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Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

The Golden Rock - August 28th, 2007 Edition

- It’s reviews time! Hollywood Reporter has a surprisingly informed (i.e. references to director’s earlier films) review of Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen’s Flash Point. Todd Brown also reviews Flash Point with mixed enthusiasm. Lovehkfilm’s Kozo chimes in with a review of Blood Brothers. Actually, AP’s Min Lee also chimes in with a review of Blood Brothers. Lovehkfilm’s Sanjuro writes a review for Nana 2, or how to ruin a franchise that couldn’t retain its actors. Lastly, there’s a review of Takashi Miike’s Ryu Go Gotoku by new guest reviewer at Lovehkfilm Jmaruyama.

- The return of Grady Hendrix’s Kaiju Shakedown is slowly rendering this blog useless. For one, he’s packed a whole weekend’s worth of Hong Kong film news into one entry, though some have already appeared here already.

- I was pretty young when I watched that animated series City Hunter on TV. Of course, with the time slot of after-midnight on Hong Kong’s TVB, it was like eating the fruit that is close to the location of the forbidden fruit (which would probably be say…porn), and it should tell you how far it has slip into the back of my mind, considering how young I was when I lived in Hong Kong. Now someone (the news didn’t specify) is bringing it back as a live-action drama with a Korean actor in the leading role.

- Taiwan is pissed because someone who writes for the Venice Film festival identified Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and Alexi Tan’s Blood Brothers as being from “Taiwan, China” while the Taiwanese art film Help Me Eros used just “Taiwan.” However, the two films are actually Taiwan/China co-productions, so could someone have just gotten lazy with their slashes?

- Apparently this is how the Japanese distributor of Craig Brewer’s Black Snake Moan decided to promote the film. Fitting or tasteless?

- Know how to tell that Jackie Chan is getting old? He’s hurt himself again on the set of his latest movie, but this time is because he triggered an earlier injury from another movie. Those back pains are no joke at his age.

- Another addition to the Tokyo International Film festival is Jigyaku No Uta (or “Happily Ever After) starring Miki Nakatani and Hiroshi Abe. Naturally, Kaiju Shakedown already has more.

- Aubrey Lam, whose Twelve Nights is a personal favorite, has a new film coming out called “Anna and Anna” starring Karena Lam. However, its plot description of two women in difference places that look the same sound somewhat similar to The Double Life of Veronique.

The Golden Rock - August 23rd, 2007 Edition

- Jia Zhangke’s award-winning Still Life finally hit the arthouse screen of Japan. In the 204-seat theater, the film attracted 1811 people and 2.34 million yen in its opening Saturday and Sunday. With 5 shows a day, that’s 181.1 people per show, and apparently all shows on Sunday (except the last one) were sold out. I never knew Jia Zhangke had that many fans in Japan.

- Some reports are reporting that two stations under the Japanese satellite TV provider SkyPerfect TV has been ordered to pay copyright owners of some Chinese dramas because they were shown without any permission or compensation. However, those two stations are actually revealed to be China-based TV stations, not Japanese.

- Eiren, or the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan, have started a Japanese movie database containing information on all Japanese films made after the year 2000. Don’t worry, they’re working to make an even more complete database in the future. The only problem is that the database is in Japanese, so no luck to my fellow foreign Japanese film fans.

- the first teaser for Lee Myung-Se’s M is up, and while it looks really beautiful (shot in digital?), I’m always afraid of films that look beautiful because they turn out crappy (Natural City, anyone?).

- On the heels of the resurgence of local films in South Korea, thanks to D-War and May 18, the upcoming Sookmyeong is now the most expensive distribution deal for a Korean film to Japan this year. Don’t pop the champagne open yet, though, its US$2 million price tag is only half of what Korean films got at the height of the Korean wave in Japan.

- To complete a trifecta of Korean film news, Kaiju Shakedown introduces an overdue Korean film about cooking.

- After Wild Mama, there’s another dubiously named character-based drama coming this fall. This time it’s Mop Girl, which is about exactly what the title suggests.

- Despite being reported this week, the badly named Zhang Ziyi/Jang Dong-gun starrer Laundry Warrior has not been shooting since May because Jang is injured, and Zhang is already off shooting the new Chen Kaige movie. However, the star of Chen Kaige’s film Leon Lai is off shooting the latest Chang Siu-Tung film with Kelly Chan and Donnie Yen, so who’s where?

- Under “films we don’t really care about” today, some Asian actors has joined the cast of The Pink Panther 2, where they will most likely just play some type of Asian stereotype.

- The complete lineup for the Toronto International Film Festival is out, but it’s way too long for me to pick out what’s worth mentioning, so I’ll leave that to you all.

- Taiwanese New Wave director Edward Yang, who recently passed away, will receive the Filmmaker of the Year award at the Pusan International Film Festival. There will also be a retrospective of Yang’s films as well.

I don’t like to pimp out the new Spin-off blog, The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock, but I just wrote a brief review of Alexi Tan’s Blood Brothers there, so check it out.

The Golden Rock - August 23rd, 2007 Edition

- Jia Zhangke’s award-winning Still Life finally hit the arthouse screen of Japan. In the 204-seat theater, the film attracted 1811 people and 2.34 million yen in its opening Saturday and Sunday. With 5 shows a day, that’s 181.1 people per show, and apparently all shows on Sunday (except the last one) were sold out. I never knew Jia Zhangke had that many fans in Japan.

