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Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

The Golden Rock - Opinions Are Like A**holes Edition, part 1

There have been a couple of outspoken interviews recently - one from a Hong Kong filmmaker, and one about Hong Kong films. Over these two posts, I present translations of these two opinions as a taste of what I’m picking up day-to-day reading Chinese film media.

The first post is excerpts from an interview originally done in Shanghai’s Dong Fang Daily reprinted on www.entgroup.cn with Hong Kong New Wave director Patrick Tam, whose last film was AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE and serves as faculty at the multimedia department of Hong Kong’s City University. The interview deals with his thoughts on Chinese-language films in 2010 and his view on the future.

Q=Reporter
T=Patrick Tam

Q: Let’s talk about Chinese-language films from the last year, especially those from Hong Kong. Were there any films that surprised you?

T: Last year was a low period for Hong Kong films. You can tell from the Hong Kong Film Award nominations that there weren’t many special works. As a jury member for the Golden Horse Awards last year, I watched 30-plus films in 10-plus days. You can probably say those are the most representative works of Chinese-language cinema, right? There were some pleasant surprises from Taiwan and China, while Hong Kong films were the weakest. I think that’s a worrisome situation.

Q: In recent years, many Hong Kong directors have gone up north to make films. How does this affect the creativity of local Hong Kong films?

T: After the handover, the relationship between the Mainland and Hong Kong has grown closer. Maybe they were only technical collaborations in the past, but in recent years, many Hong Kong film professionals have moved to Beijing to work on co-productions. These North-bound Hong Kong filmmakers have lost much of their uniqueness in order to consider the Mainland market, but do they really understand what the Mainland audience needs to see?

Q: What attracts Hong Kong director north-bound?

T: It’s the appeal of the money, the appeal of the market. That’s why I think their focus isn’t quite right. Johnnie To is fairly late in becoming a North-bound director. His local Hong Kong works have a lot of unique appeal. I’m not sure how much of his personality will he be able to keep, since i haven’t seen his latest co-production (That’s DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART). Take John Woo as an example, I personally think that the BETTER TOMORROW period was his creative peak, and even though his production and creative environment became more professional after he went to Hollywood, the creative restrictions in turn prevented a creator from being faithful to his art. Among all the current Chinese-language directors, I think only Ang Lee has done fairly well at integrating into foreign cultures. He’s the only successful example in Hollywood. This is the same dilemma that Mainland-bound Hong Kong directors are facing today.

Q: Last year, it seems like some Hong Kong director kept the focus local. Some made films with nostalgic themes, and some had urban themes.

Translator’s note: Note that he did not name any specific films, though at least one is pretty obvious.

T: They weren’t very good. Some films talked about nostalgia, but it doesn’t mean using the same old way to tell stories. Plus, the stories were very false, so I was very disappointed. Some films expressed young urbanite romances, but you can only see the director is trying to play clever in a trivial way, and it looked smart-ass to me. I didn’t see the director’s concern for the target nor his/her stance towards the incidents. Some of these films exploited women in the way they were coded. I think a director’s character, temperament, and nurture are very important. Do you really have concern for your target, or are you using serious societal issues to sell sex and violence? If you’re out to explore the problem of real estate prices, then certain films didn’t explore them as deeply as DWELLING NARROWNESS (Translator’s note: A controversial Mainland TV drama) did. Films cannot be used to fool audiences.

One Hong Kong film from last year was OK, it’s GALLANTS by Derek Kwok (translator’s note: Plus Clement Cheng). Even though it was a little rough, one can see the author’s creativity.

After some discussion about Mainland and Taiwanese films, the reporter asked him about his thoughts on films again. 
Q: How do you feel about some of the Mainland films that were successful at the box office last year. Say, AFTERSHOCK?

T: I don’t really like that film. The common folks’ ethics are simple, they won’t think too much. They’ll think they’ve been touched once they’ve cried. I wasn’t touched because I don’t just watch a film’s content. I’d also watch how this film was produced in the cultural space. It’d be very sad if one only uses box office to measure a film’s achievement.

Q: Did you see LET THE BULLETS FLY?

