Friday, November 16, 2007

The Golden Rock finds a new home

Like the fate of Lust, Caution, the sad lost orphan that is The Golden Rock has found a new home with larger exposure and a prettier layout. We are now one of the three official Lovehkfilm blogs. Unlike The Golden Horse Awards, Lovehkfilm doesn't make any mistakes like giving Aaron Kwok acting awards.

Find us here
(Special thanks to Sanney for the header)

Thanks to everyone's support for these 471 posts here at Blogger!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Golden Rock - November 9th, 2007 Edition

- Earlier in the week I wrote that the Japanese film Always 2 opened at 150% of its sequel's opening. Thanks to Eiga Consultant, I now realize I was wrong. At 550 million yen, its opening is actually 256% of the original's opening, which means if the word-of-mouth holds up, Always 2 may be heading for the 5 billion yen mark to become the second-biggest film of the year behind Hero.

- Speaking of Always 2, the Daily Yomiuri devotes some time to the blockbuster sequel, first with what seems like a pseudo-review for the film, then with a short feature on star Hidetaka Yoshioka.

- Under "big TV network exploits small town troubles" news today, Japanese network TBS will produce a drama about the troubles of Yubari, Hokkaido when the town literally went bankrupt. Who knows? Maybe it might turn out good. It probably won't.

- The Academy has announced their final list of qualified films for the best animated film awards - Japan's Tekkonkinkreet and the Hong Kong-produced TMNT are on that final list. Note that this does not mean they are now Oscar-nominated films; it just means they may be.

- In more Imagi news, the Hong Kong animation firm has acquired screenplay rights for Fluorescent Black, an original story that will first be adapted as a "graphic novel" before becoming an animated film. This is the first Imagi project that isn't based on an established story.

- Lust, Caution is not only a commercial hit in Mainland China, the censored version, which still has several nudity-less sex scenes, has touched off a massive internet debate about sexuality on screen and even Mainland censorship.

- Speaking of Chinese censorship, the Canadian Broadcasting Company has reportedly pulled a documentary on the persecution of Falun Gong members in China after pressure from Chinese diplomats. It's hard to believe that Canada has to be afraid of China when Hong Kong police don't even stop Falun Gong demonstrators from putting up a huge sign saying "Destroy the Chinese Communist Party" in the middle of the busiest district in Hong Kong.

- In Hong Kong, director Christopher Nolan says that he did not take out a scene in which Batman jumps into Victoria Harbor due to pollution, but because of a script change. In fact, he said he would have no problems dumping actors into pollution anyway. Christian Bale must be thanking someone that it didn't happen.

- Independent Korean directors are celebrating the opening of Indie Space, the first theater in South Korea dedicated to showing Korean independent feature films and short films.

- The Yomiuri's Teleview column writes about the role of the middle-aged people working in Japanese television.

The Golden Rock will be going away for a few days. This blogger will be shooting his final project this weekend while some administrative stuff gets taken care of. We'll be back on Monday, when we might have a little surprise.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Golden Rock - November 7th, 2007 Edition

- It's Oricon charts time! Mr. Children scores their 27th consecutive number 1 single this week, while Glay's latest EP could only get a 2nd place debut. As for the album chart, The Backstreet Boys' comeback album manages to hold on to the top spot for the second week in a row, as Seamo's latest manages a second place debut with 56,000 in sales. Go read more at Tokyograph.

- Despite delays and 7 minutes of cuts (though some of the sex scenes remain), Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a hit in China and is expected to surpass the distributor's forecast for its final gross. It's even made people discuss film sexuality, though it couldn't avoid the juvenile "shameless actors will do anything for money!" comments.

- As for South Korea, October 2007 box office is down 33% from October 2006. Before someone screams "piracy," a possible explanation for the drop is because the Chuseok holiday occurred in September this year.

- It's reviews time! Variety's Derek Elley actually manages to survive the Mainland Chinese comedy Contract Lover and lives to tell about it. Elley also reviews Taiwan's Academy Awards best foreign film entry Island Etude (also known as "the movie that replaced Lust, Caution"). Then Russell Edwards caught the hit "cell phone novel" adaptation Koizora (Sky of Love) at Tokyo International Film Festival.

Elsewhere, Lovehkfilm's Kozo offers up reviews of the Hong Kong "relay" film Triangle, the small Hong Kong film Magic Boy, and the hit Japanese drama adaptation film Hero. Meanwhile, Sanjuro offers up reviews of another Japanese drama adaptation Unfair: The Movie and the Korean summer horror hit Black House.

- Both Ryuganji and Jason Gray write about the latest controversy regarding Toho actually asking people to give a standing ovation for the cast at an opening day event for the Japanese film Always 2. This comes after Toho had a PR nightmare on their hands when Erika Sawajiri ridiculed her latest film Closed Note at a similar event.

Jason Gray coverage
Ryuganji coverage

- The fifth Bangkok World Film Festival is over, and the Austrian film Import/Export won best film, while Taiwanese art film Help Me Eros managed to earn the special jury prize.

- Did I enjoy the comic adaptation film Honey and Clover? Not greatly. Was it a really big hit? Not really. That's not stopping Fuji TV from bringing it to the drama world next season on Tuesdays at 9pm. Maybe it'd be better off there.

- With the possible exception of 28 Weeks Later, Fox Atomic hasn't released one movie that can be considered "good." However, that's not stopping them from becoming the first Hollywood studio to produce a movie in South Korea. This one doesn't sound any good, either.

- Under "Hong Kong people just like to complain, complain, complain" news today, after Batman realized Victoria Harbor's water is too toxic to jump into, environmental groups and some tenants are complaining the producers' request to keep the lights on at night for buildings along the waterfront.

To answer the group Green Sense: No, you cannot just "turn on" lights at night through post-production because there's no light on the buildings themselves. For a group named "Green Sense," you certainly don't have much "common sense."

- Under "most dubiously interesting idea" news today, Japan's NTV is planning a "blog drama," in which the path of a TV drama will be decided by fans who contribute to the drama's blog.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Golden Rock - November 6th, 2007 Edition

- It's Japanese drama ratings time! Galileo saw another small decline in its 3rd week, though it's still very strong at 21.3 rating (yes, I realize that the 4th week has already been shown, and we'll look at that next week). Fuji's 3rd Saturday 11pm drama SP premiered to a fairly strong 14.5 rating, which makes it the strongest premiere ratings for that time slot (Liar Game premiered at 12.3 and Life premiered at a 11 rating.). The challenge now is whether word-of-mouth will carry like the previous two dramas have.

Meanwhile, Iryu 2 rebounded slightly to a 15.8 for the 4th week, Hatachi No Koibito dipped all the way to a 7.4 rating, Joshi Deka continues its fall to an 8.4 rating for its 3rd week, but Takashi Sorimachi's Dream Again does manage to rebound slightly to a 10.0 rating in its 4th week.

All Japanese drama information on Tokyograph

- In American Film Market news, both buyers and sellers are complaining about the slow start. This is, of course, due to the constant stream of film markets happening not only in Asia, but also in Rome.

Meanwhile, since I'm a Hong Kong blogger, why would I not include a link about a panel on Hong Kong? Of course, it's going to be about lots and lots of co-productions.

- Then in your daily Andrew Lau news, the Weinstein Company decides to give Lau another Hollywood movie to work on, even though his first Hollywood movie hasn't even been released in Hong Kong.

Sorry this is a truncated version of the usual posts, despite having lots of news out there. We'll try to do things more normally tomorrow.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 11/6/07

- The Hong Kong websites couldn't deliver the Hong Kong box office stats in time, so I'll just do it myself thanks to Box Office Mojo. As predicted from the opening day gross, the relay film Triangle was a weak number 1 opener with almost HK$2.4 million from 36 screens over Thursday to Sunday. Considering the film opened with only HK$420,000 on Thursday, this means the adult audience (read: older film buffs) showed up over the weekend.

Lust, Caution passed the HK$40 million mark. Yawn.

Not sure if this is accurate, but Brothers apparently lost another 71% of its business, but at least it has gone past the HK$10 million that would qualify this as a moderate hit.

Anyone cares about how the limited releases did? Good, me neither.

- The Japanese box office was pretty huge this past weekend, as Eiga Consultant predicted correctly that Resident Evil 3 would indeed win the weekend. In fact, the third movie actually opened at 117% of the opening for the second film with 598 million yen. However, the opening for Always 2, while only at second place, was actually stronger in terms of comparing it with the series. At 474 million yen, the opening for the second film is nearly 150% of the opening of the first film, which became both a critical and a commercial hit.

The surprise is "cell phone novel" adaptation Koizora, which opened at 3rd place with 476 million yen. This is not only thanks to a dominant female audience (88% of total audience), but it was also thanks to the 10 to 20-year-old demographic, which made up 78.2% of the total audience.

Despite three big movies dominating, Takashi Miike's Crows: Episode Zero only lost 26.5% of its audience in its second week. Blockbuster Hero is starting to lose its audience fast, losing 40% in box office gross. With 7.8 billion yen in the bank, it's not likely the drama adaptation will hit the 10 billion yen mark Fuji had hope for, and the 15 billion forecast producer Chihiro Kameyama wants is something he made up while stoned.

- In South Korean box office, Hero opened with the highest amount of screens for a Japanese film in Korea, but with a limited target audience (read: People who know the established characters), it was nowhere near the opening for Sinking of Japan at only 128,000 admissions. Meanwhile, Le Grand Chef, which I guess you can make the vague Tezza connection because it shares the same original comic author, opens at number 1.

Once again, the top 3 films are Korean films, which suggests Korean films are taking back the year, but of course, there will always be people ready to blame the industry downturn on piracy. Still, give them credit for finally using "lack of creativity" as one of the reasons.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2007 Edition

- Let's start with some AFM news:

CJ entertainment has already presold director Park Chan-Wook's untitled vampire film to France and Russia before the director has even started shooting. Starring Song Kang-Ho, the film is about a priest who transforms into a vampire. I'm hoping it'll be better than it sounds.

Fuji TV's biggest movie of the market is the Stephen Chow-co-produced spin-off of Shaolin Soccer Shaolin Girl. The reason I used so many titles is because producer Chihiro Kameyama wants to make sure that no one sees it as Shaolin Soccer 2.

Thanks to the market, stills from Chung Siu-Tong's The Empress and the Warriors, starring Kelly Chan, Leon Lai, and Donnie Yen, are popping up online. Hong Kong Film Blog points out that the armor designs seem to recall Jackie Chan's The Myth. I don't know if it's just me, but I can't get excited about big martial arts blockbusters anymore.

While Asian film companies go to the American Film Market hoping to get their films sold, they aren't really biting at anything Hollywood has to offer this year.

- I'm not sure if this deal was done during the AFM, but several Japanese films are heading to North America thanks to those small distributors we love so much here at The Golden Rock.

- With the low budgets of Asian films, they really will let any company make a movie these days. That includes a certain Japanese multiplex that had a "Cinema Plot Competition". The first winning film will star a newcomer and will be directed by Rainbow Song director Naoto Kumazawa.

- Like I wrote earlier, how can China's official film award not name their pick for the best foreign film at the Academy Awards the best film? That's why The Knot won 2.5 awards, including best film, half of best director, and best sound.

- The biggest CD now in Chinese-speaking record stores has to be Jay Chou's latest album (with that horrible first single), and AP News says that it's supposed to reflect his current life. Cue paparazzi listening to every song to make up stories.

- Speaking of Jay Chou, the teaser poster for his latest "film" Kung Fu Dunk is now in Hong Kong theatres, along with a teaser on Youtube. Just the title of Kung Fu Dunk and expecting audiences to be dumb enough to still buy a movie with a title like that is flat out insulting.

Of course, it'll probably be a huge hit.

- Speaking of movies that will suck, Kaiju Shakedown has a bunch of movies Grady expect will suck.

On the other hand, he also names a few movies that might rock, although I've heard that Shamo is not one of them.

- As you all know if you read the blog yesterday, the Japanese sequel Always 2 opened this weekend, and it's being commemorated with a diorama built by the film's crew recreating the film's set.

- Dave Spector, an American working actively in Japanese telelvision, says that Japanese drama suck quite a bit. There are still good dramas out there, just not most of them.

- The latest Batman film - The Dark Knight - is coming into Hong Kong to film this week, but apparently a scene of Batman jumping into the harbor has been canceled because it's so damned dirty.

The Golden Rock - November 3rd, 2007 Edition

- Time for some news on Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai's latest collaboration Mad Detective. First of all, Hong Kong's Oriental Daily reported that the category-III crime drama has secured a November 29th release date opposite Danny Pang's In Love with the Dead.

There's also a trailer that's finally up. Those mirror shots are pretty impressive.

- During the box office report, I reported that the Japanese sequel Always 2 is opening this weekend, and Japan Times' Mark Schilling has a review of it. Looks like the conclusion is "strictly for fans."

- Meanwhile, Mr. Schilling also has a feature about the Japanese Eyes section of last week's Tokyo International Film Festival, while Philip Brasor shares his thoughts on the films he saw.

- Fuji's 3rd Saturday 11pm drama SP premieres tonight in Japan, and Ryuganji reports that a movie version will probably be greenlit. Then again, the drama IS directed by the director of Bayside Shakedown and written by an award-winning author, so it might be good enough to warrant one. But will the ratings be any good to warrant one?

- Just a day after I wrote about my pessimism towards Andrew Lau's latest big-budget project, Hollywood Reporter has an interview with the unofficial spokesperson for directors with ADD Andrew Lau himself.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 11/3/07

- When I went to the showing of Tsui Hark/Ringo Lam/Johnnie To crime film Triangle, the theater wasn't even half-full. Looking at other theaters' bookings on the internet, I really thought it would be a flop. However, looking at its Thursday opening day box office, it actually did alright. From 36 screens (seriously, did it deserve 36 screens?), the relay film made HK$435,000. With any luck, it may go past HK$2 million by the end of the weekend, but I doubt it'll do any better than your usual Milkyway film.

Meanwhile, the only other wide release is the Hollywood action flick Shoot 'Em Up, which made only HK$60,000 from 20 screens. As for the limited releases, the European arthouse flick Silk made HK$30,000 from 4 screens, and the Taiwanese youth pic Summer's Tail only made HK$20,000 from 7 screens.

Lust, Caution, meanwhile, has probably passed the HK$40 million mark by now, and will probably remain the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year unless The Warlords comes in and beat it. However, that's not all that likely at this point.

- In Japan, Eiga Consultant predicts that Resident Evil 3 will actually beat Always 2, the sequel to the hit Japanese nostalgia film, this weekend. This is because Resident Evil 2 had a far better opening than Always 1. For realz? What about the power of Always as an established franchise?

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Golden Rock - November 2nd, 2007 Edition

- Variety Asia, after their "10 actors to watch out for" feature, now has a "10 cinematographers to watch for" feature. While three of them are Asian, none of them work in Asian films.

Rain Li
Tetsuo Nagata
Larry Fong

- It's reviews time! Jason Gray has a review of Takashi Miike's box office hit Crows: Episode Zero, which he seemed to have enjoyed. Meanwhile, Variety has a few reviews for films from the Tokyo International Film Festival: Russell Edward's reviews for Bloody Snake Under the Sun and Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge. Working busier than ever, there's also Edwards' review for festival winner United Red Army.

- After making a failed attempt into Hollywood (considering it's been done forever, was finished by its star, and still hasn't seen a release date in North America, The Flock is a failure already), Andrew Lau manages to continue conning Media Asia into giving his a ton of money for a movie. This time he will direct the first of a trilogy of films based on the famed Chinese novel The Water Margin, with him producing the second film, to be directed by Johnnie To (Andrew Lau producing for Johnnie To?). Maybe I'm being really cynical about this, but it's really hard for me to get excited about a big-budget Andrew Lau film.

