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Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2008 Edition

Catching up on weekend number crunching:

- Time for Japanese box office. As expected, Paramount included last week’s sneak preview numbers to boost their opening weekend figures for Indiana Jones. After deducting the 597 million yen figure reported by Eiga Consultant last week, the actual opening weekend number is actually roughly USD$7,890,000, or 847 million yen from 789 screens. Meanwhile, The Magic Hour continues to do well, losing only 12% of business and now passed the 2 billion yen mark. Aibou continues to have similar holding power, losing only 13.7% of business and is now past the 4 billion yen mark at the box office. In fact, nothing on the top 10 dropped by more than 26% at the box office this weekend, making for quite a healthy weekend in Japan.

In the battle of the two family-friendly films, the music-themed August Rush did much better with a 3rd place debut, thanks to the shameless advertisement, which literally asks potential audience to “please cry”. The other film, the Japanese-language The Witch of the West is Dead, debut all the way down at 6th place, and was actually on less screens to begin with.

- Finally some good news from Korean cinema, as The Public Enemy Returns rocketed to the top of South Korean box office with 1.6 million, outdoing Hollywood challengers Get Smart and 21.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Despite some nonsensical complaints against it, Hollywood’s Kung Fu Panda reached the earthquake-strickened Sichuan Prefecture in China and is expected to do quite well. In fact, it already made about 10 million RMB this past weekend. The fact that the performance artist who complained against the film includes panda images in his work just says so much about his motives anyway.

- It’s Japanese TV drama ratings time! As previously mentioned, this season’s bona-fide hit Last Friends scored a season-high 22.8% rating for its last episode, after a tough start at the beginning of the season. The much talked-about drama has cliched a third-place finish with an average rating of 17.7%. That leaves Gokusen and CHANGE fighting out for first and second place. With Gokusen’s ratings still hovering below 20% this week (a slight rebound to 18.1%, actually), CHANGE may have a chance as it nears its climax these several weeks. Right now, Gokusen has an average of 22.5% (mostly likely to go up with its finale this week), and CHANGE has an average of 21.2%, which means CHANGE is still within reachable distance to a ratings victory this season.

In other ending dramas, Muri Na Renai rebounded with a 7.7% for its final episode, the third season of Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Gakari ends with a season-high 15.4%, Around 40 ends with a 15.1%, and Hokaben ends with an 8.9%. More next week, when many of the remaining dramas wrap up.

- Good news for Hins Cheung, and depressing news for Hong Kong music, as Hin Cheung’s first compilation album became the best-selling album in Hong Kong for the first half of 2008 with only 50,000 copies sold. In fact, the top selling Hong Kong albums are either concerts (Andy Lau, Eason Chan), compilations (Joey Yung, Hins Cheung), or cover albums (Alan Tam). The only original album on the chart is Taiwanese artist Joanna Wang’s debut album, which sold a measly 20,000 copies. This proves the problem in Hong Kong that illegal downloading is so prevalent that an artist’s popularity far precedes their sales figures. Just think: Denise Ho sold out all 7 of her concerts in 2006-2007, which adds up to over 70,000 people. However, her compilation sold only 20,000 copies so far.

Here’s the translated list of the top 10 best-selling albums in Hong Kong from January to May 2008, from this picture on Hong Kong’s Ming Pao:

Hins Cheung’s my 1st Best Collection
Andy Lau’s Wonderful World concert
Eason Chan’s Moving On Stage 1 concert
Love 07 compilation
Joey Yung’s Like Joey compilation
Beyond’s 25th Anniversary compilation
Alan Tam’s The Best Sound Ever Reborn
This is Classical Music compilation
Joanna Wang’s Start From Here
Denise Ho’s Goo Music Collection

-  (via Ryuganji)Ghibli World has a write-up on the latest trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest Ponyo On a Cliff By the Sea, (that’s the official title on the poster), though it followed Ghibli’s policy of providing no video content for the internet. I saw the trailer yesterday, and it looks like a return to simplicity for the master.

- Just as Japan is finished being swept up by promotional wave for The Magic Hour, TBS is now filling their screen with Hana Yori Dango all day just ahead of the film version’s opening this Saturday. After their major promotional event at the Budokan, now it’s a one-hour special on TV just before opening day.

