the film Rendan, actor Naoto Takenaka’s directorial effort from a few years ago, which is why I’m somewhat excited that he’s making a new film, this time a zombie comedy. However, I’m not as excited as I should be because it’s a zombie comedy.

- Variety Asia has a small story on emerging Hong Kong studio Sundream, which would be a lot more likable if it wasn’t for that damn logo (not to mention that blue background).

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/2/07

You can say I took a break because it was a public holiday yesterday. You can say I was lazy. Or you can even say I was waiting to the Hong Kong weekend box office numbers to come out. Either way, we’re back for now.

- The Hong Kong Sunday box office was very strong because of the holiday weekend. Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution is dying down slightly after the hype has passed, but it still made an impressive HK$2.47 million from 64 screens. After 5 days, the sometime-erotic espionage thriller has made HK$11.29 million, and will probably not make the HK$15-18 million target distributor Edko had hoped for by the end of the weekend. Please note that the film did have ticket price inflation of HK$10, so the gross is about 10-20% higher than your usual film that runs shorter than 135 minutes.

In other Hong Kong movies, Oxide Pang’s entertaining mystery thriller The Detective made just HK$570,000 from 28 screens, and will wrap the weekend with around HK$3 million (it’ll be lucky if it gets to HK$6 million when it’s all over). Beauty and the 7 Beasts gets bumped down all the way to 5th place with just HK$290,000 from 25 screens on Sunday. After 5 days, the tedious dumbfest has made only HK$1.49 million.

Foreign releases saw a pretty big bump over the weekend, as Matthew “I quit X3 to work with Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer” Vaughn’s Stardust made HK$520,000 from 21 screens for a HK$2.09 million 4-day total, and The Nanny Diaries starring Scarlett Johannson also made a not-too-bad HK$420,000 from 21 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.67 million.

- Meanwhile, Lust, Caution also had a very good debut in limited release in the United States. In just one theater in New York City, the film made US$63,918, which makes it the best per-screen average for a foreign film ever. No idea how it’ll do when it goes wider, though.

- In South Korean box office, Love tops the box office for the second weekend in a row after an extended holiday. Otherwise, nothing seemed to have opened wide, and everything on the top 10 are holdovers.

- In Japan, since not all the numbers are out yet, I’ll let the admissions ranking tell the story so far - the Halle Berry-Bruce Willis-starrer Perfect Stranger is the highest debut at 2nd place, Isao Yukisada’s latest (that was fast) Closed Note, starring the not-very-friendly Erika Sawajiri, opens at 3rd place. The French biopic La Vie En Rose opens at 7th (on an unknown number of screens). Oh, and Hero’s at number one again. Who’s surprised at that, really?

 
 
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