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Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

The Golden Rock - March 4th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Saito-san sees its season-low ratings, as well as One Point Gospel. The Negotiator wraps up with an OK-13.2 rating (not too far below its premiere’s 16.7 rating). Meanwhile, Honey and Clover’s freefall continues to 8.0 this past week, while Bara No Nai Hanaya managed to recover slightly with a 16.5 rating. Lost Time Life stays steady, Edison No Haha saw a pretty good boost, and Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai’s ratings increase didn’t last longer than a week.

- This news was first found at Eiga Consultant. The 2005 German documentary Our Daily Bread broke attendance record during its 4-month run at one Tokyo theater. Both reports contribute the film’s success to concerns about food safety for Chinese-made food, but there’s also Japan’s tendencies to put wrong expiry dates and screws in food that added to the concern.

- Meanwhile, the controversial Bollywood epic Jodhaa Akbar has now surpassed the 1 billion rupee mark at the box office. Meanwhile, courts overturned the Madhya Pradesh government’s ban, while violent protests interrupt screenings and screenings are still blocked in some regions.

In case you want to know what the hoopla is all about, Hollywood Reporter has a review.

- Under “Edison Chen’s career freefall” news today, his latest Hong Kong film Sniper has now been pushed back to May from a planned March 29th release date. However, distributor Media Asia states that it’s because the Mainland Chinese authorities has yet to approved the film, which is necessary for all co-productions (this also means the cops win by default at the end of the film).

On a side note, distributors in Taiwan for Pang Ho-Cheung’s Trivial Matters has decided to add in the advertising that this film is Edison Chen’s final film before he announced his retirement from showbiz. This is inaccurate, since he still has Sniper and possibly Stephen Fung’s Jump.

-Poor China: The EU and the United States are always bullying the poor authoritarian country. First it was over intellectual property, and now the two political giants are going to the WTO over China’s block of foreign media agencies. China granted the Xinhua News Agency with sole discretion on giving out media license to foreign organizations, which apparently blocks out other news agencies such as Reuters and Bloomberg.

- Chinese TV and film writers, inspired by their American counterparts, met up to talk about how to protect the copyrights of their intellectual property. The thing is, unlike Hollywood writers, they’re not even looking for more money: They just want their rights protected and their work respected.

- I missed out on this a few days ago when it was on Nippon Cinema: There’s a teaser out for the sequel to the kiddie-oriented live-action adaptation of Gegege No Kitaro. It seems like they’re aiming for a more serious film this time around, but trailers have been deceptive before, so I’m being extremely cautious about this one.

-  Not only will the upcoming Japanese epic sci-fi trilogy 20th Century Boys be Japan’s highest-budgeted film ever at 6 billion yen, it’s now been announced that the film will feature a cast of 300 people. In other words, expect to see a lot of “policeman #_” when the credits come up.

- I never knew that Takashi Kitano has his own awards show, AND he gives awards to his own movies there!

- With actions being taken to help the industry and a reversal of the ban on Indian films, will Pakistani cinema slowly flourish?

-  Twitch has a link to an interview with former Ghibli studio head Suzuki Toshio, who talks a bit about Hayao Miyazaki’s upcoming Ponyo on a Cliff.

-  Believe it or not, Maggie Cheung has not appeared in a film since 2004, and she says she’s actually quite OK with that.

The Golden Rock - March 2nd, 2008 Edition

- It’s Taiwan music charts time! This week on the G-Music charts, Aska Yang got its first place back after Gary Cao regained his top spot last week. Cao dropped down to 3rd place, which is still damn good after 9 weeks on the chart. Another strong performer to Joanna Wang, whose debut album is still at 2nd place after spending 7 weeks on the chart. The best-performing newcomer is the Grammy compilation album all the way down at 15th place. Other than that, sales are kind of depressing right now.