- Some reports are reporting that two stations under the Japanese satellite TV provider SkyPerfect TV has been ordered to pay copyright owners of some Chinese dramas because they were shown without any permission or compensation. However, those two stations are actually revealed to be China-based TV stations, not Japanese.

- Eiren, or the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan, have started a Japanese movie database containing information on all Japanese films made after the year 2000. Don’t worry, they’re working to make an even more complete database in the future. The only problem is that the database is in Japanese, so no luck to my fellow foreign Japanese film fans.

- the first teaser for Lee Myung-Se’s M is up, and while it looks really beautiful (shot in digital?), I’m always afraid of films that look beautiful because they turn out crappy (Natural City, anyone?).

- On the heels of the resurgence of local films in South Korea, thanks to D-War and May 18, the upcoming Sookmyeong is now the most expensive distribution deal for a Korean film to Japan this year. Don’t pop the champagne open yet, though, its US$2 million price tag is only half of what Korean films got at the height of the Korean wave in Japan.

- To complete a trifecta of Korean film news, Kaiju Shakedown introduces an overdue Korean film about cooking.

- After Wild Mama, there’s another dubiously named character-based drama coming this fall. This time it’s Mop Girl, which is about exactly what the title suggests.

- Despite being reported this week, the badly named Zhang Ziyi/Jang Dong-gun starrer Laundry Warrior has not been shooting since May because Jang is injured, and Zhang is already off shooting the new Chen Kaige movie. However, the star of Chen Kaige’s film Leon Lai is off shooting the latest Chang Siu-Tung film with Kelly Chan and Donnie Yen, so who’s where?

- Under “films we don’t really care about” today, some Asian actors has joined the cast of The Pink Panther 2, where they will most likely just play some type of Asian stereotype.

- The complete lineup for the Toronto International Film Festival is out, but it’s way too long for me to pick out what’s worth mentioning, so I’ll leave that to you all.

- Taiwanese New Wave director Edward Yang, who recently passed away, will receive the Filmmaker of the Year award at the Pusan International Film Festival. There will also be a retrospective of Yang’s films as well.

I don’t like to pimp out the new Spin-off blog, The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock, but I just wrote a brief review of Alexi Tan’s Blood Brothers there, so check it out.

The Golden Rock - August 16th Edition

As usual, there’s not really much news on Thursdays, and there’s even a bit of a Hong Kong slant on things today.

- Most of the Toronto International Festival lineup has been announced, and the Asian selection looks real yummy. This year we have Ang Lee, Edmond Pang, Alexi Tan’s Blood Brothers (although the words “cautionary tale” has me cautious), Nobuhiro Yamashita, Hur Jin-Ho, Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai, Takeshi Kitano, Aoyama Shinji, and Im Kwon-Taek.

- Forgot to mention this for a few days, but Lovehkfilm has a review of Wilson Yip’s loving tribute to Donnie Yen and his bloody face Flash Point.

- Writer/director Koki Mitani, who last wrote and directed the chaotic and often funny The Uchoten Hotel, has upgraded his predictions for his next film The Magic Hour. Now he’s promising 10 laughs in three minutes instead of his earlier prediction of 3 laughs a minute. I’ll be counting, ok?

- After Monkey Magic became the widest release for a live-action Japanese film, that record is about to be quickly broken, and by another SMAP member, no less. Kimura Takuya’s drama adaptation film Hero is set to open on 470 screens (again, the blog post says it’s the widest for a Japanese film, period, but who can confirm this?). With ratings topping at over 30%, can the film’s demand meet the supply come September?

- Under “it’s worse than I thought” news today, a full page ad for that Eric Tsang/Wong Jing collaboration, now named Beauty and the 7 Beasts, was on the pages of Hong Kong newspapers today. The woman on the poster, according to the comment section, is Meng Yao, who played DJ Sammy’s wife/manager in the comedy shitter Super Fans. According to the ad, that is the woman that is supposed to “make your mouth dry, have a fever, suffer from increased heartbeats, make your body grow stiff, and cause your nose to bleed.” Is it just me, or is Hong Kong cinema getting increasingly out of touch with reality?

- Remember Lost in Beijing? The film by Chinese director Li Yu that suffered a bunch of cuts for its Chinese release, but even is uncut version as found to be not that big of a deal. Nevertheless, even though the film has cleared the censors, its release is still being put off to “create a healthy and harmonious environment” ahead of the Chinese communist party’s congress. They ought to know that to really bury a film is to release it in so little screens that no one cares, not allow such news to go out.

- On the other hand, China has finally cleared the Japanese disaster film The Sinking of Japan for theatrical release. It’s a movie where Japan sinks, so why wouldn’t China allow it?

- A trailer for Asian-American star Daniel Henney’s latest film My Father is out. This one looks pretty demanding in terms of acting skills, but after Seducing Mr. Perfect, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a trailer to convince me that Henney might be able to act.

- In more “silly Chinese censors” news, the government television agency killed off a talent show called “The First Time I was Touched.” I think the word touched is to mean emotionally, not physically. Still, censors says the show create a negative social effect and is damaging the medium of television. How fucking ironic is that?

- When I signed up for internet/broadband TV last week, the service was promoting the new English Premier League service. That’s why I don’t blame Hong Kong pay TV for going after bars that not only steal cable, but use it to make money.