- In more Lust, Caution news, the Mainland Chinese version, cut by Ang Lee himself and took 6 revisions before it passed, finally opened in China. EastSouthWestNorth has a translation of a Mainland Chinese article that discusses the difference between the two, despite a rumored mandate from the Central Publicity Department to not discuss the differences.

- Lastly (to save news for the rest of the weekend), there's a third and probably final trailer for Peter Chan Ho-Sun's The Warlords, which currently seems to be the only Chinese film in the Hong Kong market for Christmas. As expensive and star-packed as it seems, I can't get myself excited for this one either for some reason.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 31st, 2007 Edition

- Let's first go over the Japanese box office numbers. Takashi Miike's Crows Zero was quite a hit, making 397 million yen over the first two days from 259 screens, which was way more than enough to knock Hero off the top spot after holding it for 7 weeks. The drama adaptation is no slouch, though - it only lost under 18% of its business and is still on 475 screens. This is probably Fuji's way of trying to push it to the 1- billion yen mark.

The other newcomers all found spots in the top 10, with Jigyaku No Uta (also known as Happily N'ever After) starring Miki Nakatani and Hiroshi Abe opening somewhat disappointingly at 8th place on 147 screens. Even more disappointing is Neil Jordan's The Brave One starring Jodie Foster, which found only a 5th place opening after opening it on 294 screens and a big Hollywood-size premiere in Japan.

- The blog is now leaving the Oricon charts reporting to Tokyograph's weekly reports because it seems like people don't quite care about analysis of Japanese music charts. I care about numbers, but I deliver what people want, and I skip what people don't. So, Bump of Chicken has two singles on the top 10, and a Morning Musume compilation album can only muster a 6th place debut.

- It's reviews time! All from Variety this time are Russell Edwards' review of the Tokyo International Film Festival opener Midnight Eagle, which is supposed to open day-and-date in Japan and North America, though it sounds kind of crappy. There's also Robert Koehler's review of Ryo Nakajima's This World Of Ours, which is revealing plot details I've never heard of. Lastly, Derek Elley has a review of the Korean blockbuster May 18.

- Twitch has more about Danny Pang's latest film In Love With the Dead. After reading the convoluted plot description, I honestly wonder if it'll be able to top brother Oxide Pang's The Detective.

By the way, I couldn't get the trailer to work, but good luck to you.

- Just like The Forbidden Kingdom, Jet Li would like to tell you that The Mummy 3 may not be a very good movie.

- I know i should not judge a book based on its title, but why would anyone give $40 million for a film with a title like Laundry Warriors? I think it was the "We will deliver a stylized, partly anime feel, with the techniques of '300,' but a look that is brighter" line that inspired their confidence. Their confidence, not mine.

Anyway, they'll be shooting this thing in New Zealand.

- NHK will be airing a special of actress Takako Matsu's singing career. For Hong Kong Japanese entertainment fans, Takako is known as half of the golden duo (with Kimura Takuya) that started the Japanese drama fever in the late 90s with the drama Love Generation. Perhaps that's why I can't really buy the idea of her being a singer.

- Kaiju Shakedown writes about Japanese director Masato Harada's two latest movies. One of them happens to be that suicide song movie from earlier in the year that had advertisements in Japanese toilets.

- After the live-action franchise has proven to be a hit (though not very good in quality), Capcom and Sony will be working on a CG 3D feature animated film based on the Biohazard franchise set to be released in the second half of next year. For those not in the know, Biohazard is better known as Resident Evil outside Japan.

- Last but not least, director Senkichi Taniguchi, who directed several screenplays written by Akira Kurosawa, has passed away at 95.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/30/07

- The Hong Kong box office numbers are back. On Sunday in Hong Kong, the crime drama Brothers topped the charts with HK$590,000 from 34 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.18 million. That means it will indeed reach the targeted box office producer Andy Lau hoped for, making it a qualified hit. Still hanging on at second place is Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, which actually almost beat Brothers with HK$568,000 from 34 screens. After 33 days, the erotic thriller has made an astounding HK$38.81 million.

Newcomer-wise, Saw 4 opened day-and-date to the United States, but didn't open as impressively as it did in North America. From 26 screens, the horror sequel made HK$346,000 for a 3-day total of HK$1.12 million. The other horror opening this weekend was Rob Zombie's "reimagining" of Halloween. However, it made only HK$70,000 from 13 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000.

Other flops that opened include the British historical drama Amazing Grace with only HK$176,000 from 15 screens for a HK$610,000 4-day total. There's also the Communist propagandistic animated film Sparking Stars, which made just HK$88,000 from 10 screens for a 4-day total of HK$170,000.

- Some Japanese box office numbers are out, but I'll wait another day for the full numbers to come out before I report what happened.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 29th, 2007 Edition

- Another Monday, another look at Japanese drama ratings this past week. Galileo holds on to its strong premiere ratings with a 22.1 rating for its second episode. Abanrenbo Mama with Aya Ueto also managed to hold on well, dropping only to a 14.2 rating after its 15.3 premiere episode.

Several episodes saw its ratings increased - Hataraki Man went up to a 13 rating from the previous week's 12.3, Friday night TBS drama Utahime went up to a season-high 9.8 after a dip to 7.5, and Mop Girl's ratings have risen for the second week in a row.

The season's biggest disappointment (and there are quite a few already) may be the sequel Iryu 2. After premiering with a strong 21 rating, its rating has fallen dramatically to a 15.5 rating by its third week, despite the first installment being voted the favorite drama that season.

All Fall 2007 Japanese drama information here.

- The Australian film Home Song Stories, which scored several nominations at the Golden Horse Awards, just won both best feature and an award for achievement in acting for Joan Chen at the Hawaii Film Festival.

- After this year's TV remake of High and Low, another Kurosawa film is going down the remake route: this time it's Hidden Fortress, starring Arashi member Jun Matsumoto and Masami Nagasawa. Directed by Shinji Higuchi, who last directed the disaster spectacle The Sinking of Japan, the remake will start filming next month and set for a Golden Week 2008 release.

- The Tokyo Film Festival just wrapped, and the jury awarded the Israeli film The Band's Visit with the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Jason Gray has a bit more on Japanese Eyes section winner United Red Army.

- Speaking of festival, the Cannes anniversary commemoration omnibus film To Each His Own Cinema will actually be released theatrically in France. Twitch has a link to the trailer, though it only features one still from each film. In case you don't know, the omnibus features quite a few Asian directors, including Takeshi Kitano, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and Zhang Yimou, among others.

- Why didn't someone think of using the name earlier? Isn't it such an obvious website name for legit Japanese comics?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/29/07

The Sunday Hong Kong box office has not been updated yet, so just wait for another day.

- Japanese attendance ranking is out, but only in Japanese. Finally, Hero has been dethroned, and by a Takashi Miike film, no less. Crows Zero marks Miike's first number one debut this year (out of his four or five theatrical release this year so far), and Miike's first number one film....ever?

Meanwhile, Hero is still at number 2, while the melodrama Zo No Senaka starring Koji Yakusho opened at number 3, Neil Jordan's The Brave One with Jodie Foster could only muster a number 5 opening, Matthew Vaughn's Stardust did even worse with a 6th place opening. Opening in a somewhat wide release (only three screens in central Tokyo, but looks like a total screen count of 100 or so) is Jigyaku No Uta with Miki Nakatani and Hiroshi Abe only got an 8th place opening.

While the box office still seems somewhat quiet, there were still 6 newcomers on the top 10. We'll see how everything else did when the numbers come out.

- In Korea, things were pretty quiet as Lee Myung-Se's M opens only a third place with 276,000 admissions. Still 6 of the top 10 films are Korean, which has to be a sign of the industry turning around...or Hollywood just isn't offering very good products.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 28th, 2007 Edition

With The Hong Kong Film blog wondering whether Hong Kong box office source has closed down for good, this blogger has found a new box office source in Starting tomorrow, the Hong Kong box office report should get back to normal.

