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Archive for the ‘taiwan’ Category

Love Stinks

So I was just coming out of a movie a week and a half ago at the Dynasty Theater here in Hong Kong when I was knocked at the back of my head with a glass bottle. The last thing I remember and the only thing I heard was someone yelling “this is for not voting a Gold Label film for Best Picture at the Lovehkfilm Awards!” before he ran off towards Yau Ma Tei. Since then, I’ve been trying to wander home, and finally made it back tonight.

Just kidding, I’ve just been very busy with work and life stuff, so I haven’t been able to find time to post here. Since Sanney over at his blog did a news post, I figured I’d take a break from that and actually do a real post about movies.

As avid fans of the site may know, Hong Kong has been showered by movies with the word “love” in it, and believe or not, all of those movies actually came out after Valentine’s Day (though one did get sneak preview showings on Valentine’s, but that’s a techicality), and with the exception of Equation of Love and Death, they all actually sucked.

Disclaimer: I’m not counting Equation of Love and Death  because it premiered in Hong Kong before already, and besides, it’s actually a decent movie, so that would kill this whole post.

Give Love - Ineptly directed with a barely working script, the Joe Ma-Leefire collaboration makes me want to apologize to everyone on the behalf of the Hong Kong government, who shelled out money for this film to be made. Even though the stars were perfectly capable of doing what they were told to do, the directions were totally off the mark, resulting in one weird, yawn-inducing bore. Even the rumble seats at the theater couldn’t liven things up.

Love Connected - I already used over 1000 words to explain how I feel, so I won’t repeat it here.

Basic Love -  I really appreciate director Oxide Pang trying to do something outside of horror and ghost movies, I really do, but did he really have to do it with this? Employing an aspiring glossy look where at least half the frame is out of focus, the film takes a thin plot worthy only of a 45-minute film and stretches it to an excruxiating 98 minutes of meaningless conversations and melodramatic twists that come about 10 miles away. Yes, at least it was consistent, but it just makes it…..more consistent.

L-O-V-E -  How did this movie suck? Let me count the ways: The first film’s twist is moderately clever and actually kind of touching, but the film as a whole is marred by a dragged-out melodramatic ending.

The second film (by lyricist Vincent Fang) has bad acting and is altogether unremarkable. It also has the worst movie MTV ever.

The third film is mildly decent, with interesting moments. Honestly, it’s the best film of this bunch.

Then the fourth film, with all of its silly Taiwanese pop culture reference and all, was annoyingly eccentric for eccentricity’s sake.

Overall, L-O-V-E is a sad bunch of short films that’s only on the big screen because it’s made by famous people who are better off sticking to what they were doing in the first place.

And so, a disappointing set of films ended February in Hong Kong cinemas. I went to the cinemas to watch all of these, but I can guarantee that watching all four will bound to make you put off watching any Chinese-language romance films and will pretty much make your significant other doubt your sanity. Let’s face it, the only reason I watched all of these is because I like to inflict mental anguish on myself. Consider yourself warned.

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 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.

The Golden Rock - January 21st, 2009 Edition

With a lot of box office numbers coming in, it’ll mainly be a number crunching entry today.

-  We’ll start with the Japan box office numbers since they’re the most comprehensive. As reported yesterday, Pandemic opened at top with about 302 million yen from 324 screens. In line with what happens after a holiday weekend, grosses dropped more than usual, with The Day the Earth Stood Still taking the hardest hit with a 59.2% drop. On the other hand, the smallest drop goes to Threads of Destiny, which lost only 21.3% in business, indicating word-of-mouth traveling around its target audience. Not surprisingly, the TV drama has seen an increase in ratings since it returned after new years.

Even though Pandemic had a promising opening, Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant reports that the film’s opening is only 67% of the last Satoshi Tsumabuki-Toho-TBS film Dororo, which ended up making 3.4 billion yen. If the trend is going to be similar, then Pandemic should end up with just a little over 2 billion yen. Then again, word-of-mouth can throw that off anytime.

- In Chinese box office, Red Cliff II dominates for a second weekend in the middle of the Chinese New Year holidays. It has now made 181 million yuan, and with If You Are the One slowing down (losing 74% of the previous week’s gross), it has a good chance of speeding past it after the new years holiday. Meanwhile, If You are the One has now made 305 million yen, which is still pretty amazing. With its momentum coming to a quick stop, it should have no chance hitting the 350 million yuan mark.

- Red Cliff II also dominated the Taiwan box office over the weekend, making a phenomenal 27 million New Taiwan Dollars this past weekend. However, part one actually performed better back in July with 42 million New Taiwan dollars over its first weekend. Meanwhile, everything else had absolutely no chance in even nearly equaling the Red Cliff numbers.

- In Korea, the pre-New Years period mean not much changes in the box office charts. The two top films are still Korean, with only one new film entering the chart at 10th place.

More over the Korea Pop Wars.

- On the Japanese Oricon charts, Ai no Mama De solidifies its new status as the benefactee of the “Kohaku effect” by finally taking the number 1 spot this week on the singles chart. Meanwhile, another compilation takes the top of the album charts. I’m sleepy, so I’m turning it over to Tokyograph for the report.

- The nominations for this year’s Asian Film Awards were announced today. The Good The Bad and the Weird managed 8 nominations, and while I was glad to see Tokyo Sonata well-represented, there were definitely some eye-popping choices. For example, were Eri Fukatsu and Vicky Zhao THAT good? If You Are the One was good, but was it only because of Feng Xiaogang, since he was nominated for Best Director, but not Best Film. Meanwhile, was Tokyo Sonata only nominated for Best Film because the film was good, but not because of director Kiyoshi Kurosawa? And Shoda Matsuda for Hana Yori Dango Final?!