- Apparently, the latest Lee Myung-Se film M is finished. For those that don’t know, Lee made a huge splash with Nowhere to Hide, but pissed a lot of people off with Duelist, so let’s see how this one goes.

The Golden Rock - August 16th Edition

As usual, there’s not really much news on Thursdays, and there’s even a bit of a Hong Kong slant on things today.

- Most of the Toronto International Festival lineup has been announced, and the Asian selection looks real yummy. This year we have Ang Lee, Edmond Pang, Alexi Tan’s Blood Brothers (although the words “cautionary tale” has me cautious), Nobuhiro Yamashita, Hur Jin-Ho, Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai, Takeshi Kitano, Aoyama Shinji, and Im Kwon-Taek.

- Forgot to mention this for a few days, but Lovehkfilm has a review of Wilson Yip’s loving tribute to Donnie Yen and his bloody face Flash Point.

- Writer/director Koki Mitani, who last wrote and directed the chaotic and often funny The Uchoten Hotel, has upgraded his predictions for his next film The Magic Hour. Now he’s promising 10 laughs in three minutes instead of his earlier prediction of 3 laughs a minute. I’ll be counting, ok?

- After Monkey Magic became the widest release for a live-action Japanese film, that record is about to be quickly broken, and by another SMAP member, no less. Kimura Takuya’s drama adaptation film Hero is set to open on 470 screens (again, the blog post says it’s the widest for a Japanese film, period, but who can confirm this?). With ratings topping at over 30%, can the film’s demand meet the supply come September?

- Under “it’s worse than I thought” news today, a full page ad for that Eric Tsang/Wong Jing collaboration, now named Beauty and the 7 Beasts, was on the pages of Hong Kong newspapers today. The woman on the poster, according to the comment section, is Meng Yao, who played DJ Sammy’s wife/manager in the comedy shitter Super Fans. According to the ad, that is the woman that is supposed to “make your mouth dry, have a fever, suffer from increased heartbeats, make your body grow stiff, and cause your nose to bleed.” Is it just me, or is Hong Kong cinema getting increasingly out of touch with reality?

- Remember Lost in Beijing? The film by Chinese director Li Yu that suffered a bunch of cuts for its Chinese release, but even is uncut version as found to be not that big of a deal. Nevertheless, even though the film has cleared the censors, its release is still being put off to “create a healthy and harmonious environment” ahead of the Chinese communist party’s congress. They ought to know that to really bury a film is to release it in so little screens that no one cares, not allow such news to go out.

- On the other hand, China has finally cleared the Japanese disaster film The Sinking of Japan for theatrical release. It’s a movie where Japan sinks, so why wouldn’t China allow it?

- A trailer for Asian-American star Daniel Henney’s latest film My Father is out. This one looks pretty demanding in terms of acting skills, but after Seducing Mr. Perfect, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a trailer to convince me that Henney might be able to act.

- In more “silly Chinese censors” news, the government television agency killed off a talent show called “The First Time I was Touched.” I think the word touched is to mean emotionally, not physically. Still, censors says the show create a negative social effect and is damaging the medium of television. How fucking ironic is that?

- When I signed up for internet/broadband TV last week, the service was promoting the new English Premier League service. That’s why I don’t blame Hong Kong pay TV for going after bars that not only steal cable, but use it to make money.

- Apparently, the latest Lee Myung-Se film M is finished. For those that don’t know, Lee made a huge splash with Nowhere to Hide, but pissed a lot of people off with Duelist, so let’s see how this one goes.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2007 Edition

- After what’s been a somewhat disappointing summer for Hong Kong cinema, there’s finally some good news to report. According to the Sunday numbers from Hong Kong, Benny Chan’s actioner Invisible Target made an impressive HK$1.31 million on just 36 screens (and it’s been sent off to the smaller screens in almost all the multiplexes it’s playing in thanks to Harry Potter). After 4 days, the Nicholas Tse-Shawn Yu-Jaycee Chan starrer has made HK$4.6 million and word-of-mouth may bring it to the HK$10 million mark, which has become a sad sad standard for success.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter did actually win Sunday, making HK$3.1 million on 83 screens (see what I mean about Invisible Target getting shafted?) for a 12-day total of HK$37.03 million. Now that it’ll be passing the HK$40 million mark in a day or two, let’s start looking towards 50 mil, which I’m sure no one will be surprised about. Meanwhile, the Japanese animated film Keroro 2 (which apparently is only out on a Cantonese dub in theatres?!) makes HK$790,000 on 28 screens, many of them not playing it past 5 pm, for the 4-day total of HK$2.32 million.

From Hollywood, the Nicholas Cage sci-fi thriller Next makes HK$220,000 on just 15 screens for HK$780,000 after 4 days, and Quentin Tarantino’s talky Death Proof director’s cut makes just another HK$60,000 on 5 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000. I’m not surprised that more visually exciting Planet Terror will end up doing better, especially when Tarantino’s self-indulgent talk about grindhouse movies won’t translate quite well in Chinese.

US$1=HK$7.8

- This week, Lovehkfilm has a review of the aforementioned Invisible Target, the straight-to-video (at least in America) stinker Kung Fu Fighter, the Singaporean comedy Just Follow Law by Jack Neo, the Japanese blockbuster sequel Limit of Love: Umizaru, Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi’s Korean debut Soo, and the Shunji Iwai-directed documentary Filmful Life (with the last two by yours truly).