- The American Film Market starts this coming week, and both Korean and Japanese film companies have quite a few films in store for buyers there (probably ignoring the Tokyo Film Market in the process).

Korea's Cineclick has Volcano High director Kim Tae-Kyun's latest, about a North Korean ex-soccer player who crosses over to China and tries to get his family to join him. It will also be bringing a promo reel for Kim Jee-woon's highly anticipated The Good, The Bad, and the Weird.

Meanwhile, Japan's Fuji TV is taking Shaolin Girl (the Stephen Chow-approved "sequel" to Shaolin Soccer) and Koki Mitani's The Magic Hour, the follow-up to the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel.

- It's not going to the American Film Market, but CJ Entertainment is trying to penetrate Hollywood by co-investing in the Warner Bros. film August Rush. Considering that it's to be released next month, there's surprisingly little out there about it in terms of buzz. There's a website up, though.

- It's reviews time! Lovehkfilm's Kozo closes out October with a review of the much-hyped "TVB Tigers" reunion film Brothers and a review of Kon Ichikawa's shot-by-shot remake of his own film The Inugamis. Meanwhile, yours truly have a review of the Japanese documentary The Naked Emperor's Army Marches On and a review of the Japanese hosts comedy Waters.

- There's a pretty big possibility that I'll be watching the Kohaku in Japan again this year, which is why I care about this news: After two years of actress Yukie Nakama hosting as head of the red team, this year may see young actress Masami Nagasawa taking on hosting duties. The problem is that Nakama was chosen because she starred in NHK dramas, while Nagasawa hasn't been doing anything for NHK. This signals a possible desperate move by NHK to bring in more viewers for the struggling new years show.

- Speaking of Japanese TV, the Daily Yomiuri's Teleview reports on Beat Takeshi as an educator on this week's Japanese TV, and a pretty positive on this season's hit drama Galileo.

- If you are Japanese, and you're asking what the hell is a Galileo, who the hell is Masami Nagasawa, and the only thing you get from this entry is Kohaku, then this new TV station is for you.

- Posters for Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai's latest Mad Detective, starring Lau Ching-Wan and premiered in Venice, has started appearing in Hong Kong theaters. There's no official release date yet, but the poster shows that it's already been rated category-III (no one under 18 may be admitted). It seems like after the success of Election, SPL, and Lust, Caution, Hong Kong filmmakers are finding the guts to make some hardcore films again.

- Japanese pop singer Bonnie Pink, who has traveled to Sweden to record so much that she calls it her second home, announced that her latest album will be released in Sweden in February next year.

- The Hong Kong government will start a public consultation soon about the fate of public broadcaster RTHK after an independent committee suggested earlier that a new independent broadcaster be established. In addition, the broadcaster has also undergone a year of both private and public scandals.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Golden Rock - Special Golden Horse Award Edition

- The biggest news of the day is the announcement of the Golden Horse Awards. After getting rejected from two important film awards, Ang Lee's Lust, Caution finds a home in the Golden Horse with 11 nominations, including one in every major category (except for supporting acting roles, because let's face it, Leehom Wang isn't that good of an actor). Sadly, no Hong Kong films were deemed good enough to get a best picture, but it did get a nomination in all the other major categories.

Here are the nominees for the major categories:

Best film

What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?!
Tuya's Marriage
Getting Home
Lust, Caution
The Home Song Stories

Best Director

Wong Quan An (Tuya's Marriage)
Yau Nai Hoi (Eye in the Sky)
Ang Lee (Lust, Caution)
Li Yang (Blind Mountain)

Best Actor

Gurmit Singh (Just Follow Law)
Aaron Kwok (The Detective)
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Lust, Caution)
Zhao Ben Shan (Getting Home)

Best Actress

Yu Nan (Tuya's Marriage)
Joan Chen (Home Song Stories)
Tang Wei (Lust, Caution)
Li Bing Bing (The Knot)

Best Supporting Actor

Tony Leung Ka-Fai (The Drummer)
Louis Koo (Protege)
Wu Jing (Invisible Target)
Joel Lok (The Home Song Stories)

Best Supporting Actress

Chang Chun Ning (What On Earth Have I Done?)
Maggie Shiu (Eye In the Sky)
Fan Bing Bing (The Matrimony)
Alice Tzeng (Secret)

Best Adapted Screenplay

A Battle of Wits
The Sun Also Rises
Lust, Caution

Best Original Screenplay

Just Follow Law
Tuya's Marriage
God Man Dog
The Home Song Stories

The complete list of nominees.

Hong Kong films (meaning the film is in Cantonese and/or the director originated from Hong Kong) accounted for a total of 22 nominations, although I'm somewhat disappointed that there are actually feature film categories with no Hong Kong films nominated at all.

Why the hell is Alice Tzeng nominate for Secret, but not lead actress Guey Lun-Mei?

Tony Leung Ka-Fai for The Drummer? Really? I swear half his scenes were leftover footage from Election.

The committee seems to love Aaron Kwok so much they should probably just give him an honorary lifetime achievement acting award already.

Thanks to the Hong Kong film blog for the link.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 26th, 2007 Edition

The start of another weekend, and the beginning of spreading news out over 3 days. Don't worry, there's plenty of news all weekend.

- Last week I linked to the review for Suzuki Matsuo's Welcome to the Quiet Room, which opened on 13 screens last weekend. With one theater in Shibuya seeing full house all day on opening day, the comedy-drama made an impressive 15.47 million yen, surely scoring the best per-screen average amidst the weak box office.

Meanwhile, Japan Times' Mark Schilling chimes in with a review.

- There are also a ton of stories about the animated series Afro Samurai, which is seeing its extended cut get a theatrical release in Japan this weekend.

First, there's a report from The Associated Press/The Daily Yomiuri about the reaction to the first series.

Then the Japan Times has a feature on what's next, including a comic book version by the creator himself.

And then comes the confirmation that creator Okazaki is now working on the production of the second series.

- Don't think I forgot about the Tokyo International Film Festival. Actually, I've been waiting all week for a review anywhere for the opening film Midnight Eagle. But the only news about the film so far is that it's been sold to a few more territories, including this blogger's current city of residency Hong Kong.

- At least we know Tokyo is the real land of opportunity: Even a movie a written by the writer of the Tony Jaa starrer Tom Yum Goong can win the Tokyo Project Award out of 37 other movies.

- Meanwhile, another film festival is underway. In addition to the Sylvia Chang tribute, the World Film Festival of Bangkok opened with the unintentionally funny historical epic Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (lovingly called here as "that Genghis Khan movie).

- Also, the Reel Asian International Film Festival in Toronto announced its lineup. Try to avoid the self-promotion along the way.

- Lastly, in your daily Lust, Caution news, the Philippines will be getting a full uncensored version of Ang Lee's erotic espionage drama in its theatres while those in neighboring countries are stuck with a censored version.

Sadly, it has also become the little puppy without a home, as the Hong Kong Film Awards have also disqualified the Asian co-production because it doesn't feature eight Hong Kong residents in key creative roles.

That, and a ton of other unfairness in the world from Kaiju Shakedown.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 24th, 2007 Edition

For convenience, everything will be combined into one entry today:

- The Japanese box office numbers are out, and it's consistent with the audience admission rankings. As expected, the box office is fairly weak, with The Good Shepard managing only a third place opening with only 97 million yen from 290 screens. Even less lucky is The Invasion with only 560 million yen. Disastrous is the Hollywood action film The Kingdom, which lost almost 53% of business from last weekend. The only films that are still really hanging in there are Hero, The Sign of Love, and Pan's Labyrinth.

- Under "What silly thing will Jackie Chan do today?" news today, someone actually have the bad taste to ask Jackie Chan to sing the official countdown song for the Chinese Olympics. It's OK, it's one of the many songs the Olympic organizers plan to release to celebrate the Olympics. Seriously, how many songs does China need to celebrate the damn thing?

- Hideo Nakata is going back to Hollywood, this time adapting a Japanese novel for English-speaking audiences. No word on whether the adaptation will retain the Tokyo setting.