On the other hand, good to see Shinichi Tsutsumi recognized for his work on Suspect X.  The awards will be handed out in March.

- Poor CCTV censors in China had to be up until past midnight in order to make sure the part in President Obama’s inauguration speech about fighting communism is edited out at just the right moment.

- Finally, China’s State Administration of Radio, Television, and Film has proposed a law that would start the film rating system in the country,  However, the lack of a rating system was not the excuse that One Night in Mongkok and Lady Cop and Papa Crook got cut, so while it might allow films with stronger content in the theaters, it doesn’t get rid of the riduculous censorship rules.

- Variety’s Derek Elley chimes in with his review of Wilson Yip’s Ip Man.

- Japan’s National Association of Commercial Broadcaster reveals that a record 55 out of 127 TV stations in Japan are losing money because of loss in revenues and the expensive switch from analog to digital broadcasting.

The Golden Rock - January 14th, 2009 Edition

A big change has come regarding the Hong Kong box office news provided on this blog. Since my usual source now.com has decided to stop its box office stats page, I will now only be able to report on Hong Kong box office once a week. My source now will be the Hong Kong Filmart website, which offers comprehensive stats only once a week. Hopefully, a better source will come along soon.

- No Japan box office numbers yet, but the attendence ranking is out. Surprisingly, Steven Soderbergh’s first Che movie landed on 2nd place in its first weekend. According to Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant, it made 139 million yen from 248 screens nationwide in its first two days of release (even though it was a 3-day holiday weekend), and that the 47 theaters in the 9 major metropolitan areas accounted for 47% of the gross. So while the per-screen average is roughly 560,000 yen, the per-screen average in the major cities is much higher at roughly 1.21 million yen. However, with 42% of Moviewalker voters giving the first film a C, I doubt the second film will do as well when it comes out in three weeks.

Other than that, with the exception of The Day the Earth Stood Still taking a dive to 4th place, everything else remains fairly stable.

- Japan will get its first major domestic release this weekend with virus disaster film Pandemic, and Jason Gray provides a fairly lengthy review of it on his blog.

- In China, Red Cliff 2 was so huge that it already made over 100 million yuan over the opening weekend. Of course, it probably opened on a whole lot of screens to get to that number. With the Lunar New Year holiday underway in China, looks like it might actually make its budget back just with the Chinese box office gross. I’ll be catching this tomorrow night here in Hong Kong.

- In Korea, only two films on the top 10 this past weekend are local releases, but they also happen to be the highest-grossing releases on the top 10 by far.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- The Winter 2009 Japanese drama season is underway, with a few major drama premiering this past week. The Ryo Kase-Yukie Nakama drama Arifureta Kiseki saw a soft opening with only a 12.5% rating. Meanwhile, the 4th season of Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi makes its premiere at primetime (which means less of the risque content that made it special before at its old late-night timeslot), and got a respectable 11.9% rating. The Yosuke Eguchi-Goro Inagaki-Ryoko Hirose mystery drama Triangle started off with only an OK-14.7% rating.

Meanwhile, Akai Ito has benefitted from the film version with a boost to a 10% rating for its latest episode. Not in the linked chart, but the Code Blue special episode had a 23.1% rating, which is even higher than its highest-rated episode. Don’t be surprised if it’ll be heading to the big screen soon.

Next week will be the premiere of the Monday night 9pm Fuji drama and the second episode dips of the dramas mentioned above.

Visit Tokyograph for the Winter 2009 drama sypnosis.

-  On the Japan Oricon charts, the first solo single by Tackey (of Tackey and Tsubasa) scored first place on the singles chart, while Ai no Mama de has proven to be this year’s benefactor of the “Kohaku Effect” (songs not quite well-known previously gets a huge bump after appearing on the yearly Kohaku Uta Gassen music extravaganza on New Year’s Eve). Ikimono Gakari’s album gets bumped down to 3rd place in its second week by two compilation albums. Such is the tragedy of J-pop sales.

More on Tokyograph.

- Jackie Chan will likely be joining the cast of the remake of The Karate Kid, starring Will Smith’s son, as the titular character’s master. I wonder whether Jackie will be playing a Japanese character (Karate is, after all, Japanese), and how Chinese netizens will be reacting to that one.

- An interesting article from Hollywood Reporter reports that Oscar favorite Slumdog Millionaire may not do very well in India because of the harsh reality of India it portrays, despite its popularity overseas.

- Another possibly risky release is the Taiwanese blockbuster Cape No. 7, which finally has a set release of Valentine’s Day after the distributor pulled its initial release after rumors that it was out of fear of a disgruntled nationalistic audience and political reasons (the official reason was something about the subtitles). However, it will be slightly altered for some bad language, which probably includes its famous opening line.

- The Academy has announced its short list for the Best Foreign Film nominee, and Japan’s Departures managed to get on it. If nominated, it would be the first Japanese film since Yoji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai to receive a Best Foreign Film nomination. Also glad to see France’s The Class on that short list.

Not exactly a surprise, but neither Painted Skin nor China’s Olympic documentary Dream Weaver got on that short list.

- The atrocious Hana Yori Dango Final has spent its 4th consecutive week at the top of the Japanese DVD sales chart, and is now the 3rd best-selling Japanese DVD in history. It just means Japanese people need to buy more DVDs of better movies and that they need to be charged less for it.

- Despite having premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in 2006, Jia Zhangke’s Still Life didn’t get a North America release until 2008, which made it qualified for the various critics awards. This is why it managed to win two awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Cinematography.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review for Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 2, which satisfied this blogger’s need for a muay Thai fix. though not the need for a compelling story.

The Golden Rock at the Golden Horse - not-so-live blog

Thanks to the magic of reruns, This blogger will be watching The Golden Horse Awards rerun after he returns from a concert. So from 11:30pm Hong Kong time (you’ll have to figure out what that time is in your own time zone), I’ll be live-blogging the rerun of the show with simultaneous commentary. That means you can first read the more-informed, more professional, and more-read Variety Live Blog before coming here for this idiot’s comments. I was hoping to get Kozo to do it, but obviously he’s the brains of the operation by not doing it.

Of course, I won’t be cheating by checking out the results first. The coverage this year should be less interrupted since I won’t be watching it on a free TV network, which hopefully means no abrupt commercial breaks.

But before that, here are some predictions:

Best Original Song: Cape No. 7
Best Original Film Score: Cape No. 7 (though I would like to see Sparrow take it)
Best Action Choreography: The Warlords or The Assembly
Best Make up and Costume Design: Warlords or Red Cliff
Best Art Direction: Red Cliff
Best Visual Effects: CJ7
Best Cinematography: Cape No. 7 (though it’d be nice for Sparrow to win this too)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Assembly (I want Pang Ho-Cheung to win for Trivial Matters, and why isn’t The Warlords in this category?)
Best New Performer: Johnny C.J. Lin - Cape No. 7
Best Supporting Actress: No prediction
Best Supporting Actor: Ma Ju-Lung - Cape No. 7
Best Actor: Jet Li - The Warlords
Best Original Screenplay - The Warlords screenwriting committee
Best Actress - Too close to call
Best Director - Wei Te-sheng - Cape No. 7
Best Film - Cape No, 7

So that’s a prediction of 7 awards for Cape No. 7, because Taiwan will probably riot if it doesn’t win at least one major award.

11:29 pm: OK, all logged in and ready to go. The concert got out later than expected, and I had to sacrifice a MacDonald’s run. Instead, I have a pack of peanuts and a bottle of milk tea. The sacrifices I make for this blog.

The original live broadcast isn’t over yet, so I’m going to set some ground rules:

I don’t speak very good Mandarin, and my listening is worse, so forget about translating. I’ll just be explaining what’s going on with some comments.

Also, feel free to comment along the way here, or at the Lovehkfilm forum.

11:34 pm: Show still not over yet. OK, I guess I’m not sleeping ’til 3:35 am.

11:37pm: Struggling not to watch the live show for spoilers…………

11:40 pm: Show still not over. Maybe I should’ve gone to MacDonald’s…

11:46 pm: Live broadcast over, waiting for rerun now.

11:50 pm: Here we go. Lin Chi-ling starts off with a dancing performance while lip-syncing.

11:51 pm: Nice wire-work.

11:54 pm: Now I get it - It’s a dance performance for each nominated Best Picture.

11:57 pm: Ultra-serious epic Warlords interpreted in modern dance with Lin Chi-Ling shaking a stick. Let’s move on.

11:58 pm: Good, it’s over. Hong Kong’s Dodo Cheng and the host of Channel V’s girl-based talent show are the hosts. It’s gonna be a struggle hearing Dodo work through her Mandarin lines.

12:00mn: Mark that: 10 minutes for the first mention of Cape no. 7

12:02 am: OK, first award time: Presenters are…Vivian Hsu and Ando…..you know who I’m talking about.

Ando’s been studying Chinese for three months, so either he’s good at remember his rehearsed lines, or it’s actually not that bad.

The first award is for Best Sound Effects.

And the award goes to: Steve Burgess for Tsui Hark’s Missing.

12:05 am: Looks like the award is edited to save time. Good, it won’t be such a long night.

12:07: Miao Miao’s Fan Chih-Wai and Annie Liu come out to present the second award. Man, Annie Liu’s Mandarin is good.

Wait, she’s from Taiwan? That would explain it.

OK, the award is for Best Documentary. My teacher Angie Chen’s This Darling Life is one of the nominees.

The award goes to…….Up the Yangtze. Sorry, Angie.

The director is Canadian-Chinese, and gives his speech in English. “Long live Chinese cinema, long live Chinese documentary.” Seeing that he said that in Taiwan, I wonder who would interpret that in a political way.

12:12 am: Fan and Liu stay to present the Best Short Film Award.

And the winner is……Hopscotch.

12:15: It’s amazing that it’s been 15 minutes since anyone mentioned Cape No. 7.

12:16 am: Skipping another commercial break, Gao Jie and David Chiang comes out to present the award for…..they’ve been talking for 2 minutes now. And now we know it’s for Best Cinematography. Mark that it was 18 minutes of no mention of Cape No. 7.

The award goes to……Sparrow. This was the one I wanted to win!

12:20 am: The two stay to present another award. Best editing. I don’t think I predicted this one, and I don’t know why.

And the award goes to………Connected.

There’s been more people accepting awards for the award winners than award winners there!

12:23 am: Vicky Zhao and Cheng Chen present the Best Supporting Actress Award.

And the award goes to……..Orz Boyz’s Mei Fang.

Mei fang has been acting for 45 years, and extremely excited to get the award. It’s quite touching, actually. No cynicism here.

12:29 am: The two stay to present Best Supporting Actor. Cape No. 7 resurfaces, and has won no award as of yet.

And the award goes to………..Ma Ju-lung, for the first Cape no. 7 award of the night!

Ma delivers his speech in Taiwanese. There goes the Greater China audience.

12:32 am: Vanness Wu and Jaycee Chan present the award for……why the hell is Vanness wearing a bowler hat?! And he should probably shave. Jaycee, on the other hand, has a nice Khalil Fong look going with the thick black glasses.

Vanness praises Jaycee’s performance in Police Story. Ouch.

The award is for Best Action Design. Of course, there’s one DOOOOOOONNNNIIIEEEE movie in there (Empress and the Warriors)

And the award goes to…..Connected. Wow, that’s a bit of a surprise. And of course, Nicky Li is not there to pick up the award. Legendary Assassin needs all the promotion it can get.

12:38 am: Oh, good, a small break: It’s a martial arts performance, as the Golden Horse Awards further the Chinese-language cinema stereotype.

Channel V-produced boy band Lollipop tries to outdo Jay Chou’s theme song for Fearless by enunciating! Oh, it’s with completely new lyrics.

12:44am: They’re trying to sing the Game of Death theme song in Cantonese. This is freaking hilarious. It’s over after one verse. I wished it lasted longer just for laughs.

12:47am: Oh, good, it’s over. Kevin Chu (on my black list for Kung Fu Dunk, and thankfully NOT nominated for anything tonight) and Kelly Lin present the award for……….Chu asks Kelly whether she wants to pull a Lust, Caution. All HK film fans would thank him for this contribution, unlike say…..Kung Fu Dunk.

OK, the award is for Best Art Direction. The award goes to………..Parking! This is a surprise.

The two stay to present Best Make-up and Costume. The award goes to: Candy Rain. At least it awarded it for the only thing the movie had: style.

12:52 am: Eason Chan and Coco Lee present the award for……….first, they kiss each other’s asses, then Coco asks Eason the Hong Konger to explain Trivial Matters’ Chinese title to segue into talking about the importance of the award. Oh, damn it, I missed the pun in the middle of being annoyed.

Ok, the award is for Best Film Score. The award goes to……….Cape No. 7. How can THE Taiwanese movie of the year that’s also about music not win this award?

12:58 am: uh-oh. Audio problem with one of the mics onstage.

The two stay on for another award: Best Original Song. Wait, no live performance of the songs?

and the award goes to……….Cape No. 7’s South of the Border. Again, no surprise. That’s 3 awards so far for the Taiwanese blockbuster.

1:02 am: Someone please fix that damn mic.

1:05 am: Mathieu Amalric and Karen Mok present the award for the International critics award to Parking.

1:10 am: Who’s Marco Tempest? And why is he on Taipei 101? Let me google him.

OK, he’s an illusionist, and he’s about to pull off some kind of trick.

So he just brought himself from Taipei 101 to the awards 168 km away within a minute while putting a map right in front of a DV cam with a live feed. And now he’ll take the next few minutes to advertise himself.

Ok, the live tricks are nice, but what does this have to do with the movies?

1:14 am: Oh, I get it. He’s going to present the Best Visual Effects awards?

Oh, more tricks first.

Oh, come on, he’s not even presenting the damn award. And he just revealed that the Taipei 101 stuff was actually on TV with him pointing the camera at it.

1:20 am: OK, Guey Lun-Mei and Kitty Zhang present the Best Visual Effects award.

And the award goes to……….The Warlords. That’s the first award of the night for Peter Chan’s film.

1:22 am: Finally, the first commercial break of the rerun.

1:26 am: Back from commercial break. Now either the Special Contribution Award or the Lifetime Achievement Award.

1:31 am: I feel bad for not paying attention to what the presenters are saying. This is for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Cheng Fang. Sorry, I’m not paying attention to what he’s saying, either.

1:35 am: Now the Special Contribution Award to Huang Ren.

1:40 am: Sorry, these kind of awards are always the down time for me. I mean no disrespect to the award winners.

Ok, now the Audience Award.  Wu Jun and Cape No. 7’s Johnny Lin present the award.

The award goes to……..Cape No. 7. No surprise at all, of course.

1:47 am: Lin Chiling presents an award from the audience stands. That’s a nice……..and very small dress.

She’s presenting the Best New Actor award. And the award goes to……………Suming Chiang of Hopscotch. Having Cape No. 7 take up two nominations probably spread out the votes for it.

1:53 am: Coco Lee performs a song about loving movies. They took out the Best Original Song performance for this and a magic performance instead?

1:57 am: So the performance is doubling as the In Memoriam segment as well.

2:01 am: Time for the Best Screenplay awards, with Eric Tsang and Karena Lam are presenting the award. Eric Tsang gives a shoutout to Winds of September, which he produced.

First the Original Screenplay. The award goes to……………Winds of September. Eric Tsang jumps for joy.

And now time for Adapted Screenplay with a very very happy Eric Tsang. The award goes to…………The Assembly. Disappointed as a Pang Ho-Cheung fan, of course.

Assembly screenwriter makes a crack Trivial Matters being “no matter” now, but says he liked the film very much.

2:13 am: A montage devoted to Taiwanese films. Oh, it’s a gag montage with other young Taiwanese film people, including Chen Bo-lin and the star of Island Etude.

They’re sitting around talking about how to make the next Cape No. 7. Fairly amusing.

2:15 am: A “to be continued” screen with a pigeon. Nice.

Kevin Chu pitches a film that combines the name of all the big Chinese films this year. After getting rejected for funding, he says “Taiwanese film will not die!” Kung fu Dunk didn’t help any.

Even Dodo Cheng joins in on the fun. She refers the hero to Ma Ju-lung playing a gangster-like loan shark. There’s even a part 3 coming.

2:22 am: Ang Lee and Brigette Lin come together on stage (the first time in a decade for Lin, according to her) to present the award for the Formoz Filmmaker Award.

And the award goes to………..Wei Te-Sheng, as expected. That’s the 5th cape No. 7-related award of the night.

The two stay for the Formoz Film Award. Remember the potential riots if you-know-what doesn’t win.

2:28 am: And the award goes to…………Cape No. 7, its 5th of the night.

Good thing they’re getting to the major awards now. These things are exhausting.

2:33 am: Never mind - Part 3 of the comedy short.

Comic sound effects are the least funny things in comedy EVER.

Peggy Chiao cameos as an aspiring actress………and gets casted. Movie name: Sea Horse No. 45.

Doze Niu of What on Earth did I Do Wrong show up and asks why Cape No. 7 could do it and not him.

And it ends with a voiceover by Ang Lee, identifying himself as a director born in Taiwan.

2:40 am: Johnny C. J. Lin does his erhu thing AND sings a Taiwanese folk song………………very off-key.

Of course, this year is all about Taiwanese film pride, so now comes a montage on the history of Taiwanese films.

2:45 am: Already crediting Cape No.7 with the resurrection of Taiwanese film is a little premature, no?

And the movie’s song gets its own live performance. The drumming is completely off-beat. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the movie’s group of musicians sing songs from classic Taiwanese films. I know Cape No. 7 is like the best thing since sliced cheese, but the ceremony is getting a little long.

And Van is not really a great singer.

They really don’t have to re-introduce the members one by one. Most people who care already saw a 2-hour movie about them. Why the hell are they singing the song they screwed up again?

Ok, the Cape No. 7 musical celebration ends without a performance of the award-winning song.

2:57 am: Shu Qi and Feng Xiaogang come out to present Best Actor. Feng thanks the awards for allowing him the opportunity to hold Shu Qi’s hand. Then he lets go.

A quick cutaway shot shows Johnny C.J. Lin’s seat is under his character’s name in Cape No. 7, as if no one will know his real name. Ouch.

The award goes to……….Zhang Hanyu, a real surprise! Feng Xiaogang gets to hand the award to his leading man.

3:04 am: Finally the home stretch. Sandra Ng and Peter Chan Ho-sun come out to present the Best Actress Award. Peter Chan wonders why he has to hold Sandra Ng’s hand. By the way, Ng is the mother of his child.

This is the toughest category to call. I’m sure the anticipation was intense, at least when it was live.

The award goes to………………Prudence Lau for True Women for Sale! Really, any of these win would’ve been a surprise. Hopefully, it’ll help its box office in Hong Kong for the rest of the week.

3:10 am: OK, two awards left. Zhou Xun and John Woo present the Best Director Award. What a slap to the face, by having Woo present the award he got snubbed for. Even though I didn’t think Red Cliff was as great as it could’ve been, Woo’s work deserved at least a nomination.

Will Cape No. 7 pick up the majors and complete this year’s Taiwanese film celebration?

And the award goes to……………Peter Chan Ho-sun! This doesn’t bode well for Cape No. 7.

Peter Chan says “this award did not come easily” in front of John Woo. I’m pretty sure Red Cliff was harder to make than Warlords.

Is it my imagination, or does Woo look bitter in the background?

3:18 am: OK, the final award of the night. Best film is being presented by Huang Tong and Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh thanks the Golden Horse Awards for not fogetting her. I didn’t forget Silver Hawk or The Touch, either.

The audience root for the Taiwanese nominees. Least applause goes to The Assembly.

Here we go. The award goes to…………………….The Warlords, in a comeback! It was called most overrated film of 2007 by the Lovehkfilm committee for a reason.

3:23 am: Final tally - Cape No. 7 picked up six awards (and another one for Cape No. 7 director Wei Te-sheng), and Warlords picked up three. Even though Cape No. 7 took the most awards as expected, its thunder sort of got stolen with The Warlords taking away the two most important awards.

All in all, the show is still too long and overblown. It even ran longer than last year’s ceremony.

Anyway, until the next big award ceremony, that’s it for now here in Hong Kong. Thanks to Boss Kozo and Variety’s Marcus Lim for stopping by. I need some sleep.

The Golden Rock At the HKAFF - Part 2

The second week of the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival for me was 6 films spread out over 5 nights. Within the last 8 days, I have seen 12 movies in theaters, 10 of those as part of the HKAFF. I may declare for bankruptcy when this is all said and done.

Anyway, here’s everything I’ve seen since my last entry:

Parking (dir. Chung Mong Hong. Taiwan, 2008)

The synosis of the film suggests that this might be Taiwan’s answer to After Hours, but that’s only the basic structure of the film. Part film noir, part urban fable, this strange comedy-drama is surprisingly packed with emotions, as well as some beautiful shots. However, the film suffers from an uneven pace due to its digressions into the backstories of the various side characters. Overall, it’s a promising debut for director Ching Mong Hong, and some of the visuals are bound to stay in your mind for days.