- It’s reviews time! This week from Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is Doko Ni Iku No, the first film in 22 years from cult director Yoshihiko Matsui. Also included is an interview with the director himself. Also, there’s a review of Yoji Yamada’s Kabei from Twitch reviewer The Visitor.

- The latest film from Japanese director Daisuke Tengen may be attracting lots of attention not because Tengen is the son of late legendary director Shohei Imamura, but because of its…ahem…climatic scene.

-Walking by a Hong Kong video store that sells DVDs of Mainland content will tell you the same thing Variety is about to tell you: Chinese producers are making too many TV series without the airtime to broadcast them.

- Hollywood, now seeing the spending potential of the Chinese population, have devoted more money and time to exploit entertain the Chinese audience with films about and/or filmed in China. However, as the producers of Shanghai has learned, you have to play by the government’s rules.

- One of the films opening in Japan this weekend is the drama Ashita he no Yuigon, about the trial of a Japanese B-class war criminal. The Daily Yomiuri has two articles on it - one on the writers, who had to do thorough research in order to stay objective, and one on the actors, who had to recite actual testimonies from ther real-life counterparts. What they didn’t have is an actual review of the movie.

- Japanese record companies have plenty of ways to make money of fans (one compilation, two differently colored albums, anyone?), but this one takes the cake: the record company of the pop collective AKb48 (48 members and counting) is holding a special concert, and fans only get a chance to go if they get all 44 posters that come with their latest single. Let’s do the math: 1200 yen per single, multiply by 44 copies (only if the buyer happens to get a different poster each time). That means a stupid lucky fan has to spend over 50,000 yen to see the group live. After receiving numerous complaints and possible violation of fair business practices, the record company has now canceled their plans.

The sad part is I can easily imagine a Hong Kong record company doing this, except for the canceling part.

- After finding a few new hits, Korean cinema is now doing what Hollywood does best: Hit films getting potentially unnecessary upcoming sequels include 200 Pounds Beauty, Le Grand Chef, Tezza: The High Rollers, and The Host.

-In 1985, legendary director Akira Kurosawa began filming a documentary while filming for his epic film Ran stopped because of financing problems. However, he never finished the documentary when filming for Ran resumed. Now, his son plans to complete his father’s unfinished film and release it by 2010, the 100th anniversary of the director’s birth.

- Shawn Yue has already been in 4 movies in the past 8 months (Invisible Target, Trivial Matters, Playboy Cops, Shamo), and now we can add another one to the list: Rule #1, the new horror film from Singaporean director Kelvin Tong.

- What do you get for releasing your high-profile, award-winning film with a studio head as your producer uncensored, despite getting a rating that would kill any commercial prospects? An award for freedom of expression from the theater owners who didn’t want you to do so in the first place.

- Two Chinese groups that represent Chinese musicians and songwriters are suing the Chinese search engine Baidu for allowing users to find and download songs for free through its website, thus using illegal downloads to boost its advertising revenues.

The Golden Rock - February 2nd, 2008 Edition

The blog is taking a break tomorrow, so we’ll finish off all the news for the weekend here:

- Hot off the press is the Hong Kong Film Awards nominations. I’m waiting for the website to post the entire list, so here are the highlights:


The Warlords
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Eye in the Sky
Mad Detective


Peter Chan - The Warlords
Derek Yee - Protege
Ann Hui - The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai - Mad Detective
Yau Nai-Hoi - Eye in the Sky


The screenwriting commitee of The Warlords (I can’t translate all 8 names here)
Derek Yee and 3 other screenwriters  - Protege
Li Qiang - The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee - Mad Detective
Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yee - Eye in the Sky


Aaron Kwok - The Detective
Jet Li - The Warlords
Andy Lau - The Warlords
Lau Ching-Wan - Mad Detective
Simon Yam - Eye in the Sky


Teresa Mo - Mr. Cinema
Zhang Jingchu - Protege
Siqin Gaowa - Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Rene Liu - Kidnap
Charlene Choi - Simply Actors

All in all, 13 for Warlords, 15 for Protege, 9 for The Postmodern Life of My Aunt, 8 for Mad Detective, and 7 for Eye in the Sky. That’s 24 for Peter Chan, and 15 for Milkyway. The awards will be announced on April 14th.