- Thai horror film Alone just won 4 awards at the Los Angeles Scream Fest, and no one had to censor the trailer for it to get attention either.

- I'm getting increasingly convinced that China is living in 60s United States with no racial tensions: a group of 40 conservative songwriters have signed a petition calling for a boycott of vulgar pop songs with "weird" lyrics and "lustful" themes. Next thing you know, they'll be complaining about hip gyrations.

- I take that back - they seem to be living in a timeless fantasy communist world where producers actually think that putting the Twins as voice talents would help sell a propaganda animated film in Hong Kong.

- There will be a Japan Film Council established by April 2009 to help foreign producers coordinate their shoots in Japan. One of the reasons: The Last Samurai could've been shot in Japan instead of New Zealand. They probably shot in New Zealand because a bottle of coke doesn't cost 140 yen there.

- Expect China to give The Knot its best film award at the Golden Rooster this week, because no way the film they picked to be their representative at the Academy Award would not be the best Chinese film of the year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 23rd, 2007 Edition

This is going to be another relatively short entry. Quite frankly, I was expecting more news from the Tokyo International Film Festival, but we only have this so far:

- The Tokyo film market started yesterday with higher attendance. However, with the Asian Film Market just wrapped up at Pusan and the American Film Market coming up, it seems like not quite enough is happening there.

- It's reviews time! From Variety's Russell Edwards comes a review of Kenta Fukasaku's horror flick X-Cross. Also from Edwards is a review of Isao Yukisada's moderate hit/Erika Sawajiri-controversy-fodder Closed Note.

- Under "this film may very well signal the apocalypse" news today, director Rob Cohen wrote in his blog that he has taken the shoot for "The Mummy 3," co-starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Isabella Leung, to Beijing. With a scene described as "the Dragon Emperor racing through 1946 Shanghai Bund with 4 bronze horses," don't be surprised that you won't find this film in a Mainland Chinese theater near you.

- Under "Japanese animation houses" news today, otakus, anime buffs, and fans of weird Japanese films will be quite happy about the team assembled for the new animated film Red Line. Meanwhile, animation house GDH will be releasing their first live-action effort in late November.

- Satoshi Tsumabuki will actually be in a film that might be interesting (as opposed to...5 seconds in The Fast and the Furious 3): He will play a teacher in a pseudo-documentary (based on a real 1993 documentary) featuring 28 children that will actually live together and raise a pig together. The film will follow a general plot, there will not be a script.

- In a crime against cinema, there has yet to be an American distributor for the excellent Memories of Matsuko because of "its depiction of domestic violence." If it can be a 1 billion yen-plus hit in Japan, why can't it stand a chance in America?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/23/07

- This week's Hong Kong numbers come courtesy of Box Office Mojo, because hasn't been doing its job for over a week now. Hence, the following covers the entire weekend rather than just Sunday.

As reported, Brothers takes the top spot over the holiday weekend with roughly HK$5.46 million from 35 screens. However, with its not-so-good word of mouth, it's expected to take a dive this weekend and will probably wrap with under HK$10 million. Meanwhile, Lust, Caution is now at HK$35 million and may very well end with HK$40 million, making it harder for any film to even try and beat it for the rest of the year. Of course, be aware that like all films of this length, Lust, Caution is buoyed by a 10-20% ticket price inflation due to its length.

The TV drama adaptation Hero scores one of the more impressive opening weekends for a Japanese film with HK$2.21 million over 4 days from 27 screens, thanks to the now-legendary pairing of Kimura Takuya and Takako Matsu. The entertaining legal drama seems to carry pretty good word-of-mouth and maybe end up with over HK$5 million.

Also, two limited releases did fairly well in the crowded market this weekend: The British film Becoming Jane made HK$347,000 from 6 screens over 4 days, while the American hit comedy Knocked Up made HK$229,000 from 4 screens over 4 days.

- By the way, Lust, Caution's gross dropped by 5%, despite it undergoing a 48-screen expansion to a total of 125 screens. After 4 weekends, the film's made only roughly US$2.1 million at 20th place this weekend. No wonder James Schamus is cautious about expanding it. No pun intended.

- In South Korean box office, two big Korean films took over the box office with over 500,000 admissions each, while Resident Evil 3 could only get a 3rd place opening. Only 4 Korean films on the top 10 this week, and a surprising amount of small European films on the chart as well.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 22nd, 2007 Edition

Try not to be shocked - most of today's news come from only Variety Asia and Tokyograph.

- Let's do the Japanese drama ratings first (All drama information on Tokyograph) - a few more dramas premiered this past week, including the Monday 9 pm Fuji drama Galileo. With the hottest prime time drama spot, the Masaharu Fukuyama/Kou Shibasaki-starrer with a terrible theme song scored a very impressive 24.7 rating for the first episode. Meanwhile, the Aya Ueto drama Abarenbou Mama did OK in its premiere with a 15.3 rating.

Last week's winner Iryu 2 (which may be getting its own movie with its strong ratings) saw a pretty big drop from its 21-rating premiere to a 16.8 rating for its second episode. Joshi Deka, the latest drama with Yukie Nakama, opened weakly with just a 13.4 rating playing at the same time as Iryu 2. Hatachi No Koibito, which the Daily Yomiuri's Teleview column recommended this past weekend, saw its ratings drop even further to a 10.4 on Sunday night.

- Fuji TV is so happy about Galileo's premiere ratings (the strongest since Saiyuki's premiere back in January '06 for that time slot) that they've already greenlighted the movie version. The source material, a series of novels about a math genius, is probably all ready to be adapted, as soon as the movie makes Fuji a ton of cash.

- Variety Asia has a feature about the extent of Hollywood studios into foreign local industries. In Asia, the biggest Hollywood studios are Warner Bros. in Japan and Sony in Chinese-speaking territories.

- Under "Japanese adaptations and remakes" news today (in addition to Galileo), the fantasy trading card game Aquarian Age is heading to the big screen, and so is the successful daytime drama Sunadokei, which was based on a manga in the first place. Also, TV Tokyo is retelling the story of Sanshiro Sugata, a famous judo artist whose story was told by Akira Kurosawa in his feature film debut.

- Some film festivals that are not named Tokyo International Film Festival are also currently underway in Asia: The second annual Chinese Film Festival in Yokohama started today, with Feng Xiaogang and Zhang Yang expected to attend. Also, the first Phuket Film Festival started on Saturday as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the coastal town after the devastating tsunami three years ago.

- If you stop by a certain chain of love hotels in Tokyo, you'll get to watch the Hollywood thriller Vacancy for free in your room. Apparently, these people got the idea that watching a movie about a couple trapped by maniacs in a run-down hotel room with hidden cameras and snuff tapes will "deepen the love". I think they'll probably just have sex instead.

- Under "what's the deal in Japan?" news today, major studio Nikkatsu has signed a deal with Madhouse toon house to invade the US market together with a brand-new office in LA. Then, American distributor of Japanese films FUNimation will be delivering their acquisitions to US theaters digitally instead of the traditional way of shipping film to them.

- It's reviews time! Catching up from last week, Lovehkfilm updated with several new reviews. Kozo gives us reviews of Kenneth Bi's well-meaning but ill-conceived The Drummer, Kim Ki-Duk's Breath, and Ang Lee's erotic drama Lust, Caution. Meanwhile, yours truly checks in with a review of idol nostalgia drama Yellow Tears and the "historical" Korean blockbuster Hwang Jin-Yi.

- Variety has named Lust, Caution star Tang Wei one of the 10 actors to watch.