T: I quite liked LET THE BULLETS FLY. Jiang Wen is a very smart person, but I think he’s sometimes too smart. Jiang gave the best character to himself (laughs). Ge You was great. His character is very tough to do. The film has a message for sure, but I don’t think the director’s motivation was to bury all kinds of obscure meanings for audiences to decipher. Those “horse pulling train” explanations (translator’s note: those that speculate the meaning of the horses pulling the steam train at he beginning of the film) on the internet kind of went too far. This film was quite loose [in censorship standards], which is very rare compared to films that played by the book. [Jiang] was following a certain style in THE SUN ALWAYS RISES, but the finished product was incomplete. However, if you want to talk about a director’s “heart”, I think Jiang Wen’s “heart” is in his first film IN THE HEAT OF THE SUN.

Q: Have you been following THE GRANDMASTER? (translator’s note: Patrick Tam edited DAYS OF BEING WILD and is Wong Kar Wai’s mentor)

T: The poster is quite good. I hope the film will be as good as the poster. Wong Kar-Wai is someone who can tell stories, but the style he developed later on is relatively loose (Wong was the scriptwriter for Tam’s FINAL VICTORY). I personally think Wong Kar-Wai’s best film to date is DAYS OF BEING WILD. He captures the 1960s Hong Kong spirit very well.

Q: Have you noticed that many directors have began making martial art films? Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Wong Kar Wai will have martial art films in 2011.

T: Maybe they’re looking for change. Take Hou, I guess that he feels modern Taiwan society stories are finished being told, so he wants to try new challenges. Wong has wanted to make a martial arts film for a long time, he’s just hasn’t been able to do so. Maybe his individual style being matched with this type of films will produce a different result.

Q: Are you looking forward to their change?

T: I don’t have much expectations for filmmakers that have already matured. Say Wong, even when he used foreign actors for MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, I can still identify his trademarks. That’s why my expectations are for the young people only.

Q: Do you think this is the best of times or the worst of times for films?

T: We’re in the worst of times, not just in film. In terms of film, the global golden age of film is over. Masters are dying one by one.

Q: Are you planning to make any more films after AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE?

T: I won’t give up film production. I’m preparing a new film now. It’ll use Hong Kong as background, and it’s a story about young people. I can’t reveal too much. I think it’ll be an interesting film.

Part 2 - A Chinese editorial about the Hong Kong Film Awards. 

The Golden Rock Podcast - The People I’ve Slept With Edition

33413_200805241847371thumb.jpg

A week and a half ago, I had the chance to interview the director and cast members of the romantic comedy The People I’ve Slept With. They were in town because the film was one of the closing films of the Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival.

img_7788.jpg
Three of them were there: (from left) Director Quentin Lee, actor Wilson Cruz, actress Karin Anna Cheung, and actor Archie Kao

During the interview, we discussed the film, the characters, the inspiration, and the state of Asian-American films in America.

Part 1 (128 kbps MP3, 21 MB, 23:23)

Part 2 (128 kbps MP3, 22 MB, 23:39)

Music: Judy is a Punk by James Iha from the Beams 30th Anniversary Album.

Our sincere thanks to Quentin, Karin, and Archie for talking to us. Also, many thanks to Ms. Kit Ho and Kozo for arranging the interview. Apologies for any moments where I come off unprofessional. I am, after all, just a small-time blogger.

If you’d like to find out more about the film, please check out the official website, and become a fan on Facebook. It’s a film worth supporting, not just because it’s an Asian-American production, but because it’s just a damn fun film. Look for it in a town near you.

Photos courtesy of Quentin Lee and his Alivenotdead blog. Used with permission. 

The Golden Rock - May 13th, 2009 Edition

That’s right, it’s a news post!

- Let’s first look at Hong Kong box office for the past week, courtesy of the Hong Kong Filmart site. The biggest surprise may be the opening for Lu Chuan’s Nanking Massacre film The City of Life and Death. On a limited 15-screen release, it managed to make HK$1.24 million over 4 days. This is easily the best-performing Mainland Chinese film in a long time, though the excellent production value and sensational subject probably helped it plenty.  I expect at least a HK$3 million take.

The next best performing debut film is Disney’s Chinese film The Trail of the Panda, which opened on 27 screens and only recorded a 4-day take of HK$725,000. I guess we don’t care as much about pandas as Americans care about 3D animated dogs. Meanwhile, Wolverine stayed on the top for its second week and has since made HK$12.5 million. However, it’s losing steam quickly, especially with Angels and Demons opening this week, which means it should top out under HK$15 million. 17 Again takes second place with a solid HK$5.8 million take and a very slow descent, which means it may end up with about HK$8 million. Not bad for a Zac Efron movie in Hong Kong.

Wong Jing’s I Corrupt All Cops (self-whoring time: My LHKF review) lost a modest 53% during its second week in business with HK$4.6 million after 11 days, and likely to do close to HK$6 million. The Japanese comedy Handsome Suits, which is only being shown with a Cantonese dubbed version (2 shows of the Japanese version at one theater barely counts), has made HK$3.5 million, and the church-backed film Team of Miracle: We Will Rock You is miraclously still in theaters (probably with showings paid by churches) with HK$2.1 million after 37 days.

- However, Disney is probably more optimistic about the performance of Trail of the Panda in China, where the film opened the weekend before the first anniversary of the Sichuan Earthquake. The film was near the end of its shoot in Sichuan when the earthquake happened. A film cashing in on a real-life disaster? What is this, Hollywood?

- In Korean box office, the comedy My Girlfriend is An Agent continues to dominate, even with Star Trek opening this past weekend. Meanwhile, Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst has already found 1.7 million admissions, which is a great rebound for Park from the box office disappointment that was I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK. Also, with Daniel Hanney in a supporting role, I’m surprised Wolverine hasn’t done better than only 1.1 million admissions after two weeks.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- Speaking of Thirst, which will be competing at the just-opened Cannes Film Festival, Koreanfilm.org’s Darcy Paquet has written a review for Screen Daily. Also, Hollywood Reporter has an interview with director Park Chan-Wook.

- In Japan, the tearjerker April Bride, starring Eita and directed by Vibrator director Ryuichi Hiroki, hit the top spot with 412 million yen from a modest 310 screens. The popular animated Conan film has dropped below Red Cliff II, which is holding on to its seocnd place standing. Kazuaki “Casshern” Kiriya’s Goemon drops to 4th place in its second weekend, but has already made 900 million yen after 10 days. It’s almost certain that it’ll do better than Casshern at this point. After 30 days, Crows Zero II has made more than 2.6 billion yen and has surpass the take of the first installment. I haven’t seen the film, but who’s betting that there really won’t be a third film?

Outside the top 10, Peter Chan’s Warlords opened at 12th place, and the Pang Brother’s Hollywood remake of Bangkok Dangerous opened only at 13th place. I guess it wasn’t as well-liked as these pachinko ads.

Sources: The Japanese box office blog, Screen Daily

-  The Hong Kong and Chinese governments has added new amendments to the 2003 CEPA agreement, which was responsible for allowing China-Hong Kong co-productions and is responsible for today’s HK cinema climate. The new amendment includes one that allows Hong Kong film distributor to directly release home video versions of approved co-production films. But what difference does it make when everyone downloads in China anyway?

-  Under “how the world sucking affects the film world” news today, the second annual Phuket Film Festival in Thailand has been cancelled because of the political turmoil and the logistic nightmare the ASEAN meeting was supposed to cause the region.

Meanwhile, Japan film distributor/producer Wide Policy, who last distributed Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution in Japan, has filed for bankruptcy.

Also, Japan’s Usen is planning to sell major film distributor Gaga Communications. Gaga has been troubled since it announced to stop acqusitions and productions last year, though it still distributes films with and for other companies.

- On the other hand, under “the world sucking has nothing to do with making films” news today, Takashi Miike, coming off the successes of Yatterman and Crows Zero II, will be remaking the 1963 film Thirteen Assassins with Jeremy “Last Emperor” Thomas on board as producer.

Korea’s Sidus has signed on as a co-producer for the remake of the classic Hong Kong martial arts film The One-Armed Swordsman with Hong Kong’s Celestial Pictures, to be directed by the director of Musa: The Warrior. No word on who will be starring, though.

Hong Kong’s Edko, who will next be releasing Blood: The Last Vampire, has signed a 3-film co-financing deal with America’s Focus Features. The three films will include Yuen Wo-Ping’s latest film, starring Michelle Yeoh, Jay Chou, and David Carradine.

Peter Chan Ho-Sun’s next film will be for his new production company Cinema Popular, and is now being touted as the first superhero film from China. Also in Cinema Popular’s slate is a serial killer movie set in Hong Kong, which I wonder how it’ll get into China.

And Singapore is telling the world that they have plenty of money to make films - about 17-20, to be exact.

- Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle will be the head of the jury at this year’s Shanghai Film Festival, happening mid-June.