- Believe it or not, we’re not reporting on Edison Chen’s blog because he wrote anything about the recent photo scandal, but because there’s actually movie news on it. On the latest entry of his blog, Edison posted two pictures from Dante Lam’s latest film Sniper, due to be released on March 29th.

Meanwhile, there are word from both Oriental Daily and Apple Daily that Colombia Pictures have told Stephen Chow that they want the Chow-produced and Stephen Fung-directed dance flick starring Edison to either have its release pushed back, take out all of Edison’s scenes, or release it straight to video - all because of the scandal. Currently, the film is slated to be released on May 1st. However, remember that this is the Hong Kong press, so you never know how much of this is true.

Just the fact that they completely misread his blog is already an issue: They’ve taken the introduction that he’s had on the blog all this time and reported it as if he just wrote it yesterday. Now the headlines are: “Edison Chen fights back on his blog, saying ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game.” This is why I read 3 Hong Kong newspapers a day online to crosscheck facts.

- Japan Probe would like to introduce you to the newest foreign-Japanese star of enka. Kiyoshi Hikawa, eat your heart out!

- It’s reviews time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the made-for-cable film Tokyo Shonen (last year’s Koisuru Nichiyobi was made under the same network), and that paper’s Giovanni Fazio gives an unscathing review to Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. Meanwhile, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa gives a much more positive review to the erotic espionage thriller.

- The total box office of 2007 in Japan dropped slightly, as Hollywood films take the majority of the market again after last year’s win by Japanese films. By the way, 29 films went past the billion mark in gross, but only 7 of them are Japanese.

- TBS has announced that the first series to take their new Saturday night 8pm drama slot (previously filled by variety shows) will be an adaptation of the baseball comic Rookies. And TBS is planning to not follow the traditional season schedule, as the show’s planner says that they plan to adapt all 24 volumes of the comic. This may also mean that TBS can choose to cancel it anytime.

- Meanwhile, this week’s Televiews column talks about what’s on Japanese TV Friday nights, including Korean dramas, variety shows, more crappy variety shows, then a pretty good drama.

- The Japan Times has a wonderful interview with veteran director Yoji Yamada. When asked what message he would like people to take away from the film, he said this:

“…Japan made a wonderful postwar Constitution, but no amends have been made for past wrongs. In Germany, the Nazi collaborators were made to pay for what they did; in Japan, a war criminal could became prime minister, such as Nobusuke Kishi, the grandfather of our recent prime minister, Shinzo Abe. There’s something strange about that.”

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown has a link to the first teaser for John Woo’s The Battle of Red Cliff.

The Golden Rock - February 1st, 2008 Edition

- The big thing in Hong Kong is probably how much money did CJ7 make on its opening day. From 94 screens (out of 194), the Stephen Chow sci-fi father-and-son comedy made HK$3.03 million. It’s not record-breaking, but that’s pretty damn good considering we haven’t even hit the holidays yet. However, word-of-mouth is fairly mixed on this one (”It’s not really a Stephen Chow movie!”), so the kids will be making up the repeat business this time.

The not-so-kid-friendly Sweeney Todd, rated category-III in Hong Kong (no one under 18 admitted), opened on somewhat solid ground with HK$520,000 from 33 screens (most of them being the smaller screens of multiplexes). Obviously, we know CJ7 will win, so we’ll look at the rest of the box office on Monday.

- Meanwhile, the Associated Press review of CJ7 is pretty close to my own opinion of the film: amusing moments, but not much of a film, and a pretty bad Stephen Chow film.

- Rinko Kikuchi, who’s shot to fame with her Oscar-nominated performance in Babel, will not be seen in Yoichi Sai’s period action film The Legend of Kamui due to an injury that will leave her away from the shoot for too long. This is the second injury to a film’s major star after Kenichi Matsuyama suffered an injury that took him off the film for 3 weeks.

