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Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

The Golden Rock - June 21st, 2009 Edition

Not a lot of news for the weekend, but here ya go:

- China tells google to stop exposing foreign porn to their country. Yes, from now on, only domestic, social harmony-promoting porn!

- Mark Schilling has a review of Yuichi Sato’s Shugo Tenshi for the Japan Times. Sato last made the acclaimed comedy Kirasagi, except it’s damn near impossible to get ahold of it with English subtitles. Time to make a trip to Shenzhen?

And yes, Schilling is right that the basic premise, despite the tagline about courage and hope in the trailer, is still kind of creepy.

- Another trailer this week caught my attention, thanks to Nippon Cinema. It’s the trailer for Nanyoku Ryorinin, based on two autobiographical novels about a chef at a Japanese research station in the South Pole. Looks like Naoko Ogigami’s The Seagull Diner in the South Pole? Then again, there’s that damn evil Masato Sakai smirk, even though he’s playing a nice guy.

- Twitch has a short one-minute clip from the set of Yuen Wo-Ping’s new film True Legend, starring Chiu Man-Cheuk, Michelle Yeoh, and Jay Chou and about the famous Beggar So. I can’t help but shake the thought that they got Chiu Man-Cheuk because they couldn’t get DONNNNIIIEEEEE.

FYI: Stephen Chow and director Gordon Chan have done a version of this story in 1992’s King of Beggars.

- This weekend’s Daily Yomiuri talks to Japanese music group Dragon Ash, who are releasing a compilation of their biggest hits, but don’t call them a pop group, though - they sound like they can kick my ass.

- More on Danny Boyle’s stint as Shanghai International Film Festival jury head: He calls Chinese film censorship “regrettable”. Is that really news?

- Also from the Shanghai International Film Festival is a review of Chinese film A Tale of Two Donkeys by Veriety’s Derek Elley. Sounds like an interesting flick, if the Cultural Revolution background can get past the censors.

- Daily Yomiuri TV columnist Wm. Penn laments this week on Teleview about the quality of Japanese news and reveals that the 4th installment of drama Emergency Room 24 Hours will be delayed.

- Lastly, the Youtube clip of the week in Hong Kong netizen world, but only Mandarin and Cantonese speakers need to apply: I present to you the reason why Louis Koo should keep doing ads in Hong Kong.

The Golden Rock - June 18th, 2009 Edition

And here comes another attempt at a news post.

- The Japanese box office numbers are out. Turns out Box Office Mojo didn’t include the officially announced version of the Terminator 4 opening numbers. Instead, Rookie’s amazing third week take of roughly 815 million yen kept it in first place and bumped Terminator to 2nd place instead. Eiga Consultant also reports that Terminator’s opening weekend is only 53% of Terminator 3’s opening in Japan. However, there’s also the 400 million yen it made with sneak previews, which begs the question whether this Terminator’s opening would’ve been stronger had there been no sneak previews the week before?

Also worth noting is the amazing limited opening of Tsurugidake, the mountain climbing film that marks the directorial debut of veteran cinematographer Daisaku Kimura. On three screens in the Toyama area, the film attracted 14,275 people for a total of 15.25 million yen take. That’s a per-screen average of 5.08 million yen, which is almost unheard of anywhere in the world.

- Under “Japanese music news” today, Girl Next Door’s latest single hits first place, while GReeeeN’s third album finds the biggest album debut of the year on the charts, and they managed to do so without any public appearance whatsoever.

More over at Tokyograph

Even though Exile is now the best-selling Japanese pop unit in the first half year for the second year in a row, Mr. Children and Arashi actually have the best-selling album and single, respectively.

- The projects market at the Shanghai International Film Festival has wrapped up, with a Chinese and a Korean project taking the two top prizes.

- Japanese lawmakers have taken another step to stop illegal downloading by revising copyright laws to make downloading pirated material a punishable crime starting January 1st. So downloaders in Japan - it’s time to download to your heart’s content for the rest of the year….then not encounter any type of punishment at all for breaking the law.

- Untold Scandal director E J-Yong has put together a large female ensemble cast for his latest film, about six actresses who meet at a photo shoot. The actresses will be acting under their real names, though maybe not as themselves.

- After helping NHK to a ratings victory with the period drama Atsuhime, writer Kumiko Tabuchi will be writing the public broadcaster’s 2011 yearly period drama. Like Atsuhime, its central character will be female, but no casting decision will be made until next year.

-Last year, it was the Olympics. This year, with the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, there are not a lot of Chinese films coming out in the summer. Guess who’s there to fill the void? American alien robots and pretty boy vampires.

- Speaking of Westerners in Hollywood, Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle is in Shanghai as the head of the Shanghai International Film Festival jury, which he admits he’s doing as a sign of appreciation to China for allowing Slumdog to be released in the country.

- Also in film festival news: Just as the Japanese tearjerker April Bride was confirmed to play at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, the festival has also announced that it will open with M.W., the adaptation of the Osamu Tezuka comic.

- After SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi was pulled as the spokesman for the government’s digital broadcast conversion campaign, fellow member Shingo Katori will be appearing on police promotional posters, thanks to his latest drama leading role.

- Twitch has a full-length trailer for the big-budget Korean disaster film Haeundae, and it just looks like a Michael Bay film with the trailer emphasizing all the comedic bits. But is it really looking like a comedy? Not really.

- Lastly, Variety’s Justin Chang has a review for the documentary Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, about the role of insects in Japanese culture.

The Golden Rock - June 16th, 2009 Edition

And now, another attempt to salvage this blog - another news entry.

- First, let’s look at the Hong Kong weekly box office numbers. Star Trek finally took first place after losing to Terminator over its opening weekend, thanks to what I assume is very good word-of-mouth and a lack of a similarly high-profile film opening. After making HK$3.53 million over the first four days, the sci-fi franchise reboot made another HK$3.62 million in its first full week, comfortably beating Terminator 4, which has made HK$16.4 million after 18 days. Star Trek, on the other hand, has made HK$7.16 after 11. With Transformers not hitting the screen for another week, Star Trek should comfortably break the HK$10 million mark.

Targeting the female adult demographic, Coco Before Chanel did fairly well in its modest 18-screen release. Over four days, the French film made HK$1.9 million, which is very good coming from just 18 screens. Even Julia Roberts and Clive Owen’s Duplicity couldn’t touch it, despite being on 24 screens. The Tony Gilroy heist comedy made just HK$1.56 million over its first 4 days.

But at least Duplicity’s weak weekeend is nowhere near the disastrous proportion of the opening for Yu Lik-Wai’s Plastic City. Despite heavy promotion by investor/distributor Sundream Picture, the Panasian crime film made only HK$236,000 from 18 screens over 4 days. And they didn’t even show the artsy fartsy stuff in the trailers!

Also extremely weak is the opening for the Japanese disaster film 252 Signal of Life. Opening on 23 screens with no English subtitles (an exception rather than the rule here in Hong Kong), it only made HK$895,000 over its first 4 days.

- At the Japanese box office, clever accounting helped put Terminator 4 at the top spot with 1.02 billion yen. Instead of reporting that it made 592 million yen over its first two days (which is not a bad number at all, mind you), it also added the 429 million yen it made from sneak preview screenings last week. Of course, it bumped off two-week champ Rookies the Movie, which has now surpassed 4 million admissions andnow heading for the 5 billion yen mark.

Meanwhile, the World War II submarine flick Battle Under Orion opened at 4th place as the only other opener in the top 10, and Darren Aronofsy’s The Wrestler opened 37 screens for an OK 19,846,300 yen take. The film also coincidentally opened the same weekend that Japanese wrestling legend Mitsuharu Misawa tragically died on the wrestling ring. Thankfully, the Nikkatsu doesn’t seem to be cashing in on it….yet.

Sources: Box Office Japan, Box Office Gross Blog (in Japanese)

- In Korea, the crime thriller Running Turtle tops the box office as Bong Joon-Ho’s Mother falls to 4th place in its 3rd weekend. With 2.6 admissions, it seems like a good number, but it’s certainly somewhat disappointing considering Bong’s track record. Blood also deservedly flops at 7th place.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Speaking of Blood: The Last Vampire, the Hollywood trades have chimed in with reviews: one from Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee and one from Variety’s Peter Debruge.

- China’s Huayi Brothers Studio, which must be swimming in money after the success of If You’re The One, has signed a deal with Imax to co-produce three movies. The first of them will be Feng Xiaogang’s Aftershock. Not sure if these films will get to shoot with the Imax cameras, or if this will only include the remastering process.

- Also in Korea, Michael Bay has made a public apology to the Korean public, but not for making movies.

- At the Shanghai Film Festival, America’s MPAA Chairman speaks like a broken record and tries to convince China to open up its film market to foreign films. By foreign films, I’m pretty sure he means American films.

- Also, at the Shanghai Film Festival, the chairman of a major conglomerate expressed that he expects almost impossible returns on producing Chinese films and unveils plans to have brain-reading machines that will surely help them find the ultimate formula for commercially successful films. Scary.

- Twitch offers two Hong Kong trailers. One that I care about is the trailer for Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Overheard, starring Louis Koo, Lau Ching-Wan, and Daniel Wu. It looks slick and I hope it’ll be better than the trailer suggests.

One that I don’t so much is the trailer for Andy Chow’s Murderer, the first film under the Edko-Focus Features deal starring Aaron Kwok, because the trailer’s been around for a while already. The thing more noteworthy is Todd Brown’s mentioning that Aaron Kwok seldom makes a bad movie. I would like to call the survivors of Heat Team, Para Para Sakura, China Strike Force, and 2000 A.D. to the stand, please.

- Under “seemingly only in Japan” news today, a TV producer decides to bring three female screenwriters together for a pop trio after realizing that they can sing. If it helps in it making sense at all, one of the three is an actress and a former idol as well.

- The producers of the final 20th Century Boys film is using secretcy as such a promotional tool that they promise only about ten people (which may not even include the actors themselves) will know what happens in the final ten minutes before its opening on August 29th. Not that it’ll help the entire world knowing about it by August 30th, though.

- The hit Japanese romantic tearjerker April Bride will be going to the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival next month. Ironically, there’s nothing fantastic about the film - it’s based on a well-publicized true story.

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 - Temporarily Out of Hibernation Edition

ZZZZZZZZ…..

Oh, sorry, I fell asleep one night and ended up staying asleep for a good three weeks.

Or I could just be in the middle of HKIFF. I can’t tell.

Anyway, I’ve seen 10 movies so far at the HKIFF already, and I’m sure the filmmakers are very grateful that I managed to sleep for a period of time at only 7 of them. So without the qualification to write an actual review, here are some of my thoughts on the more notable films (ie. the Asian stuff) I’ve seen so far at the festival.

Echo of Silence (Japan, 2004. Dir. Watabe Atsuro) - Actor Watabe Atsuro makes his directing debut with this Lars Von-Trier-like realist film about the impact of silence. The documentary feeling of the film gets just the right naturalistic peformances from the actors, the snowy Hokkaido landscape is quite nice, and there’s a pretty heartbreaking twist at the end that really brings everything together. But I’ve seen too many minimalist Japanese films that are more intriuging and memorable than this.

Mental (Japan, 2008, Dir. Kazuhiro Soda) - It runs a little long, but Campaign director Kazuhiro Soda’s latest documentary is an eye-opening look at the taboo subject of mental illness in Japan. It’s sad that this group of mentally ill people have so little care that they essentially have only one place where society gives them a chance to be themselves - their psychiatrist’s clinic.

By the way, if Soda-san is reading this, I apologize for missing the Q&A after the film. I really did like your film and would’ve loved to learn more about it, but I had to run somewhere else.

Daytime Drinking (South Korea, 2009, Dir. Noh Young-Seok) - Even though it’s shot in that extremely dry indie, shot-on-DV style, Noh Young-Seok’s low-budget film is a hilarious road trip film that shows why social drinking can kill you and bring new opportunities at the same time. You’ll need a drink after the movie, and that’s a good thing. By the way, there’s a cameo at the end of the film that I thought was only someone that looks like a certain celebrity. The fact that it was actually her makes the film even more brilliant.

