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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

The Golden Rock - September 23rd, 2007 Edition

Like I wrote before, not much news for the weekend, finishing off what I gathered from Friday and some

- After winning at Berlin and the Fribourg Film Festivals, Japanese actress Kaori Momoi’s directorial debut Faces of a Fig Tree just picked up the best director and best actress awards at the Vladivostok International Film Festival of Asian Pacific Countries, with both awards going to Momoi. It looks interesting, but its official website doesn’t even seem to have a trailer.

Meanwhile, here’s a review by Russell Edwards of Variety.

- Luc Besson - AKA European cinema’s favorite Asianphile - speaks to the Daily Yomiuri during his promotional tour in Japan to promote his animated film Arthur and the Invisibles. What does this have to do with Asian cinema, you ask? The American distributor of Arthur and the Invisibles is the Weinstein Company, who cut Besson’s film for the American release, and Besson was definitely not happy about that.

- It’s reviews time! From Lovehkfilm’s Kozo comes two reviews - one for Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises, and one for the Jet Li Hollywood B-movie War/Rogue Assassins. From Sanjuro is a review of the Korean family comedy Bunt. The Daily Yomiuri has a review of Ryuichi Hiroki’s M. Isn’t this already his second or third theatrical release of the year?

- China continues to attract outside talent as they just signed co-production deals with two Asian countries. Korea’s CJ Entertainment will be co-producing the latest film by Jacob Cheung (Battle of Wits) - a martial arts epic named Thangka to be released in Lunar New Year 2009 - and they will also be part of a joint venture with 3 other production studios based out of China and Hong Kong to nurture young Chinese filmmakers.

Meanwhile, China and Singapore have sign agreements to help on each other’s film festivals. For example, there will be a Singapore film festival in Beijing, and there will be a section devoted to Chinese films in the next Singapore Film Festival.

- Now to the more negative side of Chinese entertainment, the government has published a new mandate that will pretty much kill the reality talent show genre on Chinese TV. The new rules stipulate that the shows cannot be shown between 7:30pm and 10:30 pm, “scientific judging standards” for the contestants, allowing only live voting, and each show may not last longer than 2 months, or no more than 10 shows at 90 minutes each. Just when you thought things were looking better…

The Golden Rock Best of the Week part 2 - September 16th, 2007

Continuing from yesterday, the following is a compilation of some of the more notable news of the past week.

- It’s reviews time! Part 2! Twitch has a some reviews from Toronto, including the match-up of the Japanese comedians (yawn….), Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises. Also, they have a review of Ryo Nakajima’s This Word of Ours, which I also hold a copy of as well and will review as soon as I can. Meanwhile, we have more reviews of Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django, one by Japan Times’ Mark Schilling, and another one by Jason Gray. Lastly, there’s a short review of Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus from the Associated Press.

- The mega-expensive Korean drama Guardian Gods, starring Bae Yong-Joon, premiered in Korea with a very solid 20.4 rating. Then, according to Korea Pop Wars, it even got boosted to a 26.9 rating on nights 2 and 3. It’s not quite indicative of how the rest of the show will be, but it seems pretty clearly that Yong-sama’s spirit lives on.

- Shamo, Soi Cheang’s follow-up to Dog Bite Dog, was apparently done all the way back in May (at least done enough to go to Cannes). However, it has yet to see a release date, despite already getting a category II-B for “strong violence and sexual content” all the way back in May. I’ve been told that it’s not very good (please note that I’m understating this very much), so could that have something to do with it?

- What IS the big deal about this damn thing? Disney’s straight-to-TV movie High School Musical 2 not only broke records for American cable TV, it also broke Disney Channel records in Singapore and Malaysia. It was also the highest-rated program on pay TV in Hong Kong during its premiere.

- On the heels of the international drama awards in Korea, Japan is holding their first International Drama Festival as part of Cofesta (The Japan Contents Festival).

- Several major foreign networks have just been ok’d to broadcast in China, but not only are they not really bragging yet, they are only in hotels with more than 3 stars and home of non-Chinese nationals. And forget the fact that they’re being illegally watched by millions of people anyway.