-  I love Johnnie To interviews, because he’s not afraid of pissing other people off, including his former employer TVB. In his latest one, he dismisses The Warlords by saying The Assassination of Ma came first and as always: TVB has been going downhill for the last 10 years. We here at The Golden Rock love you, Johnnie, even if you did have to make Linger!

By the way, that “literature director” comment is corrected translated. Perhaps a more clear translation is “a director of literature”

Tomorrow: Reviews time! And a ton of Japanese movie news. It’s kind of a quiet weekend.

The Golden Rock - January 26th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling gives a glowing review to Yosuke Fujita’s Fine, Totally Fine. Meanwhile, Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa also gives a very positive review to Yoji Yamada’s latest Kaabei.

Not entirely sure if it counts under reviews, but this week’s Televiews column provides brief reviews quite a few Winter 2008 dramas, including Dai suki!, Bara No Nai Hanaya, and Bomb-Bee Man, among others.

- Speaking of Fine, Totally Fine, there’s also an interview with director Yosuke Fujita in the Japan Times.

- Under “drama specials that don’t need to happen” news today, the hit Fuji Saturday night drama SP will be getting a prime time special only a little over 2 months after the finale airs tonight. However, the special is only the 11 episodes edited together with timeline rearranged. Why would anyone tune in, you ask? It will apparently reveal a big secret that I suspect the writers were only able to concoct after Fuji told them they’d be milking this thing for all it’s got. Then again, I’m just guessing.

- Unlike China, the Hong Kong government will be giving the foreign press total freedom by not imposing a mandatory registration system for the Olympic Equestrian event, which will take place in Hong Kong. However, organizations are still complaining about the cost it takes to apply for a special visa every time these journalists need to enter China.

- Speaking of China, its broadcasting authority literally asked a TV station to not only remove its sexually explicit material, but to also provide “more spiritual food” to its audiences. Would you like that spoon-fed?

The Golden Rock - January 25th, 2008 Edition

- A few news straight from Peter Chan’s mouth: The Warlords was actually cut by several minutes in Mainland China for violence, and that is also the version that is mostly being passed around on the internet. Also, his co-producer Andre Morgan apparently took the film and made his own international cut for oversea buyers, which Chan is not very happy about because it’s being done without any input from him. Unhappy enough that now his next film Waiting is on hold while Chan takes a break for a year to  watch the “shifting marketplace.” I’m not sure if he’s lamenting, but he’s suggesting that next time he makes a mid-budget film, he will be aiming towards China, because he’s now a businessman, not a filmmaker.

Another Hong Kong filmmaker bites the dust…

- I wonder if Taiwanese producers regretting their decision to start filming a Taiwanese version of the live-action Honey and Clover series at the same time as the Japanese one. I’m asking because ratings for the Japanese one has now slid to single-digit numbers. Who knows? Chinese teenagers love (to download) their idol dramas, so this might be a hit.

-  Japanese horror director Hideo Nakata seems to be taking a turn away from the genre that made him famous with not only the upcoming Death Note spin-off L, but also his upcoming project Gensenkan, a film about a group of people who hide at a hot spring inn for different reasons.

Meanwhile, Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s vampire film will star Song Kang-Ho.

Both films will be featured at the upcoming Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

- Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Josie Ho from Hong Kong, in light of The Drummer’s competition slot at Sundance. Just reading that introduction (especially about her calling Chinese film executives “dick face”) makes me like her so much more.

- The Midnight Eye has posted a set of top 10 2007 Japanese films lists from several contributors well-versed in Japanese films, including Golden Rock favorite Jason Gray. Those lists just show how much more Japanese films I need to watch.

