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Archive for June 20th, 2008

The Golden Rock - June 20th, 2008 Edition

Will be away for the weekend again, so here we go with the news for the weekend:

- A surprising turnout at the opening day Hong Kong box office, as Johnnie To’s Sparrow managed to beat out all the major competition to take the top spot on its first day. From a modest 30 screens, the caper film made HK$527,000, and is poised to take the weekend if it sees a boost in adult audiences over the weekend. However, Narnia and The Incredible Hulk are breathing down its neck not too far back, with HK$460,000 and HK$410,000 each and looking to take up the younger audiences over the weekend.

As for the other opening films, Hollywood parody flick Superhero Movie is down at 4th place with HK$373,000 from 22 screens, and City Without Baseball only made HK$40,000 from 8 screens, despite the citywide blanket promotion and its multiple appearances in the news. Lastly, Las Vegas caper film 21 made HK$35,000 from 2 screens. More on Monday or Tuesday when the weekend numbers are out.

- Universe did the distribution for Sparrow, and news has come out that its major shareholder is apparently trying to exit the company and sell its share to another firm. No word on whether this will affect for their ongoing productions, which include the Pang Brothers’ Storm Riders sequel.

-  I literally read about this at three different places in the last 24 hours, along with coverage on daytime entertainment news yesterday. So I’ll just let them do all the talking: I’m talking about respected Japanese director Koji Yakusho making his directorial debut that’s now filming and looking for a release next year:

(in order of discovery)

Tokyograph report.

Jason Gray report

Variety Asia report.

I can’t tell if this will be serious like Tokyo Sonata or quirky like Dog in a Sidecar yet. Either way, I assume that Yakusho has picked up enough from all the directors he’s worked with to do fairly well with his debut. I hope.

- I wrote a half-paragraph review of The Magic Hour because I don’t want to give a full review of a film I only understood 60% of. So here’s a review from Japan Times’ Mark Schilling, someone who did understand the whole movie.

- China has issued the first set of licenses for over 200 sites to share streaming video over the internet, but failed to include some of the country’s biggest sites on that list.

- As the world slowly moves from analog to digital television broadcasting, the ASEAN (Association of Southeastern Asian Nation) has come together to set a unified standards for the member nations’ own transition.

- The Daily Yomiuri looks at the Chinese film The Western Trunk Line, a film about a rural village just after the end of the Cultural Revolution that picked up the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

- The Southern All Stars managed to cram in one more high-profile single before their hiatus, which will be featured in the latest line of a cosmetics commercial.

- This week’s Televiews Column on the Daily Yomiuri covers observations on mainstream Japanese media and how they cover recent breaking news such as the Akihabara killer and the major earthquake last week. I agree - I really don’t want to know anymore about how quickly this crazy bastard managed to slice down people, and I don’t want to see anymore cameras shoved into greiving families’ faces.

- Jason Gray also covers the latest news on Takeshi Kitano’s new film with the release of the poster. Kitano as a painter? He so crazy.

The Golden Rock in Japan - Summer 2008 Edition - Part 1

After my first year of film school, I decided to take another trip to Japan, this time for four weeks. While the biggest difference this time around is that I spend most of my time in front of a TV in an apartment at a suburban city in Saitama prefecture, some things remain the same during my trip to Tokyo a few days ago:

For example, Cameron Diaz is still pimping out cell phones:


Yon-sama is rocking Pachinko parlors big-time now:


They still apparently love the Death Note movies:


In fact, they love Death Note so much that they let L sell other stuff now:


And of course, I’m still grabbing an obscene amount of A4-sized movie posters (they sell these things at the Broadway Cinematheque, you know):



This is only a part of brilliant movie promotions the Japanese can pull off. Of course, this is basic:


And I guess a poster like this on each side of Shibuya Crossing is basic too:


And this was just pretty cool:


Then they add some crazy cross-promotion along with it. This was at the Tower Records soundtrack section.


By the way, I did see the Ponyo on a Cliff trailer, and it looks extremely cute. As far as I can tell, it’s about a sea creature (the one in the picture above) who comes above the water and develops a friendship with a human boy. I’d say…Totoro meets Spirited Away, but I shan’t.

I saw the trailer when I went to watch Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour at the nearby theater.


At 136 minutes, The Magic Hour is a more focused film that Mitani’s Suite Dreams, which means that it’s not as deserving of its epic length. However, from what I understood (roughly 60% of the movie), it was still a very funny film that’s a love letter to movie magic without being self-congratulatory. The gangster-vs-actor pretending to be a gangster stuff are pretty universal, and ought to travel fairly well overseas. Overall, I had a good time, and I look forward to watching it again with subtitles.

I also managed to catch the controversial documentary Yasukuni (with English subtitles):


The intimate 100-seat theater in Shibuya. The screen seemed like a big screen TV,


Since I did see this with subtitles, I will be reviewing this soon. The question everyone is probably asking is whether the film is anti-Japanese. While I’d say that it’s not anti-Japanese, I would say that the viewpoint can be problematic for some and I can see where the conservatives got some of their ammo against the film. It’s a film filled with emotional outbursts, so it’s expected that the response to the film is similar to what’s in the actual film.

Anyway, I’m almost halfway through my trip, and I’ll be catching at least two more films: All Around Us, and Kore-eda’s Aruitemo. Also, I’ll be covering some music stuff in the next report. Until then, back to regular news postings. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen