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Archive for December, 2008

The Golden Rock - December 30th, 2008 Edition

This blogger would like to apologize for missing two weeks of blogging. Being a student means times like these take away precious time to blog.

Then the blogger would like to thank everyone for letting this blog survive past the two year-mark now. My 2009 resolution: Try not to take so many breaks.

And now, a little bit of news:

- Lovehkfilm wraps up our 2008 with two reviews - Kozo’s review for the Chinese film Deadly Delicious, and my review for Wilson Yip’s Ip Man.

-  The dust has settled after the crowded and chaotic Christmas weekend at the Hong Kong box office. Wilson Yip’s Ip Man takes the second weekend with HK$1.23 million from 39 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$14.02 million. It’ll likely break past the HK$20 million mark and become the Christmas champion, despite the upcoming opening of Lady Cop and Papa Crook, Ong Bak 2, and Forever Enthralled.

Not too far behind is the animated film Madagascar 2, with HK$1.16 million from 41 screens for a 10-day total of HK$12.52 million. These two should surpass current holiday season box office leader The Day The Earth Stood Still, which is quickly losing business with a 18-day total of HK$18.27 million.

Leading among the Christmas openers is Suspect X (The Galileo movie version), which made HK$917,000 from 34 screens for an impressive 5-day total of HK$6.29 million. With a large audience here for the drama and Panasia releasing it before the pirates can upload it online, it should break the HK$10 million mark for another Japanese film success for the distributor. Behind it is Disney’s Bedtime Stories, which made HK$809,000 from 39 screens for a 4-day total of HK$4.44 million. At least it’s doing better than the average Adam Sandler movie.

The other two Christmas openers didn’t do nearly as well. The Tale of Desperaux made only HK$448,000 from 35 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$2.04 million, despite having TVB “it” boy Wong Cho-Lam as the voice of the protagonist. Lastly, Feng Xiaogang’s If You’re the One will definitely not do Mainland China-level business, with just HK$51,000 from 8 screens for a 4-day total of $260,000.

- In Korea, Scandal Makers continue to top the box office, with over 3.8 million admissions and counting. Meanwhile, Ponyo isn’t doing so great.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- Minomonta, the Japanese TV host who recently broke the Guinness World Record for having the most hours on TV in a week, will quit one of the two shows he hosts daily for a real gracious reason. I wonder why he really quit.

- Here’s one proof of why Ip Man had to cater to the Chinese audience: Head honcho/producer Raymond Wong Bak-Ming just sold 8.5% of Mandarin Film shares to two Mainland Chinese investors.

- Some may not know that Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon had a source material of the same name, but its groundbreaking structure was actually from another short story named In a Grove. Now, another film will be borrowing from In a Grove, though they’re only borrowing one of the major characters.

- Under “film financing” news today, Hong Kong’s Mei Ah is still losing money. But thanks to Red Cliff, they’re losing less this year. Yay.

On the other hand, the Hong Kong-based animation studio Imagi is in so much financial trouble that their auditor isn’t even sure if the studio will have the money to complete the three films they have set up.

- Fuji Television continues its streak of having the highest ratings in three major timeslots out of all Japanese nationwide TV networks.

- Under “who’s directing what next” news today, three Asian directors - Fruit Chan, Hur Jin-ho, and musician Cui Jian - will be making an omnibus film about the earthquake-stricken region of Chengdu. It shall be ethically inspiring.

Meanwhile, legendary director Yoji Yamada will be making Otouto - Younger Brother, which will be his first contemporary film in a while. With his last film being “Kabei - Our Mother”, I wonder if Yamada is making another trilogy.

- For the first time in its history, the China Film Academy has allowed in Hong Kong industry professionals for memberships. Hong Kong professionals that have gotten in include Jackie Chan, Peter Chan, and Andy Lau.

There’s really not much news around this time of year. However, expect a special feature just before the year ends.

The Golden Rock - December 15th, 2008 Edition

- The Day the Earth Stood Still scored one of the biggest opening weekends this year at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, the sci-fi drama made HK$2.62 million from 86 screens (That’s a 10 screen increase from opening day) for a 4-day weekend total of HK$10.57 million. It should have no problem crossing the HK$20 million mark, unless Ip Man puts a dent in it next weekend along with that poor word-of-mouth.

Only one other film on the top 10 broke the HK$10,000 per-screen average on Sunday. From 3 screens, the Japanese film Ikigami made HK$37,000 on Sunday for a 11-day gross of HK$450,000. Meanwhile, the opening films didn’t get much of a boost over the weekend. Romantic comedy Four Christmases made only HK$231,000 from 26 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$820,000. Tsui Hark’s All About Women did only slightly better from its disasterous opening day, making HK$109,000 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$410,000.

The Golden Horse Awards last weekend didn’t help its award winners here in Hong Kong. Cape No. 7 continues its gradual decline with HK$125,000 from 23 screens on Sunday with HK$7.28 million after 25 days. Herman Yau’s True Women for Sale (whose star Prudence Lau took Best Actress at the awards)also lost about 50% of its audience with just HK$22,000 from 5 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$440,000.

As for other films, Dante Lam’s The Beast Stalker is now at HK$7.5 million after 18 days, making the HK$10 million mark extremely unlikely now. Wu Jing’s Legendary Assassin is at HK$2.08 million after 11 days. Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect, another Gold Label film, is at HK$3.1 million after 18 days (the 24 days included the weekend previews), and What Just Happened is at HK$620,000 after 11 days.

- On the Japanese box office attendence chart, Wall-E retains its number 1 spot while two other animated films enter at 2nd and 3rd place. However, since they are animated films that would attract a large kids audience, their places on the box office gross chart may end up lower. More when the numbers come out.