- Big news for foreigners in South Korea: CJ entertainment and Korea’s largest theater complex will offer some of the bigger films English-subtitled screenings during their release. About 4-6 films will be getting the subtitle treatment, with A Man Once Superman being the first one. How long will it take before Japan does that same? I suspect never.

- The Chinese learn the idea of irony, with a new brand being named after the most famous street in Beijing for knock-off goods. The ultimate irony? The general manager of the market that started the brand is warning people to not sell fake versions of the goods.

The Golden Rock - January 12th, 2008 Edition

- This week, a new music chart to cover: The Taiwan G-Music chart, which makes up the retail sales of three retail chains in Taiwan. It’s updated every Friday night, so I’ll be covering them in the weekend entries.

This week, three debuts lead the charts: The new album from Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit gets 10% of total sales, Japanese diva Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest takes up 6.7%, and another boy band 5566’s latest album takes up 4.4% of total sales. Last week’s winner, TV-made boy band Lollipop (yes, I do have Channel V at home), drops down to 4th place this week with only 4% of total sales. Hong Kong-based Mandarin artist Khalil Fong’s first album in Taiwan actually went up one spot this week from a quiet 16th place debut last week, making up 0.92% of total sales (up from 0.84 % last week).

- The Hong Kong press is reporting today that Lust, Caution will not be going uncut in Japan. With strict laws about showing the pubic regions, Ang Lee’s erotic drama will go still out with an R-18 rating (no one under 18 admitted), despite suffering 6 cuts that include the now-infamous shot of Tony Leung and shots where pubic hair can be seen. While they don’t really kill the impact of the film (I suspect some shots will simply cut before it reaches the offending regions), it’s sad when any film cannot be shown in their entirety.

Source: Oriental Daily (no link), Apple Daily (who inexplicably link it with a story about the WGA awards. Maybe they ran out of space in the paper)

- Speaking of censorship, Lost in Beijing director Lu Yi talks about her film being banned after already suffering multiple cuts and a theatrical release.

- Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews Giniro No Season, the new film from the director of Umizaru: Limit of Love that probably won’t repeat the latter’s success.

-  In box office news, I want to correct my earlier report that Trivial Matters only made HK$2.37 million. A friend corrected me that it had made HK$3.33 million when it dropped out of the top 10. Also, some theaters previously showing the horror flop Yes, I Can See Dead People are now taking it off screens and replacing it back with more showings of Pang’s omnibus comedy. Hell, I didn’t even expect it to be playing after two weeks, which makes me happy that it’s enjoying good enough word-of-mouth to have such legs after the crowded Christmas market.

The Golden Rock - December 16th, 2007 Edition

- I’ve been trying to post this for days - it’s the first trailer for Empress and and the Warriors, starring Donnie Yen, Kelly Chan, and Leon Lai. I’ve been suffering from big-budget period film fatigue since I saw The Warlords on Thursday so badly that I really wish a few of these things flop so we’d see something new. Then again, this will probably be a hit anyway, and we’ll probably see more big-budget martial arts flick co-produced with China for years to come, keeping famous action choreographers working. At least this one looks like it’ll be in Cantonese.

- Jason Gray checks out the Japanese indie comedy Zenzen Daijobu, starring Arakawa Yoshiyoshi, and he seems to like it. Too bad it won’t be in theaters when I’m in Japan.

- The cast list for the Stephen Chow-produced Hollywood version of Dragonball is shaping up, with Emmy Rossom having just signed on. Sorry, I still have quite a bit of doubts about whether this movie is going to work or not.

- Japan Times has an interview with Ken Watanabe, who just took a year off and is coming back out to do the Japanese narration for the documentary Planet Earth.

- Meanwhile, Twitch has an interview with Pen-ek Ratanaruang, the director of Last Life in the Universe and Ploy.

- There’s also a feature on Korean actress Kim Yun-Jin, who has hit it big in both Korea and America since her role in the series Lost.