- For some reason, Michelle Yeoh will be receiving the French Legion of Honor, the highest award for a civilian, and she’ll be receiving in in Malaysian capital Kuala Lampur. What did she ever do for France?

- In production news, Singapore’s Kelvin Tong is shooting his latest film with Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue in Hong Kong right now. No word on whether Ekin Cheng plans to act or just be wooden throughout the shoot.

The Golden Rock Best of the Week part 2 - September 16th, 2007

Continuing from yesterday, the following is a compilation of some of the more notable news of the past week.

- It’s reviews time! Part 2! Twitch has a some reviews from Toronto, including the match-up of the Japanese comedians (yawn….), Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises. Also, they have a review of Ryo Nakajima’s This Word of Ours, which I also hold a copy of as well and will review as soon as I can. Meanwhile, we have more reviews of Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django, one by Japan Times’ Mark Schilling, and another one by Jason Gray. Lastly, there’s a short review of Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus from the Associated Press.

- The mega-expensive Korean drama Guardian Gods, starring Bae Yong-Joon, premiered in Korea with a very solid 20.4 rating. Then, according to Korea Pop Wars, it even got boosted to a 26.9 rating on nights 2 and 3. It’s not quite indicative of how the rest of the show will be, but it seems pretty clearly that Yong-sama’s spirit lives on.

- Shamo, Soi Cheang’s follow-up to Dog Bite Dog, was apparently done all the way back in May (at least done enough to go to Cannes). However, it has yet to see a release date, despite already getting a category II-B for “strong violence and sexual content” all the way back in May. I’ve been told that it’s not very good (please note that I’m understating this very much), so could that have something to do with it?

- What IS the big deal about this damn thing? Disney’s straight-to-TV movie High School Musical 2 not only broke records for American cable TV, it also broke Disney Channel records in Singapore and Malaysia. It was also the highest-rated program on pay TV in Hong Kong during its premiere.

- On the heels of the international drama awards in Korea, Japan is holding their first International Drama Festival as part of Cofesta (The Japan Contents Festival).

- Several major foreign networks have just been ok’d to broadcast in China, but not only are they not really bragging yet, they are only in hotels with more than 3 stars and home of non-Chinese nationals. And forget the fact that they’re being illegally watched by millions of people anyway.

- For some reason, Michelle Yeoh will be receiving the French Legion of Honor, the highest award for a civilian, and she’ll be receiving in in Malaysian capital Kuala Lampur. What did she ever do for France?

- In production news, Singapore’s Kelvin Tong is shooting his latest film with Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue in Hong Kong right now. No word on whether Ekin Cheng plans to act or just be wooden throughout the shoot.

The Golden Rock - August 31st, 2007 Edition

- The reviews for Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution is out, and the two big Hollywood trade papers are not too kind to it. Variety’s Derek Elley say that it’s a two and a half-hour period drama that’s a long haul for relatively little returns, and Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett says the film has long period of boredom relieved by moments of extremely heightened excitement. Honestly, I never expected Ang Lee to pull off an espionage thriller, and it seems like he didn’t here. Are there any actually any good reviews to earn the film the reported “standing ovation” it got?

- We know that Hollywood is no good at adapting games, but what about the Japanese? The popular Nintendo DS game “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” will be turned into a movie, and the game is just the first in a trilogy too.

-Twitch has more on the shooting progress of Hong Sang-Soo’s Night and Day in France. If you remember, Hong is actually looking for volunteers to appear as extra, but you should probably be in France and speak Korean and/or French.

- Johnnie To is getting to be an even harder-working man than Andy Lau. Not only did he just bring The Mad Detective (probably not named The Detective anymore because Aaron Kwok’s The Detective is coming), he also wrapped up the Mainland Chinese romance Linger, finishing up The Sparrow (another one of the Johnnie To films made on a Wong Kar-Wai schedule), the remake of the French film The Red Circle, AND now he’s going to produce a trilogy of films about tomb-raiding. I am almost sure they will suck less that those Tomb Raider movies.