-The comic-turned-TV drama-turned film Mr. Tadano’s Secret Mission dropped to 7th place in the second week. However, that didn’t stop TV Asahi from bringing back for its 4th season. They’ll even move it from the late night 11pm slot to 9pm, even though it means they’ll have to cut down on the sex.

- No Japanese TV drama ratings yet, but the Mainichi News reports that the NHK period drama Atsuhime scored a 28.7% rating for its final episode for an average of 24.5%, the highest for NHK in the last decade.

- Even though Korean superstar Rain didn’t make much of an impression with Speed Racer, this stunt reel found on Twitch proves that he’s ready for his starring role in Ninja Assassin. Girls, you may scream……………….now.

- Also, the website for Vincent Kok’s Lunar New Year comedy All’s Well’s End Well 2009 has uploaded a half making-of, half teaser. It mainly consists of a lot of people laughing and making funny faces.

- Twitch also has a teaser for the aniamted film Miyamoto Musashi, written by Mamoru Oshii and produced by his production company.

- Korean actress Bae Seul-ki will be in a major role for the Hollywood production Finale, playing a cold-blooded killer who takes on the Italian mafia.

-The Golden Rock’s favorite enka singer Jero has revealed that his second single was written by pop singer Yo Hitoto, who starred in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Cafe Lumiere.

- Japanese box office champ Toho has announced its 2009 lineup, which includes the new film by Isshin Inudo (more details from Ryuganji) and Kankuro Kudo’s latest.

- Actor Park Shin-yang has been banned from any television drama made by any member of Corea Drama Production Assosication because he asked for too much money for appearing in extra episodes of the drama he was working on and sued when he didn’t get paid.

- Twitch has an interview with Tokyo Sonata director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but be warned that there are some spoilers for the movie in it.

- Thai actor/comedian Sayan Doksadao has passed away. He was one of the world’s few actors working with Down syndrome.

The Golden Rock - December 14th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! From the legendary Boss Kozo are the reviews for Wu Jing’s directorial debut Legendary Assassin and the Zhou Xun-starring film Equation of Love and Death. Also, there are two reviews up for Tony Jaa’s Muay Thai epic Ong Bak 2, one from Wise Kwai and the other from Brian of Asian Cinema - While on the Road. Lastly, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2.

- Japanese film distributor Toho declares that 2008 is their biggest year ever, thanks to Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo On a Cliff by the Sea, the 7 billion yen-plus take of Hana Yori Dango Final, and other successful TV-to-silver-screen film adaptation.

- Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled, which had a pretty good opening weekend in China last week, is heading to this year’s Berlin Film Festival in competition. I’m sure it’ll be better received than The Promise already.

- A brand-new teaser for Takashi Miike’s Crows Zero II just popped up online. This one actually features footage from the film. After having a ton of blast with the first film, I say bring on the hyperactive high school beatdowns.

- The assistant director of the Olympic opening ceremony is taking John Woo’s Red Cliff and making it an opera for the stage. However, he hasn’t revealed how exactly he’ll pull it off yet.

- Under “Japanese cinema casting news” today, Etsushi Toyokawa and Hiroko Yakushimari will be starring in Isao Yukisada’s latest film. Yukisada was an assistant director for Shunji Iwai and directed Crying Out For Love in the Center of the World, one of Japan’s highest-grossing romantic melodrama ever.

Korean boy group TVXQ (or Tohoshinki in Japan) will be appearing in a performance and singing the theme song within the manga-based film Subaru, the new film from Hong Kong director Lee Chi-Ngai. Lee directed Lost and Found, starring Kelly Chan and Michael Wong, and last made Magic Kitchen, starring Sammi Cheng.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the upcoming historical dramas and other programs coming to Japanese TV this month before the end of the year musical extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen.

- Representing Asia at the CineMart market during the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2009 are Korea’s Gina Kim, Japan’s Nobuhiro Yamashita, and China’s Zhang Yuan.

- Ryuganji has the second part of his translation of a Japanese magazine article on the Japanese film business in the 21st century.

The Golden Rock - December 12th, 2008 Edition

- Thanks to the extra IMAX gross and opening on 76 screens, the sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still dominated opening day box office in Hong Kong. It made HK$2.11 million, which puts it as probably the biggest opening day Hong Kong has had in since The Dark Knight (I forgot how big the opening for The Mummy 3 because I didn’t blog at the time). It should have no problem making HK$10 million by the weekend’s over.

Sadly, its domination also meant the other films losing screens and audience. Four Christmases could only open at 3rd place with HK$107,000 from 28 screens, though Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn are not exactly big box office draws here. Even worse off is Tsui Hark’s All About Women (half a good film, totally overlong). From a modest 19 screens, the comedy made only HK$60,300, which is even lower than Missing’s opening from earlier in the year. Now it’ll have to rely on the Mandarin speaking terroritories to make its money back, although that was probably the plan all along. That’s all for the opening films, more on Monday when the numbers are out.

-Thanks to their three album releases this year - two of them compilations - Exile is the best-selling Japanese artist of the year, with 5.2 million copies of their releases sold. Arashi, however, also took the spotlight by having three singles in the top 10, while the biggest surprise is the game show-based “baka trio” Shuchishin having the 5th best-selling single in Japan this year.

- I was wrong about Thelma Aoyama and Soulja’s Soba Ni Iru Ne as the best-selling single (although it was at 7th place). Instead, it was the most downloaded song for cell phones in 2008. Mind you, that’s only the legal downloads.