- Despite Japan’s aggressive policy to push people to get into digital broadcasting (the previously-mentioned “analog” screen text will begin next month), a survey reveals that only about 43% of all Japanese TV-watching households are digital-ready.

- The Chinese government has enacted a law requiring all media to give the government’s emergency response efforts free publicity, part of a larger law that requires more efficient emergency reporting during large-scale disasters.

- What kind of TV actually otdoes Japan is doing low-brow reality shows? America’s ABC, for actually putting the words “holy sushi” in the ad for a xenophoblic show like “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”.

- Twitch has an interview with director Ryo Iwamatsu, whose latest film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival.

- After the surprise success of Dai Nipponjin, comedian/director/actor Hitoshi Matsumoto is reportedly already polishing the script for his follow-up film, while a possible sequel for Dai Nipponjin is also being discussed.

The Golden Rock - June 12th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s go for a little number crunching first, as usual. As reported all this week, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour scored a very successful 500 million yen-plus opening on 379 screens. However, Mr. Texas points out that the opening is actually only 89% of the director’s very successful The Wow-Choten Hotel. Of course, the comparison is a little unfair, as Wow-Choten is the all-time Japanese comedy champ at the box office. However, Mitani and his cast have been aggressively promoting the film, with variety show appearances, a TV airing of Wow-Choten Hotel, and even the revival of Mitani’s popular TV series Furuhata Ninzabuo, which makes the opening a bit soft for all the buzz.

Also, Mr. Texas points out that even though The Magic Hour’s opening points of a 5 billion yen-plus final gross, several recent 500 million-yen openers have been fizzling out at the 3 billion yen mark, so it all depends on the word-of-mouth for this film. I caught the film this morning, and understood enough that I’ll be offering my views on the blog later on.

Mr. Texas also looked at another one of this past weekend’s major Japanese opening, the fish market-themed The Taste of Fish. Already planned to be a yearly movie series before its release, the human drama opened with 49.28 million yen from 259 screens, and is only 73% of the opening for the last Tsurubaka Nisshi film in 2007, which is the only other ongoing yearly film series about fishing. With no television station associated with the film, looks like Shochiku doesn’t even have the tv drama option if things don’t work out.

- I can’t believe I forgot to mention this: The Academy Award-nominated epic Mongol opened in limited release all over North America this past weekend, and managed an impressive USD$26,000 per-screen average. This is surely bittersweet for distributor Picturehouse, which closed up shop three weeks ago.

- It’s reviews time! All the reviews today are by Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter. First, she takes a look at the Chinese film Knitting, which played at the Cannes Critics Week. There’s also a review of Kenji Uchida’s After School, which sounds too twisty for me to understand without subtitles. Lastly, she takes a look at the Milkyway-produced PTU-spinoff TV film Tactical Unit - The Code, which marks Law Wing-Cheong’s third directorial work, not second.

- Speaking of Milkyway, Johnnie To is donating his 36 award trophies for display at the Hong Kong Film Archive. He probably ran out of room to put them at home anyway.

- Mark Schilling has two interviews on the Japan Times, both for the film Gururi No Koto (All Around Us), which went into limited release this past weekend. First, Schilling has an interview with director Ryosuke Hashiguchi, whose latest marks his first film in 6 years. Then, Schilling talks to the film’s star and Tokyo Tower author Lily Franky. I predict there will be a rave for the film on Japan Times tomorrow.

- China has overtaken Japan to be the nation with the most digital TV connection, and will account for half the digital TV households in Asia based on the large population, with India in second place. However, Japan will remain the most valuable market for pay TV in Asia, because people in China will probably keep downloading everything.

- The Indian government finally announced the National Film Awards for 2006, after numerous delays caused by censor certification and possible rigging.

- Kaiju Shakedown offers links to a bunch of Asian film trailers that I haven’t linked to before.

- The Singaporean Film Commission is starting a feature film fund for new directors. Like the film funding program in Hong Kong, the system requires the director to have a co-investor in place already, but unlike its Hong Kong counterpart, it will offer a much larger bulk of the budget, and doesn’t require the director or the producer to have experience with feature films.

- Japan has lost another film veteran, as director Kan Mukai passed away at the age of 70 on June 9th.

The Golden Rock - June 3rd, 2008 Edition

- Korean cinema takes a huge tumble this past weekend at the Korean box office, with foreign films taking 9 out of 10 places in this past weekend’s chart. And the only Korean film only made it to 9th place. Ouch.

Box office gross from Korea Pop Wars

Attendance figures from Twitch.

- Prince Caspian seems to be staying at the Japanese box office charts for the long run, losing only 16.2% of its opening weekend gross this weekend. Aibou is in it even longer, continuing to lose only single-digit percentage (9.5% this week). Meanwhile, Cyborg She’s opening of 178 million yen. I guess The Bucket List is a favorite among adult audiences, making enough money to surpass 27 Dresses for 6th place in the gross ranking and losing only 16.4 of business (though 27 Dresses ranked higher on the attendance chart). Kenji Uchida’s After School also played strongly in the second weekend, losing only 11.7% of business on the same amount of screens. Oh, and Shoot ‘Em Up opened at 16th place.

-  I seemed to have forgotten to report the Japanese drama ratings for last week. Everything seems to be floating in the weeks leading to the finales. Only two dramas - New Investigator Mariko and Shichinin no Onna Bengoshi - hit their season high with 14.2 and 11.4, respectively. Last Friends got a big boost again up to 18.8% after two weeks of slipping ratings. CHANGE and Gokusen risk falling down below 20% (it actually finally happened to CHANGE this week, but more on that next week), although Gokusen rose slightly in the ratings for its latest episode. And Ryoteki Na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl) is the only drama to hit a season-low this week. And to think the producers expected a 20% rating for this.

Japanese drama sypnoses at Tokyograph

- Finally, an American remake of the hit Death Note films has been announced. Though no word whether they’ll try to cram both films into one.

-  The bus stop ads for Lawrence Lau’s City Without Baseball has been changed after one person complained to the bus company about the upper male nudity in the poster. The film’s co-director has snapped back, complaining that Hong Kong is becoming increasingly conservative. I guess one person can make a difference in this world after all.

- It’s trailers time! Twitch has uploaded an extended trailer for the first installment of the comic adaptation 20th Century Boys. Also, Nippon Cinema has a short trailer for the live-action version of Grave of the Butterflies.

- Fans of Weezer and/or BoA, you now have a reason to pick up the Japanese version of Weezer’s latest album.

- What was meant to be a promotional event for a drink by American group The Black Eyed Peas is now a charity concert for the Sichuan earthquake fundraising efforts. Good for them.

- Grady Hendrix over at Kaiju Shakedown covers the messy situation going on between Raymond Wong and Wong Kar-wai over the title for their Yip “master of Bruce Lee” Man movie. Sorry, Mr. Wong, I’m putting my bet on Wong Kar-Wai to make the better movie anyway.

-  Japanese pop star/Nana-in-real-life Mika Nakashima is forming a band with a comedienne trio. No word on the comical or musical value of the product.

- Warner Bros. continues to expand its presence in Asia with a new deal to make an animated film about birds in India.

- Rinko Kikuchi would like to expand outside her cultural zone and play….a half-Japanese role.

The Golden Rock - May 28th, 2008 Edition

- It was a pretty crowded weekend at the top of the Japanese box office this past weekend. The Chronicles of Narnia opened on a Thursday, and made roughly 546 million yen on Saturday and Sunday for a 798 million yen 4-day take. By the per-screen average, it’s not a very spectacular opening, but family films have a long shelf life at the Japanese box office, so it’ll likely end up doing pretty well. However, Aibou, which only lost 8% of its business, actually had a better per-screen average on its 4th weekend, and has now passed the 3 billion yen mark.

Rambo’s opening was also pretty damn good, making 205 million yen from 304 screens and a per-screen average was fairly close to Narnia’s.  In fact, its opening was actually 153.1% of Rocky Balboa’s opening, which means it may be heading to the 1 billion yen mark if word-of-mouth is good. However, the best per-scren average went to Kenji Uchida’s After School, which at 6th place on the box office gross chart with a very good per-screen average of 968,772 yen.

