Monday, March 19, 2007

Best of Golden Rock - March 12th to 18th

- I'm a fan of Haruki Murakami. Honestly, he's the only author I consistently read (that is, if I ever decide to read). I haven't bought his latest short story anthology "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" yet because I'm waiting for the paperback, but now the translation for his latest After Dark is finally arriving. I still have quite a few books to catch up, so maybe I'll be reading this in 5 years or so.

- Miss R over at Sardonic Smile has a cool profile of Hong Kong's hippest MTV director Susie Au, whose latest film MingMing will debut at the Hong Kong International Film Festival this year.

- Asian Cinema - While On the Road has a review of the book "Asia Shock," which I agree I would not read just based on the title alone (I, too, hate the stereotype that Asian films represent some type of carnal or violent extreme). But it seems like the book does pick some good mainstream titles. No, Ichi the Killer is NOT a mainstream film anywhere in the world.

- Sales of Japanese home video have been sliding, as Japanese animation (which takes up the biggest piece of the pie with 24.5% of sales....why am I not surprised by this?) drops by 14.5 %, foreign films (which takes up 20% of sales) drop by some 40% this past year, while Japanese films performs better with a 5.8% gain and a 9.8% share of total sales. Sales overall has fallen by 10%, although a Japan Video Association Manager has said that they can definitely recover from a 10% drop.

Actually, one interesting portion is that sales of television dramas have risen. Perhaps with a long-term trend, this would encourage television stations to begin to branch out to international market, as the Korean drama has over the last few years.

- Or they can learn from America, who is seeing a decline of theatrical window in the past year. Basically, theaterowners are worrying that the window between theatrical exhibition and home video release is getting smaller and smaller (this year, the average shortened by 10 days), making this an even bigger problem than piracy. Even though films do make a bulk of their money from theatrical exhibition, the home video market is still a very very viable way of making money, and the studios have no idea whom to please these days.

- If you read my profile on the right, you'd know that my main interest is the new "Panasian" films and their effect on national cinema. In light of the upcoming Hong Kong entertainment expo, Variety Asia's Patrick Frater has turned in a report on the new Asian style of film finance. Very very informative if you're into that kind of stuff like I am.

- The new 3D animation trend is so huge that even Hong Kong is joining in on the fun, and the person doing it is none other than Brian Tse, who carved out Hong Kong's most famous contemporary animated franchise with McDull. According to Twitch, he's developing a 3D animated feature about a duck liver sausage that finds out he's a piece of poop. No kidding. At least the duck liver sausage idea is pure original HK humor.

- I mentioned about those Southern boys trying to do awesomely bad Japanese rap a while ago on this blog, and that they were putting a show in a Shibuya club. Well, their gigs already happened, and Japan Probe is awesome enough to provide a video of those Kokujin Tensai (literally means Black Person Genius, or a grammatically correct title of Black Genius). I searched on Youtube, and trust me, this is the best quality one can find of that show. Believe me, I don't think the Japanese people who are there are laughing with them. They're probably laughing at them. I know I would, and I'm not even Japanese!

- A blog on all things Japan uncovered an interesting Japanese independent film that is nationalist, but not in that right-wing way. Sounds interesting on paper, but it looks a bit boring.

Twitch has new behind-the-scenes footage for the latest Wilson Yip-Donnie Yen (SPL, Dragon Tiger Gate) collaboration Flash Point (it's a better title than Killzone), starring Donnie Yen and Louis Koo. Looks good so far, now let's just make it be better than Dragon Tiger Gate, yeah?

Looks like after a string of failed foreign runs, The Host has finally become a hit in China, where it topped the box office in its opening weekend and praised by critics (it was praised by critics in the States too, so what's with that crappy opening weekend?). Meanwhile, Variety Asia has a more solid report on its financing process and just how big of a hit it really is (for an Asian film to have a net profit of double its production cost is pretty damn amazing).

- There are two new members to the pop collective (it's a better name than record-company-built cute young girls pop group) Morning Musume, and they're Chinese (dun-dun-dun!). One of them actually auditioned to be on one of those pop idols show in China, and Japan Probe has the clip. Well, we can forget about her being the one with singing skills (the judge at the end, by the way, says that she sings like a child. No kidding).

- Lastly, Variety has posted a review of The Godfather (yes, that Godfather). Of course, a review now would use words like "masterpiece" "and "classic" (which I agree with), and not words like "overlong" and "confusing." That's because this review was written in 1972 when the film first came out. I wonder if that critic ever changed his mind about it eventually.

- There's a rather amusing trailer for a new film starring John Malkovich named Color Me Kubrick, a kind of true story about a man who looks and acts absolutely like Stanley Kubrick, but somehow pretended to be him anyway.

- Danwei, an English blog on the Chinese media that is far better organized and written than this site, has a translation of an article about how one phone call stopped the Chinese film rating system. The idea of the film rating system is good, but when you have conservative middle-aged men behind the system with an agenda, it's bound to be corrupted. Kinda like the MPAA.

Link courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth

- Don't assume that the made-for-TV genre only exists in America, NTV has its own series of made-for-TV films (they call it dramas, but I call it made-for-TV movie, let's call the whole thing off) every Tuesday night. Being the sometimes-creatively-drained industry that is TV, Japan loves doing one story in as many formats as possible. Look at Tokyo Tower - which was first a hit novel, then a made-for-TV film, then a currently-running drama, and coming in April, a feature film starring Joe Odagiri. That's three incarnations of the same damn story within a half-year period.

This past week, the NTV movie-of-the-week is "The Eraser in My Head," which is the Japanese title of the hit Korean film A Moment to Remember (it was a surprise hit in Japan, and was credited as an integral part of the Korean wave in Japan). Before I assumed it was just a rip-off of the Korean film (the credits on the website does not credit the Korean film), I found out that the film itself was based on a 2001 Japanese drama named Pure Soul, which is what NTV credited as the source material. Even though it was based said drama, you can't deny that this incarnation was inspired by the success of the Korean film....can you?

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