- Speaking of Mad Detective, Kaiju Shakedown has a few more stills from the film. Looks like vintage To to me.

- Japan finally passes a law making camcording movies in movie theaters illegal. How come those annoying MPA people didn’t go and push for it more. And why didn’t the US go and make a complaint about that with the World Trade Organization?

The Golden Rock - August 31st, 2007 Edition

- The reviews for Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution is out, and the two big Hollywood trade papers are not too kind to it. Variety’s Derek Elley say that it’s a two and a half-hour period drama that’s a long haul for relatively little returns, and Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett says the film has long period of boredom relieved by moments of extremely heightened excitement. Honestly, I never expected Ang Lee to pull off an espionage thriller, and it seems like he didn’t here. Are there any actually any good reviews to earn the film the reported “standing ovation” it got?

- We know that Hollywood is no good at adapting games, but what about the Japanese? The popular Nintendo DS game “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” will be turned into a movie, and the game is just the first in a trilogy too.

-Twitch has more on the shooting progress of Hong Sang-Soo’s Night and Day in France. If you remember, Hong is actually looking for volunteers to appear as extra, but you should probably be in France and speak Korean and/or French.

- Johnnie To is getting to be an even harder-working man than Andy Lau. Not only did he just bring The Mad Detective (probably not named The Detective anymore because Aaron Kwok’s The Detective is coming), he also wrapped up the Mainland Chinese romance Linger, finishing up The Sparrow (another one of the Johnnie To films made on a Wong Kar-Wai schedule), the remake of the French film The Red Circle, AND now he’s going to produce a trilogy of films about tomb-raiding. I am almost sure they will suck less that those Tomb Raider movies.

- Speaking of Mad Detective, Kaiju Shakedown has a few more stills from the film. Looks like vintage To to me.

- Japan finally passes a law making camcording movies in movie theaters illegal. How come those annoying MPA people didn’t go and push for it more. And why didn’t the US go and make a complaint about that with the World Trade Organization?

The Golden Rock - August 29th, 2007 Edition

- Suddenly the Hong Kong film slate this year just got a lot more packed, with new films by Johnnie To, Pang Ho-Cheung, Derek Chiu Sung-Kei, and now the Pang Brothers have a new film coming next month. Starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Oxide Pang, who last made the OK Diary, The Detective looks like it might be more darkly humorous in the vein of Leave Me Alone, and also marks the first major role by Kwok since his best actor win with After This, Our Exile.

- There’s a trailer for Jia Zhangke’s latest documentary Useless, which follows a piece of cloth from the Chinese factory to the catwalks of Paris. The trailer only covers the factory section, but it looks pretty interesting.

- Someone told me before that Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki actually vowed to her fans that she would never write English lyrics in her songs (although she’s used plenty of English song titles). And I noticed that it was true until last year’s Bold and Delicious. However, I would only call it half-English because unless she means something very dirty, Bold and Delicious doesn’t really make a bit of fucking sense.

Despite Hamasaki going all English and foreign, apparently Japanese music are using less foreign language in their lyrics these days, seeing a reversal back to more Japanese lyrics. I personally haven’t seen a reversal of that trend, but I’m a selective J-pop listener, so what do I know?

- Speaking of J-pop, it’s time for those Oricon charts. On the fairly active singles chart, the latest Keisuke Kuwata single, the theme song for the film Tengoku De Kimi ni Aetara, debuts at number 1 with 93,000 copies sold. Meanwhile, Aiko is not too far behind with her latest, selling 76,000 copies for second place. Mika Nakashima is further behind at 3rd place with her latest single after selling 56,000 copies. Lastly, Tokyo Jihen’s latest only sold under 33,000 copies for a 5th place debut. Next week, expect L’Arc~en~ciel’s latest to take the top spot, and Utada Hikaru’s latest (which I again don’t think is all that great) won’t have a chance at the top spot.