- In Japan audience rankings, who honestly didn’t expect Harry Potter to take the weekend? That bumps everything down a spot, except for 300, which gets bumped off of the top 10 along with Zodiac by the animated film The Piano Forest.

- In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the American-made documentary Nanking is a hit, with theaters lowering ticket prices and donors pouring money to make sure as many people get to see it as possible. Anyone see an agenda in Chinese people making a Chinese government-approved documentary a hit?

- Time for endless analysis of Japanese drama ratings. Fuji’s big Monday drama First Kiss gets a Joudan Janai-sized drop from a promising 19.7 rating (about 12.8 million) the first week straight down to a 13.2 (about 8.6 million) for its second week. The “Taiwan got them first, now we’re taking them back” comic adaptation dramas Hana Zakari No Kimi Tachi He and Yamada Taro Monogatari saw one fall slightly and the other got a bit of a bump. Hana lost about 200,000 viewers, while Yamada gained about 400,000 viewers. Don’t worry, they’re on different nights and different time slots anyway.

Meanwhile, the critical favorite/Freaky Friday-ripoff Papa To Musume No Nanakakan got a season high of 14.1 rating (roughly 9.15 million), and Fuji’s experimental Saturday 11pm time slot drama Life hangs on with a 10.9 (7.1 million), which is the same as last week. Oh, and Yama Onna Kabe Onna continues its slow drop to a 12.1 rating (7.9 million viewers) this week for its third episode.

As always, all the information for this season’s drama can be found on Tokyograph.

- After the earlier reported Joey Yung=Mandy Moore MTV discovery, netizens have found yet another MTV by the same director that seems to be derived from an original Japanese source. Except unlike the Joey Yung incident, where EEG and Yung herself seem to simply ignore the complaints, the Taiwanese pop star actually released a statement within hours acknowledging the complaints. Then her manager released his own statement, apologizing and stating that he has asked video play to stop immediately. And then after all of that does the director finally apologize, saying that he did watch YUI’s MTV as a learning tool, but didn’t intend to copy. However, he has not acknowledged copying Mandy Moore’s video.

Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning because the star knows that it’s not her fault, but at least she took the effort to clear her name and apologize, unlike the EEG/Gold Label attitude, where they use “coincidence” as the ultimate excuse for everything.

- That was fast. Milkyway screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi’s directorial debut Eye in the Sky literally just left theaters this past weekend, and a DVD has already been announced for August 4th.

- playwright-screenwriter-sometimes-director Koki Mitani is back with a new film after the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel (a great comedy, by the way). This time it’s a darker piece about a gang thug who brings in an actor to pretend to be an assassin when he can’t find a real one. Apparently he’s promising three laughs a minute (at least that means it won’t run too long like Uchoten Hotel did). Sanspo also does some over-reporting and predicts it might make 12 billion yen based on the Mitani’s films’ box office pattern. Please fuck off with that kind of stuff already.

- Speaking of “what the fuck?” The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow will play Kato in the Green Hornet movie alongside…….Seth Rogan?! Who the hell put together that dartboard?

Thankfully, a closer look shows that the news is from an LA Times blog that reports Seth Rogan WANTS Stephen Chow for Kato. Chow has NOT officially signed on. In fact, he probably hasn’t even been pitched the idea yet.

- Oh, my bad. The controversial Bangkok International Film Festival got under way last Thursday, but hasn’t really seen much clear success in attendance.

- Speaking of festivals, the Toronto Film Festival has announced most of its midnight madness lineup, which includes Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint and Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin.

- Lastly, Hollywood Reporter gives brief reviews of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective and Lee Sang-Il’s Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2007 Edition

- After what’s been a somewhat disappointing summer for Hong Kong cinema, there’s finally some good news to report. According to the Sunday numbers from Hong Kong, Benny Chan’s actioner Invisible Target made an impressive HK$1.31 million on just 36 screens (and it’s been sent off to the smaller screens in almost all the multiplexes it’s playing in thanks to Harry Potter). After 4 days, the Nicholas Tse-Shawn Yu-Jaycee Chan starrer has made HK$4.6 million and word-of-mouth may bring it to the HK$10 million mark, which has become a sad sad standard for success.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter did actually win Sunday, making HK$3.1 million on 83 screens (see what I mean about Invisible Target getting shafted?) for a 12-day total of HK$37.03 million. Now that it’ll be passing the HK$40 million mark in a day or two, let’s start looking towards 50 mil, which I’m sure no one will be surprised about. Meanwhile, the Japanese animated film Keroro 2 (which apparently is only out on a Cantonese dub in theatres?!) makes HK$790,000 on 28 screens, many of them not playing it past 5 pm, for the 4-day total of HK$2.32 million.

From Hollywood, the Nicholas Cage sci-fi thriller Next makes HK$220,000 on just 15 screens for HK$780,000 after 4 days, and Quentin Tarantino’s talky Death Proof director’s cut makes just another HK$60,000 on 5 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000. I’m not surprised that more visually exciting Planet Terror will end up doing better, especially when Tarantino’s self-indulgent talk about grindhouse movies won’t translate quite well in Chinese.