- Lastly, yet another one of the many films based around the Nanjing Massacre has started filming. Actually, the next time anything about this should be news is when they're done making it, not when another one starts filming.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/22/07

- For some reason, has not updated their box office page for a week now. However, the Hong Kong Film blog comes to the rescue with their own box office report. On Sunday, the ranking the Hong Kong box office grosses are as follows:

1) Brothers
2) Lust, Caution
3) Hero
4) Resident Evil: Extinction
5) No Reservations
6) Becoming Jane
7) Michael Clayton
8) Knocked Up
9) Detective Conan

While there are no numbers, newspaper reports indicated that Brothers had a HK$1 million-plus opening day, and that it might've reached as much as HK$2 million daily gross over the holiday weekend. No idea whether it got anywhere near the HK$8 million goal producer Andy Lau is shooting for, though.


Measure of success in HK box office: HK$10 million

- Only the audience admission ranking is currently out for Japan. It shows Hero on top again, with three opening films from Hollywood taking the second through fourth spots: Hairspray, The Good Shepard, and The Invasion. However, if you remember, last week was a really slow week at the box office. With Hero on top again, it must've been REALLY slow this week.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 10/21/2007

This week's Song of the Week is again not picked because it's any good, but because the video is so damn out there. From the man who introduced naked boob suits to the yearly New Year Kohaku show, it's DJ Ozma's Spiderman, courtesy of TV In Japan.

Seriously, the song is no good, and the video may not even be work-safe. Watch at your own risk.

The Golden Rock - October 21st, 2007 Edition

Let's start off with some more news from the TIFF (That's what the Tokyo International Film Festival calling themselves these days, despite Toronto having the same abbreviations):

- Jason Gray won't be in the country for the rest of the TIFF, but he does have a link to the two-hour video of red carpet coverage and opening ceremony. I don't think anyone is expected to watch all 2 hours of it, but you can see some interesting things, including finding out that Akiko Wada and Tokoro Joji are voicing Marge and Homer in the Japanese dub of the Simpsons movie, which will screen during the festival. D'oh!

For those not in the know, some fans protested to 20th Century Fox for not using the original Japanese voice actors for the film, but I guess Fox cared about getting non-fans in more than loyal fans.

- Meanwhile, the Winds of Asia section has a new programmer this year: Asian film scholar Kenji Ishizaka. Like many film scholars, he decided to bring lesser-known Asian films to the festival this year, particularly films from Islamic countries. The problem is even if you bring the movies, will people go see them?

Now, back to your regular news.

- Of course, we always start off with box office news around here. In the first seven months of 2007, local Japanese films have fallen to making up just 43% of the market, down 10 % from the same period in the previous year. Judging from this year's output, the answer lies in the fact that there hasn't been any huge blockbuster that reached the size of those last year. local megahit Hero opened in September, so we won't know until the end of the year whether Japanese films will regain its strength. But there are still a few possible crowdpleasers on the way.

- The Daily Yomiuri's Teleview column looks at two dramas where the Kanto and Kansai separation seems to be an issue: the new NHK morning drama Chiritotechin, which is getting much better ratings in the Kansai region than Kanto, and the Masami Nagasawa drama Hatachi no Koibito.

- Today's Oriental Daily reports that some netizens are saying that the MTV for Jay Chou's latest single "A Cowboy is Very Busy" (directed by Chou himself) is similar to the video for Christina Aguilera's Candyman.

Jay Chou's "A Cowboy is Very Busy" (try not to get too shocked)

Christina Aguilera's Candyman

Personally, just because the diner images are similar don't mean that one is copying the other, but what do you think?

- In more possible plagiarizing news in Chinese music, the Chinese blog 3cmusic reveals that netizens are saying that Hong Kong pop singer Paisley Wu's "Don't Think Just Do" has a similar arrangement (credited to veteran C.Y. Kong) to British singer Sophie Ellis Bextor's "The Sun's On Us."

Don't Think Just Do

The Sun's On Us

Since "Don't Think Just Do" seems to be a cover song, can anyone name the original track, and can that same person tell us whether that song has a similar arrangement as well?

- In more posting of Youtube clips, Chinese star pianist Li Yundi says in the an interview that he wonders out loud if treating classical musicians as pop idols (i.e. him) is the right thing to do. Probably not, but showing up on TVB promoting a Japanese drama that you have nothing to do with just seemed like such a right thing to do.

- In more TV news, Hotaru No Hikari, which averaged only a 13.6 rating on Wednesday nights during the Summer 2007 season, won four of the five awards at the Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix. The fifth award went to Arashi member Kazunari Ninomiya for his role in Yamada Taro Monogatari.

- Under "cut off one head, another one will pop up" news today, Taiwanese police arrested two people who run the website XYZ and confiscated 40,000 pirated discs of Hollywood movies. Yes, just two people and one of the many many websites that sell pirated discs.

- Under "what things will Jackie Chan say" news today, the action star, who is producing the Chinese reality show The Disciple in a search for the next martial artist, tells aspiring action stars to not bow the "old-fashioned way". I hope he doesn't mean greet your master with high-fives.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 20th, 2007 Edition

The Tokyo International Film Festival is officially underway, with the action film Midnight Eagle premiering tonight. Variety's already got their people on the job:

- Festival head Tsuguhiko Kadokawa says that he would like the Tokyo fest to become one of the big four film festivals, alongside Berlin, Venice, and Cannes. It probably helps that it's part of a 40-day content festival that will overtake Hong Kong's Filmart in terms of sheer size.

- Also part of both the film festival and the CoFesta (exclamation marks optional) is the Tiffcom. Slightly less ambitious than Kadokawa, Tiffcom would just like to be bigger than Filmart, which may happen if it isn't programmed so close to the Asian Film Market in Pusan.

- Another major event is CoFesta is the Akihabara Enta Matsuri, where otakus can get their otaku on after catching a movie at the Tokyo Film Festival. I myself would rather stay at the film festival.

Now, we move over to the Daily Yomiuri for their coverage:

- Fest head Kadokawa also says as long as Japan is the second largest market in the world (note: that's only for Hollywood films, and that's because of how much Japan charges for a movie ticket), Tokyo will always be the center of Asia for films. I could argue that, but this entry's getting long.

- Meanwhile, programming director Kazuo Kuroi talks about the films for the competition section this year. He said there's only one Japanese film because the submissions "lack depth," whatever the hell that means.

Now, your regular news:

- The Daily Yomiuri reviews director/writer/actor Suzuki Matsuo's latest Welcome to the Quiet Room. I have my reservations after watching the manic Koi No Mon.

- Meanwhile, Japan Time's Mark Schilling reviews the animated film sequel Appleseed: Ex-Machina, which is actually produced by John Woo.

- The Daily Yomiuri also has an interview with Appleseed director Shinji Aramaki, who complains that Hayao Miyazaki should be more proud of his Oscar (for Spirited Away).

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 19th, 2007 Edition

Today is a public holiday in Hong Kong, so no box office reports. However, from unscientific research (looking at the ticket sales on the internet and from my observation last night at the cinema), it'll be between Derek Chiu's Brothers (Four of the five tigers in one film! Review later on the spin-off) and the Japanese drama adaptation Hero. Andy Lau says he's hoping for $HK8-10 million total gross. Can they pull it off over the holiday weekend? We shall know on Monday.

And now, your daily Lust, Caution news:

- EastSouthWestNorth has some stories about Lust, Caution's Mainland release, including the fact that you don't have to trek all the way to Hong Kong to see THE shot and how even the man who's supposed to protect copyright in China can't even believe there's no pirated copy of the film out there.

Back to reality:

- The Tokyo International Film Festival is just getting underway, but don't expect lots of reporting about the market there, especially when the tepid Asian Film Market just wrapped up a week ago at Pusan. More tomorrow when we get the news from The Daily Yomiuri.

- Twitch reports that Johnnie To's Mad Detective, starring Lau Ching-Wan, has been bought up by the Independent Film Channel in North America. They will likely release the film in a small limited release before releasing it on DVD. Don't take my word for it, though; I only said "likely".

- It was much ado about nothing as an Indian court has officially dismissed a lawsuit challenging Eklavya's entry to the Academy Awards.

That's it for today. Come back tomorrow for another shortened entry for The Golden Rock.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 18th, 2007 Edition

Three slow news days automatically add up to a slow news week in general. That means shorter entries. Expect short weekend entries if this keeps up. I may just post something in the spin-off instead.