- Twitch has a teaser for the big-budget Korean disaster film Haeundae, which has been getting quite a bit of attention at the recent film markets.  It looks like Deep Impact meets Poseidon. That’s not a compliment.

- Korean star Lee Byung-Hun will come off his role in the highly-anticipated TV drama Iris with…….Iris: The Movie.

- Lastly, Star Trek director JJ Abrams claims during his promotional appearance in Japan that he’s a fan of the idol group AKB48. Not sure how that’s relevant to this blog, I just find it funny.

Not sure when the next news post will be, but that’s it for now.

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.

Golden Rock Podcast - A Guide to Pitching at Film Markets with Kenneth Bi

 tpgmeetings.JPG
A picture of meetings going on at TPG. See more at Kenneth’s blog. Used with permission.

This semester, I got to study under writer/director Kenneth Bi again. Recently, he took a week off to go to Tokyo for the Tokyo Project Gathering, where filmmakers bring their latest potential projects and meet with investors from around the world. Many multi-national co-productions begin this way, and since there’s so much talk about film markets around here, I decided to see what it’s like to pitch a script at something as nerve-racking as the TPG.

Part 1 (128kbps MP3, 11.0mb, 12:06)

Part 2 (128kbps MP3, 13.3mb, 14:38)

Music from the Still Walking Original Soundtrack.

Many many thanks to Kenneth Bi for talking to this small-time blogger not just once, but twice. And I hope the second time is just as informative as the first for you out there. It sure was for me.

The Golden Rock - September 13th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time again! Lovehkfilm just got updated with some new reviews. From Our Boss Kozo is the review for the Ekin-Shawn Yue two-fer Rule No. 1 and a review for Lam “fat dude in Shaolin Soccer” Chi Chung’s The Luckiest Man, which I thankfully missed out on. From A Man Called Sanjuro™ is a review for the Shaw Bros. martial arts film The New One-Armed Swordsman and the review for the Singaporean blockbuster 881. And from yours truly is a review for the Japanese talky flick Best Wishes for Tomorrow. And here’s an article from Japan Times on the film that should be an interesting companion to the review. I also just found this column written by the film’s co-writer about the film’s main character.From Variety’s Dennis Harvey are two reviews for recent Japanese films. First is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s family drama Still Walking, then it’s Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s excellent All Around Us

.- Sean Penn’s Into the Wild opened this past weekend in Japan on a limited 26 screens. While it made a less-than-impressive 13.73 million, Eiga Consultant reports that it actually played to sold-out shows at the three Tokyo screens, and that each of the screen actually attracted a different demographic.

-  It’s trailers time! This time both clips are from Twitch. First is the trailer for Kim Ki Duk’s latest film Sad Dream, which stars Jo Odagir speaking in his native Japanese instead of having no lines like Chang Chen in Breath. Then there’s a Mandarin-dubbed trailer for Wu Jing’s co-directorial debut Legendary Assassin, which features several Gold Label stars such as Alex “I used to swim at the Olympics” Fong and a cameo by Ronald Cheng because head honcho Paco Wong produced it.

- Japanese drama Code Blue just wrapped up this week with an OK-19.5% rating, which solidfies its spot as the top-rated drama of the Summer 2008 season. Guess what that means? A special one-off episode during New Years!

- Hollywood’s Focus Features have signed up to co-produce Park Chan Wook’s latest film along with its Korean producer. And since Focus Features is actually a division of Universal, this means that Universal is in on it too. It’s the first time a Korean film is being made with Hollywood money, although last year CJ Entertainment co-produced the American film August Rush.

- Kenichi “L” Matsuyama looks to be going into his indie film mode, signing up for a new film with an “ultra” cool name.

- This week’s Televiews column on The Daily Yomiuri goes into the wrapping up of Summer 2008 dramas and a possible Japanese remake of Winter Sonata starring the son of ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

- The management of Japanese idols group AKB48 has a real good reason to be pissed: The latest single, which isn’t even finished yet, has already been leaked on the internet ahead of its October release date.

- Hoga Central has an interview with Kaori Momoi and Takashi Miike to coincide with the release of Sukuyaki Western Django in the United States.

- The 2nd annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards is looking at a wider competition this year, as it has received double the amount of submissions compared to last year.