US$1=HK$7.8

- This week, Lovehkfilm has a review of the aforementioned Invisible Target, the straight-to-video (at least in America) stinker Kung Fu Fighter, the Singaporean comedy Just Follow Law by Jack Neo, the Japanese blockbuster sequel Limit of Love: Umizaru, Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi’s Korean debut Soo, and the Shunji Iwai-directed documentary Filmful Life (with the last two by yours truly).

- In Japan audience rankings, who honestly didn’t expect Harry Potter to take the weekend? That bumps everything down a spot, except for 300, which gets bumped off of the top 10 along with Zodiac by the animated film The Piano Forest.

- In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the American-made documentary Nanking is a hit, with theaters lowering ticket prices and donors pouring money to make sure as many people get to see it as possible. Anyone see an agenda in Chinese people making a Chinese government-approved documentary a hit?

- Time for endless analysis of Japanese drama ratings. Fuji’s big Monday drama First Kiss gets a Joudan Janai-sized drop from a promising 19.7 rating (about 12.8 million) the first week straight down to a 13.2 (about 8.6 million) for its second week. The “Taiwan got them first, now we’re taking them back” comic adaptation dramas Hana Zakari No Kimi Tachi He and Yamada Taro Monogatari saw one fall slightly and the other got a bit of a bump. Hana lost about 200,000 viewers, while Yamada gained about 400,000 viewers. Don’t worry, they’re on different nights and different time slots anyway.

Meanwhile, the critical favorite/Freaky Friday-ripoff Papa To Musume No Nanakakan got a season high of 14.1 rating (roughly 9.15 million), and Fuji’s experimental Saturday 11pm time slot drama Life hangs on with a 10.9 (7.1 million), which is the same as last week. Oh, and Yama Onna Kabe Onna continues its slow drop to a 12.1 rating (7.9 million viewers) this week for its third episode.

As always, all the information for this season’s drama can be found on Tokyograph.

- After the earlier reported Joey Yung=Mandy Moore MTV discovery, netizens have found yet another MTV by the same director that seems to be derived from an original Japanese source. Except unlike the Joey Yung incident, where EEG and Yung herself seem to simply ignore the complaints, the Taiwanese pop star actually released a statement within hours acknowledging the complaints. Then her manager released his own statement, apologizing and stating that he has asked video play to stop immediately. And then after all of that does the director finally apologize, saying that he did watch YUI’s MTV as a learning tool, but didn’t intend to copy. However, he has not acknowledged copying Mandy Moore’s video.

Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning because the star knows that it’s not her fault, but at least she took the effort to clear her name and apologize, unlike the EEG/Gold Label attitude, where they use “coincidence” as the ultimate excuse for everything.

- That was fast. Milkyway screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi’s directorial debut Eye in the Sky literally just left theaters this past weekend, and a DVD has already been announced for August 4th.

- playwright-screenwriter-sometimes-director Koki Mitani is back with a new film after the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel (a great comedy, by the way). This time it’s a darker piece about a gang thug who brings in an actor to pretend to be an assassin when he can’t find a real one. Apparently he’s promising three laughs a minute (at least that means it won’t run too long like Uchoten Hotel did). Sanspo also does some over-reporting and predicts it might make 12 billion yen based on the Mitani’s films’ box office pattern. Please fuck off with that kind of stuff already.

- Speaking of “what the fuck?” The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow will play Kato in the Green Hornet movie alongside…….Seth Rogan?! Who the hell put together that dartboard?

Thankfully, a closer look shows that the news is from an LA Times blog that reports Seth Rogan WANTS Stephen Chow for Kato. Chow has NOT officially signed on. In fact, he probably hasn’t even been pitched the idea yet.

- Oh, my bad. The controversial Bangkok International Film Festival got under way last Thursday, but hasn’t really seen much clear success in attendance.

- Speaking of festivals, the Toronto Film Festival has announced most of its midnight madness lineup, which includes Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint and Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin.

- Lastly, Hollywood Reporter gives brief reviews of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective and Lee Sang-Il’s Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl.

The Golden Rock - June 27th, 2007 Edition

Saw Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Shane Black, the writer of the first Lethal Weapon film and considered the pioneer of the buddy action genre. Instead of the usual violent action flicks he has written, Black offers up a self-conscious noir comedy directed with great pacing and plenty of quotable lines (the memorable quotes section brings back a lot of good laughs). What I liked best, though, was its constant subversion of cliches. I don’t want to reveal too much, it’s just a bloody good time at the movies. In fact, the only reason this didn’t do any better at the box office is because it was sold as an art film when it’s not. Trust me, it’s not. Check it out, you won’t regret it.

- The Japanese record sales were fairly weak this past week. On the albums chart, Crystal Kay scores her first number 1 debut album (though I think her compilation album from 2004 debuted at number 1) with her latest All Yours, selling 51,000 copies. Zard’s Golden Best compilation spends another week at number after selling another 38,000 copies, and Kick the Can Crew member MCU’s second album debuts way low at 15th place, selling just over 10,000 copies. I think it’s time for Kick the Can Crew to get back together now. Thing should pick up next week as Namie Amuro’s new album has already sold over 40,000 copies on the first day.