You may be wondering why Yama No Anata is only at 9th place on the gross chart when it’s 6th place on the attendance chart? That’s because most theaters in Japan are charging only 1,000 per ticket, I guess to encourage admission. Meanwhile, as reported earlier, Charlie Wilson’s War suffered the biggest drop, losing 43.5% of business. Of course, that’s not as bad as 10,000 BC, which lost another 63% of business and won’t even make it to the 1 billion yen mark.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Hey! Say! Jump! scores another number 1 debut with their latest, while Hikaru Utada’s theme from Last Friends saw a number 2 debut (while her album is still on the top 10). Meanwhile, Superfly retains its number 1 spot despite a number of new albums debuting on the top 10. Check out the details at Tokyograph.

- Sharon Stone proves that saying something stupid in public can still get you in big trouble in China, where there’s now a planned boycott of her films. Talk about taking it personally.

- There are rumors going around that a 9-minute clip from Red Cliff is floating around on the web. Actually, if you check the comment section, there’s a link to a cam version.

- The release of a digital recorder that can record up to 10 programs simultaneously has been postpone indefinitely because of a continuing conflict between copyright holders and the manufacturers over the fee for rights.

-  It’s almost frustrating how little information is getting out there for the latest Studio Ghibli film. The voice cast for Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff has finally been announced, a little less than 2 months before its theatrical release in Japan.

- Nippon Cinema introduces the teenage drama Ren, about a girl from the future trapped in modern-day Tokyo. But if you don’t know Japanese, it’ll just seem like another teenage romance drama to you.

- Jay Chou is reportedly working on directing and starring in a new film about magicians, and it will be co-starring Andy Lau. The two will play rival magicians who battle to be number one. The Apple Daily article reports that the film was originally about a young magician played by Chou being taught by Lau’s character, but Lau said that he had no interest in playing a teacher, so he suggested the film be about a rivalry instead. It’s currently in script stage, and will not be able to shoot until the end of the year because of Lau’s commitments to Andrew Lau and Johnnie To’s new films. Of course, Apple Daily adds that no official announcements have been made, and no one is commenting, so this may be stuck in the rumor mill for a while.

Apple Daily also adds that the film seems similar to Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, but no one has responded to such claims since no one will even confirm that the film is being made yet.

- The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Singaporean director Eric Khoo, who talks about shooting on a Singaporean budget and dealing with strict censors.

- Part of a weeklong feature, author Haruki Murakami talks to the Mainichi Daily News about his latest novel, which is poised to be even longer than The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, which took me 2 months to read because it was so damn long.

Golden Rock Podcast - Kenneth Bi Interview

Recently, I had the chance to speak to writer/director Kenneth Bi about his films and his view on the Hong Kong film industry. In the 27-minute interview, he talked about his background, his run-in with Singaporean censors, his view on the future of Hong Kong cinema, and even a bit on Quentin Tarantino. He’s an extremely informative person about the system and filmmaking because of his extended experience in the industry. In fact, he actually shared a lot of interesting stories from the Hong Kong film industry even in our private exchanges, so much that I wished that this was a regular feature instead of just a one-time interview.

You’ll notice that I didn’t ask much about The Drummer. The main reason for that is Kenneth already covers a lot of the process in his own blog, so spending a lot of time on The Drummer would just make things redundant.

img_7044-1.JPG

Anyway, I’ll let the interview speak for itself. My special thanks to Candy Wong for taking tons of pictures along the way (that’ll be the clicking sound you hear throughout), and of course to Kenneth Bi for spending 27 minutes to talk to this small-time blogger.

I know this is not an iPod-supported format. Leave a comment or email me at TheGoldenRock AT gmail DOT com if you want the original WAV file, I’ll find some way to get it to you.

Part 1 (WMA, 9.45mb, 13:40)

Part 2 (WMA, 9.9mb, 14:22)

And my sincere apologies to Kenneth for making him take this picture:

img_7111.JPG

Now that’s a good sport.

The Golden Rock - May 12th, 2008 Edition

- There was a public holiday in Hong Kong today, so no box office numbers. Maybe tomorrow night.

- We DO have, however, the cinema attendance figures for Japan. Aibou - The Movie took first place, as expected. What wasn’t expected was the Hollywood comedy The Bucket List got second place, and The Last Princess could only muster a third place opening, which may be a little disappointing considering its blockbuster status. Also, The Mist opened at 7th place. More when the numbers are out.