- Lust, Caution's chances at the Oscars has just decreased by quite a bit, as the Academy Awards foreign films committee disqualifies Ang Lee's erotic drama as the Taiwanese entry because it's not Taiwan enough. Essentially, the main gripe is that it doesn't have enough Taiwanese involvement. That must suck for Lee, seeing that his Chinese movie for westerners, also known as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, manages to win best foreign film, while his Chinese movie for Chinese people gets disqualified.

Taiwan will submit Island Etude in its place.

- In another blow to the film (this ought to be the unofficial Lust, Caution blog), Chinese censors have apparently yet to screen the Mainland Chinese-safe version of the film, which means its November 1st opening date may get pushed further back. Meanwhile, pirated copies have finally gotten online, which may hurt the big chunk of change the film expected to make from the region.

- Meanwhile, Twitch has another update for the latest omnibus-film-in-a-city film Tokyo!. Apparently, Korean director Bong Joon-Ho's section is done filming, with Michel Gondry's getting ready to shoot later in the month. No idea when third director Leos Carax will be filming his, though.

Original Tokyograph story.

- Poor Twitch contributor Blake only got two questions with Park Chan-Wook because what was supposed to be a one-on-one interview became a roundtable with people asking about ridiculous rumors such as whether Park took a 5-year break to train being an astronaut. At least now you know he's making a bat film for his next project.

- DVDTalk has a review for the American DVD of Kazuaki Kiriya's Casshern, which boasts a so-called "director's cut" that's 25 minute shorter than the original Japanese cut. According to some poster on imdb, the DVD is missing not only scene selections, but the subtitles are also off-sync, and important bits are cut out.

- It's no news, but Japan's DVD market is still suffering, as sales for the first half year are down 2% from the same period last year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 16th, 2007 Edition.

There are days like these where there are so little news, I just decide to combine all the entries together.

- The numbers for the Japanese box office came out, and the rankings are pretty much the same as the admission rankings. However, what the rankings don't tell you is what a quiet week it was. In fact, only one film made more than 100 million yen (number 1 film Hero), and the rest of the holdovers all saw fairly significant drops. Yes, that includes Closed Note, which is supposed to be doing pretty well, but actually doesn't look to make that 1.5 billion yen mark Toho is setting.

Signs of Love (based on those Dreams Come True songs) actually lost only 25% of its audience in its second week, which is pretty typical in the pure love genre. It should wrap up with about 800 million yen. Not all that impressive, but it is what it is.

- Thanks to the success of Hero, Japanese distributor Toho is having their best September ever, which means expect more TV dramas going to a big screen near you in Japan.

- Two sites reported on the Sushi Ouji movie, so I'll just use both links. Essentially, the drama that was the second worst-performer in the primetime ratings in the summer 2007 drama season (average 7.5 rating) was announced to have its own movie before the drama even began its broadcast. But now, TV Asahi has Warner Bros. Japan behind them and is planning to release it during next year's Golden Week. They're probably hoping for fans of the two stars' respective boy groups to show up.

Tokyograph report.

Variety Asia report.

- The only reason I saved up this report was because I thought it was Tsai as in Tsai Chin.

Turns out it's Jolin Tsai that's doing a duet with Kylie Minogue in the Asian edition of her latest album. Actually, it would be so much more interesting if Tsai Chin, the songstress who brought us this, do a duet with Kylie Minogue, but that's just what I think.

- Variety's Richard Kuiper has a review for the highly successful Japanese animated film Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone.

- The Associated Press has an interview with Joan Chen, who's been in the spotlight of recent Chinese cinema with her roles in Lust, Caution and The Sun Also Rises.

- Asian films are the big winners at this year's Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia, including wins for Park Chan-Wook's "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK" and even Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django.

- The first still for the Pan-Asian film Blood: The Last Vampire, starring Gianna "Sassy Girl" Jun is up. Todd Brown says yes, I say no, thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 15th, 2007 Edition

- The new drama season started in Japan last week (Fall 2007 drama information from Tokyograph), and Iryu 2, the sequel to the hit drama from Spring 2006, got off to an excellent start with a 21 rating on the ratings chart. Meanwhile, Dream Again, starring Takashi "Genghis Khan" Sorimachi could only score a 12.9 rating for its premiere. Another star who might not be such a star is Masami Nagasawa, as her latest drama Hatachi No Koibito got only a 13.5 rating for its first episode. More premieres to come this coming week, so look for a slightly more comprehensive wrap-up next week. It all depends how tired I'll be, really.

Now, the wrap-up from Pusan International Film Festival:

- The competition section of Pusan, called New Currents, actually has the least well-known films. This is probably because the jury tends to pick heavy art films with social messages, and Variety reports that history has repeated again this year.

- Meanwhile, it seems like the Asian Film Market was pretty quiet in terms of sales, with distributors sending people to just look as opposed to buy.

- Despite the festival running into obstacles and just being generally bland this year, the attendance was still record-breaking.

And now, back to your regular news:

- Wong Kar-Wai was supposed to make a biopic about Bruce Lee's master and it was supposed to star Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, who reportedly spend the last few years getting physically prepared for the role. However, his 5-year rights is expiring and Raymond Wong's Mandarin Films (who last made the Donnie Yen lovefest Flash Point) is stepping in and make their own film about Bruce Lee's master.

This is in addition to the planned film by Fruit Chan about two childhood friends in 1950s Hong Kong who split up on their own roads, one of them being Bruce Lee.

- The teaser trailer is out for the Hollywood remake of the Pang Brothers' The Eye, and I guess it looks blah.

- Also, the second trailer for Feng Xiaogang's The Assembly is online. I use Firefox, so I haven't watched it, and I'll probably watch the movie when it comes out anyway.

- In not-so-pleasant news for the blogging community, the Chinese government is continuing its crackdown of the internet ahead of the party congress.

- And yet, they decided to allow a shorter version of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, which was edited by Lee himself and is a few minutes longer than the Malaysian version, to play nationwide starting November 1st. Can someone tell me whether Lam Ka Tung makes an appearance at the end of the Mainland version? Someone who's seen both Infernal Affairs and Lust, Caution should get this.

- Then again, despite the film having done very well in Asian territories, audiences in China may very well not even get what "the bad guy" in the movie does.

- China may seem pretty bad, but then the head of the Thai ministry of culture came out and pretty much says: 1) Thai audiences are not educated, and 2) just because said audience doesn't understand a movie, it should be be classified and/or banned.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/15/2007

- In Hong Kong, Lust, Caution wins the Sunday box office yet again, making HK$1.25 million from 52 screens for a 19-day total of HK$30.06 million. Not only has Ang Lee's erotic thriller now become the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year in Hong Kong, it is also now the highest-grossing category-III film (no one under 18 admitted) in Hong Kong history.

In the rest of the box office, the Hollywood romantic drama No Reservations is the strongest of the newcomers, making HK$340,000 from 28 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.19 million. Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney, did only ok (for a film of its kind, that is) with HK$200,000 from 17 screens for a 4-day HK$700,000 total.

Now we're down to the disappointments - Kenneth Bi's well-meaning but disappointing drama The Drummer made only HK$60,000 from 18 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$210,000. HK$30,000 of those came from opening day. Ouch. Death Sentence, starring Kevin Bacon, had a Drummer-like per-screen average and made only HK$40,000 from 12 screens for a 4-day total of HK$160,000.

In holdovers, Resident Evil 3 had a pretty solid second weekend with HK$600,000 from 36 screens on Sunday. After 11 days, the horror-action flick has made HK$8.95 million. Oxide Pang's The Detective continues its slow fade with only HK$90,000 from 18 screens for a 18-day total of HK$5.22 million. Sadly, Wong Jing's Beauty and the Seven Beasts had a higher per-screen average with HK$70,000 from 8 screens. Its 19-day total is only HK$2.88 million.

- In Korean box office, it was such a slow week that even The Nanny Diaries and Becoming Jane made the top 10. Hur Jin-Ho's Happiness leads the chart again. Can anyone tell me whether it was any good?

- In Japanese box office, no numbers yet, but the audience ranking says that Closed Note is still doing quite well (despite never having made it to the top spot), Peter Berg's The Kingdom made second place, and people are actually still going to watch A Perfect Stranger. Scary.

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 10/14/07

The Golden Rock should be back from its break tomorrow. Until then, it'll slowly get back onto schedule.

This week's artist was almost completely forgotten by this blogger until he started listening to their last album on MD. It's kind of commercial, and I expect choosing it would make my credibility as a music critic go down further, but I'll risk it. From A Rush of Blood to the Head, it's Coldplay's The Scientist.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An interview with Ryo Nakajima, the director of This World of Ours

Photo courtesy of Peija Films.

Recently, I raved about a small Japanese independent film named This World Of Ours on Lovehkfilm after I received a copy of the film from its director Ryo Nakajima and enjoyed it thoroughly. Through our e-mail correspondence, Nakajima-san also graciously agreed to an e-mail interview for The Golden Rock. This is the result. Please note that English is not Nakajima-san's first language, and that none of his answers have been edited from his email replies.

Answers are in bold.

1) Please tell the world about yourself - your background, your life,

I am an only child. My parents brought up me with loving care.
i was a spoiled child.
My world was very small.

I began working on the screenplay when I was 19 going 20 ; at the
time, I was a hikikomorin which means I was socially withdrawn and
never left the house.

I could not find my place in life, and through days of doing nothing,
because emotionally cornered.
I decided to make a film back then because I felt a strong desire "
to connect with somebody and break out of my own shell".

2) Why did you name the character acted by Okutsu Satoshi as Ryo
Nakajima? Does he represent your personality/thoughts the most?

I was asked this Question in Vancouver.
Ryo is not me. He is Dark Hero for me .
It represent that I want to be Dark Hero.
Hiroki represent my personality / thoughts most.

3) Has your views of the world, specifically of Japanese society,
changed since the making of the film?

Now our surroundings changes more hopeless ( environmental
pollution,uncertainty over the course of the economy, inconvenience
of he mind and the body and so on)
I am having difficulty in breathing in my life.
But I found a ray of hope.
That is to develop rapport with somebody.
for example ,I and you have communication through the movie.

4) Some reviewers have compared your film to those of Shunji Iwai.
How do you feel about that? And what are some of your cinematic
influences, both foreign and Japanese?

The honor is more than I deserve.

In Japan , Most young people like my movie, But most adults feel
unpleasant. They said it is full of Violence and ill.
So far ,some of foreign people like my movie. I have posted about
25~30 DVD.
5 people mailed me and liked it.

(regarding cinematic influence)

Lars von Trier and Fernando Meirelles(city of god)
They are the best directors for me

5) You mentioned on your website that you ran into many obstacles
during production, what were some of them specifically? And how did
the cast and crew help you overcome them?

Mr Taniguchi, main actor, played Hiroki, was stabbed with knife by
madness man.
The shooting was adjourned until he recoverd.
Fortunately he got smoothly better, and his passion to make this
movie became even stronger since he overcame his own death.
It also strengthened the bonds of all the casts and staffs, and the
story that young people fell into the attraction of destruction in
despair changed into the one that they struggle to reach for hopes.

6) You didn't have introduction of two of your stars - Hata Arisa and
Okutsu Satoshi - on the website. Who are they, and will they continue
to act in the future?

They quit to be an actor and actress. Now Okutsu is married. He is
working on Hospital. Hata is fickle girl. Now She wants to be a
singer. She takes lessons twice a week.
I want them to became good actor and actress. But it cannot be helped.

7) I read recently that you were hired by a major Japanese production
company. Do you plan to continue making films about tough topics like
those you explored in your film, or will it be time to explore new

I got a job in Star Dust Pictures.  It is difficult to make
Tough topics movie in Star Dust Pictures.
But I have a strategy. At first I make a typical a popular movie. If
I make an enormous profit on that movie, I will have an increasingly
powerful voice within the company in the future. Then I make a movie
whatever I want.
I wish I can do it.

8) Are you already working on first film under Star Dust Pictures? If
so, can you give any information about it?

Now I am taking part in the Film of Miki Nakatani.
She is actress ,「Memories of Masuko」so on. She is trying
to make her own film.
I am her assistant.

Again, I would like to thank director Ryo Nakajima for his candid answers. I wish him all the best with his future endeavors. Please do find out more about the film at its official website.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A short break

As you can see from the wrong date in the last entry, this week has been quite tiring for this blogger. With at least two more student productions to work on the next two days and all the news about Pusan not all that engaging, the news entries will be taking a short break. There will probably be a box office report tomorrow, and if there's something interesting, I might do a news post. But until the end of the weekend, don't expect too much.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 10th, 2007 Edition

- It's Oricon charts time! As expected, B'z tops the single chart with their latest, selling 180,000 copies to make it their 40th consecutive number-one single. This also puts them above SMAP as their 41st consecutive single in the top 10. Meanwhile, Dreams Come True scores a number-two debut on the same week as the film based on their songs open this past weekend. The new single sold more than 81,000 copies, which would've earned it a number 1 spot on any other week. Lastly, Mika Nakashima's latest could muster only a 5th place debut with 13,600 copies sold. If the daily charts hold up, expect L'Arc~En~Ciel's latest to top the charts next week.

On the album chart, two compilations topped the chart. Yuki's compilation is far and away the number 1 album with 180,000 copies sold. Far far behind is Yuzu's compilation, which sold 95,500 copies. Last week's winner Ai Otsuka's album (this one's for you, Tokyograph) drops to 3rd place with a still-pretty-strong sales of 66,000 copies, and last week's second place album, the latest from Shiina Ringo's Tokyo Jihen, tumbles to 5th place with just 26,700 copies sold. As for daily rankings, Spitz's latest album should take the top spot if they hold up through the week.

Today in Pusan Film Festival news:

- Director Peter Greenaway would like you to know that cinema has been dead since 1983. Yeah, I saw his 1999 film 8 1/2 women - it wasn't much of a movie indeed.

- The Hollywood Reporter critics report on the critical and audience reactions for some of the films at the festival.

- Variety also has their own report, but concentrating more on the Asian Film Market rather than the films themselves.

- It's festival reviews time! From Pusan comes Russell Edward's review of Isao Yukisada's Into the Faraway Sky and Derek Elley's review of Takashi Miike's Crows: Episode 0, which seems to be the talk of the town so far.

- This year marks the first ChinaBizCamp, where Chinese film industry professionals teach Korean audiences how to sell their movies in a market that restricts foreign films imports to 20 a year and where piracy is rampant partly because of said laws.

- There's an interview with director Lee Chang-Dong, who is currently a jury member on the New Currents section. His award-winning Secret Sunshine is opening in Hong Kong today.

- Lastly, J-Pitch, where Japanese producers try to sell ideas to foreign investors, took its show on the road to Pusan this year with three presentations. At least two of them sound promising. No, I'm not telling you which two.

Back to a short version of your regular news:

- Remember I mentioned in a previous entry that Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django is being criticized for featuring a character hung on a Shintoist gate? Twitch has the offending image that's now been deleted from all the promotional materials. It's in the movie anyway, people.

- After weeks of secrecy, China has revealed that they submitted the carefully calculated war drama The Knot as their pick for a nomination for best foreign film at the Academy Awards. For weeks, there were speculations that China would also pick Lust, Caution (Taiwan's entry) after Peter Chan announced that The Warlords won't be ready on time.

- Good for him. Feng Xiaogang says openly that he hopes to shed the propaganda image of recent Chinese war films with his latest The Assembly. However, it still features an ending fit for both government and audiences.

- Lastly, there's a teaser for Daniel Lee's Three Kingdom: Resurrection of the Dragon, starring Andy Lau and Maggie Q (wtf?). Honestly, it's always been hard to get me excited about a Daniel Lee film, even one with Andy Lau.