Sunday, April 1, 2007


Thanks to TVB, whose English channel showed the Asian Film Awards, I'm watching the TVB USA broadcast of it right now. The award, done completely in English, is hosted by actor/VJ David Wu, Hong Kong pop star Fiona Sit, and at one point, also by actress/singer Karen Mok. All three of these people speak fluent English, which I guess means they meet the most basic requirement. But while I'm sure that David Wu is a perfectly competent VJ on TV in Taiwan, he has this annoying need to end a lot of his sentences with fillers like "OK?" or "alright?" Yeah, kind of like what Quentin Tarantino does when he does interviews. While his fillers, which makes him sound like he's speaking in a normal conversation, works better when Fiona shows up and does the co-hosting thing, his monologue skills is something left to be desired.

All in all, it's an impressive effort, considering it's the first time Hong Kong is in charge of a global award show like this (they've never done well with foreign presenters at the Hong Kong Film Awards either). It's also great to see Professor David Bordwell get an award, Josephine Siao Fong Fong getting the only standing ovation of the night (why isn't she in films anymore anyway? If the Hui brothers can still stage a pseudo-comeback these days, I think she's due for another great performance), and Sandy Lam doing famous film songs in their original languages. But I think I can see a teleprompter in their future, because it's really distracting seeing people reading into cards in their hands. It was also funny to see people sitting there not applauding (like when Andy Lau got his award, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai is caught just smiling politely when everyone else is applauding), Professor Bordwell snapping a picture of Jia Zhangke when he won his best director award, and people talking on cell phones even when the camera is on them.

So next year, get Michelle Yeoh (or at least have consistenly 2 hosts at the same time) to be the host, get everyone to at least appear to be prepared, and try to actually fill up the place with more than just idol fans and celebrities.

Watched Ridley Scott's A Good Year last night. It's basically an adult escapist fantasy about a rich guy, played by Russell Crowe, who inherits his deceased uncle's beautiful French vineyard where he spent a big chunk of his childhood. He means to sell it so he can go back to his super stockbroker job in modern London, but first he has to fix it up. Considering it's from the man who made Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator, A Good Year is obviously a pretty minor effort. It's also Ridley Scott's rare attempt at a full-on comedy; it even features the Crowe man falling into a pool of dirt and dead leaves.

The result is a very relaxed and minor effort. The whole thing, like Gordon Chan's Okinawa Rendezvous, feels like an excuse for the cast and crew to spend a few months at a beautiful French villa. But that's OK, because Scott has a sure handed approach on the material, making what could've been a mediocre "city guy learns about the simple life" story into a classy but somewhat uneven piece of filmmaking. Then again, maybe I'm predisposed to like everything Scott and Crowe do. Or it's just nice to see Crowe not taking on heavy roles, he might just throw less things at people in real life.

Not much news out there today, but let's try and get through this anyway.

- Japan Times has two notable reviews for the weekend - first, the latest film from the man who is supposed to be the next Miyazaki (blasphemy!!!), Makoto Shinkai's latest: Byosoku 5 Centimeters. Second, one of the great discoveries of 2006, the high school-noir film Brick.

- The Weinstein Company's "Dragon Dynasty" line is an attempt to make up for the cinematic crimes they've done to Asian movies over the years. Of course, a line of DVDs isn't gonna make up for what they've done, but it's a good step. Twitch has a look at their line-up for the rest of 2007, which includes a 2-disc edition of Hard Boiled, City of Violence, and even Fist of Legend! Took them long enough, no?

- Celebrity fandom hit a tragic note this week with the story of Yang Lijuan. She spent the last 13 years obsessing over Asian superstar Andy Lau by not having a steady job nor much of an education. Her parents loved their daughter so much that they supported this habit, even to the point of spending the family fortune to accompany her to Hong Kong to meet him. She shows up at a fan club activity, takes a picture with the man, and was sent away. However, it wasn't enough because she wasn't able to spend more time with the man. Out of disappointment and a strange sense of anger, the father commits suicide, leaving a letter blaming Andy Lau for not meeting his daughter.

Now the family's out of money, and Andy Lau still won't meet her, even though he has sent his staff to help her out any way they can. But apparently Ms. Yang's mother has taken this opportunity to blame Andy Lau for her husband's death and demands half a million RMB from Lau himself. How sad.

- I like Bae Doona. Even though she sometimes looks a bit like an alien, I've always enjoyed her performances. Korea Pop Wars has written an entry about her recently released photo album, which chronicles her travels in London. I'm actually kind of interested in the Tokyo one too.

- The date for the announcement of this year's San Francisco International film Festival's lineup is inching closer, and Twitch has a preview of the films that will be shown. Too bad I'm not interested in any of those films yet.

I know it ain't much, but that's all I got today, alright?

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