- It’s trailers time! Two new discoveries on Youtube. First it’s the trailer for Andrew Lau’s Look For a Star, starring Andy Lau (welcome back to modern films), Shu Qi, and Denise “HOCC” Ho. It looks pretty, and it’ll probably open during Lunar New Year in Hong Kong.

Next is the second teaser for Casshern director Kazuaki Kiriya’s Goemon, which finally has actual footage from the film, and looks like a period version of Casshern. But it looks pretty as well.

Also, many of you probably caught this already: The full Japanese trailer for Dragonball Evolution. No, it’s not looking any better.

- The big thing at this year’s CineAsia convention in India is digital projection, which is looking to be the next big thing especially with China’s efforts to push that along with 3D films. On the other hand, 3D cinema only received a mixed reception, since Journey to the Center of the Earth seems to be the only true success story of the format in Asia so far (not sure if those 3-d animated films were successful because of the 3d or they were going to be successful regardless of the dimensions).

- I’m a few days behind, but in case you haven’t heard, the comic-style Japanese comedy TV drama Nodame Cantabile is going to the big screen. Twice. The show was fun and all, but does it still need two feature films after a 5-hour TV special and a 11-episode drama?

Tokyograph article 1
Tokyograph article 2
Screen Daily article

Lastly, reader YTSL requested this, so here ya go:

00114320db810aa5b46d3b.jpg
Ang Lee and Brigette Lin at this year’s Golden Horse Awards. You don’t need me to tell you who’s who.

That’s it for today. See you later in the weekend.

The Golden Rock - December 8th, 2008 Edition

- Dante Lam’s The Beast Stalker captured the top spot at the Hong Kong box office for the second weekend in a row. On Sunday, the melodramatic thriller made HK$539,000 from 34 screens for a 11-day total of HK$6.02 million. This is a 37% drop from last Sunday’s take, and signals that it’s slowing down a little quicker than Connected. Getting to the HK$10 million mark will be tough, but considering how Hong Kong films have done this year, this is a modest success for Emperor.

Cape No. 7 may have gotten a slight boost from its wins at the Golden Horse Awards, losing only 20% of last Sunday’s business for a take of HK$395,000 from 25 screens. After 18 days, the Taiwanese music-based romance has made HK$6.4 million. At this rate, the HK$10 million mark is looking more and more probable. On the other hand, Herman Yau’s True Women For Sale didn’t quite get the boost it needed from Prudence Lau’s Best Actress win. From 5 screens, the dramedy made HK$51,000 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$180,000.

The opening film with the best per-screen average is the Japanese film Ikigami. From just 4 screens, the high concept drama made HK$59,900 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$210,000. On the other hand, the best-performing opener was Wu Jing’s co-directorial debut Legendary Assassin. From 31 screens, the action film made just HK$336,000 at 3rd place for a 4-day total of HK$1.23 million. I guess all those Gold Label stars showing up didn’t help much.   The other Gold Label film , Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect, made another HK$189,800 from 34 screens, losing 45% of last Sunday’s gross. After 11 days, the identity-switching comedy has made HK$2.69 million.

The distributor of the American indie comedy What Just Happened? is probably asking that same question. From 13 screens, the Berry Levinson film made HK$111,000 on Sunday for a 4-day total of just HK$410,000. Quantum of Solace has made HK$18.91 million after 32 days, Beverly Hills Chihuahua has made HK$2.89 million after 18 days, and Burn After Reading has made HK$2.98 million after 25 days.

- Over to the Japan attendance figures, where Wall-E and the disaster film 252 finally came together to knock Red Cliff of its top spot for first and second place, respectively. The TV drama/comic-based spinoff Tokumei Kakaricho Hitoshi Tadano film (which looks terrible) got a 5th place debut. Surprisingly, Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s Where the Legend Lives saw a boost to 7th place this weekend after almost being knocked off the top 10 chart last week. However, like last week, its placing may end up being lower on the box office gross chart because it attracts an elderly audience, who pay a lower ticket price. More when the numbers are out.

- After months of production turmoil and coming in the midst of a political shuffle, Ong Bak 2 opened last Friday and is now projected to be the top local film this year. Kaiju Shakedown looks at some initial reviews, which reveal that it sets up for Ong Bak 3. I’ll be watching this in Hong Kong just after New Year.

-  In addition to the Golden Horse Awards, there was also a Taipei Projects Market (refer to my interview with Kenneth Bi to hear about how these things work), where two films had to share the top prize. A lack of high-profile projects (except for the Eat Drink Man Woman sequel NOT by Ang Lee and Pang Ho-Cheung’s The Bus) made it hard to find extended reports about it, but here ya go.

- Variety lines out the tough week the media had last week in Asia, and it was about more than giving away police strategies to terrorists and illegal airport blockages.

- Ryuganji translates a very long article in a Japanese magazine about the Japanese film business in the 21st century. Part one covers the overwhelming dominance of local distributor Toho.

- If you want to know what the most popular songs in Japan are, you should check out DAM’s (that’s a Karaoke machine) top 20 2008 Karaoke ranking because people tend to sing what they like, especially in a Karaoke-heavy country like Japan. As Tokyograph reported, here are the top 10 Karaoke songs of 2008:

1) Kiseki - GReeeeN (which has a great music video. You don’t need to know Japanese to be touched by it. Oh, alright, here’s an English-subtitled version.)
2) Lovers Again - Exile
3) Ai Uta - GReeeeN (This video, on the other hand, not so good)
4) Tsubomi - Kobukuro (I admit that I sang this a few times at Karaoke myself)
5) Soba ni Iru ne - Thelma Aoyama featuring Soulja (the no.1 selling single in Japan this year so far. Or some Arashi single might’ve already surpassed it.)
6) Ai no Uta - Kumi Koda (apparently the words Ai (love) and Uta (song) are huge in Japanese music)
7) Hanamizuki - Yo Hitoto (Apparently the only song she ever sings when she goes to the year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen every year)
8) Sakura - Kobukuro (The word Sakura is also huge in Japanese music)
9) Suirenka - Shonan no Kaze (which Hacken Lee covered in his Concert Hall II album. It wasn’t good.)
10) Ayaka - Mikatsuki

If you know Japanese and care enough about the rest of the rankings, check out the complete list here. By the way, my man Jero’s debut single Umiyuki got on the 15th place. Not bad for a kid from Pittsburgh.

- Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo has been announced as the first director of this year’s Jeonju Digital Project. Produced by the Jeonju International Film Festival, the Jeonju Digital Project is a trio of short films produced each year by three different directors. The other two directors for the upcoming festival’s project will be announced on January 13th.

- With China making the unusual choice of a sending a documentary to the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film race, some people in China wonder if the country’s even trying to get into the race anymore. At least it didn’t pick Painted Skin as its representative.

- Under “Japanese drama casting” news today, Arashi leader Satoshi Ohno will be doing his first comedic role in a TV drama next season.  Meanwhile, major film actor Koji Yakusho and popular actress Eri Fukatsu will be starring in a made-for-TV movie (I guess a drama special if you want to get all specific with names) with a script written 30 year ago.

- In order to encourage people to go to the cinemas, China has been trying to promote digital projection and 3D films in theaters. It’s so eager to it that its authorities even exempted Disney’s latest animated film from the 20 foreign films quota.

- Famed Japanese composer Minoru Endo, who has written 5000 songs in the last 60 years, passed away over the weekend. He was 76 years old.

The Golden Rock at the Golden Horse - not-so-live blog

Thanks to the magic of reruns, This blogger will be watching The Golden Horse Awards rerun after he returns from a concert. So from 11:30pm Hong Kong time (you’ll have to figure out what that time is in your own time zone), I’ll be live-blogging the rerun of the show with simultaneous commentary. That means you can first read the more-informed, more professional, and more-read Variety Live Blog before coming here for this idiot’s comments. I was hoping to get Kozo to do it, but obviously he’s the brains of the operation by not doing it.

Of course, I won’t be cheating by checking out the results first. The coverage this year should be less interrupted since I won’t be watching it on a free TV network, which hopefully means no abrupt commercial breaks.

But before that, here are some predictions:

Best Original Song: Cape No. 7
Best Original Film Score: Cape No. 7 (though I would like to see Sparrow take it)
Best Action Choreography: The Warlords or The Assembly
Best Make up and Costume Design: Warlords or Red Cliff
Best Art Direction: Red Cliff
Best Visual Effects: CJ7
Best Cinematography: Cape No. 7 (though it’d be nice for Sparrow to win this too)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Assembly (I want Pang Ho-Cheung to win for Trivial Matters, and why isn’t The Warlords in this category?)
Best New Performer: Johnny C.J. Lin - Cape No. 7
Best Supporting Actress: No prediction
Best Supporting Actor: Ma Ju-Lung - Cape No. 7
Best Actor: Jet Li - The Warlords
Best Original Screenplay - The Warlords screenwriting committee
Best Actress - Too close to call
Best Director - Wei Te-sheng - Cape No. 7
Best Film - Cape No, 7

So that’s a prediction of 7 awards for Cape No. 7, because Taiwan will probably riot if it doesn’t win at least one major award.

11:29 pm: OK, all logged in and ready to go. The concert got out later than expected, and I had to sacrifice a MacDonald’s run. Instead, I have a pack of peanuts and a bottle of milk tea. The sacrifices I make for this blog.

The original live broadcast isn’t over yet, so I’m going to set some ground rules:

I don’t speak very good Mandarin, and my listening is worse, so forget about translating. I’ll just be explaining what’s going on with some comments.

Also, feel free to comment along the way here, or at the Lovehkfilm forum.

11:34 pm: Show still not over yet. OK, I guess I’m not sleeping ’til 3:35 am.

11:37pm: Struggling not to watch the live show for spoilers…………

11:40 pm: Show still not over. Maybe I should’ve gone to MacDonald’s…

11:46 pm: Live broadcast over, waiting for rerun now.

11:50 pm: Here we go. Lin Chi-ling starts off with a dancing performance while lip-syncing.

11:51 pm: Nice wire-work.

11:54 pm: Now I get it - It’s a dance performance for each nominated Best Picture.

11:57 pm: Ultra-serious epic Warlords interpreted in modern dance with Lin Chi-Ling shaking a stick. Let’s move on.

11:58 pm: Good, it’s over. Hong Kong’s Dodo Cheng and the host of Channel V’s girl-based talent show are the hosts. It’s gonna be a struggle hearing Dodo work through her Mandarin lines.

12:00mn: Mark that: 10 minutes for the first mention of Cape no. 7

12:02 am: OK, first award time: Presenters are…Vivian Hsu and Ando…..you know who I’m talking about.

Ando’s been studying Chinese for three months, so either he’s good at remember his rehearsed lines, or it’s actually not that bad.

The first award is for Best Sound Effects.

And the award goes to: Steve Burgess for Tsui Hark’s Missing.

12:05 am: Looks like the award is edited to save time. Good, it won’t be such a long night.

12:07: Miao Miao’s Fan Chih-Wai and Annie Liu come out to present the second award. Man, Annie Liu’s Mandarin is good.

Wait, she’s from Taiwan? That would explain it.