- We also have last week’s Japanese drama ratings. The biggest surprise is the sudden boost for Last Friends, which saw last week’s rating jumped from the previous week’s 15.9% all the way up to 19.9%. Meanwhile, Muri Na Renai continues to stumble, this week down to 6.2%, while Ryoteki na Kanojo (aka My Sassy Girl) continues its fall with only a 7% rating for this week’s episode. On the other hand, Gokusen got a bit of a bump, scoring a 25% rating for Saturday’s episode, and Fuji’s new Saturday 11pm drama 81 Diver got a bit of a rebound as well with a 7.6 rating this week.

All Japanese drama sypnosis at Tokyograph.

- (via Ryuganji) Sai Yoichi has certainly been in the public eye a lot recently, and his latest appearance is in a discussion with Yasukuni director Li Ying as the head of the Director’s Guild of Japan.

- Not only will Gegege No Kitaro see its movie sequel this summer, there will also be an animated movie coming this December, and there will be six different theatrical versions of the film, depending on the region. Intriguing, but will it give extra incentive for people to buy a ticket?

-Kaiju Shakedown’s Grady Hendrix has revealed that the limited American screenings of Japanese film Death Note will be unfortunately be dubbed in English.

- The Kimura Takuya drama CHANGE is premiering tonight, and Fuji TV actually wants ratings so badly that they’re ready to give away a car for it.

- Japanese young audiences are apparently so poor at reading that subtitlers are now struggling to make subtitles that everyone can understand. It’s depressing that Japanese kids today don’t even know what The Soviet Union is and who the Nazi are.

The Golden Rock - May 4th, 2008 Edition

- Drama adaptation Aibou opened this past week in the middle of Golden Week in Japan, and its opening day has already surpassed the opening day gross of distributor Toei’s biggest earner YAMATO. Since it opened in the middle of a week of holidays, it’s a possibility that its opening will surpass YAMATO, but may not have the legs to surpass it in total gross.

- Controversial documentary Yasukuni finally opened in Tokyo, and the first day showings were packed and thankfully without those pesky protests.

- The Japanese animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which I fairly enjoyed, is getting a limited release in the United States, but only in Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.

- Apparently, you don’t need a dictatorship to take away human rights: Foreign reporters in China have not only experienced interference with their Tibet coverage, but they’re now also receiving death threats. Yes, that’s how you show your country has progressed in the last 30 years.

- Ryuganji translates a very interesting interview with Korean-Japanese director Yoichi Sai about his Korean production Soo and other stuff.

- This week’s Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the several manga-based dramas on Japanese TV this season.

- Donnie “I have hair and I’m not afraid to show ‘em with my pumped abs!” Yen is set to invade over 1000 Chinese cinema screens come September with his latest film Painted Skin. How the hell did they already know how much money they can get from people’s pockets based on the number of screens?

- Five film distributors and three multiplex chains in South Korea has been fined by the Fair Trade Commission there for price collusion. Specifically, the film distributors sent a letter to the multiplexes, telling them to not offer discounts without consulting each other. Funny, Hong Kong multiplexes have been doing that with ticket price increases, so why don’t they get called on it?

- Jason Gray has a short review of Mamoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers, which sounds like a hell of a movie.

- Grady Hendrix wrote a while ago about Lawrence Lau’s film about the attempted assassination of ex-Taiwanese president Chan Sui-Bian. Now, there are actual stills from the movie and even an official blog for it. The film, starring Simon Yam, is set for release in August. It will be the third film released this year by the director after Besieged City and City Without Baseball.

The Golden Rock - April 17th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Oricon charts time! As expected, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest single tops the singles chart in its debut week, but only beating out the male group Shuchishin by only about 5,000 copies in sales (in fact, the Billboard 100 Japan tells the opposite story; more in a bit). Zard (aka Japan’s Tupac) sees her latest release debut at 3rd place. Meanwhile, YUI’s latest album debuts at first place on the album chart, while Hideaki Tokunaga’s box set debuts at 6th place.

More over at Tokyograph.

On the Billboard 100 Japan, Shuchishin takes the top spot purely based on sales alone, which would make it probably a rare occurrence in which the Billboard sales chart is in discrepancy with the Oricon sales chart. The Billboard 100 also count foreign singles (thanks to the radio airplay chart), so foreign acts such as The Hoosiers and Leona Lewis found themselves on the top 10 of the Billboard 100.