On the album chart, Hideaki Tokunaga’s cover album not only holds the number 1 spot, losing only 30% of sales, the other two cover albums also saw a sales boost to 13th and 16th places, respectively. Other than that, the album chart was pretty quiet, with Sukima Switch still selling a lot of their latest album. Next week, look for Ketsumeishi’s latest album to do really really well.

- Everyone wins! The Seoul Drama Award gave away its awards to dramas from China, Japan, AND Korea. Hell, even the UK’s Prime Suspect won an award. Wait a minute, is “A Dwarf Launches a Small Ball” the same thing as “A Ball Shot By a Midget?” It can’t be!

- Turns out Hong Kong’s TVB (who make some of the most popular mediocre TV dramas in the world) got even more nominations at the International Emmy Awards, this time they’re for acting.

- Under “Oh, silly China!” news today, turns out Charlene Choi’s character in the Hong Kong comedy Simply Actors has been changed for its upcoming Mainland Chinese release. While in the original version, she plays a softcore porn actress from the Mainland, she’ll be an actress that specializes in bad movies with some regional dialect of Mandarin. Apparently, even Choi herself doesn’t mind, saying that she’s not qualified to make softcore porn. Just give it a few more years, Charlene…

- Korean auteur Hong Sang-Soo is looking for extras to act in his latest film. The catch? You should probably be living in France to do it, since he’s shooting there.

- Heroes actor/whiz kid Masi Oka (whose interview in better-than-when-he’s-acting Japanese is here) says that Lost actually paved the way for Asian-American actors in American television. There WAS Sammo Hung’s Martial Law, but I think he’s actually right that it took this long.

- A few days ago, I said to take the news of Peter Chan Ho-Sun’s latest film “Deng Dai” with a grain of salt, but I guess it’s OK to trust it now that Variety Asia is reporting it.

- I didn’t mean for this news to be last, but Feng Xiaogang’s average-looking war flick The Assembly will be opening the Pusan film festival next month. Isn’t this not even set to come out until Lunar New Year? Still, props to Feng for not taking the easy way with making some World War II film, instead focusing on the Chinese civil war.

The Golden Rock - August 29th, 2007 Edition

- Suddenly the Hong Kong film slate this year just got a lot more packed, with new films by Johnnie To, Pang Ho-Cheung, Derek Chiu Sung-Kei, and now the Pang Brothers have a new film coming next month. Starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Oxide Pang, who last made the OK Diary, The Detective looks like it might be more darkly humorous in the vein of Leave Me Alone, and also marks the first major role by Kwok since his best actor win with After This, Our Exile.

- There’s a trailer for Jia Zhangke’s latest documentary Useless, which follows a piece of cloth from the Chinese factory to the catwalks of Paris. The trailer only covers the factory section, but it looks pretty interesting.

- Someone told me before that Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki actually vowed to her fans that she would never write English lyrics in her songs (although she’s used plenty of English song titles). And I noticed that it was true until last year’s Bold and Delicious. However, I would only call it half-English because unless she means something very dirty, Bold and Delicious doesn’t really make a bit of fucking sense.

Despite Hamasaki going all English and foreign, apparently Japanese music are using less foreign language in their lyrics these days, seeing a reversal back to more Japanese lyrics. I personally haven’t seen a reversal of that trend, but I’m a selective J-pop listener, so what do I know?

- Speaking of J-pop, it’s time for those Oricon charts. On the fairly active singles chart, the latest Keisuke Kuwata single, the theme song for the film Tengoku De Kimi ni Aetara, debuts at number 1 with 93,000 copies sold. Meanwhile, Aiko is not too far behind with her latest, selling 76,000 copies for second place. Mika Nakashima is further behind at 3rd place with her latest single after selling 56,000 copies. Lastly, Tokyo Jihen’s latest only sold under 33,000 copies for a 5th place debut. Next week, expect L’Arc~en~ciel’s latest to take the top spot, and Utada Hikaru’s latest (which I again don’t think is all that great) won’t have a chance at the top spot.