True Women For Sale (dir. Herman Yau. Hong Kong, 2008)

Herman Yau’s latest film has a Chinese title that translates to “I Don’t Sell My Body, I Sell My Uterus”. It may sound like the wrong title for a film about prostitution, but it’ll make perfect sense when you realize that the film’s second major storyline is about a pregnant Mainland woman trying to fight for residency in Hong Kong. Compared to Whispers and Moans, True Women For Sale is a significantly lighter look at its subject matters, and some spots are actually quite funny (though some recurring jokes fall flat the whole way through). The cast is uniformly strong (Prudence Lau is excellent, and Anthony Wong is as likable as ever), but some of the forced dialogue delivery heard in Whispers and Moans is back, but at least done with less preachy speeches. Overall, one of the finer truly local efforts of the year, and has a very good chance to perform better than Whispers and Moans at the Hong Kong box office.

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Director Herman Yau (right) and Race Wong (left) at the Q&A for True Women For Sale

ASYL: Park and Love Hotel (dir. Izuru Kumazaka. Japan, 2007)

My first of several Pia Film Festival films this year at the HKAFF is an episodic drama about four lonely women in Tokyo who find refuge at a community park built on top of a love hotel. It’s one of those quiet, Japanese indie-style films with a slow pace, long takes, and a lot of quirkiness. But the portrayal of its characters (especially Lily as central character Tsuyako) and its down-to-earth approach make it worth watching. Not the strongest Pia Film Festival film I’ve seen, but it’s worth the attention.

Yoshino’s Barber Shop (dir. Naoko Ogigami. Japan, 2003)

Seagull Diner and Glasses director Naoko Ogigami’s debut is a cute look at a small town where all the boys have the same hairstyle to keep with a strange local custom, until the new kid from Tokyo comes to town and changes everything with his hip, Kimura Takuya-like hair. Ogigami shows her talent for dry quirky humor, depiction of places far from urban Tokyo, and her love of actress Masako Motai in this unlikely pick for a Pia Film Festival Scholarship film. Of course, being a film festival film, the story suggests some kind of social allegory, but it’s never heavy-handed and highly enjoyable the whole way through. I still never want to have the Yoshino hairstyle, though.

Cape No.7 (dir. Wei Te-Sheng. Taiwan, 2008)

It’s easy to see why this comedy-drama became the BIGGEST FILM EVER in Taiwan and why it was such a crowdpleaser at the screening I attended. Made with a commercial spirit on an indie budget (the director reportedly paid NT$30 million of the total NT$50 million budget from his own pocket), this is blatantly commercial filmmaking that packs in all the effective elements: The charming locals that make a group of underdog misfits, the handsome bad boy, the exotic Japanese love interest, and even an unrequited love story. It has some extremely notable flaws (funny how both romances in a romance film don’t really work), but it’s such a likable flick that you’re likely to be able to overlook it all and just take it all in. As it has been already, expect this to be a festival darling for the next year. Not required to be immersed in Taiwanese culture to appreciate it, but apparently you would love it even more if you are.

After School (dir. Kenji Uchida. Japan, 2007)

Kenji Uchida’s follow-up to Stranger of Mine is more of the same stuff, with a plot that takes you through twists and turns for the first half, only to spend the second half revealing how clever Uchida is by showing what really happened. Nevertheless, it’s still a smart, low-key mystery that is clever and great to watch with an unaware audience. As Mark Schilling pointed out in his review, the characters this time are even more like Uchida’s pawns, moving around to faciltate the plot or in manipulating the perception of reality in the plot. But it also does have genuine emotions, as he leaves the most poignant reveal to be one about the characters instead of the mystery. Uchida has now become one of my favorite up-and-coming young directors from Japan.

P.S.: Stick around for the end of the credits for a small reveal that’s also the mystery’s most important.

And here’s a ranking of the films seen at the festival so far:

1. Tokyo Sonata
2. After School
3. Crows Zero
4. Parking
5. Cape No. 7
6. Yoshino’s Barber Shop
7. AYSL: Park and Love Hotel
8. True Women For Sale
9. Accuracy of Death
10. Happiness

It’s pretty amazing that I haven’t been disappointed with any of the offerings so far, but this is how I would rank them if I had to.

That’s it for part 2 of the HKAFF report. The next report should be for the final set of films, including Tokyo!, Ivy Ho’s Claustrophobia, and Mamoru Oshii’s Sky Crawlers.

The Golden Rock - September 28th, 2008 Edition

I don’t try to pretend that I know everything about every Asian country’s film industry. One of the industries that I don’t know so much about is Thailand’s, which is why I’ve added a new blog to the blogroll to fill the void. Wisekwai’s Thai Film Journal is an oft-updated blog that has excellent information about that Thai film industry that often doesn’t get reported here, mostly because of a lack of knowledge on my part. This is one of resources that I will be linking more to the future, but for the most comprehensive English-language resources on the Thai film industry, this is a blog worth checking out daily.

- Five films entered Hong Kong box office charts on Thursday opening day, with four of them major wide releases. Connected, director Benny Chan’s Hong Kong remake of the Hollywood film Cellular, opened on top with HK$546,000 from 40 screens, and should easily pass the HK$3 million mark by the end of the weekend. Depending on word-of-mouth, the action thriller should end up with over HK$10 million, and may even have a chance at matching Invisible Target’s HK$13 million+ take. It’ll make all its money back in China anyway.

The Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys opened on 32 screens with less showings because of its 142-minute running (but saw a ticket price inflation to make up for it. It ended up making HK$371,000, and saw a lower per-screen average than Connected. It might hit the HK$2 million mark by the end of the weekend, and it definitely won’t do as well as the Death Note films, which were also produced by NTV in Japan. Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye didn’t do that well, either, with only HK$360,000 from 38 screens on opening day.

Quite appropriately named is The Disaster Movie. With a gross of HK$90,000 from 21 screens, the result is no less than a disaster. Not doing so well either is the Korean blockbuster thriller The Chaser, which made just HK$16,000 from 5 screens on opening day. More on Monday when the weekend numbers are out.

- The Chinese film industry continues to expand this year, with Chinese films’ grosses for the first eight months of the year up 31% from the same time period last year. The shocker: Kung Fu Dunk is one of the three films that make up 40% of the total gross for local films. I guess word-of-mouth doesn’t have as big of an effect as one might think.

- Under “Bangkok International Film Festival” news today, Wise Kwai looks at the festival so far, including why head juror Eric Khoo had to leave the festival early. Meanwhile, Brian over at Asian Cinema - While on the Road has short reviews of the films he’s seen so far.

- Also, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Festival has just unveiled two new non-competition sections, which will bring high-profile films such as Clint Eastwood’s latest Changeling and Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It to the festival in November. If time allows, The Golden Rock will once again live-blog the awards as it’s playing on TV come December 6th.

- It’s reviews time! Japan Time’s Mark Schilling gives a rave for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, which I’ll be watching at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. On the other hand, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa doesn’t seem to like “the pregnant 11-year old movie” Kodomo no Kodomo so much.

- Grady Hendrix at Kaiju Shakedown rounds up all the wacky happenings in the world of Asian cinema this week.

- EEG has finally jumped on damage control over the delay of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident, which is said to feature Jackie Chan in his first purely dramatic role. The film was supposed to be released this month, but rumors have been going around that China’s censorship authority is keeping the film in limbo, resulting in its delay. Instead, EEG says that it’s still in post-production and won’t be ready until the first quarter of 2009. I expect them to push this out for Lunar New Year, a popular time slot for Jackie Chan films. At least in Hong Kong.

- Chinese 5th Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang slightly bored me with his last film The Go Master. Now, he’s upping the good-looking people factor for the guys by casting Maggie Q for his new period action film. Didn’t he learn anything from watching Three Kingdoms?

- Nippon Cinema is back with the full-length trailer for Swing Girls director Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest film Happy Flight. I trust the actual film to be better than the trailer.

This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at long-running reality shows departing the airwaves on Japanese TV.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (who got their information from today’s Oriental Daily - not always the most trustworthy source of news), Emperor Motion Pictures may be asking Louis Koo, Barbie Hsu, and director Benny Chan to reunite for a romantic comedy after the success of Connected. Maybe she’ll be less annoying in a romantic comedy lead than as a damsel in distress.

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2008 Edition

- Guess who just won the weekend box office in Hong Kong again? For the 4th weekend in a row, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes the top spot, making HK$816,000 from 34 screens on Sunday (again, much of it from the higher-priced 3D showings) for a 25-day total of HK$30.92 million. Brendan Frasier is now the most bankable star in Hong Kong this year, with his two films making a total of HK$68 million and counting in Hong Kong.

This means that the Pang Brothers’ remake of Bangkok Dangerous got bumped down to second place, making almost HK$520,000 from 34 screens for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$1.85 million. The film will likely finish on par with the brothers’ recent efforts at around HK$5-6 million. The other only opener that made it to the top 10 is the horror film The Strangers, which made HK$103,000 from 15 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$390,000.  According to the Hong Kong Film blog, the three Hong Kong-based films - The Luckiest Man, A Decade of Love, and Rule #1 - made 4-day weekend totals of HK$96,000, HK$80,000, and HK$78,000 from 12, 11, and 5 screens, respectively. The award-winning Rule #1 can be said to be the most successful one, because it’s only play on 5 screens, and at least two of those screens only play the film once a day at 11:45pm.

As for holdovers, Rec barely hangs in there for its second weekend, making HK$295,000 from 28 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$4.85 million. Cyborg She is showing surprising legs in its third weekend, still making HK$204,000 from 16 screens for an 18-day total of HK$4.47 million. Not hanging in so well are Hana Yori Dango Final, which made just HK$76,000 from 14 screens (with a reduced amount of a screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.18 million, and Partick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, which made just HK$59,000 from 22 screens (also with reduced amount of screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.53 million.

- In Japan cinema attendance chart, 20th Century Boys have come back from behind for a boost to 1st place in its second weekend, with Ponyo taking 2nd place and Hancock dropping all the way to 3rd place. Sex and the City also got a boost up to 5th place, which shows that it’s got staying power, even if it’s only limited to the urban areas. Nim’s Island debuts at 6th place, while Goo Goo the Cat shows that cats are just not as popular as dogs in the cinema with an 8th place debut.

- In an amazing turn of events, the Taiwanese Academy Awards representative Cape No. 7 saw a boost of 77% in box office gross for its second weekend, and has thankfully now surpassed Kung Fu Dunk as the highest-grossing local film in Taiwan.

- That was quick: Some Summer 2008 dramas are already wrapping up their runs, though the drama ratings aren’t getting any better. First, Sono Otoko, Fukushocho ended with a barely above-average 11.9% rating for its last episode and a season average rating of 11.8%. That’s considerably lower than the 13.5% average of the first series. Yottsu no Uso takes an early ending with only 9 episodes, wrapping up with an above-average 9.6% rating for its final episode and a 9.3% season average. The Takashi Sorimachi-starring flop Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko ended up with only a 6.4% rating for its final episode and an embarrassing 6.5% season average. It’s about to be the flop of the season, because Koizora has boosted its season average to 6.4% because of a season-high 7.6% rating for this week’s episode.

Tomorrow wrapped up with an OK-14.1% rating final episode for a season average of 12.6%. Right now, it’s looking to be one of the better-performing dramas of the season, behind Taiyou to Umi no Kyoushitsu (14.1% rating for this week’s episode), Yasuko to Kenji (dropping to a 13% this week after a one-week hiatus), and Code Blue (down to a below-average 14.9% rating for its second-to-last episode). Getting close to the end of the season apparently isn’t energizing the ratings battle any, with only Koizora reaching its season high this week.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph.

- With its screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the beatdown of the Yu Wai Lik’s Hong Kong co-production Plastic City continues. This time, it’s jury member Johnnie To’s turn to do the beating, quoted by Apple Daily: “I think director Yu Wai Lik has yet to finish making the film. Great cinematography cannot make up the film’s whole.”  He also said that he does not agree with the jury’s pick for Best Actor and the Golden Lion, saying that the Turkish film Milk and Russia’s Paper Soldiers should taken those awards, respectively.

Jury president Wim Wenders also lament that there’s a rule set by the festival that the Golden Lion-winning film cannot also win Best Actor, which explains why Mickey Rourke didn’t pick up Best Actor for The Wrestler, despite being the heavy favorite. When the Japanese press asked Wenders why Ponyo didn’t pick up any prizes, Wenders simply said that he lost sleep over Ponyo because he likes the film very much. He also said that in order to prove their love for Ponyo, the jury members will be singing the theme song for the rest of their lives.

Original story by Apple Daily.

- Variety also cover the snubbing of Asian films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

- As for Plastic City, its sales company has confirmed that they will work with the filmmakers to recut the film after its screenings at Venice and Toronto. The company blames the rushed post-production process for the film’s bad word-of-mouth and urge potential buyers to wait for the new cut.

- In Toronto, Momoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers was acquired by Sony for distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. Strangely, Warner Bros. Japan was a major distributor of the film in its native Japan, although Sony actually acquired the rights directly from the film’s production company.

- Korean director Choi Dong Hoon has gotten a hell of a cast in hopes for a third consecutive hit after The Big Swindle and Tezza: The High Rollers. This time, he’ll bring a historical figure into modern times as a superhero from the past fighting supernatural figures.

- Perhaps not as exciting to some people is the official announcement of Utada Hikaru’s second English album, which is now slated for a seond half 2008 release. Actually, I’m kind of excited. But that’s only because I’m a fan that kind of liked her first English album.

- Some Japanese content makers have decided to embrace the internet video format, uploading their own content either on Youtube, or on their own company’s video site. Of course, I must point out that while GyaO allows foreign users to register, they actually do not allow computers from non-Japanese IP address to view their contents, which, for the lack of a better word, sucks.

- Twitch offers up approximately ten seconds from the upcoming animated film Gatchaman, produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios.

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown reports that after the failed Azn Television in America, the other Asian-American network ImaginAsian is looking at layoffs after a new CEO took over.  This goes to show that mainstream America just doesn’t care.

The Golden Rock - September 5th, 2008 Edition

- It’s looking like it’ll be a rather quiet weekend at the Hong Kong box office. The Pang Brothers’ self-remake of Bangkok Dangerous has a first-place opening on opening day. However, it only made HK$307,000 from 34 screens, which means it’ll likely make somewhere in the region of only HK$2 million over the weekend. That’s actually very good, since only 2 out of 5 opening films made it to the top ten on opening day. The other film is the Hollywood thriller The Strangers, which made just HK$60,000 from 15 screens. More when the numbers come out on Monday.

- Despite the delay, The Mummy 3 has opened huge in China, making USD$2 million on opening day. That number is similar to the opening for The Forbidden Kingdom and The Warlords, both of which has gone on to be blockbusters. The opening is also Universal’s best opening day in China. The Hollywood adventure film will end up being profitable thanks to international gross alone, as it has even yet to make USD$100 million in the States.

- Under “the latest way to make Shakespeare spin in his grave” news today, Avex and Kansai TV will collaborate on producing a drama that will consist of several modern versions of Shakespeare’s plays, and all of them will star the idol group AAA.

- It’s trailers time! Nippon Cinema has the trailer for Seven Nights, the latest by The Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase. Twitch has a trailer for My Dear Enemy, Korean director Lee Yoon Gi’s follow-up to his much-admired Ad Lib Night. This time, he even has award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon along for the ride. Twitch also has the trailer for Choi Ho’s Go Go 70s, which looks at the music of that turbulent period in contempoary Korean history.

- With the Venice Film Festival wrapping up tomorrow, The Hollywood Reporter looks at a competition happening within the competition films.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at an American-produced movie that was shot in Hong Kong and didn’t feature a dude in a bat. It does feature zombies, though.

- Lastly, the Associated Press’s Min Lee writes about Taiwansese-American musician Joanna Wang’s success in Asia, which has led to a sales figure 220,000 copies in Asia. Her album was even on the top 10 of the international charts in HMV Japan.

 
 
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