OK, the award is for Best Documentary. My teacher Angie Chen’s This Darling Life is one of the nominees.

The award goes to…….Up the Yangtze. Sorry, Angie.

The director is Canadian-Chinese, and gives his speech in English. “Long live Chinese cinema, long live Chinese documentary.” Seeing that he said that in Taiwan, I wonder who would interpret that in a political way.

12:12 am: Fan and Liu stay to present the Best Short Film Award.

And the winner is……Hopscotch.

12:15: It’s amazing that it’s been 15 minutes since anyone mentioned Cape No. 7.

12:16 am: Skipping another commercial break, Gao Jie and David Chiang comes out to present the award for…..they’ve been talking for 2 minutes now. And now we know it’s for Best Cinematography. Mark that it was 18 minutes of no mention of Cape No. 7.

The award goes to……Sparrow. This was the one I wanted to win!

12:20 am: The two stay to present another award. Best editing. I don’t think I predicted this one, and I don’t know why.

And the award goes to………Connected.

There’s been more people accepting awards for the award winners than award winners there!

12:23 am: Vicky Zhao and Cheng Chen present the Best Supporting Actress Award.

And the award goes to……..Orz Boyz’s Mei Fang.

Mei fang has been acting for 45 years, and extremely excited to get the award. It’s quite touching, actually. No cynicism here.

12:29 am: The two stay to present Best Supporting Actor. Cape No. 7 resurfaces, and has won no award as of yet.

And the award goes to………..Ma Ju-lung, for the first Cape no. 7 award of the night!

Ma delivers his speech in Taiwanese. There goes the Greater China audience.

12:32 am: Vanness Wu and Jaycee Chan present the award for……why the hell is Vanness wearing a bowler hat?! And he should probably shave. Jaycee, on the other hand, has a nice Khalil Fong look going with the thick black glasses.

Vanness praises Jaycee’s performance in Police Story. Ouch.

The award is for Best Action Design. Of course, there’s one DOOOOOOONNNNIIIEEEE movie in there (Empress and the Warriors)

And the award goes to…..Connected. Wow, that’s a bit of a surprise. And of course, Nicky Li is not there to pick up the award. Legendary Assassin needs all the promotion it can get.

12:38 am: Oh, good, a small break: It’s a martial arts performance, as the Golden Horse Awards further the Chinese-language cinema stereotype.

Channel V-produced boy band Lollipop tries to outdo Jay Chou’s theme song for Fearless by enunciating! Oh, it’s with completely new lyrics.

12:44am: They’re trying to sing the Game of Death theme song in Cantonese. This is freaking hilarious. It’s over after one verse. I wished it lasted longer just for laughs.

12:47am: Oh, good, it’s over. Kevin Chu (on my black list for Kung Fu Dunk, and thankfully NOT nominated for anything tonight) and Kelly Lin present the award for……….Chu asks Kelly whether she wants to pull a Lust, Caution. All HK film fans would thank him for this contribution, unlike say…..Kung Fu Dunk.

OK, the award is for Best Art Direction. The award goes to………..Parking! This is a surprise.

The two stay to present Best Make-up and Costume. The award goes to: Candy Rain. At least it awarded it for the only thing the movie had: style.

12:52 am: Eason Chan and Coco Lee present the award for……….first, they kiss each other’s asses, then Coco asks Eason the Hong Konger to explain Trivial Matters’ Chinese title to segue into talking about the importance of the award. Oh, damn it, I missed the pun in the middle of being annoyed.

Ok, the award is for Best Film Score. The award goes to……….Cape No. 7. How can THE Taiwanese movie of the year that’s also about music not win this award?

12:58 am: uh-oh. Audio problem with one of the mics onstage.

The two stay on for another award: Best Original Song. Wait, no live performance of the songs?

and the award goes to……….Cape No. 7’s South of the Border. Again, no surprise. That’s 3 awards so far for the Taiwanese blockbuster.

1:02 am: Someone please fix that damn mic.

1:05 am: Mathieu Amalric and Karen Mok present the award for the International critics award to Parking.

1:10 am: Who’s Marco Tempest? And why is he on Taipei 101? Let me google him.

OK, he’s an illusionist, and he’s about to pull off some kind of trick.

So he just brought himself from Taipei 101 to the awards 168 km away within a minute while putting a map right in front of a DV cam with a live feed. And now he’ll take the next few minutes to advertise himself.

Ok, the live tricks are nice, but what does this have to do with the movies?

1:14 am: Oh, I get it. He’s going to present the Best Visual Effects awards?

Oh, more tricks first.

Oh, come on, he’s not even presenting the damn award. And he just revealed that the Taipei 101 stuff was actually on TV with him pointing the camera at it.

1:20 am: OK, Guey Lun-Mei and Kitty Zhang present the Best Visual Effects award.

And the award goes to……….The Warlords. That’s the first award of the night for Peter Chan’s film.

1:22 am: Finally, the first commercial break of the rerun.

1:26 am: Back from commercial break. Now either the Special Contribution Award or the Lifetime Achievement Award.

1:31 am: I feel bad for not paying attention to what the presenters are saying. This is for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Cheng Fang. Sorry, I’m not paying attention to what he’s saying, either.

1:35 am: Now the Special Contribution Award to Huang Ren.

1:40 am: Sorry, these kind of awards are always the down time for me. I mean no disrespect to the award winners.

Ok, now the Audience Award.  Wu Jun and Cape No. 7’s Johnny Lin present the award.

The award goes to……..Cape No. 7. No surprise at all, of course.

1:47 am: Lin Chiling presents an award from the audience stands. That’s a nice……..and very small dress.