A Place of One’s Own (Taiwan, 2009, Dir: Ian Lou) - Lou last co-wrote and co-produced Singing Chen’s God Man Dog, which ended up being one of my favorite films from last year’s HKIFF. This time, it’s Lou’s turn at the director’s chair, with Chen taking co-writing and producing duties. Like God Man Dog, it’s again an ensemble piece, this time about how obsession with property changes the lives of the characters. Too bad some of the central characters are so unlikable that even though it’s easy to identify with their needs, but it’s hard to care about them. The film drags in the last reel, which makes it a bit of a tough sit, considering Lou’s dry directorial style. Still, a Taiwanese worth watching for its issues.

Naked of Defenses (Japan, 2008, Dir. Masahide Ichii) - This year’s big winner at the PIA Film Festival is a quiet and unassuming drama about a woman’s growing jealousy of her new pregnant co-worker. It’s a little more dry in style than I expected, and it’s certainly not as explosive a work as last year’s Bare-Assed Japan and This World of Ours, but it’s certainly a film that emotionally pays off in the end.

Shinjuku Incident (Hong Kong, 2009, Dir. Derek Yee) - The latest Jackie Chan production was potentially interesting - not only is it Jackie’s first non-action role (at the hands of Derek Yee, no less), it’s Jackie playing an illegal migrant worker in Japan who climbs through the ranks of the Shinjuku crime world. The first hour is excellent, as the characters and the Shinjuku crime world is slowly set up. However, it takes a freefall beause Jackie Chan being Jackie Chan, he never goes through the arc his character is supposed to. Instead, his character is just full of contradictions that makes his “gangster with a heart of gold” character an incomplete archetype instead of a fully-fleshed character. Word is that Yee is definitely not happy with the movie, and it’ll be pretty important to go in knowing that, because the blame definitely goes to someone else this time around. A major disappointment for me.

Night and Fog (Hong Kong, 2009, Dir. Ann Hui) - I’ve done way too much research on this movie to be objective about it. Not many people agree with me so far, but I think this is Hui’s most intense and powerful film in a long time. The script by King Cheung (with contribution from Alex Law) can be a little heavy-handed in its commentary at times, but great performances from Zhang Jingchu and Simon Yam (you’re in fear every time his character is onscreen), as well as great cinematography by Charlie Lam make this easily a top contender for the top ten list next year. Then again, perhaps not many people will agree.

That’s it so far. See you 15 films later.

The Golden Rock - February 21st, 2009 Edition

- Now.com finally updated their Thursday opening day numbers on time for me to make a prediction for this weekend at the Hong Kong box office. As expected, Patrick Kong’s Love Connected led the way, but with only HK$357,000 from 36 screens. That gross is higher than the HK$209,000 opening for Nobody’s Perfect. Either the teens will show up, or it will continue the downward spiral of Patrick Kong. Following close behind is My Bloody Valentine 3D, which managed to make HK$326,000 from 18 screens because of the inflated ticket price. Then again,it may end up winning the weekend exactly because of that.

Clint Eastwood’s Changeling opened on 5 screens with HK$48,000, while Milk also opened on 5 screens, but to just HK$37,000. As the Academy Awards approaches, these films should get a boost over the weekend, at least with per-screen averages.

By the way, Joe Ma and Leefire’s Give Love, which opened on at least 10 screens, didn’t even make it to the top 10, despite the presence of Gigi Leung. More on Monday when the full numbers are out.

-  As expected, Departures swept the Japan Academy Prize last night, winning 10 awards, including all the major awards EXCEPT for Best Actress, which went to All Around Us’s Kimura Tae. It’s well-deserved, but I feel a little sorry for Ryoko Hirosue at the same time.

Meanwhile, Ponyo won two awards - Best Animated Film, and Best Music. Paco and the Magical Book won Best Art Direction, and The Dark Knight won Best Foreign Film. The audience awards went to Suspect X for Best Picture and Kenichi Matsuyama for Best Actor.

- Departures is also nominated for Best Foreign Film at the upcoming Academy Awards this weekend. Of course, it’s no surprise that both Japan Times and the Daily Yomiuri have respective features on the film.

The Japan Times piece by Mark Schilling.

The Daily Yomiuri piece by Ikuko Kitagawa. 

- In Korea, John Cameron Michell’s sexually explicit film Shortbus will finally be shown in Korea with a restricted rating that will actually allow the film be shown in the country, thanks to a court decision.

- Scud, reportedly the creative driving force behind City Without Baseball, is continuing his obsession with male nudity with the so-called “extreme trilogy”. The first film of that trilogy is Permanant Residence, and here’s the trailer (NSFW for male nudity), with a bad cover of Truly, Madly, Deeply playing in the background. Now we know who was responsible for the bad Cantopop covers in City Without Baseball then.

That’s it for today. More on Sunday to wrap up the weekend.

The Golden Rock - February 19th, 2009 Edition

- Japan numbers are out on Box Office Mojo. Apparently, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button only lost 11.6% of previous week’s business to take the top spot away from 20th Century Boys. However, the latter isn’t stopping too quick, losing only 28.5% of previous week’s business at just past 2 billion yen. However, at this pace, it’s slightly behind part 1, which means it’s not likely to get past that 3.5 billion yen mark. Meanwhile, High School Musical lost a surprising 46.8% of business in its second weekend, making it a bona-fide disappointment for Disney.

Meanwhile, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon opened in Japan this past weekend. From a limited release of 8 screens, the Daniel Lee film made 5.08 million yen over 2 days. It doesn’t sound very strong, but according to Mr. Texas of Eiga Consultant blog, its Tokyo screen attracted 1359 admissions (out of a possible 1608 for its 8 shows in a 201-seat auditorium) and made 1.66 million yen, with packed shows on Saturday opening day.

- In Korea, Benjamin Button took the top spot, as expected. Meanwhile, the movie that’s making the big news is the documentary Old Partner, about an injured farmer and his ox. Started as a small indie release, it has blown up to a 200+ screen release and more than 700,000 admissions already.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- In Chinese box office, Transporter 3 is off to a very good start, making just over 30 million yuan on opening weekend. Look For a Star is now at 89 million, and will likely pass that 100 million yuan mark. Joe Ma’s Give Love, despite being distinctly a recepient of the new Hong Kong government film fund, opened in China first and made roughly 9.5 million yuan. Cape No. 7, which finally saw its China release for Valentine’s Day, could only muster a 5th place opening of about 9 million yuan. This may be because many of its target youth audience has already downloaded the film and have no reason to go the theaters for it.

- On the Japanese Oricon charts, KAT-TUN gets their 9th consecutive number 1 single on the singles chart, while Thelma Aoyama gets her first number 1 album with her latest compilation, although I don’t know someone with just one full-length album can already have a compilation album.

More from Tokyograph.

- Coming off the moderate success of See You in Youtube, the directorial team of Seven’s (which include producer Oxide Pang, Cub Chien, and six other young directors) are back together for a school-themed film with young stars such as G.E.M., William Chan, and Siu Fey. Yikes.

- In what is likely to be a better film by a better director, Ang Lee is the latest director in talks to direct the adaptation of The Life of Pi.  Directors involved before Lee includes M. Night Shyamalan and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

- In Thailand, the cabinet has passed the controversial film ratings system, and it’s set to be in place in May. It was meant to allow greater freedoms for filmmakers, but the sketchy wording of the system and the structure of the regulatory party have found more disapproval among Thai filmmakers instead.

- Variety’s Ronnie Scheib takes a look at Takashi Miike’s Yatterman after its screening at Berlin.

- Lastly, director Tsai Ming-Liang is in Taiwan rushing to complete his latest film Face in time for the Cannes Film Festival. But first, he will have to flood several city blocks of Taipei to get there.

The Golden Rock - February 17th, 2009 Edition

- We may just permanently go with the Hong Kong Filmart numbers for the Hong Kong box office. In the last week, Yes Man easily took the top spot in its first 4 days, making HK$4.2 million from 34 screens (including previews). HK$10 million is likely, but not sure if it’ll go much past that. Bryan Singer’s Valkerie couldn’t attract the Valentine’s Day crowd, making HK$2.8 million from 38 screens over 4 days. It’s not bad in terms of day-to-day average, but it’s not likely to get past the HK$7 million mark. It’s better than Lions for Lambs, but Tom Cruise has done far better before.

Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road did fairly well in its 14-screen psuedo-limited release, making HK$1.16 million over 4 days, though I wonder how it’ll do once all those other love movies hit Hong Kong theaters. One of those love movies, Patrick Kong’s Love Connected, did very well during its two days of preview showings over the weekend, making HK$926,000 from 37 screens. Could this be Patrick Kong’s return after two duds?

One romance that didn’t do so well is Ivy Ho’s Claustrophobia. From 12 screens, it made HK$574,000 over 4 days, with it making barely over HK$10,000 per screen each day.

-With the holiday weekend, there’s no Japan numbers up at Box Office Mojo yet, so we’ll have to do with the cinema attendence figure for now. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has ensured its long-run success by overtaking 20th Century Boys II for the top spot in its second weekend. Kankuro Kudo’s Shonen Merikensack had to do with a 3rd place opening with about 214 million yen.  It’s nowhere near the opening of the similar-themed Detroit Metal City, but it is 171% of the opening of another Aoi Miyazaki’s starrer Heavenly Forest. It is now aiming for a 1.5 billion yen take, which has to be somewhat underwhelming after Miyazaki’s very popular drama starring role in NHK’s Atsuhime.

Meanwhile, the Keanu Reeves starrer Street Kings (renamed Fake City in Japan) opened at 9th place, which is fair since it wasn’t a major release anyway.

- Feng Xiaogang, Chen Kaige, Ge You, and even Andy Lau has been recruited for a new film, except they will all be actors this time around. Why such a big cast, you ask? Because it’s the PRC’s 60th anniversary extravaganza!

- Speaking of nationalism, Peter Chan will be joining the director of said extravaganza film to form a production company with Polybona, also known as the “entertainment business arm of the Chinese army”. They plan to make 15 films in the next three years. I hope at least one of them will be Peter Chan’s.

- The insane 4-hour epic that is Sion Sono’s Love Exposure managed to win two awards at the Berlin Film Festival. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be at the Hong Kong International Film Festival this year.

- The controversial Japanese film Children in the Dark will finally have a screening in Bangkok when it screens at the Foreign Correspondant Club in Bangkok. The film, about child prostitution in Thailand, was pulled from the Bangkok International Film Festival last year after it was deemed inappropriate.

- Meanwhile, straight from Derek Yee’s mouth is why his new film The Shinjuku Incident won’t be in Chinese cinemas.

- Usually, only Japanese commercial television stations would bring their drama series to the big screen. But now, even NHK is joining the cinema trend, with a spin-off of their successful finance drama Vulture.

- In more TV-related news, Smap’s Masahiro Nakai (the one who always sings off-key) will be starring in his first Fuji TV Monday 9pm slot drama for the first time since 1998. The Fuji Monday 9pm slot is known as the strongest drama timeslot on Japanese TV, although its victory has not been consistent lately because of shows like Innocent Love (Voice is the current Winter 2009 leader, though). Even Monday 9pm staple Kimura Takuya’s Change lost out in average ratings to Gokusen.

-  Sad news: The house that apparently inspired Hayao Miyazaki when he did Totoro has burned down.And another piece of my childhood goes away.

The Golden Rock - February 15th, 2009 Edition

A small weekend update, since there wasn’t much news out there.

- Lovehkfilm just updated with some reviews and a little more. First, Kozo gives his takes on Ivy Ho’s directorial debut Claustrophobia and the DOONNNNIIIIEEEEE classic Mismatched Couples.Can you believe Yuen Wo-Ping directed that movie?