On the album chart, Hideaki Tokunaga’s cover album not only holds the number 1 spot, losing only 30% of sales, the other two cover albums also saw a sales boost to 13th and 16th places, respectively. Other than that, the album chart was pretty quiet, with Sukima Switch still selling a lot of their latest album. Next week, look for Ketsumeishi’s latest album to do really really well.

- Everyone wins! The Seoul Drama Award gave away its awards to dramas from China, Japan, AND Korea. Hell, even the UK’s Prime Suspect won an award. Wait a minute, is “A Dwarf Launches a Small Ball” the same thing as “A Ball Shot By a Midget?” It can’t be!

- Turns out Hong Kong’s TVB (who make some of the most popular mediocre TV dramas in the world) got even more nominations at the International Emmy Awards, this time they’re for acting.

- Under “Oh, silly China!” news today, turns out Charlene Choi’s character in the Hong Kong comedy Simply Actors has been changed for its upcoming Mainland Chinese release. While in the original version, she plays a softcore porn actress from the Mainland, she’ll be an actress that specializes in bad movies with some regional dialect of Mandarin. Apparently, even Choi herself doesn’t mind, saying that she’s not qualified to make softcore porn. Just give it a few more years, Charlene…

- Korean auteur Hong Sang-Soo is looking for extras to act in his latest film. The catch? You should probably be living in France to do it, since he’s shooting there.

- Heroes actor/whiz kid Masi Oka (whose interview in better-than-when-he’s-acting Japanese is here) says that Lost actually paved the way for Asian-American actors in American television. There WAS Sammo Hung’s Martial Law, but I think he’s actually right that it took this long.

- A few days ago, I said to take the news of Peter Chan Ho-Sun’s latest film “Deng Dai” with a grain of salt, but I guess it’s OK to trust it now that Variety Asia is reporting it.

- I didn’t mean for this news to be last, but Feng Xiaogang’s average-looking war flick The Assembly will be opening the Pusan film festival next month. Isn’t this not even set to come out until Lunar New Year? Still, props to Feng for not taking the easy way with making some World War II film, instead focusing on the Chinese civil war.

The Golden Rock - August 1st, 2007 Edition

- Let’s start with those Oricon charts today. On the singles chart, Ai Otsuka’s latest single debuts at number one, selling just over 68,000 copies, making it her first number 1 single debut since 2005. Rip Slyme’s latest single, despite having lots of sexy ladies in its MTV, scored only a third place debut with only 30,000 copies. Last week’s winner, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest, dropped significantly from 110,000 copies to just 23,000 copies this week. Expect next week’s singles chart to be between two boy bands - Dong Bang Shin Ki and Hey! Say!. Luckily I won’t be around to report that debacle.

On the albums chart, Orange Range ruled it, selling a combined 420,000 copies of their latest set of compilation albums (210,000 copies each). Far behind in second place is the debut of Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik’s second album, selling 82,000 copies, and bumping KinKi Kids’ latest down to 3rd place with 72,000 copies sold after debuting 300,000 copies last week. Bonnie Pink’s latest album debuted with a weak 53,000 copies sold for a 5th place debut. Next week, the pop duo Sukima Switch should take the top spot with a quieter chart.

I was just about to report the drama satisfaction rankings on the Oricon site when I noticed that the Tokyograph blog talked about it too. So I think I’ll leave it to them to report it.

- The Hong Kong Films blog in Chinese has an interesting feature about how Hong Kong box office numbers are reported. Apparently, only the Association of Hong Kong Films gather the numbers and figures by telephone polls. They simply call theaters at different times of the day and ask for each theaters’ sales figures for each film. This primitive human reporting also means the figures are prone to error. Has anyone heard of such cases?

- The new Nobuhiro Yamashita film Tennen Kokkeko opened this past weekend on three screens in Tokyo, and it attracted a very strong 3212 admissions/5.07 million yen over 2 days. Considering that means an average of 123 people at each showing, and since the average capacity of each screen is 149, I’d say that’s pretty good.

- Darcy Paquet’s Korean Film Page has a review of a rare film from North Korea that apparently swept the nation since, well, it was probably the only thing playing.