The singles chart is even weaker, with the number 1 single by Gackt selling only 43,000 copies. Another Kick the Can Crew member Kreva (Kureba=Clever, get it? ha ha) gets better results by selling 19,000 copies of his latest single for a 4th place debut. Last week’s number single by YUI drops to 3rd place, and it’s just kind of quiet everywhere else. Next week’s chart should be a battle between popular rap group Ketsumeishi and Koda Kumi, whose singles took second and first place on the first day of sale, respectively.

- As expected, Eiga Consultant has looked at the weekend performance of the Yuko Takeuchi Side Car Ni Inu (is this is a wordplay? It sounds like it’s supposed to be Side Car Ni Iru), and in two Tokyo theaters, it made 4.13 million yen with an attendance of 2544 people over two days. With a total of 20 shows for the two-day weekend (5 shows a day per theater), that’s only 127 people per show on two screens that hold at least 200 people, but I suppose a 2.07 million yen per-screen average is damn good.

- Variety Asia has a random box office report for this past weekend in Hong Kong (probably because of the presence of all those Hong Kong films). The only reason I mention it is that it actually introduces the early summer hit Simply Actors (a film starring Jim Chim make more than HK$5 million is a hit in my book).

- Popular actor Ken Matsudaira is heading to the stage, starring as Dracula in a musical planned to start next year. That’s right, this man is the next person to play Dracula.

By the way, I have the DVD for that. Don’t laugh, you try hearing it all year and not think it’s awesome.

- Jet Li and Jackie Chan has come out to ask people to stop trying to ask them which one do they think is better, with Li saying that it’s like coffee and tea. Well, I like tea better, so which one are you, Jet Li?

- The Toronto International Film Festival, often regarded as probably the most internationally renowned film festival in North America, has just announced their preliminary lineup for this year. Representing Asia are Naomi Kawase’s The Mourning Forest, Lee Chang-Dong’s Secret Sunshine, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Flight of the Red Balloon, and Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Ploy. Obviously missing are mainstream Asian crowdpleasers such as Exiled, The Host, and Hula Girl from last year. Then again, it’s still early, so who knows?

Meanwhile, the festival’s big honchos have decided to make a conscious effort to not grab attention by showing off the words “world premiere” or “North American premiere” by not inviting the films based on such labels. In fact, they won’t even show off that the screening of the Elizabeth sequel really is a world premiere.

In related news, Ming Pao reported yesterday that Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution will be premiering in Venice and will be released in Hong Kong late September.

- Aoi Miyazaki is going to try the pull off the ultimate actress challenge by playing two roles in Sono Toki Kare Ni Yoroshiku director Yuichiro Hirakawa’s latest Kagehinata ni Saku. The film itself sounds interesting, although Hirakawa’s Sono Toki Kare Ni Yoroshiku doesn’t.

- Ryuganji reports that Ogigami Naoko, the director of Kamome Diner, which became a long-running independent hit in Japan, is back with a new film. Megane actually appeared as a short film on the Kamome Diner DVD, and is now given the feature film treatment. Go to Ryuganji for more info. By the way, that teaser on the website doesn’t show anything.

- The slew of Nanking Massacre films is starting in July with the documentary Nanking. Apparently, the trick to get script approval in China is to be China-centric without pissing off Japan. The strangest entry is Stanley Tong’s $40 million film about the massacre, which got script approval and even has Japanese money invested.

- Brian at Asian Cinema - While on the Road, who is one of the organizers for the New York Asian Film Festival, reports from the ongoing festival and writes about the various audience reactions.

- Under “what the hell?” today, Curtis “50 Cent and a bunch of gunshot wounds” Jackson is joining the cast of Righteous Kill as a drug dealer alongside Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro . Yeah, what an acting challenge that will make.

The Golden Rock - June 26th, 2007 Edition

- The Japanese box office numbers just came out on Box Office Mojo, except they didn’t provide the exchange rate they used this week, so we’ll just simply have to trust their number. Anyway, Pirates of the Caribbean drops another moderate 23% for a current total of roughly 8.36 billion yen already (and this monster is still making more than 500 million yen a weekend!) , so it should go well past the 10 billion mark Sony couldn’t get Spiderman 3 to hit. More amazingly, the comedy Maiko Haaaan!!! drops only 3.1% from last weekend’s gross to make roughly 738 million yen already and should go past the 1 billion mark pretty easily as well.

Other than Spiderman 3’s slow but consistent drop (only 25% this week, but a weak per-screen average means its pulse is quickly growing weak) and the small 20% drop for Sono Toki Kare Ni Yoroshiku, everything else on the top 10 are dropping at the usual 30-40% rate. Furthermore, this weekend’s double whammy of Shrek 3 and Die Hard 4.0 should give the box office a knock on its ass.

There’s an interesting addition this week on the chart worth mentioning that didn’t show up last week . The dark comedy-suspense-one-set film Kusaragi opened on the weekend on the 15th on only 28 screens and still managed to make 20.4 million yen. While that’s only 49% of the opening for star Oguri Shun’s last film Ghost Train. To be fair, Kusaragi opened only on 30% of the screens Ghost Train opened with, so this opening of 729,000 yen per-screen is pretty impressive. As for its second week, it seemed to have played even stronger with a roughly 839,000 yen per-screen average for 30 screens. I have to admit, a film about 6 guys coming together to mourn the death of their D-grade youth idol does sound pretty interesting, even if it’s from the writer of a commercial heart tugger like Always - Sunset on Third Street.

One movie that did open this past weekend but didn’t show up is Yuko Takeuchi’s return to the big screen with Side Car Ni Inu(more info from Hoga News). What’s the big deal, you might ask? The big deal is (and I’m afraid this involves a bit of geinou gossip) that this is Takeuchi’s first film role since her rather ugly divorce with Kabuki bad boy Shidou Nakamura (which got set off when he got caught drunk-driving with another woman in the car). To add irony into this, she actually plays the mistress of a married man who moves in to the family home one 80s summer.

Anyway, the film actually seems like a lot more innocent than it sounds, and it just opened in a limited release. I look forward to Eiga Consultant’s analysis of it (with a star like Takeuchi, it’s bound to come sooner or later), though some theaters seem to be reporting that it’s not bringing in a lot of audiences. Meanwhile, check out the official site for a trailer (click on 予告編)

- In Korea, the win by horror film Black House in nationwide attendance marks the first time a Korean film has taken the top spot at the box office in eight weeks.

- The hit drama of the Spring season Proposal Daisakusen (Operation Love) wrapped up its run Monday night Japan time, and it managed to score a season-high 20.9 rating (roughly 13.56 million viewers), effectively saving the season from total embarrassment. It’s also by far the winner of the season with a season average of 17.3 (roughly 11.23 million).

- Nielsen EDI, a firm that tracks box office and TV ratings, is expanding their box office tracking service to South Korea and Japan. Too bad a little blog like mine won’t benefit from it.

- The Tribeca Festival, started after the 2001 World Trade Center attack to revive New York, is bringing a mini-version to Beijing?! So, will it be more overpriced movie tickets and glamourous superstars, or will there actually be quality movies shown there?

- Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor was released on DVD with English subtitles earlier this month in Japan. Now the people who didn’t want to shell out 3000 yen for it can get the Hong Kong edition in a few days.

- The Bangkok International Film Festival was forced to drop the Cannes jury award winner Persepolis as its opening film after the Iranian government called to complain. The animated film is directed by Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian living in France, and the film is an autobiographical work based on her childhood in Tehran. Another ugly example of politics unreasonably intervening in art.

- As I was browsing around the Tokyo movie theater websites, I found the new films by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, who made Trick the Movie, Memories of Tomorrow, AND Sairen in 2006. This year he’s off making three more with the already-released Taitei No Ken, Hotai Club (with Yuya Yagira), and Jigyaku no Uta (starring Hiroshi Abe and Miki Nakatani). Click on トレーラ to see the trailers in their respective official sites.

Anyway, this goes to show that Japanese directors work surprisingly hard, mostly regardless of the reaction to their work. Tsutsumi is not the only one that has made three films in a year: Isshin Inudou saw three films released in 2005, Takeshi Miike often see 3-4 releases each year, and Isao Yukisada even follows up the biggest blockbuster of the year in summer 2004 with a huge historical blockbuster in time for New Years 2005. Of course, the film industry has to be healthy enough to enable these filmmakers to make so many films, which would explain why people are so impressed that Johnnie To can work on so many films at once.

- This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, and Vancouver, which has been named mini-Hong Kong by some, is holding a small film series as a part of the Vancouver International Film Festival to celebrate it. For some reason, they managed to pick both the Election films by Johnnie To to be part of the screening. Considering those films are known to be allegories for the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong, it’s like showing Wag the Dog to celebrate Independence Day in the United States.

- In Hong Kong, one pop culture way to celebrate the handover anniversary is getting a bunch of pop stars together and sing a song! “Have You After All” features Andy Lau, Alan Tam, Hacken Lee, Eason Chan, Joey Yong, Leo Ku and even some Chinese opera singers pretty much praising how great Hong Kong has been in the last ten years. Especially cringe-inducing in its ass-kissing is the line about “Lion Rock connecting with the Great Wall/It can be felt in the veins” and the random Mandarin lines towards the end.

Then some Hong Kong netizens come along and make a spoof of the song (a version with English lyrics here), not only writing satirical lyrics to lampoon the Hong Kong government with a pro-democracy slant, but also finding buddies to imitate the singers in the original song (especially spot-on are the Alan Tam and Chinese opera singer impressions). The best part is that the spoof got 10 times more viewers than the original song on Youtube.

It has become such a pop culture phenomenon that a RTHK program (RTHK is the government-run radio station with television production as well) would use the spoof as a way to mock the government (At one point, the host says everyone should get a “Don’t Speak Taboo face mask” and a “Don’t Hear Taboo ear plug”) and the Chief Executive. Of course, there’s also the anti-democracy spoof of the spoof, which just goes to show how much freedom of speech people still have in Hong Kong.

(Thanks to EastSouthWestNorth for the idea)

- Lastly, Christina Aguilera says that she has been reading scripts to find the right role for her acting debut. I hope she never finds that script.

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2007 Edition

- Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto went wide to 147 screens last weekend in Japan after a week of exclusive run in a Tokyo theater, and managed to make only 41.13 million yen. According to Eiga Consultant, the opening is only 24% of The Passion of the Christ (which actually made only 1.4 billion, which is pretty kind of weak compared to how much it made elsewhere). That makes people wondering whether people had just mistaken this hardcore action film for another art film, especially since it follows the limited release pattern.

- A trailer has surfaced for Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets. I don’t think Jay Chou is very qualified to be a director judging from the music videos he directed before, and the trailer isn’t exactly promising much more than flashy music video stuff. That overdramatic score doesn’t help, either.

Ming Pao’s columnist, which some people say is screenwriter/director Chan Hin-Ka, writes about the commercial potential of Secrets. Specifically, he wonders whether Hong Kong audiences would go for Jay Chou. Excerpts as follows:

香港電影觀眾分得清楚,唱歌與拍電影是兩回事,紅歌手拍戲,不一定捧場,要視乎電影拍得是否好看。

The Hong Kong moviegoing audience separates singing and filmmaking very clearly; When a pop star makes a movie, they only go depending on the quality of the movie.

無論是自導自演的《不能說的.秘密》和《灌籃》,估計在中、台的票房成績一定比香港好。

Regardless whether its self-directorial/starring Secrets or Kung Fu Dunk, the box office gross in China and Taiwan will definitely be better than in Hong Kong.

周杰倫在中、台的「粉絲」多不勝數,他們捧偶像也比香港「粉絲」瘋狂,只要周董做的,一定會捧場。

Jay Chou has an enormous amount of fans in China and Taiwan, and their fandom is often crazier than Hong Kong fans. As long as “Chou Dong” (Chou’s nickname amongst his fans) is in it, they will definitely show up.

難怪行內說,中、台市場,比香港易做。

No wonder industry people say the Chinese and Taiwanese market are easier to do than Hong Kong.

Original Chinese column here.

Of course, I don’t quite get his argument, since a bulk of the people who made Curse of the Golden Flower a HK$20 million hit probably showed up because Jay Chou was in it (and sang the theme song, which I don’t remember off the top of my head anymore), and they’re probably just as willing to see Jay Chou is a youth romance. The very very basic reason why his two films this year will do better in Taiwan and China is that those two places have more screens and more audience.

Then again, I’m not a screenwriter who just co-directed the first Hong Kong hit of the summer, so what do I know?

- I forgot to mention that Lovehkfilm updated at the end of last week with a review of Samson Chiu’s Mr. Cinema. A review of the Japanese blockbuster Star Reformer by this blogger was put on the website as well.

- EastSouthWestNorth actually notes Kozo’s review of Mr. Cinema because it points out the film’s dubious stance on Chinese historical events, particular the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989. I was looking forward to it quite a bit, but now I’m second-guessing my anticipation.

- Jason Gray met up with Ryuganji’s Don Brown and pretty much shot the breeze for his first podcast. For those really into the current Japanese film industry like I am, it’s a fairly entertaining and educational hour to spend at the computer (or on your iPod, which I don’t own one of).

- Dennis Law, who’s currently around my filmmakers shit list for Love@First Note, has announced that he’s going to make yet another martial arts film after Fatal Contact. The triad film Duo Shuai stars Sammo Hung, Wu Jing, and Danny Lee, and will start filming in July. No Gold Label pop stars?! I might just show up for this one.

- The Toronto Film Festival will official announce its lineup this week, but Hollywood Reporter reports that a couple of films that made their debut at Cannes such as Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon will show up here as well. The most surprisingly pick is actually the sequel to Elizabeth, which will see original director Shekar Kapoor and star Cate Blanchett reunite.

- Shinji Aoyama’s latest film Sad Vacation has a new trailer up on its website, except it’s still kind of hard to know what to expect from it.

- Actor Takayuki Takuma, who actually also writes dramas such as the Hana Yori Dango series under a different name (for reeeeaaal?), is making his directorial debut. Not only is he writing and directing it, he was also picked to star in it. People who read this blog regularly know I don’t have much love for Hana Yori Dango, but its syrupy gimmicky subject matter is slightly intriguing me.

- Twitch has a review of a new Francis Ng flick Our Last Dance, which co-stars Harvey Keitel. They don’t make the film sound very promising, but I might just search this out to see Francis Ng’s performance.

- During Cannes, the new Hong Kong film production company Big Media announced that they would make 100 movies. Turns out the Mei Ah website has a bunch of promotional posters for some of those projects, though at least half of them don’t even have directors attached. Biggest surprise? Wong Ching-Po taking on Young Men Suddenly in Black. Apparently Eric Tsang really likes to tell stories about men who screw around.

- The Film Center at The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo is putting on a retrospective in remembrance of important film figures that passed away in the years 2004 to 2006. The page is apparently still under construction, but at least we know it will run from July 27th to September 26th.

- Lastly, there’s a new documentary called Tokyo Cowboys, which again puts an ethnographic eye (Look, it’s kimono! The Harajuku girls! They look stranger than we do!) on privileged Caucasian men who live the Roppongi nightlife, end up scoring Japanese girls, and stick around to complain about racism.

Not that I don’t sympathize with their plights (OK, only just a little bit), but why do these documentaries only focus on Caucasian men, who actually has it the easiest among the foreign minority in Japan? Of course, the Japanese media also perpetrate the stereotypes of foreign=white. But what about Asian-Americans such as myself, who ended up being seen as someone who was supposed to know better because of the color of my skin, but also had to carry this foreign identity once people realized that we actually didn’t know any more than those Americans do? Better yet, how about a Caucasian man who ended up NOT living the nightlife and NOT ended up with a Japanese girl?

Then again, maybe guys like that just aren’t very interesting.

 
 
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