Sanjuro gives his take on the I Not Stupid sequel, aptly named I Not Stupid Too. Lastly, yours truly looks at Choi Ho’s Go Go 70s and the serial killer thriller Truck. Yes, there’s a truck in it.

Lastly, Kozo announced the final nominations for this year’s Lovehkfilm Awards. I’m definitely happier with it than the nominations for the Hong Kong Film Awards.

- Also, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling takes a look at Michael Arias’ Heaven’s Door and the indie film Lost Girl in a double review.

- It’s trailers time!  Both trailers are from Nippon Cinema today. First it’s the teaser for the Panasian production Last Blood, starring Gianna Jun (Jun Ji-Hyun) and Koyuki. Then it’s the teaser for Sobu’s latest Kanikosen.

- Under “music news” today, Yui Aragaki (who still isn’t much of a singer) will be collaborating with Studio Ghibli for her latest single, with a director from the studio doing the cover art and the music video.

Meanwhile, Ayumi Hamasaki will be releasing her next album on not only CD format, but on a 2GB USB flash drive as well.

- After giving up a Mainland China release due to the fallout from that phot scandal, Dante Lam’s Sniper finally has a few international distribution deals lined up.

- This week’s Televiews column on Daily Yomiuri suggests five ways Japanese terrestrial television stations can do to save themselves. I agree with some, but I don’t agree with the others, especially that idea about a Japanese Daily Show.

- Wong Kar Wai’s Jet Tone will be producing Cheng Hsiao-Tse’s follow-up to the teen romance Miao Miao in a series of projects by young Asian directors.

- Japan’s Film Preservation Society has recovered and remastered an old 1929 silent film, despitethe print having been cut down to 15 minutes for home viewing.

The Golden Rock - February 12th, 2009 Edition

- Again, I’m using the Hong Kong Filmart website numbers for this week’s Hong Kong box office. Thanks to excellent word-of-mouth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took the top spot for the week, beating All’s Well Ends Well 2009 for a total of HK$19.6 million after 18 days. Meanwhile, Bride Wars led the newcomers, making HK$2.2 million from 33 days over the first 4 days. Will Smith’s Seven Pounds is all the way down at 9th place with just HK$1.72 million from just 19 screens after 4 days.

The rest of the numbers seem faulty (All’s Well Ends Well should be well past the HK$20 million mark now), so I’ll save the reporting for next week when better numbers come out.

-In Japanese box office, 20th Century Boys II managed to hold on to the top spot, despite losing 43.8% of business and Benjamin Button opening. Running 20 minutes longer (but on 53 more screens), Benjamin Button could only muster a 2nd place opening with a lower per-screen average than 20th Century Boys. According to Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant, its opening was 110% of The Departed (another major Oscar nominee), which means it’ll make just under 2 billion yen. Then again, it may end up going to Hong Kong route and end up being a long-term hit. Weeks 2 and 3 will answer that.

In a relatively moderate release, High School Musical only scored a 5th place opening in terms of gross (it got bumped to 6th by Penguins in the Sky - Asahiyama Zoo on the attendence chart), it earned a respectable per-screen average.

- In Chinese box office, Look For A Star continues its reign at the top with 68 million yuan and counting, despite it not doing so well in Hong Kong.I’m surprised All’s Well Ends Well was the only film with an increase in gross, now with 31 million yuan and counting. And what the hell is Black Book doing there (unless it’s heavily censored)?

- In Taiwan box office, Foreign films continue to reign, with Yes Man and Seven Pounds taking the top spots. Red Cliff II still doing very well too, with 136 million New Taiwan Dollars in the bank. However, it’s also far from what part 1 had after its 4th weekend, which is the general pattern it’s following throughout Asia, except in China and Korea.