- Meanwhile, South Korean artistic auteur Hong Sang-Soo is working on a new film that was originally planned to be in French, but will now just be filmed in France.

- It’s war. Hong Kong animation firm Imagi, who did the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, has just hired yet another animation veteran from Dreamworks animation. One of the major animators of the Shrek trilogy, who got promoted to co-director by the third film, is from Hong Kong, so this kind of evens things out.

- American distributor Funimation has picked up a couple of films for distribution - the not-so-surprising one would be Fumihiko Sori’s Vexille, and the surprising ones are Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Hana. Oh, they got that damn Genghis Kahn movie too.

- Note to Hong Kong people - Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint may be opening officially next week, but there are some “secret announcements” of advanced showings this weekend. The picture in the entry was taken at Kwun Tong’s Silver Theatre, which is not exactly Hong Kong’s finest.

- It’s teasers time! Twitch has the teasers to the direct remake of Tsubaki Sanjuro and the Universal Pictures-funded Japanese action film Midnight Eagle.

- Then Variety has profiles to two rising female figures in the Asian cinema world - director Naomi Kawase (whose The Mourning Forest is not doing too well in Japan as expected) and award-winning actress Jeon Do-Yeon.

- The French film censors want to step up their authori-tie by looking to extend its powers to also review films that play in France as part of film festivals. But instead of giving ratings, they have to right to not allow the film play at French festivals. I would rather they just rated them instead.

The Golden Rock - August 1st, 2007 Edition

- Let’s start with those Oricon charts today. On the singles chart, Ai Otsuka’s latest single debuts at number one, selling just over 68,000 copies, making it her first number 1 single debut since 2005. Rip Slyme’s latest single, despite having lots of sexy ladies in its MTV, scored only a third place debut with only 30,000 copies. Last week’s winner, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest, dropped significantly from 110,000 copies to just 23,000 copies this week. Expect next week’s singles chart to be between two boy bands - Dong Bang Shin Ki and Hey! Say!. Luckily I won’t be around to report that debacle.

On the albums chart, Orange Range ruled it, selling a combined 420,000 copies of their latest set of compilation albums (210,000 copies each). Far behind in second place is the debut of Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik’s second album, selling 82,000 copies, and bumping KinKi Kids’ latest down to 3rd place with 72,000 copies sold after debuting 300,000 copies last week. Bonnie Pink’s latest album debuted with a weak 53,000 copies sold for a 5th place debut. Next week, the pop duo Sukima Switch should take the top spot with a quieter chart.

I was just about to report the drama satisfaction rankings on the Oricon site when I noticed that the Tokyograph blog talked about it too. So I think I’ll leave it to them to report it.

- The Hong Kong Films blog in Chinese has an interesting feature about how Hong Kong box office numbers are reported. Apparently, only the Association of Hong Kong Films gather the numbers and figures by telephone polls. They simply call theaters at different times of the day and ask for each theaters’ sales figures for each film. This primitive human reporting also means the figures are prone to error. Has anyone heard of such cases?

- The new Nobuhiro Yamashita film Tennen Kokkeko opened this past weekend on three screens in Tokyo, and it attracted a very strong 3212 admissions/5.07 million yen over 2 days. Considering that means an average of 123 people at each showing, and since the average capacity of each screen is 149, I’d say that’s pretty good.

- Darcy Paquet’s Korean Film Page has a review of a rare film from North Korea that apparently swept the nation since, well, it was probably the only thing playing.

- Meanwhile, South Korean artistic auteur Hong Sang-Soo is working on a new film that was originally planned to be in French, but will now just be filmed in France.

- It’s war. Hong Kong animation firm Imagi, who did the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, has just hired yet another animation veteran from Dreamworks animation. One of the major animators of the Shrek trilogy, who got promoted to co-director by the third film, is from Hong Kong, so this kind of evens things out.

- American distributor Funimation has picked up a couple of films for distribution - the not-so-surprising one would be Fumihiko Sori’s Vexille, and the surprising ones are Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Hana. Oh, they got that damn Genghis Kahn movie too.

- Note to Hong Kong people - Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint may be opening officially next week, but there are some “secret announcements” of advanced showings this weekend. The picture in the entry was taken at Kwun Tong’s Silver Theatre, which is not exactly Hong Kong’s finest.

- It’s teasers time! Twitch has the teasers to the direct remake of Tsubaki Sanjuro and the Universal Pictures-funded Japanese action film Midnight Eagle.

- Then Variety has profiles to two rising female figures in the Asian cinema world - director Naomi Kawase (whose The Mourning Forest is not doing too well in Japan as expected) and award-winning actress Jeon Do-Yeon.

- The French film censors want to step up their authori-tie by looking to extend its powers to also review films that play in France as part of film festivals. But instead of giving ratings, they have to right to not allow the film play at French festivals. I would rather they just rated them instead.

The Golden Rock - June 20th, 2007 Edition

- I had no idea that the public holiday in Hong Kong ended up being on Tuesday the 19th, not Monday the 18th. That would explain why Fantastic Four ended up making another HK$2.12 million on 60 screens Tuesday in Hong Kong, bringing a 6-day total of HK$11.14 million. Simply Actors, starring Jim Chim and Charlene Choi, is a hit with HK$970,000 on 29 screens on its first full day of screenings (it made an additional HK$250,000 the previous night). Mr. Cinema continues to do weakly with just HK$300,000 on 27 screens for a 6-day total of HK$1.7 million. It has now surpassed Kidnap, which made only HK$230,000 on 25 screens on Tuesday for a HK$1.56 million after 6 days plus previews. Milkyway’s Eye in the Sky has accumulated a total of HK$340,000 after 4 nights of preview screenings. It opens officially on Thursday. 4 Hong Kong movies on the top 10 - that’s a rare sight for sore eyes.

- Oricon released the rankings for music and DVDs sold in the first half of 2007. On the singles chart, Sen No Kaze Ni Natte is the number one top-seller with 916,000 copies sold. Released late last year, sales for the single rocketed after Masafumi Akikawa appeared on the year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen, and has been steady through the first six months of the year. In a far-off second is Utada Hikaru’s Flavor of Life, which in my opinion is easily Utada’s most mediocre single ever released (And I’m speaking as a fan who has shelled out 30+ dollars for her stuff since her first album); it has sold nearly 630,000 copies. Arashi’s Love So Sweet rounds out the top 3, selling nearly 421,000 copies. It’s official: Hana Yori Dango 2 ruled the music world.

In albums, Mr. Children not so surprisingly tops the chart, selling over 1.12 million copies of their album Home. I was a little surprised that Koda Kumi managed to sell 998,000 copies of her album Black Cherry, and Ayumi Hamasaki rounds out the top 3rd and 4th place with her compilation albums A BEST 2 WHITE and A BEST 2 BLACK. More surprising is the third best-selling non-compilation Japanese album would not show up until 7th place with YUI’s Can’t Buy My Love. Even Avril Lavigne managed to sell 656,000 copies of the album with that annoying Girlfriend song. Someone save J-pop.

In the DVD charts, the best selling DVD so far this year is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (which I’m sure was helped by the follow-up At World’s End), selling 430,000 copies. Second place is Hitoshi Matsumoto’s roundtable discussion DVD with 310,000 copies, and third place is the best-selling Japanese film so far this year, Umizaru 2: Limit of Love, with 267,000 copies. Even the huge pop culture event of last year, Death Note, has only sold 244,000 copies of its complete set since March. The reason why the sales seem bad is because Japan has a very active rental market due the gap between the price of a rental (400-500 yen) and the price of a DVD (2500-4000 yen for a single movie). With such a huge price difference, it’s understandable why people would rather rent than buy.

- In the weekly charts, Sen No Kaze Ni Natte is still selling strong in the singles chart. This week, it’s at 16th place, selling 7,300 copies as it inches slowly towards that million mark. Meanwhile, YUI rules the chart with the debut of her new single, selling just 79,000 copies. The Korean boy band Dong Bang Shin Ki (TVXQ) managed to sell 35,000 copies of their latest single for a second place debut. Dreams Come True’s latest disappoints slightly at third place, with only 31,000 copies sold of their latest single. Even a wedding didn’t help troublemaker DJ Ozma’s latest single, debuting at 14th place selling only 7,400 copies. Gackt’s Japanese theme for Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige is expected to win the charts next week, as shown in the daily rankings.

On the albums chart, Bon Jovi’s album hits a very surprising first place, selling 73,000 copies. ZARD’s Golden Best compilation continues to sell very well as it remains at second place with another 54,000 copies sold. There’s no real major Japanese album release this past week, so it all looks a bit quiet. Next week, Crystal Kay may earn her first number one album, if the daily rankings hold up.

- In Taiwan, three Hong Kong/Macau university students decided to show how ineffective news reporting is by creating fake news items and forwarding them to television stations. And those stations actually ended up running the stories without any verification. Someone’s in the big trouble, and it’s not the students.

- Sales are down this year at the Shanghai Television Festival, especially historical dramas. Good news is that over 40% of the stall holders were from outside Mainland China, which means it’s no longer just a place for the Chinese market. However, only 1.2% of the buyers were from Europe and the U.S..

Meanwhile, the German film March of Millions took the top TV Film Award at the Shanghai TV Festival. The strangest win in my mind was the best TV Series Award to Living, based on the same novel as Zhang Yimou’s To Live. To Live gets banned, but the drama version wins an award in China?

- Twitch has a longer trailer to new director Carl Zhang’s Lovers. It looks real pretty with the filters and all, but all it says is that the guy has some style. Let’s hope his directing and writing will back it up.

- Since Japan’s United International Pictures is packing up, Hollywood studio Paramount just flat out decided to do things themselves by distributing their own films in Japan.

- Reviews, reviews, reviews. Variety surprisingly already has a review of current Japanese blockbuster Maiko Haaaan!!! up already, while the Daily Yomiuri has a review of Naomi Kawase’s The Mourning Forest. On the same note, Japan Times has a feature on the French translator who helped translate the scenario and the script to get French funding for The Mourning Forest, which makes the fact that he still hasn’t met the director somewhat strange.

- A government-appointed advisory panel in Singapore is urging the authorities to embrace the new media by finding new ways to take advantage of traditional forms of entertainment. Then there’s a bunch of vague official suggestions that look like English, but not really.

- Shanghai finally has their first full-fledged art house theater. Hong Kong had so many of them that they had to get rid of them one by one. OK, that’s not why they’re diminishing, but Hong Kong still has plenty of them.

- Andy Lau pisses off a CCTV program by refusing to appear on their human interest show. But then they piss off the people by complaining about it. This comment is my favorite: “If Andy Lau won’t come, you criticize him. What if Andy Lau criticizes you directly? Are you going to give him a physical beating?”

- Wilson Yip is making yet another Donnie Yen movie, but at least it’s not just another action movie. It’ll be a supernatural action movie. I thought China doesn’t like ghost and supernatural tales.

- Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi is fine too) is returning to the TV drama world, except it’ll only be a two-part made-for-TV film.

- The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (I think they mean Fantasy rather than boasting that the films will be fantastic) has announced its lineup, which includes Oxide Pang’s Diary, Yamashita Nobuhiro’s The Matsugane Potshot Affair, and a special program of films by Herman Yau.

- The international hit drama “Jewel in the Palace” (Dae Jang Geum) is going to the stage in Japan after it was successful adapted as a musical earlier this year in Korea. Performance will begin this December.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the Japanese documentary Election, which has seen very good word-of-mouth.

- Director Mamoru Oshii, best known for the animated film Ghost in the Shell, announced that his next film will be The Sky Crawlers, based on the novel by Hiroshi Mori. I haven’t seen any of his work, so I can’t really comment on this.

- Twitch has a set of reviews for the films playing at the upcoming New York Asian Film Festival in case you can’t decide what to watch. The festival starts this weekend.

 
 
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