She’s presenting the Best New Actor award. And the award goes to……………Suming Chiang of Hopscotch. Having Cape No. 7 take up two nominations probably spread out the votes for it.

1:53 am: Coco Lee performs a song about loving movies. They took out the Best Original Song performance for this and a magic performance instead?

1:57 am: So the performance is doubling as the In Memoriam segment as well.

2:01 am: Time for the Best Screenplay awards, with Eric Tsang and Karena Lam are presenting the award. Eric Tsang gives a shoutout to Winds of September, which he produced.

First the Original Screenplay. The award goes to……………Winds of September. Eric Tsang jumps for joy.

And now time for Adapted Screenplay with a very very happy Eric Tsang. The award goes to…………The Assembly. Disappointed as a Pang Ho-Cheung fan, of course.

Assembly screenwriter makes a crack Trivial Matters being “no matter” now, but says he liked the film very much.

2:13 am: A montage devoted to Taiwanese films. Oh, it’s a gag montage with other young Taiwanese film people, including Chen Bo-lin and the star of Island Etude.

They’re sitting around talking about how to make the next Cape No. 7. Fairly amusing.

2:15 am: A “to be continued” screen with a pigeon. Nice.

Kevin Chu pitches a film that combines the name of all the big Chinese films this year. After getting rejected for funding, he says “Taiwanese film will not die!” Kung fu Dunk didn’t help any.

Even Dodo Cheng joins in on the fun. She refers the hero to Ma Ju-lung playing a gangster-like loan shark. There’s even a part 3 coming.

2:22 am: Ang Lee and Brigette Lin come together on stage (the first time in a decade for Lin, according to her) to present the award for the Formoz Filmmaker Award.

And the award goes to………..Wei Te-Sheng, as expected. That’s the 5th cape No. 7-related award of the night.

The two stay for the Formoz Film Award. Remember the potential riots if you-know-what doesn’t win.

2:28 am: And the award goes to…………Cape No. 7, its 5th of the night.

Good thing they’re getting to the major awards now. These things are exhausting.

2:33 am: Never mind - Part 3 of the comedy short.

Comic sound effects are the least funny things in comedy EVER.

Peggy Chiao cameos as an aspiring actress………and gets casted. Movie name: Sea Horse No. 45.

Doze Niu of What on Earth did I Do Wrong show up and asks why Cape No. 7 could do it and not him.

And it ends with a voiceover by Ang Lee, identifying himself as a director born in Taiwan.

2:40 am: Johnny C. J. Lin does his erhu thing AND sings a Taiwanese folk song………………very off-key.

Of course, this year is all about Taiwanese film pride, so now comes a montage on the history of Taiwanese films.

2:45 am: Already crediting Cape No.7 with the resurrection of Taiwanese film is a little premature, no?

And the movie’s song gets its own live performance. The drumming is completely off-beat. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the movie’s group of musicians sing songs from classic Taiwanese films. I know Cape No. 7 is like the best thing since sliced cheese, but the ceremony is getting a little long.

And Van is not really a great singer.

They really don’t have to re-introduce the members one by one. Most people who care already saw a 2-hour movie about them. Why the hell are they singing the song they screwed up again?

Ok, the Cape No. 7 musical celebration ends without a performance of the award-winning song.

2:57 am: Shu Qi and Feng Xiaogang come out to present Best Actor. Feng thanks the awards for allowing him the opportunity to hold Shu Qi’s hand. Then he lets go.

A quick cutaway shot shows Johnny C.J. Lin’s seat is under his character’s name in Cape No. 7, as if no one will know his real name. Ouch.

The award goes to……….Zhang Hanyu, a real surprise! Feng Xiaogang gets to hand the award to his leading man.

3:04 am: Finally the home stretch. Sandra Ng and Peter Chan Ho-sun come out to present the Best Actress Award. Peter Chan wonders why he has to hold Sandra Ng’s hand. By the way, Ng is the mother of his child.

This is the toughest category to call. I’m sure the anticipation was intense, at least when it was live.

The award goes to………………Prudence Lau for True Women for Sale! Really, any of these win would’ve been a surprise. Hopefully, it’ll help its box office in Hong Kong for the rest of the week.

3:10 am: OK, two awards left. Zhou Xun and John Woo present the Best Director Award. What a slap to the face, by having Woo present the award he got snubbed for. Even though I didn’t think Red Cliff was as great as it could’ve been, Woo’s work deserved at least a nomination.

Will Cape No. 7 pick up the majors and complete this year’s Taiwanese film celebration?

And the award goes to……………Peter Chan Ho-sun! This doesn’t bode well for Cape No. 7.

Peter Chan says “this award did not come easily” in front of John Woo. I’m pretty sure Red Cliff was harder to make than Warlords.

Is it my imagination, or does Woo look bitter in the background?

3:18 am: OK, the final award of the night. Best film is being presented by Huang Tong and Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh thanks the Golden Horse Awards for not fogetting her. I didn’t forget Silver Hawk or The Touch, either.

The audience root for the Taiwanese nominees. Least applause goes to The Assembly.

Here we go. The award goes to…………………….The Warlords, in a comeback! It was called most overrated film of 2007 by the Lovehkfilm committee for a reason.

3:23 am: Final tally - Cape No. 7 picked up six awards (and another one for Cape No. 7 director Wei Te-sheng), and Warlords picked up three. Even though Cape No. 7 took the most awards as expected, its thunder sort of got stolen with The Warlords taking away the two most important awards.

All in all, the show is still too long and overblown. It even ran longer than last year’s ceremony.

Anyway, until the next big award ceremony, that’s it for now here in Hong Kong. Thanks to Boss Kozo and Variety’s Marcus Lim for stopping by. I need some sleep.