- Japan Zone introduces the next wannabe big R&B female singer in Japan, and she is Miho Fukuhara. But watching her video, she only seems like this year’s version of Ayaka more than her own thing.

- Twitch has a 5-minute preview of Tran Ahn Hung’s international thriller I Come With the Rain. I’m really surprised how good it looks and how much my expectation just shot up for this movie.

- I think I just found new plans tomorrow: Bandai just opened their first Asian game center in Hong Kong that will feature games that have not been released outside of Japan.

- This might get messy: A Korean production company signed a deal with a Japanese production company to make a live-action adaptation of the Japanese comic Captain Harlock. However, the comic’s creator has come out saying that he did not approve the film even though he knows about it. So what now? Lawsuits? Boycotts?

- It’s reviews time! Both from Hollywood Reporter today. First, Stephen Farber has his review of Forbidden Kingdom, which he claims “won’t enthrall anyone over 16.” Oh dear.

Then, Maggie Lee offers her review of Peter Chan’s award-winning The Warlords, though with a reported running time of 110 minutes, I suspect that it’s the non-director-approved international cut that Chan mentioned several months ago. Caution: it’s the cut that will be playing at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

- I only link this because I’m a fan: Japundit has a link to a very good interview with my favorite author Haruki Murakami.

- Japanese documentary filmmaker Tatsuya Mori writes an editorial in the Asahi Shimbun about the dangers of self-censorship, especially with the recent controversy about the documentary Yasukuni.

The Golden Rock - March 12/13th, 2008 Edition

- The story was first on Variety Asia, but I’ll reference Twitch because the story has simply disappeared at the time of writing: D-War director Shim Hyung-rae was a comedian before he became a director, and now that D-War was a big hit, he’s relying on cgi to make the next big comedy featuring himself. Specifically, he’s bringing back his old popular character and make him act opposite a cgi-created Marlon Brando playing the godfather Vito Corleone. Someone stop this man, please.

- Those looking oh so forward to the potentially-disastrous Dragonball live-action film will just have to wait a little longer: The film has been delayed from an August release date to next April. Unless you’re in Japan, then you get to see it a month earlier.

- Yet another country has picked up the rights to the hit Colombian telenovela for their own remake, and guess what that country is going to be naming it?

- Detroit Metal City, the high-profile comic adaptation starring Kenichi Matsuyama hopefully walking straight with less eyeliner this time, has finally started filming and is scheduled to open this summer. They’ve been talking about this movie so long, I thought they’re done shooting the damn thing already.

- With the recent scandal and controversy and the various failures, organizers of the Bangkok International Film Festival are still trying to keep on truckin’ for this July….even though no programming work has been done, and they don’t really have enough money.

- New artist Thelma Aoyama’s hit single “Soba Ni Iru Ne” has broken a record of being downloaded one million times to cell phones in the quickest time. With a catchy song hitting popularity this fast, let’s hope she’s not a one-hit wonder.

- Ryuganji’s Don Brown gives us his own thoughts on Yoji Yamada’s Kabei. I’m still on the fence over whether I want to catch this at the Hong Kong Film Festival.

- Both Variety and Hollywood Reporter are covering Ang Lee and James Schamus’ win of the Freedom of Expression Award by the National Association of Theater Owners for Lust, Caution. Variety reports that the film’s release in America went extremely smooth, despite the NC-17 rating, and The Hollywood Reporter even got an interview.

- Speaking of which, Jason Gray writes about a Japanese AV star who seems to have some breakout potential.

- Courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth, Danwei asks a question, and my answer is a definite yes.

- On the other hand, English literature about China is apparently the big thing right now, though the writers don’t exactly expect it to last.

- While the previously planned Justin Lin’s remake of Oldboy seems to have stalled, Charlize Theron is looking to produce and star in another installment of Park Chan-Wook’s classic revenge trilogy.

- There may be hope for band members everywhere who aren’t lead singers: Tokio keyboardist Taichi Kokubun now has a show on all six of the major networks in Tokyo. For most bands’ keyboardist. they’re lucky if they get their own show on public access.

- There’s another review of Singaporean director Kelvin Tong’s Rule #1, starring Shawn Yue and Ekin Cheng.