The Golden Rock - August 26th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! First from Boss Kozo (working a bit of overtime because I couldn’t find time to attend the film festival) are reviews of the omnibus film A Decade of Love, the Taiwan-Japan co-production Tea Fight (I hate Vic Chou for being able to do that with Erika Toda), and the animation hit Evangelion:1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. From a man called Sanjuro are reviews of the Korean sci-fi film Yesterday and the classic martial arts film The One-Armed Swordsman.

From Variety are two reviews by Derek Elley, one for Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She (which I saw today but wasn’t fully satisfied with) and the Japanese omnibus flick Eat and Run: 6 Beautiful Grifters.

- Nippon Cinema has a trailer for a little psuedo-autobiographical indie film named Umeda Yuko no Kokuhaku, the feature film debut of a 19-year old Tokyo Visual Arts College graduate. It certainly looks less film school and more confident than a usual post-school film.

- Guess which is more important to the Chinese government: Supressing freedom of speech, or supressing illegal downloads?

- Marvel Entertainment is reportedly working with Japanese animation house Madhouse for four separate series that will reimagine Marvel superheroes for the Japanese market. No word on which heroes will be part of said reimagining.

- This counts as The Golden Rock news because Michelle Yeoh is in the movie. Too bad this is an interview in which Babylon AD’s director pretty much calls his own film complete shit.

- Under “he’s that famous?!” news today, Bae Yong-Joon (known as Yon-Sama in Japan) will be opening the second branch of his own restaurant in Tokyo after the first one has been deemed a success.

The Golden Rock - August 25th, 2008 Edition

Woo Hoo! The Olympics are over!

- As always, the first thing we’ll look at is the Hong Kong box office over the weekend by looking at Sunday grosses. Somewhat surprisingly, the Hollywood adventure flick Journey to the Center of the Earth continues its reign at the top of the box office, making HK$1.96 million from 33 screens (a portion of them in 3D and a higher ticket price) on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$19.22 million. Hellboy II also managed to hang on to its 2nd place spot with HK$392,000 from 37 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.83 million.

As for opening films, Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She leads the pack with HK$364,000 from 17 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.38 million, which is a respectable opening gross for a film on just 17 screens. Not so respectable is the opening for the animated film Star Wars Clone Wars, which made only HK$231,000 from 34 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$910,000. The two limited releases this weekend - Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It and Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There - failed to make the top 10, which means neither made more than HK$122,000.

In holdover films, The Dark Knight is still at 4th place with HK$292,000 from 31 screens (a portion from the one IMAX screen charging higher ticket price) for a 39-day total of HK$56.1 millionThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor made HK$187,000 from 36 screens for an inexplicable 25-day total of HK$36.93 million. Lastly, Chan Hing-Ka/Janet Chun’s La Lingerie made HK$122,000 from 22 screens for a not-too-bad 17-day total of HK$8.17 million.

- We also have the audience attendence chart for the Japanese box office. For the 6th week in a row, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot. The comic book adaptation Detroit Metal City, starring Kenichi Matsuyama, debuts impressively at 2nd place. Sex and the City didn’t do too shabby, either, with a 3rd place debut. The Mummy 3 falls to fourth place, and Star Wars Clone Wars could muster only a 6th place debut. Box Office Mojo is still slowly updating their numbers, so this will have to do for no.

- Time to look at the flop that is the Summer 2008 Japanese drama season.  The Monday 9pm Fuji drama Taiyou to Umi no Kyochitsu rebounds from the season-low 10.7 rating last week to a more average 14.7% rating this past week. Shibatora, Gakkouja Oshierarenai, Monster Parents, and Code Blue all recovered from season-low ratings the previous week. Even Koizora, the flop of the season, is seeing an upward trend from one episode to the next.

Still, Code Blue is that only drama this season that is averaging above a 15.0 rating, and that’s because of its highly rated premiere episode. Three dramas are scoring 6’s on the average season rating, and most dramas are barely breaking the 10.0 barrier. Then again, the last time a drama broke the 20.0 rating during the summer season was 2005’s Densha Otoko. Nevertheless, with an average of 15.2% so far, Code Blue is the lowest highest-rated series in a long time.

Note: I don’t count NHK’s hit taiga drama Atsuhime because 1) It doesn’t fit into the season format, which means the average rating doesn’t quite apply, and 2) Ratings only matter for private television station, which NHK is not. If counted, Atsuhime is easily the highest-rated drama of the year, scoring above 25% with most episodes.