The Golden Rock - December 3rd, 2008 Edition

Let’s start with some numbers:

- The attendance ranking for the Japanese box office looks a bit different from actual grosses. While the top three films match on both charts, Death Race actually made enough money to overtake the Pretty Cure movie for 4th place. This is most likely because Pretty Cure attracts younger audiences, which means Pretty Cure may have attracted more audiences, but it sold tickets at lower prices. The same happened to Suspect X, which apparently attracted more audience than Saw V, but ended up taking in less money. Which one is a more accurate gauge of success at the box office? You decide.

As it is the case after a holiday weekend, all the films on the top 10 took a considerable drop. Red Cliff lost more audiences than the war crimes drama I’d Rather be a Shellfish (31.6% vs. 26.6%), which lost the least business out of all the films on top 10. However, it didn’t lose enough to lose its first place standing. John Woo’s period epic has now topped the box office for five weeks, and 58% of Walker Plus users who saw the film gave it 5 out of 5.

The film that lost the most business on the top 10 is Blindness, whose gross dropped by 50% in the second week. In fact, Where the Legend Lives attracted enough elder audiences that it bumped Blindness off the top10 on the attendance chart.

- In Korea, five of the top 10 films are Korean, with two of those films taking the top spots. However, one of them is only for a series of preview screenings, and its true opening will be next weekend.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- At the Chinese box office, local film Fit Lover scores a strong opening, though last week’s top earner Desire of the Heart lost only 20% of business. Dante Lam’s Beast Stalkers amazing lost only 0.2% of its opening weekend business and may become a pretty damn profitable film for all the production companies involved. Hellboy II also saw a very small drop of about 7%, which must be good news for those who want to bring more fantasy films into China.

The biggest drops also go to Hollywood films - Quantum of Solace lost 60%, while Babylon A.D. lost a disastrous 75%. However, one has already made nearly 140 million RMB, and the other one has only made 7.75 million RMB.

- On the Japanese Oricon music charts, the variety group Exile (only two out of the seven member sing - the rest dance in the background) scores a new number 1 single with their cover of Last Christmas (seriously, when will Japanese people get tired of that song? The last cover was Yuji Oda’s for the drama of the same name back in 2004). The enka song Ai no Mama de climbed back up to 9th place, making enka singer Junko Akimoto the oldest female singer/enka singer to have a top 10 single.

Mika Nakashima’s latest album debuts on top of the album chart, while Shota Shimizu’s 2nd place debut got the media searching everywhere for a new record for him to break.

More from Tokyograph.

- The boost of Ai no Mama de in sales may be due to its win at the Japan Record Awards as one of the 12 Gold Awards of the year.  Other winners include Jero as one of the five Best New Artists, Namie Amuro’s compilation taking Best Album (how can a compilation be a Best Album when it’s compiled from a bunch of other albums?), and Ponyo poised to pick up some kind of award

Worth noting is that Hong Konger Agnes Chan will be getting a special award. Agnes Chan was born in Hong Kong and was first known in Asia after she acted in to of Chang Cheh’s films. Then she went to Japan for a singing career and it mostly stayed there ever since. Over the last decade, she also became a scholar(a Ph.D from Stanford!), a professor, a novelist, a United Nations ambassador, a TV personality, and a radio host. Despite being in Japan, she never forgot about Hong Kong, either.

- Cape No. 7 was supposed to open in a few weeks in China, but its release has now been postponed indefinitely, despite being approved by the censors. However, no one really knows the true reason. Some say the Taiwanese-Japanese aspect of the film could cause a nationalistic backlash (as in people reading too much into it), and some say it’s a simple matter of the subtitles not being done on time because of all the languages involved.

-  Alan Mak and Felix Chong, whose latest film Lady Cop and Papa Crook will finally be released in January (though in a trucated, China-approved version), are already working on a new project about police eavesdropping that will be produced by Derek Yee. Sounds promising.

- Under “Japanese drama” news today, the NHK period drama hit Atsuhime hit a peak of 30.8% rating, a mark that private network dramas have not hit since Karei Naru Ichizoku did it in March 2007 with its final episode.

With struggling drama ratings even during prime time, TBS will be canceling their daytime drama slots and the news show programmed around them for a 4-hour daytime news show. Honestly, these news show are all the same anyway, no matter how long they are or what network they’re on.

- Ryuganji is back with a detailed look of his experience at this year’s Tokyo Filmex.

While Sion Sono’s 4-hour Love Exposure got all the attention, Twitch also brings to your attention Nonko 36 sai, another well-received Japanese film at the festival.

- Despite the current economic environment, major Japanese studio Toei is spending 4.2 billion yen on a complex completely for digital production.

- Lastly, Twitch has a review for Shinobu Yaguchi’s Happy Flight.

The Golden Rock - December 1st, 2008 Edition

Goodbye, November. Hello, December. See you soon, 2nd anniversary.

- Four of the five opening movies in Hong Kong got on the top 10 on opening day last Thursday, but only three remained on the Sunday box office chart. Beast Stalker remained on top with an impressive HK$844,000 from 37 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.91 million. This is 80% of Connected’s 4-day opening number (both are from Emperor Motion Pictures), and it ended up making over HK$13 million. If the word-of-mouth is similarly positive, it may end up passing the HK$10 million mark.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect didn’t quite get the youth boost it needed on Sunday, making just HK$340,400 from 34 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.49 million. It’s an improvement over Kong’s horror film Forgive and Forget, but I doubt this will pass the HK$3 million mark as theaters quickly move to reduce the number of showings by Thursday. Lastly, Hong Kong audience show that they don’t really care movies paralleling Taiwanese current events, as Lawrence Lau’s Ballistic made only HK$64,800 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$270,000.