- The Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix for the Winter 2007 season has been announced, even though the season isn’t even over yet. Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi ended up winning 3 awards: Best Drama, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. However, the drama has been struggling in the ratings, averaging only a 9.9% rating throughout the season.

The Golden Rock - March 9th, 2008 Edition

- There’s a very interesting feature on Japan Times this weekend, which transcribes a panel discussing the Japanese war trial film Ashita He No Yuigon (Best Wishes For Tomorrow)  featuring Japan Times critic Mark Schilling and the film’s co-writer.  With two other contributors, the four discuss the impact of another war film on the Japanese, the message, and about its intents were successful.

- Yesterday we mentioned Mika Nakashima making the cover of Rolling Stone Japan, and now Oscar-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi is on the cover of the British i-D Magazine.  She is not the first Japanese actress to appear on the cover, though: Chiaki Kuriyama made the cover back in 2004 thanks to her role in Kill Bill.

- It’s reviews time! Twitch offers a review of Kelvin Tong’s Rule #1, starring Shawn Yue and Ekin Cheng in their first official screen collaboration (they had an unofficial partnership in Shamo. You’ll know what I mean).  Then Variety’s Ronnie Schieb offers a review of Makoto Shinkai’s Five Centimeter Per Second, which I almost immediately dismissed because he dismissed the song in the film before he even bothered to understand it. Japan Times’ Mark Schilling offers a review for Gachi Boy (Wrestling with a Memory), the latest from the director of Song of the Sun. There’s also an interview featuring the director, who apparently made his actors perform their own wrestling stunts.

- Wrestling With a Memory will have its Asian premiere at the Hong Kong International Festival, and I already have a ticket to one of its showings. Not sure to what it can be credited to, but the festival is seeing an incredible 40% surge in online ticket sales from last year. Then again, after hearing horror stories of the festival’s ticketing system last year, no wonder more people decided to buy it the year the system happens to work.

- Eiga Consultant also looked at the box office performance of Wrestling with a Memory’s opening weekend. From 284 screens, the wrestling comedy/drama made 67.87 million yen, which is only 55% of another Toho + Fuji teen comedy Check It Out Yo!

Meanwhile, The Golden Compass made 550 million yen from 667 screens, which is 70% of The Chronicles of Narnia. Considering that Narnia made 6.85 billion yen, will The Golden Compass make it to 5 billion yen? Also, the ratio of the box office take for the subtitled version to the dubbed version is 53:47, which supposedly means that the film is attracting people of all demographics (in film market jargon, we say “demographics,” not “age”). Also, in case you’re wondering why the Box Office Mojo reported gross is so high, that’s because they included last weekend’s preview screenings.

- I think this would qualify as self-promotion: The Foreign Film Importer-Distributor Association of Japan will be giving its top award to Gaga Communications, who imported hits such as Babel, Earth, and the current box office topper The Golden Compass.

- Under “yet another comic going to TV” news today, the comedy comic Tokyo Ghost Trip is getting the live-action treatment.

- It’s trailers time! First, there’s the Japanese teaser for John Woo’s Battle of Red Cliff, and it still just looks really expensive, but not much else. Next is the trailer for the Mainland Chinese film Pk.com.cn, which may be the weirdest trailer I’ve seen all year. Considering that it’s from the conservative Mainland (more later), that’s kind of a good thing.

- With the National People’s Congress happening in Beijing right now (an ironic title, by the way), the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of China are restating their rules on what movies are OK and what movies are not. In simple words: Most movies are not OK, but simple peasant stories with subtle allegories of government dictatorship will probably be. Zhang Yimou, you’re not out of work yet!

- Speaking of a filmmaker not out of work in China, Twitch has an interview with Stephen Chow and the star of his latest film CJ7.

Hayao Miyazaki spoke about his latest film Ponyo on a Cliff this week, and reading him describing the film just makes me look incredibly forward to it already. It seems like it’ll be a return to simpler fantasy tales like Totoro.

Kaiju Shakedown looks at another one of Takashi Miike’s latest films, which producer Haruki Kadokawa says is based on a novel that he read while he was in prison. Prison may be a good place to find films to adapt, but I still wouldn’t want to go there.

- Jason Gray looks at the lineup for the upcoming Nippon Connection Festival in Frankfurt, Germany. Man, that’s one hell of a lineup.

 
 
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