- I’m assuming that Takeshi Kaneshiro is done with his latest film about death, because he has just signed on to star in Fiend With Twenty Faces with Takako Matsu. Kaneshiro will play a master criminal and Matsu his victim. Does that mean he’ll be playing a villain? Interesting….

- Another Japanese movie you can look forward to is Homeless Chugakusei (Homeless Middle Schooler), an autobiography by a comedian recalling his days in poverty. The book achieved one million sales within two months, which would explain why the movie was announced within three months of the book’s release.

- Apparently, Jackie Chan has finally arrived in Japan to start work on Derek Yee’s latest The Shinjuku Incident. No word, however, on when the film will start filming or how long it will take.

- Korean director Im Kwon-taek is in Dubai recieving a lifetime achievement award at the local film festival.

- In a preview of Wednesday’s report on the Oricon charts, Exile (which is just two guys singing and 4 backup dancers) announces their latest album has shipped one million copies, and has sold hundreds of thousands of those copies since its release on Wednesday.

The Golden Rock - December 15th, 2007 Edition

I apologize for the incomprehensible front page blurb yesterday, and kids: remember to actually click “publish,” even when you’re too sleepy.

-  It’s review time! Twitch has two reviews of Peter Chan’s The Warlords: review one, review two.

I know no one wants to know what I think about The Warlords, but I’ll say it anyway: Battle of Wits was a better war movie. The Warlords had better drama. You know what that means? Peter Chan: Stick to what you know best.

Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review for the Japanese tearjerker Little DJ, and Kaori Shoji reviews the French-Chinese film Les Filles du botaniste, which is actually banned in China for its depiction of homosexuality.

The review of the last film also comes with an interview with the director.

- From the Daily Yomiuri is the Teleview column’s yearlong Teleview Awards, who gives the best drama award to the Winter 2007 hit drama Haken No Hinkaku.

- One drama that will probably not end up winning a Teleview Award is the Japanese drama adaptation of My Sassy Girl coming in the Spring starring SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Rena Tanaka. Still, it might actually be entertaining for what it is, or it could contrived and needlessly melodramatic. In case of most Japanese dramas, it’ll probably be both. They’ve got a SMAP member playing a Marine Biology Professor, for crying out loud.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow - perhaps a short review of Pang Ho-Cheung’s latest Trivial Matters. We’ll see how we recover.

The Golden Rock - November 18th, 2007 Edition

- Courtesy of Twitch, the first real teaser for the Death Note spinoff Change the WorLd is now out with actual clips from the movie. However, it won’t be released until February 9th in Japan, so I guess it’s too early to get excited about what’s on screen. Then again, my Japanese isn’t that good.

- In “they’re getting ahead of themselves” news today, America’s Summit Entertainment bought up the remake rights for the Korean film Seven Days, about a lawyer who must save a man on death row to save her own daughter, before it even opened in Korea. Sounds like a derivative thriller only Hollywood can make, so why don’t they just make the damn thing themselves? Oh, wait….

- It’s reviews time! Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the low-budget V-Cinema film Sundome, which actually managed to get play in a hip Shibuya theater.

- Grady Hendrix writes about the current media situation in Pakistan during the current government repression. Case in point: they’re still releasing the country’s exploitation gory horror film.

- The Daily Yomiuri’s weekly Teleview column bashes the hell out of flopping drama Joshi Deka and writes about the sad sad ways Japanese comedians can make money through spelling simple English.

- According to usual Tony Jaa collaborator director Prachya Pinkaew, him and the action star had a falling out, and their future collaborations have been canceled. Did Pinkaew get pissed because Jaa’s directorial debut Ong Bak 2 has even less story than Ong Bak 1?

- The MTV concert series unplugged is finally going to China. Too bad I have no idea who the hell those two first artists are, and we know that Cantopop tend to suck too much to attract that kind of talent.

- Actress Rie Miyazawa talks about her latest film with the Daily Yomiuri. Miyazawa plays a woman who works with her late husband’s apprentice to keep a small town theatre running in the 1950s after the husband’s death. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen