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Peeking Out

I have turned another year older, and I’m now halfway through the 20’s, which means it’s time to look back on my life and examine and whatnot.

I’ve also been back in Hong Kong for two years now, and I’ve accomplished quite a bit in this short period of time:

- Improve my Mandarin
- Become a (relatively) better writer
- Accumulate a collection of autographed DVDs
- Write a full-length script
- Published in a magazine.

Of course, then there is also plenty that I haven’t done:

- Get my Masters
- Write all the reviews I need to write
- Update this blog

And this entry is my attempt to amend that third thing.

Mainly, I should explain why I haven’t updated the blog. I still write reviews for LHKF, as you can see from our latest update, and my next review will be the Laughing Gor movie, Turning Point. At the same time, as I mentioned in East Screen/West Screen episode 3 (up soon), I also write freelance articles for a local magazine, then I next have to transcribe an interview with Patrick Tse Yin for a friend (I was there. He was cool.), and as of next week, I will have school, which means I will be able to amend that first thing too.

And like Sanjuro, when I have spare time, I also am in a happy relationship. If it’s not hard enough to deal with me already, imagine the infinite patience it takes for a girl from Mainland China to stand my not-so-friendly attitude towards the “grandpa” up north. This means I probably should work extra hard to prove my sanity.

anthony_wong4.jpg

Me when I complain about the SARFT

I know I promised more regular updates during the summer, and that rarely happened. For that, I apologize. Not only did I not do things that may or may not benefit you, the readers, I didn’t even get to do things that would benefit me. For example, research for my history-based thesis script.

With school starting, it’ll be nice to send my life back to a structured schedule, and I will again pledge to try and update more. Except on Mondays, because I already know I’ll have class then.

If in the unlikely case that any of you miss my presence, you can catch me on a weekly basis on East Screen/West Screen with Paul Fox at KongCast, and you can also tweet me and follow me at Twitter. That was not a euphemism.

Until then, I have a birthday to enjoy.

happybirthday0903.jpg
Doraemon and his birthday cake. Not pictured: The Golden Rock blogger Kevin Ma

 

But before I go, I have to do a bit of news reporting and report this unfortunate piece of news:

Shing Fui-On, or known in Hong Kong as “Big Silly”, has passed away from cancer on August 27th at 11:45pm Hong Kong time. He was one of the most well-known actors in Hong Kong cinema, and will certainly be missed. His last film was The Detective, starring Aaron Kwok.

shing_fui_on.jpg

 Shing Fui-On
1955-2009

RIP, Big Silly.

The Golden Rock - May 13th, 2009 Edition

That’s right, it’s a news post!

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

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

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

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

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

More from Korea Pop Wars.

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

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

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

Sources: The Japanese box office blog, Screen Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - December 1st, 2008 Edition

Goodbye, November. Hello, December. See you soon, 2nd anniversary.

- Four of the five opening movies in Hong Kong got on the top 10 on opening day last Thursday, but only three remained on the Sunday box office chart. Beast Stalker remained on top with an impressive HK$844,000 from 37 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.91 million. This is 80% of Connected’s 4-day opening number (both are from Emperor Motion Pictures), and it ended up making over HK$13 million. If the word-of-mouth is similarly positive, it may end up passing the HK$10 million mark.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect didn’t quite get the youth boost it needed on Sunday, making just HK$340,400 from 34 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.49 million. It’s an improvement over Kong’s horror film Forgive and Forget, but I doubt this will pass the HK$3 million mark as theaters quickly move to reduce the number of showings by Thursday. Lastly, Hong Kong audience show that they don’t really care movies paralleling Taiwanese current events, as Lawrence Lau’s Ballistic made only HK$64,800 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$270,000.

Cape No. 7 is showing some potential for long-term success, as its take of HK$490,600 from 25 screens on Sunday is 83% of last Sunday’s take. After 11 days, the Taiwanese music-themed romance has made HK$4.55 million. At this speed, the HK$7 million mark is a likely possibility. Meanwhile, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is now at only HK$2.44 million after 11 days, Quantum of Solace is at HK$18.38 million after 25 days. While it won’t do the HK$20+million that Casino Royale did two years ago (it’s hard to believe that the blog started out tracking its Hong Kong box office), it’s also worth noting that Casino Royale had a ticket price inflation due to its length.

Moving down the chart, The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading now has HK$2.68 million after 18 days. Champions has passed the HK$5 million mark on Sunday with HK$80,000 from 27 screens. After 18 days, it has made HK$5.06 million. The church-endorsed Bella is showing legs, with another HK$78,000 from 8 screens for HK$1.41 million after 18 days. Lastly, Detroit Metal City remains on the top 10 with HK$10.51 million after 32 days.

- It was a slow week at the Japanese box office, at least attendance-wise. Red Cliff takes the 5th week at the top, while I’d Rather be a Shellfish remains at 2nd place, and Happy Flight remains at 3rd. The best-performing debut goes to Death Race at 5th, while Saw V could only muster a 7th place opening. More when the numbers come out.

- The ratings for the Fall 2008 Japanese drama season continues to be very disappointing. The ratings for Aibou Season 7 - the highest of the season so far - is going through bigger ups and downs than the stock market. After a series-high 20.7% two weeks ago, it dips to a 15.7 this week. Just when Ryusei no Kizuna seems to have found a loyal group of audience, it saw its season low of 14.5% this week in its 3rd straight week of declining ratings. The same happened to the terrorism thriller Bloody Monday, which saw steady ratings since its premiere until it dropped to a 10.1% for this week’s episode.

Some dramas are beginning to see their ratings pick up slightly: Scandal saw a boost to a 12.3% rating after a mere 10.4% in the previous week. Gira Gira saw a similar boost, going up to a 10.2% after seeing a season-low 7.2% in the previous week. As it reaches its final weeks, Kaze no Garden’s 8th episode also saw a boost to 14.1% rating.

The season’s biggest disappointment, next to Ryusei no Kizuna’s fall from grace, has to be the struggling ratings for Fuji’s Monday night 9pm drama Innocent Love. whose current season average of 13.2% is the lowest since Boku Dake no Madonna in Summer 2003. This week, it saw a boost up to 12.6% after two straight weeks of season-low 11.7%.

- Under “The economy went shitty, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt” news today, Hong Kong’s TVB is cutting 212 staffs, or 7% of their workforce, because they anticipate a sharp drop in profits. Note that said drop hasn’t officially happened yet, they just anticipated it.

Meanwhile, Japanese animation house GDH, who made the award-winning Summer Days with Coo, is cutting 20% of its workforce through early retirements.

- DJ Ozma, who pissed Japan off at the 2006 Kohaku Uta Gassen with this performance, is retiring from show biz after his third album. Of course, he’s not going away entirely: Ozma is just one of the roles the ex-Kishidan leader plays. He’s playing one of the three members of Yazima Biyoushitsu. It’s borderline offensive if that damn song isn’t so catchy.

- The Indian government has called in broadcasters to investigate whether the news media helped the terrorists by giving them the police’s tactical strategies with their wall-to-wall coverage.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter looks at the effect of the tragedy on the worldwide entertainment industry at a time when India is trying to expand to the world with various production deals.

One of the biggest effects already felt is the cancellation of Live Earth India, which was set to take place this Sunday in Mumbai.

- The Tokyo Filmex just wrapped up over the weekend, with the Isreali-German-France co-produced animated film Waltz with Bashir taking home the grand prize.

The film attracting the most attention at the Tokyo Filmex this year must be Sion Sono’s 4-hour romance epic Love Exposure. It ended up taking home the Agnes B Audience Prize. Jason Gray gives a quasi-review, and Edmond Yeo gives it a very strong praise. Now I hope the Hong Kong International Film Festival is daring enough to take it on.

- Kyoko Koizumi picks up another acting prize for Tokyo Sonata at this year’s Fumiko Yamaji Film Awards, which only gives out female acting awards in addition to the film awards. In addition to Koizumi’s Best Actress win, Haruka Ayase also picked up the Best Newcomer Award for her three theatrical releases this year - Cyborg She, Ichi, and Happy Flight.

- The Japanese talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo, which manages some of Japan’s top comic talents, is partnering with a Chinese theater group to give comedy stage shows in China.

- Holy crap, the other five guys in Exile finally has something to do other than dance in the background while the other two sing.

- Twitch has a full trailer for Chan Kaige’s Forever Entralled, which will be released in a few weeks in China and on January 1st in Hong Kong.

- The TBS-produced Japanese medical mystery The Glorious Team Batista has a decent run in cinemas earlier in the year. This season, Fuji took the same source material and turned it into a TV drama, which is doing OK in the ratings. Now TBS is taking back the spotlight by announcing a sequel for the film version with the original cast returning. It will be released in March 2009. Kozo reviewed the first film here.

- An interesting off-topic find: In a survey of about 400 people - with 47.8% of the participant in their 30s - the cinema is the top spot for a first date. It also reveals that nearly 97% of Japanese moviegoers never had their phones go off in the movie theater. This number would surely be much much lower here in Hong Kong.

The Golden Rock - August 26th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - May 20th, 2008 Edition

- As expected, The Chronicles of Narnia opened first place at the Korean box office. However, as Korea Pop Wars reports, the sequel opened slightly lower than the first film. Meanwhile, Speed Racer didn’t experience a real free fall, already having 745,000 admissions after two weekends, meaning it should move past the million admission mark. Iron Man continues to perform strongly with 3.7 million admissions after three weekends. Full chart over at Twitch.

- The full list of films to be featured at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival is out, and you can find a full list via Tokyograph. Also, Subway Cinema’s Brian offers his thoughts on this year’s picks.

- The Oriental Daily reported it, and now Variety’s Derek Elly confirms it in his review: The new Ashes of Time Redux isn’t much different from the original film in terms of structure and length, although the new score seems to make a world of difference.

- A new English-subtitled trailer for John Woo’s Red Cliff is now online. However, like the trailer for The Good, the Bad, and The Weird yesterday, there’s no guarantee how long it’ll be online. Besides, it didn’t really get me any more excited for the film.

- That was fas, after Thelma Aoyama’s “Soba ni Iru ne” broke the record for reaching one million cell phone downloads in the quickest time about a month ago, previous record holder GReeeen came right back and recaptured the record with their latest song.

- Film buyers, time to add another festival on your schedule: The popular Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is launching its own film market for genre films. Question is, are there that many films for sale these days?

- The first posters for Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident, featuring Jackie Chan in his first dramatic/non-action-oriented role, showed up at the Cannes film market. Also, someone in the comment section revealed that the film may be due for a ban in China because it involves the Japanese yakuzas, even though the film is a co-production that filmed in China.

- Those who don’t get who the newly popular Japanese male trio Shuuchishin is can get a brief explanation here. Japan has a thing for gimmick pop, and it looks like this is one of them.

- Lastly, the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live did a Japanese take on The Office that’s funny at first, but only ended up growing annoying as it went on. Still, at least the Japanese was correct despite the heavy accent. And Ricky Gervais is still brilliant.

The Golden Rock - May 17th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! First we have Justin Chang’s review of the omnibus film Tokyo!, which had its premiere in Cannes. Chang also reviews the hit Korean film The Chaser. Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review of Katsuhito Ishii’s Yama no Anata, which seems to be a shot-for-shot remake of the 1937 film Anma to Onna.

- This year’s Cannes market has quite a few two-part films, and that includes John Woo’s expensive upcoming epic Red Cliff, even though the film will be sold as one film outside of Asia.

- Director Herman Yau is now shooting his first film in 2008 since last year’s On the Edge, Gong Tau and Whispers and Moans. The crime film, made under Universe, stars Shawn Yue, Elaine Kong, Paul Wong, Jun Kung, Chapman To, and Ada Choi as a mob boss.

- I report this because I’m a Shiina Ringo fan - the rock star will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of her major label debut with not only two release, but also a concert in November. Man, I wish I can go to that.

- The aspiring film series about the Tokyo Tsukiji fish market (first installment coming in June) doesn’t have to worry about moving shooting locations for a while - the planned relocation is looking at a 3 years’ delay.

The Golden Rock - May 8th, 2008 Edition

- Finally got some Japanese box office numbers in, although it only covers Saturday and Sunday, which was the middle of the Golden Week holidays. As a result, most of the movies on the chart saw a rise from their previous weekend’s gross. For example, Shaolin Girl saw a 20% boost and has now grossed 715 million yen, despite a somewhat weak opening last weekend. But of course, the biggest boosts went to the kid-friendly films such as Conan (20.3%), Crayon Shin-Chan (27.7%), and The Spiderwick Chronicles (17.7%). However, the Masked Rider movie took a drop instead, losing 23.4% of business despite not losing any screens. Hollywood flick 10,000 B.C. also lost business, presumably because theaters put the more popular films on bigger screens and moved this to smaller ones.

- With its first hit in two years, Toei is now crossing their fingers on God’s Puzzle, Takashi Miike’s latest, to rebound them from what was their worst fiscal year in 20 years.

- Meanwhile, The Forbidden Kingdom has done solid business in China, making 150 million yuan since its release in late April already, partly thanks to the holiday last week.

- Things are not doing so well in Korea, where theaters saw April’s performance as the lowest monthly attendance figures since April 2003.

- However, local performance is not stopping them from taking their award-nominated films for a special showing in Japan.

- Earlier in the week, I mentioned that the Chinese distributor for the new Donnie fantasy film Painted Skin already estimated a final box office take simply based on screen counts. Now, the investors are so confident that not only did they already plan two sequels, they already assume they’re successful enough to raise the budget and get Zhang Ziyi for the second movie.

- The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, which had its first year in Australia last year, is now adding an academy, with all the nominees from last year’s awards being included with voting powers for this year’s awards.

-  There’s a short teaser for the omnibus movie Tokyo!, though it doesn’t really show anything from any of the three films, which will get their premiere at Cannes this year.

- A Spanish film buyer has bought their first Asian film, and…it’s Taiwanese torture porn?

-  Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee turns in a review for Sylvia Chang’s Run Papa Run.

