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The Golden Rock - Predictions for the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards

As I had promised, I would offer my own predictions for the Hong Kong Film Awards last year. I have to admit that this year is quite hard to call, especially with the technical awards. So, I will try and look for patterns from past voting and call what will most likely win.

Of course, you can come up with your own predictions with the list of nominees, and we can match results during my live blog on Sunday night. If you predict more than me, you get a cyber pat on the back.

Here are my predictions, with comments on selected categories:

BEST NEW DIRECTOR:

Will win: Ivy Ho (Crossing Hennessy)
Should win: Freddie Wong (The Drunkard)

As seen with all the nominations for CROSSING HENNESSY, you can tell that the HKFA committee has a thing for Ivy Ho. Considering that she lost two years ago to Derek Kwok, she may finally get her chance here. However, I think Freddie Wong did the best, directing-wise, even though I enjoyed ONCE A GANGSTER the most out of these three films.

BEST ASIAN FILM

Will win: Aftershock
Should win: Confessions

People who follow the blog know how much I loved CONFESSIONS, so it’s an easy choice for me. But you know the popular opinion is for AFTERSHOCK, and the Hong Kong-based committee will definitely be no different.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Will Win: Detective Dee

Should win: Dream Home

No clear winner, but I think DREAM HOME’s make-up/special effects team really made the film. DETECTIVE DEE would also be a fine choice, though.

BEST SOUND DESIGN:

Will Win: anything with Kinson Tsang

Should win: Anything not with Kinson Tsang

Poor Kinson Tsang does almost every major HK films these days, but his work is highly overrated. He overmixed the INFERNAL AFFAIRS trilogy and hasn’t done one good dubbed movie since. You work hard, Mr. Tsang, but I’d rather see someone else get the award. You should be fine, though, look at how much money you probably make.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

Will Win: Here to Stay (Merry-Go-Round)

Should Win: Here to Stay (Merry-Go-Round)

I hated how the music was used in MERRY-GO-ROUND, but I love Jun Kung’s music. So there.

Best ORIGINAL FILM SCORE:

Will Win: Ip Man 2

Should Win: Gallants

BEST ACTION DESIGN:

Will Win: Ip Man 2

Should Win: Detective Dee

DETECTIVE DEE should be recognized for the cave fight scene alone, but IP MAN is IP MAN.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

Will Win: Confucius

Should win: Bruce Lee My Brother

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Will Win: Confucius

Should win: Confucius

BEST EDITING:

Will Win: Ip Man 2

Should Win: Detective Dee

A Tsui Hark movie is never easy to edit, and anyone who can take a Tsui Hark work and edit it into a coherent piece of cinema deserves recognition.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Will Win: Peter Pau (COnfucius)

Should win: Jason Kwan (Merry-Go-Round)

Just like Arthur Wong, Peter Pau is one of those figures who would likely win any cinematography nomination. He’ll pick it up, but I’ll remember MERRY-GO-ROUND as the most gorgeous HK film of the year.

BEST NEW ARTIST:

Will Win: Dennis To (Legend is Born)

Should Win: Bryon Pang (Amphetamine)

Dennis To got the most attention-getting role, but Bryon Pang really did give his all to AMPHETAMINE. No matter how bad the movie was, Pang was solid in his role as the unstable drug addict. Plus, judging from how he was at the HKIFF Q&A, his acceptance speech alone will make the show run an hour overtime. At least.

BEST SCREENPLAY

Will Win: Break Up Club

Should Win: Love in a Puff

I’m a Pang Ho-Cheung fan (at least up til recently), and LOVE IN A PUFF is easily his wittiest and most natural script. BREAK UP CLUB has a better chance with its narrative gimmick, but I hated its self-indulgence. I wouldn’t even mind if GALLANTS ended up winning.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will win: Bau Hei-Jing (Crossing Hennessy)

Should Win: Mimi Chi Mi-Mi (Crossing Hennessy)

Bau Hei-Jing simply annoyed me in CROSSING HENNESSY, though it was the writing’s fault. Mimi Chu gives the most subtle performance I’ve seen her in, but that’s because she frequently overacts. Her down-to-earth performance was the most refreshing thing in the film. If Carina Lau was in this category, it would’ve been a hell of a lot easier to pick.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will Win: Teddy Robin (Gallants)

Should win: Teddy Robin (Gallants)

He won the Most Awesome Award at the LoveHKFilm awards. ’nuff said.

BEST ACTRESS

Will Win: Carina Lau (Detective Dee)

Should win: Fiona Sit (Break Up Club)

Again, as much as I hated BREAK UP CLUB, it featured Fiona’s most natural performance yet. Her performance was easily the most award-bait of all, and may well getting enough votes to beat Carina’s star power votes.

BEST ACTOR

Will Win: Nick Cheung (Stool Pigeon)

Should Win: Nick Cheung (Stool Pigeon)

Nick is the only one that would earn a win, in my humble opinion.

BEST DIRECTOR

Will win: Wilson Yip (Ip Man 2)

Should win: Tsui Hark (Detective Dee)

Tsui Hark is back, and that’s enough for me. Wilson Yip might get the sympathy vote for not winning for IP MAN, and the first half of IP MAN 2 was actually really damn good.

BEST FILM

Will win: Ip Man 2

Should win: Detective Dee

IP MAN 2 will ride on the tail of IP MAN and likely pick up the blockbuster best picture votes. However, DETECTIVE DEE is a more impressive filmmaking feat overall. But hey, maybe GALLANTS will get the nostalgic love and go home winnin’. I’d be happy, but I’ll just say I didn’t vote for it as Best Film at the LoveHKFilm Awards.

So, now you know my predictions. I may change them during the live blog, but these are the best picks I can make as far as I know now. Join us on the Golden Rock 30th Hong Kong Film Awards Live Blog and catch all the action. Just click on the link and find out what you need to know.

See you all on the 14th!

The Golden Rock - Days of Being Wild 20th Anniversary Screening Edition

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Since 2003, the Leslie Cheung fan club Red Mission would put on various activities to commemorate the death of the superstar. They include outdoor concerts, photo exhibitions, and of course, movie screenings. In addition to the screenings of HAPPY TOGETHER and BUENOS AIRES ZERO DEGREE at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Red Mission is taking advantage of the 20th anniversary of Wong Kar Wai’s DAYS OF BEING WILD by choosing it as the film to screen this year. This year, the screening is at Tsim Sha Tsui’s Grand Ocean Theatre, which is one of HK’s largest cinemas, and one of the few single-screen cinema left in the city.

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It doesn’t look very big, but it’s a 579-seat theater

The group put on two screenings of the film over two days - the digitally remastered version on the first day, and the original 35mm film print on the second. I wanted to watch the original film print, but I could only fit in the digitally-remastered print, which I imagined would look crisp, but not as nice as a film print.

Of course, the showing was literally packed, which prompted me to show up a little bit early to catch the pandemonium in the small cinema lobby.

 photo-apr-08-19-39-31.jpg

Many fans, who spoke various languages, were all trying to get a picture of this:

photo-apr-08-19-39-50.jpg

As you can see, most fans that were there was female. I’m thankful I was with one at the time.

Upon entering the cinema, each audience member got this:

photo-apr-08-19-40-11.jpg
There’s two brochures for the group’s activities and a commemorative ticket

Just like how CHUNGKING EXPRESS will always be my favorite Wong Kar Wai film, DAYS OF BEING WILD will likely remain my second for a very long time, and Leslie Cheung’s charismatic performance will make up a large part of that. The way Leslie turns the unlikeable Luddy into one of the most memorable romantic leads in the history of Hong Kong cinema is the very definition of a star performance. He commands the screen every time he appears, and there’s probably no better film to showcase Leslie’s talent than this film.  Being a screening by the Leslie Cheung fan club, there were applause at the very first shot of the film, with Leslie walking down the hallway. Days before the screening, producer Alan Tang Kwong-Wing suddenly passed away, and there were applause from the audience when his name appeared in the opening credits as well.

I’ve never seen DAYS OF BEING WILD on the big screen, and it was absolutely mesmerizing. However, the so-called digitally remastered version doesn’t improve the film too much. It’s a fine print, even with Christopher Doyle’s intended green tint restored. But the film is shot in very soft tones, which means it’ll never look at that crisp. With that, I would rather see a film print for the grain and the inherently old-school look that comes with a film print.

Nevertheless, what better way to remember one of Hong Kong’s best superstars with a screening of one of his best films. As a fan of Hong Kong cinema, Wong Kar Wai, DAYS OF BEING WILD, and Leslie Cheung, this was a great experience. Whether I’ll be returning to next year’s screenings depends on the film Red Mission will be choosing, but right now I’m already betting I’ll be there.

 

The Golden Rock - 2010 HKAFF Final Edition

I haven’t finished a series of film festival entries in about a year and a half now, so I figured I should end that streak now, especially there’s only three films left to write about:

HaHaHa (2010, South Korea, Director: Hong Sang-Soo):  I’m sure that Hong Sang-Soo is a real swell guy to hang out with, but I’d never let him meet any girl I go out with. HAHAHA should be familiar to anyone who’s seen Hong’s movies: Dysfunctional relationships, inter-connecting character, and a whole lot of drinking. The film’s amusing, though a little long, repetitive, and slightly insignificant when it’s all over. Fans of Hong will love it, and those afraid of his rough edges may enjoy it too.

My review of Merry-Go-Round is already on LoveHKFilm, so check it out

Under the Hawthorn Tree (2010, China, Director: Zhang Yimou): With this and A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP, Zhang Yimou has become for me a director who makes really brilliant parts of a movie that never quite add up. This simple pure romance film is the best thing Zhang has done since RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES, though it’s still rather flawed because it doesn’t even try to hide the fact that it’s condensing way too much of a long novel. Nevertheless, if I have to choose between big-budget Zhang Yimou and simply Zhang Yimou, it’s pretty easy to see which one I’d choose.

Note: Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I am absolutely gaga over lead actress Zhou Dongyu, but it’s because she was lovelier in real life than she was in the film.

That wraps up another year at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. It is still absolutely my favorite time of the year, and I hope to watch even more films at next year’s edition!

Next: LET THE BULLETS FLY review!

Hong Kong Film Awards 2010 Preview

Before I get to part 3 of my HKIFF report, I want to announce this:

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As I had done last year, I will be live-blogging this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards. After the TVB debacle last year, competitor ATV is broadcasting this year, and they promise to present the show uncut. However, it appears that they will be showing it an hour late. And I will be sitting at home, in front of the tv with a computer, ready to deliver the news as they are shown on television.

So I will start roughly at 19:55 Hong Kong time on April 18th. For the West Coast of the United States, that’s bright and early at 04:55 on the 18th. Those in the UK, that’s 12:55. Everyone else, adjust accordingly.

Hope to see you all at the comments section!

The Golden Rock - August 20th, 2008 Edition

I know we haven’t been consistent with posting. Just hang in there, and things will be back to normal soon. Even Box Office Mojo is catching up on their Japan box office figures already, so there may be hope for us yet.

- Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea has officially crossed the 10 billion yen mark at the Japanese box office after 31 days in release. That’s 2 days quicker than Howl’s Moving Castle, which means it has a good chance of surpassing that film’s final take of 19.6 billion yen. However, it’s not likely to surpass the record-breaking gross of Spirited Away.

- In China, wall-to-wall Olympics coverage has temporarily turned people off from going to the movies, causing total box office gross to actually go down.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! After a record-setting debut, Namie Amuro’s latest compilation is seeing its 3rd week at the top of the album charts. Meanwhile, SMAP’s latest single debuts at the top spot, but continues to only tie the record for the most top 10 appearance because the latest single by Southern All Stars (the record’s co-holder) is also on the top 10.

More at Tokyograph

- Forget Liu Xiang and Michael Phelps, major Olympics sponsor Samsung has a secret weapon that no one else has to promote their products in Beijing.

-  Taegukgi director Kang Je-Gyu is going to TV with a high-budget 20-episode series starring Lee Byung-Hun and a rapper named T.O.P.. I’m not joking about that name.

-  I’m not joking about this one either: Kaiju Shakedown introduces Japanese cinema’s latest way of dieting - through rock n roll! That theme song is bound to be a cult classic.

Japanese girls group SPEED is having their third reunion, although this time it’s said to be a full-on reunion that will go into 2009.

- Japanese AV star Aoi Sora is braching out into a serious acting career in Asia, taking a role in a 4-episode Korean mini-drama.

The Golden Rock - August 15th, 2008 Edition

Holy crap, it’s been a while.

Housekeeping notes:

This blogger has been working at the Olympics with work hours that are borderline inhumane, so again, much apologies to the few loyal readers and the management of Lovehkfilm for the lack of updates. Not logging in for over a week meant that I had to quickly filter 619 comments that looked like spam. If you left a comment in the last two weeks and it didn’t get published, then it was probably because it was stuck between an ad for online casinos and some incomprehensible comment in Russian. With my work hours now normalizing to something more humane, I will be able to log in more often, so please try leaving it again, and it’ll probably find its way onto the site.

I’ll be able to update a little more often now, but postings won’t get back to normal until the horses stop walking around their sandboxes here in Hong Kong.

And now, the news:

The worldwide hit The Dark Knight has finally made it way to Japan. However, the phenomenon hasn’t quite hit the country as local hits like Hana Yori Dango and Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea have overshadowed the buzz. Warner Bros. was quite cautious, releasing the sequel on 460 screens (as opposed to 545 screens for Batman Begins) and opening it 4 weeks after it opened in the United States (Batman Begins had a day-to-date opening in 2005). Add that with an longer running time and a lack of IMAX screens in Japan to boost the box office, The Dark Knight opened at 2nd place behind Ponyo with 220 million. That’s only 76% of Batman Begins‘ opening, though that may again be attributed to less showings on less screens. I hesitate to say that Warners blew it this time, because they had to go up against the Toho blockbusters, which is probably the reason why they moved the opening back to August. With Star Wars Clone Wars, Sex and the City, 20th Century Boys, and Hancock still on the way, Warners may find Japan a bit of an anomaly when it’s all said and done. However, word-of-mouth seems to be good (85% of voters gave the film an A on MovieWalker), and since long-term income is what makes films blockbusters in Japan, there may be still be hope for Batman in Japan.

- Thanks to The Magic Hour, Hana Yori Dango, and Ponyo of the Cliff by the Sea, Toho has set a new record for monthly box office takings. Despite a weaker-than-expected performance for the first half of 2008, Toho will probably end up seeing some real positive news at the end of the year.

- Pokemon has actually contributed greatly to Toho’s success in June as well. In fact, thanks to the franchise’s latest film, which successfully held up its own against the Studio Ghibli giant, the Pokemon brand name is expected to make over 50 billion yen from the big screen alone.

- The rules of humor about China is constantly being rewritten. While it seemed like Chinese netizens can’t seem to take any kind of joke, now the situation has changed to one where you can poke fun at the Chinese teams - as long as you’re Chinese.

-The Hong Kong omnibus film A Decade of Love - featuring shorts by directors such as Wong Ching-Po, Aubrey Lam, and Marco Mak - finally made its premiere at the Summer edition of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. However, it seems like A-1 Headline co-director Chung Kai-Cheong’s short may have been eliminated from the final cut because it deals with the ‘89 Tiananmen Square incident.

-  Kaiju Shakedown looks at how the Anthony Wong’s Initial D school of method acting was used to excessive effect on the set of the Korean film Sunny.

- Min Lee looks at the Hong Kong debut of Chinese-American rapper Jin, who rose to fame in the hip-hop world after winning a freestyle rap contest on TV for 6 weeks in a row.

It’s off to work to see more dressag. See you next time.

We’re not ready - aka this is not a real update

The blogger is working on something that makes him unavailable to spend time on the blog.

We’ll be back, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be until you stop hearing “We Are Ready”.

Until then, here’s something cute.

And here’s something creepy

The Golden Rock - July 1st, 2008 Edition.

Or otherwise known as the weekly number crunching edition.

- The end of the academic year in Hong Kong schools and two major blockbuster openings add up to a very crowded weekend at the Hong Kong box office. On 64 screens (a majority of them showing the Cantonese-dubbed version), Kung Fu Panda won the weekend. Opening on a Saturday (instead of the usual Thursday), the Hollywood animated film made HK$3.41 million for a 2-day total of HK$6.47 million. The other huge film was the action film Wanted, which opened on a Friday. From 47 screens, it made HK$2.49 million on Sunday for a 3-day total of HK$7.37 million. While it seems like Kung Fu Panda won by a stretch, their per-screen average are close enough to indicate that the audience are fairly split evenly between the two films. With a public holiday today, the two films will easily surpass the HK$10 million mark.

It was also a pretty busy weekend for the limited releases. The French film Ensemble (starring Audrey Tautou, who has become quite popular in Hong Kong after Amelie) made HK$84,000 from 4 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$260,000. The Las Vegas-themed 21 continues it strong run, making HK$51,000 from 3 screens on Sunday with a 11-day total of HK$520,000.

With the major blockbusters, the holdover films obviously lost out of plenty of audience. The Chronicles of Narnia probably managed to retain its Christian audience after losing its family audience to Kung Fu Panda, with a HK$409,000 take from 30 screens on Sunday. After 25 days, the fantasy epic has made HK$24.55 million, with HK$25 million a certainty. Johnnie To’s Sparrow lost its adult audience (and plenty of screens/showings) to Wanted, making only HK$245,000 from 30 screens (most of them with a reduced number of showings a day) and a 11-day total of HK$4.92 million. It’ll do better than Triangle and way better than Linger, though.

- The cat’s out of the bag now: the Hana Yori Dango film version is a major hit at the Japanese box office, making over 1 billion yen from 400 screens in the first two days alone. According to Eiga Consultant, this is 99% of the opening weekend gross of Hero the Movie, and its approximately 805,000 admissions (thanks, JG!) is actually 107% of Hero’s opening weekend as well. Higher admission figures and lower box office means that the film’s audience is either skewing younger (kids and student discounted tickets) or much of the audience bought discounted advance tickets. Also, it’s worth noting that the audience is 91% female, which is  very surprisingly, even though the gimmick of the film is a young girl loved and adored by 4 handsome rich guys. Anyway, such youth-oriented, idols-driven blockbuster are word-of-mouth-proof, and with the school holidays coming up, it’ll probably hit Hero’s 8 billion yen take, or at least fairly close to it.

One of the many achievements Hana Yori Dango will be remembered for is its ability to unseat Indiana Jones after it only spent one weekend at the top. The adventure film reportedly dropped by 57%, but that’s only because Box Office Mojo based this on the Paramount-reported opening weekend number, which included the sneak previews. In reality, the film only lost about 30% of its audience from the previous weekend if you calculate it with the 847 million yen I reported last week. After two weekends, it has already made over 2.5 billion yen, and will top both The Magic Hour and The Chronicles of Narnia by now already.

The biggest disappointment goes to Stephen Chow, whose CJ7 opened on 190 screens with a 2-day take of only 34 million yen. This is after Kung Fu Hustle opened in 2005 with 307 million yen during the New Years holiday. Also, Paul Haggis’ In the Valley of Elah opens just one place below CJ7, but it also opened on far less screens and features a far less appealing subject.

Elsewhere, The Magic Hour still performing strongly with only 22% less audience for its 4th weekend. Even though Narnia reported only a 33% drop, there were only two people at the Thursday screening I attended last week, and it will struggle to even match half the take of the first film. Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She will drop out of the top 10 by next weekend, and nowhere near the 1 billion yen mark, which must be somewhat of a disappointment for its distributor. But it must have Panasian appeal…right?

- Maybe not, because Kwak’s latest Korean film opened this past weekend all the way down at 8th place. The North Korean refugee-themed Crossing also fail to attract the audiences at 4th place and a not-very-good per-screen average. The Public Enemy Returns also lost its first place throne to Wanted, though it has already acculmulated 2.7 million admission.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Many of the remaining Spring 2008 drama wrapped up this past week. The highest-rated final episode was of course Gokusen, which wrapped up its third season with 23.6% rating and a season average of 22.6%. This doesn’t quite reach the heights of the season premiere, which saw a 26.4% rating, and the second season’s 27.8% season average. However, it’s still the highest-rated drama of the season, unless Kimura Takuya’s CHANGE catches up in a major way. However, it’s 7th episode only saw a 20.9 rating, and its 20.9 season average means the final two episodes will have to attract major ratings in order to surpass Gokusen.

Meanwhile, Osen managed to rebound from its season low 9th episode for a 10.1%-rated finale and a season average of 9.1%. Zettai Kareshi ends with a 13.6% rating, which is higher than its premiere episode, and saw a season average of 13.2%. Ryoteki Na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl) wrapped up with just 7.2%, or a little more than half the ratings it got for its premiere, and only second-to-last lowest rated drama on the major networks.

- Meanwhile, Tokyograph has put up their preview for the Summer 2008 Japanese dramas. Much credit to their hard work.

-  Japanese media conglomerate Kadokawa has invested into a Japanese academy that will train professionals for different fields within animation. This is the first time the media company has directly invested into training talent.

- Twitch has a trailer for Kallang Roar, which may be Singapore’s first sports biopic.

- The Japanese best-seller Sono Hi no Mae ni is coming to the big screen. About a woman with terminal illness aimed to live her life to the fullest, it doesn’t sound very interesting, let alone original.

- Johnnie To’s Sparrow continues its global film festivals tour and will head next to open the Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival.

- The Mainichi Daily News has an article about American TV network ABC’s new game show/xenophobic disaster I Survived a Japanese Game Show. The producers actually have the idea half right, until this quote: “In Japan, it’s not like that — it’s shock for shock’s sake. If they feel bad, who cares?” Leave it to the Simpsons to get the idea right: “In America, they reward you for your intelligence. Here, we punish you for your ignorance.”

Oh, and Tokyomango has actually seen the show and says it makes her “want to barf”.

- After its vocalist had to take leave for throat surgery, the Nakanomori Band has annouced that it will split up, with its members going their separate ways.

- Natural City director Min Byung-chun is one of the eight people named by the Korean government to join the KOFIC.

The Golden Rock - May 13th, 2008 Edition

- It’s disappointments all around. Let’s start with the Hong Kong box office. Since yesterday was a public holiday in Hong Kong, the grosses I got are from Monday. As expected, Speed Racer really crashed and burned, losing 8 screens after Thursday’s disastrous opening. After 4 days, the Wachowski’s live-action anime film made only HK$1.91 million. In comparison, Iron Man made 9.2 million over the first 5 days last weekend. A ton of theaters in Hong Kong are already taking the film down to 2-3 shows a day by Thursday.

Meanwhile, What Happens in Vegas also beat Speed Racer here, making HK$646,000 from 29 screens on Monday for a 5-day total of HK$2.59 million. Iron Man ruled for the second weekend in a row, making HK$1.35 million from 47 screens for a 13-day total of HK$16.51 million. Japanese puppy movie A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies is bringing in the families, making another HK$688,000 from 25 screens for a 12-day total of HK$5.43 million. The Other Boleyn Girl enjoyed a strong weekend, making HK$182,000 from just 8 screens for a HK$1.86 million 12-day total. My Wife is a Gambling Maestro is actually still in the game, with a 12-day total of just HK$2.46 million. Also, the doggie documentary This Darling Life didn’t do so well, with only HK$300,000 from 8 screens over 5 days.

- In Korean box office, Iron Man is already up to 2.8 million admissions after two weekends, while Speed Racer did so-so with over 400,000 admissions on opening weekend. More over at Korea Pop Wars.

However, as Grady Hendrix writes, from a Time’s photo flub to Speed Racer’s flopping, Rain just can’t seem to get any respect.

The only place where Speed Racer can try and rescue itself is Japan, where the film will open in September. They’ve already gotten a popular boy band member to dub the main character.

- SMAP’s Kimura Takuya must be a little disappointed too, with his latest Monday 9pm (Japanese drama’s most popular time slot) drama CHANGE scoring only an 23.9% rating for its first episode. This is the lowest-rated premiere for a KimuTaku drama since The Sleeping Forest in 1998 with a 21.3% rating for its first episode, though that drama did have a 30.8% rating for its finale. Perhaps word-of-mouth will eventually help pull it up, but right now, it’s losing to Gokusen, and Fuji TV definitely doesn’t want that to happen.

Actually, the trailer looks quite good. Hell, even the Madonna song works.

- While a third place opening is kind of a disappointment for the Japanese blockbuster The Last Princess, Eiga Consultant reminds us that its opening was still 114% of the opening for the last Kurosawa remake Tsubaki Sanjuro, and that one just barely did over 1 billion yen, so there is still hope for it.

- Oh dear, the Back Dorm Boys, essentially two Chinese guys that pretended to be as talented as real pop stars, are already starring in their third movie, directed by the writer/star of Pavilion of Women. Never heard of it? Keep it that way.

- Takashi Miike continues his slow journey into the mainstream, as he is once again taking the director’s seat for the sequel to last year’s hit comic adaptation Crows Zero.

- The Korean Film Archive opened a film museum and a new cinematheque that will be showing rare old films and just plain ol’ rare films. Know what the “cinematheque” in Hong Kong is playing right now? Iron Man and Speed Racer.

- F*ckedGaijin introduces us to the work of Japanese director Yasuyuki Kobota, who has uploaded his own award-winning commercials and short films on Youtube.

- Utada Hikaru’s latest album Heart Station has finally surpassed the one million mark in sales, marking her 6th consecutive album to do so. My review of the album is here.

- A Singaporean company is joining onboard the production of the new Japanese-France co-produced animated film Yona Yona Penguin. Coincidentally, the budget has just been boosted by USD$1 million.

- Hindu groups in India want the Hollywood comedy The Love Guru banned in the country simply because it can potentially hurt the Hindu community. No, none of these guys have actually seen the movie yet.

- Variety’s Ronnie Schieb has a review for the Chinese film Lost Indulgence, starring Karen Mok and Eason Chan.

The Golden Rock - May 3rd, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! From Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is his take on the Japanese teen film Sands’ Chronicle (Sunadokei). From Hollywood Reporter’s Neil Young is his review of the Korean horror film Black House. Lastly, there are two reviews of The Wachowski Brothers’ Speed Racer, which is mentioned in this blog because it features Korean superstar Rain: Variety has a review by Todd McCarthy, while Hollywood Reporter has a review by Kirk Honeycutt.

- Screenwriter Eriko Kitagawa, who has written classic Japanese dramas such as Long Vacation and Beautiful Life (Long Vacation being one of my favorites), is making her directorial debut under producer Shunji Iwai, one of my favorite directors. If this was shot last October, then why isn’t it opening until Spring next year? Anyway, I’ll be keeping this one in my sights.

- Indian government censors in 2007 managed to clear the highest number of films without cuts in recent years, with only 11 films out of over 1,500 ending up being banned. The number of films requiring cuts also reduced significantly. China, on the other hand…

 
 
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