Cape No. 7 is showing some potential for long-term success, as its take of HK$490,600 from 25 screens on Sunday is 83% of last Sunday’s take. After 11 days, the Taiwanese music-themed romance has made HK$4.55 million. At this speed, the HK$7 million mark is a likely possibility. Meanwhile, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is now at only HK$2.44 million after 11 days, Quantum of Solace is at HK$18.38 million after 25 days. While it won’t do the HK$20+million that Casino Royale did two years ago (it’s hard to believe that the blog started out tracking its Hong Kong box office), it’s also worth noting that Casino Royale had a ticket price inflation due to its length.

Moving down the chart, The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading now has HK$2.68 million after 18 days. Champions has passed the HK$5 million mark on Sunday with HK$80,000 from 27 screens. After 18 days, it has made HK$5.06 million. The church-endorsed Bella is showing legs, with another HK$78,000 from 8 screens for HK$1.41 million after 18 days. Lastly, Detroit Metal City remains on the top 10 with HK$10.51 million after 32 days.

- It was a slow week at the Japanese box office, at least attendance-wise. Red Cliff takes the 5th week at the top, while I’d Rather be a Shellfish remains at 2nd place, and Happy Flight remains at 3rd. The best-performing debut goes to Death Race at 5th, while Saw V could only muster a 7th place opening. More when the numbers come out.

- The ratings for the Fall 2008 Japanese drama season continues to be very disappointing. The ratings for Aibou Season 7 - the highest of the season so far - is going through bigger ups and downs than the stock market. After a series-high 20.7% two weeks ago, it dips to a 15.7 this week. Just when Ryusei no Kizuna seems to have found a loyal group of audience, it saw its season low of 14.5% this week in its 3rd straight week of declining ratings. The same happened to the terrorism thriller Bloody Monday, which saw steady ratings since its premiere until it dropped to a 10.1% for this week’s episode.

Some dramas are beginning to see their ratings pick up slightly: Scandal saw a boost to a 12.3% rating after a mere 10.4% in the previous week. Gira Gira saw a similar boost, going up to a 10.2% after seeing a season-low 7.2% in the previous week. As it reaches its final weeks, Kaze no Garden’s 8th episode also saw a boost to 14.1% rating.

The season’s biggest disappointment, next to Ryusei no Kizuna’s fall from grace, has to be the struggling ratings for Fuji’s Monday night 9pm drama Innocent Love. whose current season average of 13.2% is the lowest since Boku Dake no Madonna in Summer 2003. This week, it saw a boost up to 12.6% after two straight weeks of season-low 11.7%.

- Under “The economy went shitty, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt” news today, Hong Kong’s TVB is cutting 212 staffs, or 7% of their workforce, because they anticipate a sharp drop in profits. Note that said drop hasn’t officially happened yet, they just anticipated it.

Meanwhile, Japanese animation house GDH, who made the award-winning Summer Days with Coo, is cutting 20% of its workforce through early retirements.

- DJ Ozma, who pissed Japan off at the 2006 Kohaku Uta Gassen with this performance, is retiring from show biz after his third album. Of course, he’s not going away entirely: Ozma is just one of the roles the ex-Kishidan leader plays. He’s playing one of the three members of Yazima Biyoushitsu. It’s borderline offensive if that damn song isn’t so catchy.

- The Indian government has called in broadcasters to investigate whether the news media helped the terrorists by giving them the police’s tactical strategies with their wall-to-wall coverage.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter looks at the effect of the tragedy on the worldwide entertainment industry at a time when India is trying to expand to the world with various production deals.

One of the biggest effects already felt is the cancellation of Live Earth India, which was set to take place this Sunday in Mumbai.

- The Tokyo Filmex just wrapped up over the weekend, with the Isreali-German-France co-produced animated film Waltz with Bashir taking home the grand prize.

The film attracting the most attention at the Tokyo Filmex this year must be Sion Sono’s 4-hour romance epic Love Exposure. It ended up taking home the Agnes B Audience Prize. Jason Gray gives a quasi-review, and Edmond Yeo gives it a very strong praise. Now I hope the Hong Kong International Film Festival is daring enough to take it on.

- Kyoko Koizumi picks up another acting prize for Tokyo Sonata at this year’s Fumiko Yamaji Film Awards, which only gives out female acting awards in addition to the film awards. In addition to Koizumi’s Best Actress win, Haruka Ayase also picked up the Best Newcomer Award for her three theatrical releases this year - Cyborg She, Ichi, and Happy Flight.

- The Japanese talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo, which manages some of Japan’s top comic talents, is partnering with a Chinese theater group to give comedy stage shows in China.

- Holy crap, the other five guys in Exile finally has something to do other than dance in the background while the other two sing.

- Twitch has a full trailer for Chan Kaige’s Forever Entralled, which will be released in a few weeks in China and on January 1st in Hong Kong.

- The TBS-produced Japanese medical mystery The Glorious Team Batista has a decent run in cinemas earlier in the year. This season, Fuji took the same source material and turned it into a TV drama, which is doing OK in the ratings. Now TBS is taking back the spotlight by announcing a sequel for the film version with the original cast returning. It will be released in March 2009. Kozo reviewed the first film here.

- An interesting off-topic find: In a survey of about 400 people - with 47.8% of the participant in their 30s - the cinema is the top spot for a first date. It also reveals that nearly 97% of Japanese moviegoers never had their phones go off in the movie theater. This number would surely be much much lower here in Hong Kong.

 
 
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