-  Chinese president Hu Jintao told Japanese reporters that his favorite Japanese TV drama is the popular 80s morning drama Oshin. It would’ve been great if he said anything with Kimura Takuya in it, but alas, that was not to be.

- My boy Jero has now joined the ranks of popular Japanese pop stars - he’ll be the spokesman for a new line of canned coffee.

The Golden Rock - May 6th, 2008 Edition

Japan is at the tail end of its Golden Week holiday, so no Japanese drama numbers yet.

- However, we do have the Japan box office attendance figures for Saturday and Sunday (the “weekend” in Japanese box office terms since Saturday is opening day), and popular drama-now-movie Aibou (aka Partners The Movie) is at the top as expected. Meanwhile, 10,000 B.C. fell to 5th place already, Shaolin Girl hangs on at 3rd (despite poor English-language reviews), and Conan also hangs on by falling only to second place. Believe it or not, the only film that didn’t fall in placing is Nicholas Cage’s sci-fi thriller Next, which stayed at 8th place.

- Twitch also has the Korean attendance figures for the past weekend. Iron Man has already passed the 1 million mark, not including the Monday holiday. Also, The Legendary Libido attracts only 181,000 admissions, while the French action film Taken has already reached 1.7 million admissions.

- Kaiju Shakedown brings to our attention to the Kankuro Kudo-penned, so-crazy-it-might-be-good stage show Metal Macbeth. Its cast actually features Takako Matsu, who is actually quite an accomplished stage actress in addition to her success on TV dramas. Do I dare spend 6800 yen on a 210-minute stage with no subtitle at all on DVD?

- Twitch offers us the full-length trailer for the Japanese action film Chameleon, which I hope won’t have as much slow-mo hair moments as Donnie Yen movies often do. Actually, the behind the scenes video of star Tatsuya Fujiwara doing stunts were more interesting than the trailer.

There’s also a trailer for Kami ga Kari, the latest film from director Minoru Kawasaki, better known for cult favorites such as Crab Goalkeeper, Calamari Wrestler, and Everything but Japan Sinks. It seems to be a more mature film about…a magical stylist?

- Ahead of the release of his latest film, director M. Night Shyamalan will be receiving the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors.

- It’s Cannes Film Market news time! First, Variety takes a look at the films Japanese studios will be taking to the market, including the second film by Kenji Uchida (Stranger of Mine) and Mamoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers.

Also, the Thai-Singapore-Hong Kong co-produced horror film The Coffin will be premiering at the market. The film stars Hong Kong-based actress Karen Mok and has a Thai-based director.

- Bollywood, after remaking plenty of overseas films without buying any rights, are now talking with Warner Bros. about buying the rights to remake The Wedding Crashers.

- Remember a few months ago, Yuen Wo-Ping wanted to train people to kick ass? It may be for the film Iron Mask, the supposed sequel to Iron Monkey that will star Louis Koo and Shawn Yue that will start shooting in July.

- Lastly, I give you all the Stephen Colbert-Rain dance-off:

Remember, guys. It’s all played for laughs.

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 - February 26th, 2008 Edition

Again, not much news in the world of Asian entertainment, so we’ll just keep combining box office reports with the other entries.

- Yesterday, I linked to a review of the Korean surprise hit thriller The Chaser. Looks like it actually did even better in its second weekend, making 4.4 billion won, a 23% increase from its opening weekend. It’s already gone past the million admission mark, and may even surpass current surprise hit, the handball film Forever The Moment.

Full box office report from Mark Russell’s Korea Pop Wars 

- A preview of tomorrow’s Oricon report: The first African-American enka singer Jero managed to score a 4th place debut for his first single Umiyuki. While I doubt that it sold 3.5 million copies (I bet you it’s 35,000, as 10,000 is a number value in Japanese) , it apparently sets the record for the best debut for an enka singer. His MTV really sucks, but he’s a pretty damn good singer.

- Japanese actress Yu Aoi has been on this blogger’s radar since Shunji Iwai’s Hana and Alice. However, I never realized that she’s more often seen in film than TV. That shall be no more, as now she’s set to star in her first TV drama this coming Spring.

- It’s trailers time! People say Japanese films are weird, and after watching the trailer for the double feature film Ghost Vs. Alien, I honestly cannot really defend that claim. But, hey, I wish I had thought making making a love story between a ghost and an alien too. Good thing I then watched the 60-second teaser for Mamoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers and everything seemed normal again.

- In more animation news, the surprise animated hit Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone won the Animation of the Year award at the Tokyo International Anime Fair. The kicker is that the actual fair isn’t until the end of March. Thanks for ruining the surprise…you organizers.

- Lastly, Jason Gray writes about the strange recent twists in a 1981 murder in Los Angeles of a Japanese woman and how the hell it all connects to Japanese cinema. It’s a strange and fascinating read.

 
 
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