-Coming off the commercial disappointment of Sky Crawlers, Mamoru Oshii is going back to live-action with short film in the omnibus film Kiru~Kill. He will also oversee the project.

- Being a fan of Paris Je’Taime, I’m very very excited for the producers’ follow-up New York, I Love You, which will feature films from great directors like Shunji Iwai, Fatih Akin, and Park Chan-Wook. Twitch has the film’s first trailer, even though it’s still in post-production and will only be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival as a work-in-progress. That trailer is worth watching just to see Chris Cooper speak Cantonese.

- Johnny’s man group SMAP is making history with a scheduled 6 shows at the enormous Tokyo Dome. That is the most shows a Japanese musical act has performed in a single tour at the baseball stadium.

- With Takashi Miike’s Sukuyaki Western Django heading to US theaters, Ryuganji has posted an interview in English with the prolific director.

- According to Hong Kong press, Johnnie To is not resting ahead of making his English debut film The Red Circle. Instead, he’s spending the hot summer days with Lau Ching Wan making a new film, and according to the Oriental Daily report, Lau will play a kidnapper in his first villain role. With no official quotes or source of information, Oriental Daily may just be making things up with some pictures.

- The minor Japanese medical mystery hit film Team Batista will be adapted for television, though stars Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi will not be going to TV. Instead, Atsushi Ito will be the lead in Takeuchi’s role because it was actually written as a man in the original novel.

The Golden Rock - July 17th, 2008 Edition

How much money has Red Cliff made in Hong Kong?

According to now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$14.67 million after 7 days.

- The results for the Nikkan Sport Drama Grand Prix for the Spring 2008 season has been announced, and CHANGE barely beat Last Friends to win the Best Drama prize, although the drama hadn’t ended when the voting began. Kimura Takuya also took home Best Actor, beating Rookie’s Ryuta Sato. Around 40’s Yuki Amami won Best Actress, and Last Friends didn’t go home empty-handed, thanks to supporting acting awards for Ryu Nishikido and Juri Ueno.

- In addition to 1949, John Woo will be revealing another upcoming project at the upcoming ComicCon in the United States, a comic adaptation about King Arthur and his knights as gunslingers in the 19th century Pacific Northwest.

- Twitch reveals that there’s a possibility of a Jewel in the Palace film to be directed by none other than Zhang Yimou.

- As usual, Disney will be bringing over Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea to America, and this time Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy will be responsible for putting the American version together.

- An advanced screening has already been held for Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori’s Ichi, starring young actress Haruka Ayase (currently selling Panasonic SD cards on Japanese trains) as the famous blind swordswoman character. Nippon Cinema reveals the character has actually undergone some major changes, including her occupation.

- Johnnie To has signed up as a jury member under president Wim Wenders at the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

- Twitch has an interview with famous Japanese animation director Satoshi Kon.

- With Japan going into full digital bradcasting in 3 years, a government authority is trying to crack down on the amount of infomercials shown on these digital channels.

The Golden Rock - June 26th, 2008 Edition

Not a lot of news today:

- The Indian comglomerate Reliance’s investment for Hollywood studio Dreamworks has not been finalized yet, and may even just be used for the studio head as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with other studios. In other words, India is in Hollywood just yet.

- Another Japanese comic is being adapted for live-action film, although the idea sounds pretty interesting this time: a boy who washes the windows of apartments in an orbital ring around Saturn after Earth becomes uninhabitable.

- It’s reviews time! Variety’s Leslie Felperin has the first review for Christopher Doyle’s second directorial effort Warsaw Dark. Also, Variety’s Andrew Barker has a review of the documentary Hannari Geisha Modern.

- The hit Korean film The Host will have a sequel. However, instead of having Bong Joon-Ho direct again, the sequel will be a Chinese-Korean co-production with Crazy Stone director Ning Hao as director.  Also, being a Chinese co-production, the film will naturally be eliminated of the original film’s political content.

- Japanese boy band KAT-TUN member Tatsuya Ueda will have to prove that he actually has talent by not only directing his own 90-minute solo show, but he will also have to write and compose all the songs to be performed in the concert.

- Twitch has an interview with Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura.

- Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry said in a forum in Hong Kong that Japanese cinema should work more with its neighbors in Asia such as Hong Kong and China. It would be a good start if they make more original works instead of TV drama adaptation first, then actually put English subtitles on their DVDs.

- Han Cinema has the final trailer for Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Holy. Shit.

 
 
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