- In Korea, Red Cliff II has surpassed part 1, and still in second place this past weekend. The good news is that Korean films has taken 45.9% of total box office so far this year. Hopefully, that’s pointing towards an upward trend from the slump last year.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- The Hong Kong Film blog has posted the list of the nominess for the Hong Kong Film Awards. Red Cliff has 15 nominations, Ip Man and Painted Skin have 12 nominations,and even though The Way We Are only has 6 nominations, it was nominated in all themajor categories except Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Here are the major nominations:

BEST PICTURE

Red Cliff
Ip Man
Painted Skin
The Way We Are
CJ7

BEST DIRECTOR

Ann Hui - The Way We Are
Johnnie To - Sparrow
John Woo - Red Cliff
Wilson Yip - Ip Man
Benny Chan - Connected

BEST ACTOR

Louis Koo - Run, Papa Run
Simon Yam - Sparrow
Donnie Yen - Ip Man
Nick Cheung - Beast Stalker
Tony Leung - Red Cliff

BEST ACTRESS

Bau Hei-Jing - The Way We Are
Prudence Lau - True Women For Sale
Zhou Xun - Painted Skin
Karena Lam - Claustrophobia
Barbie Hsu - Connected

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Zhang Fenyi - Red Cliff
Stephen Chow - CJ7
Liu Kai-Chi - Beast Stalker
Lam Ka-Tung - Ip Man
Louis Fan - Ip Man

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Race Wong - True Women For Sale
Vicky Zhao - Red Cliff
Chan Lai-Wun - The Way We Are
Betty Sun Li - Painted Skin
Nora Miao - Run, Papa Run

BEST SCREENPLAY

Run, Papa Run
Claustrophobia
Painted Skin
Beast Stalker
The Way We Are

Some real atrocious choices (Painted Skin?! CJ7?! No Beast Stalker for Best Film?!), but I hope the voters will have some common sense left and let The Way We Are gets its day in the spotlight.

If anyone wonders how Claustrophobia got nominated, they had 5 night showings that were not opened to the public, but counted as having a week of release in 2008.

- Some Ip Man-related news today on Apple Daily: Wilson Yip and co. will start shooting the sequel this summer with a target release date of February 2010 (probably the next Lunar New Year slot), and Mandarin Films has already greenlit a second sequel as well. Right now, the filmmakers are looking for Jay Chou or Shaolin Soccer’s Chan Kwok-Kwan (aho already played Bruce Lee in the CCTV drama) to play Bruce Lee.

Meanwhile, Tony Leung said that Wong Kar-Wai plans to begin shooting his version of the Ip Man story in June, but he also says WKW may not even be done with shooting the film until the third Ip Man movie has been released, and that he expects that version to take a path that strays from Wilson Yip’s action film.

-  From Youtube is the trailer for Gegege no Kitaro and 10 Promises with My Dog director Katsuhide Motoki’s crazy looking Kamogawa Horumo (info from Nippon Cinema). It looks crazy, but I have little faith in Motoki’s work in general.

-  It’s reviews time! Both reviews are from Hollywood Reporter Asia today - one for Ivy Ho’s Claustrophobia from Peter Brunette, and by Neil Young is the review for Funahashi Atsushi’s Deep In the Valley, which was shown at the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival.

- It already went through the TELA’s rating system in December, and now Sex and Chopsticks II has a poster which reveals a release date of March in Hong Kong. See you at the Dynasty.

- In other release news, despite a generally weak European Film Market at Berlin, America’s Magnolia Pictures, who brought the cut version of Ong Bak 1 and the uncut version of Chocolate to the United States, has picked up the American rights to Ong Bak 2.

- Under “Japanese TV drama” news , the moderate hit drama Zettai Kareshi is coming back for a one-episode drama special this spring.

Meanwhile, actor Jo Odagiri is returning to TV after Jikou Keisatsu for a TBS drama next season, co-starring Masami Nagasawa as his sister.

Lastly, the weekly variety show Goro’s Bar, hosted by SMAP member Goro Inagaki, will be turned into a drama special that will feature Inagaki playing the owner of a bar instead of him pretending to be a pop star pretending to be the owner of a bar.

- Chen Kaige talks about making Forever Enthralled at the Berlin Film Festival, where the film is the only Chinese-language film in competition. He talks about the pressure of having opera star Mei Lanfang’s son as a consultant and how important liberty is. Surely, he’s only able to say that outside of China.

- Lastly, further proof why Naoto Takenaka is the most awesome actor working in Japan.

 
 
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