Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Moving ahead

The big Cannes screening this past day was the director's cut of Quentin Tarantino's self-indulgent Death Proof. Essentially, the new cut extends the film by about 20 minutes with two major scenes - the missing reel with the lap dance, and a scene where Stuntman Mike (played by Kurt Russell) actually meets the girls in the second half. Variety likes it even more than the theatrical cut, saying that now the film benefits from the additional details in the second half. And I guess Hollywood Reporter doesn't really have much of a problem with it either, which probably means that the director's cut is pretty much a longer version of the same film. On the other hand, Jeffrey Wells, who actually liked the Grindhouse cut of Death Proof, is indirectly slamming it all of a sudden. Lastly, the Risky Biz blog by Hollywood Reporter has more on the press conference.

This didn't happen yesterday, but someone uploaded footage from Hitoshi Matsumoto's introduction of his film Dai Nipponjin at the Cannes premiere.

Hollywood Reporter critics Ray Bennett and Kirk Honeycott talk about the critical reception to the Cannes Festival films so far, including a reprieve for the panned-opening film My Blueberry Nights.

Meanwhile, there have been quite a few business deals made in Cannes:

Martin Scorsese, with other directors from around the world such as Wong Kar-Wai, Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Stephen Frears, have started the World Cinema Foundation, which is committed to restoring and preserving old neglected films.

Meanwhile, the Independent Film Channel (IFC) picked up the North American rights for Cannes front-runner "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days," among other films.

Colombia Films, owned by Sony, has signed a production deal with Stephen Chow's production company Star Overseas. The first film under the deal is the Stephen Fung-directing effort Jump, starring Hong Kong's spoiled bad boy Edison Chen. This doesn't seem like a surprising decision, considering that Sony handled the distribution for Kung Fu Hustle and will do the same for Chow's latest A Hope.

In the past few years, Korean films have hit it big in Japan, with huge distribution deals being made at film festivals around the world. Seems like the tables have turned, with Korean distributors now buying up Japanese films for their market after their recent relative success.

Yet another film investment fund has now established. A3 International will produce films with Korean, Chinese, and Japanese films in the mid-budget range. No films have been announced under the fund yet.

Now back to regular programming:

- Speaking of launching funds, the Pusan International Film Festival has also launched a film fund for Asian filmmakers. But there's a catch - the fund is for documentaries.

- Numbers from the Japanese box office ranking this past weekend are in. As I mentioned yesterday, only two films penetrated the top 10, with the other 8 remaining films staying at the same place as last week. And most impressive is that none of the remaining films dropped by more than 30% from last week's gross. Even Spiderman 3, which has been suffering pretty big falls around the world, dropped only 24% after losing only 21 screens.

- Eiga Consultant analyzes the 10th place opening for Will Farrell's Stranger Than Fiction. He basically compares Farrell to Adam Sandler, another American comedy actor who has a huge following at home, but whose films fail to perform in Japan. At 26 million yen, the Stranger Than Fiction opening is only 17% of Bewitched's opening in Japan, but it's also 113% of Click. I doubt that Japanese people buy Farrell's type of humor anyway.

- There were a few Asian films on the North American box office as well, excluding Shrek 3, which was co-directed by an Asian. Sad news is they're at the 101st and 102nd place. The two films are Triad Election (which moved on to a San Francisco engagement this week with almost no fanfare) and Ken Watanabe's Memories of Tomorrow, which also opened with pretty much no advance word at all.

- Following in the footsteps of Variety Asia, Hollywood Reporter has recently decided to expand their coverage into Asia with new offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. Good for them.

- I guess it's pretty important for some people. Variety has the first major review of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and it seems to be more of the same. I'll probably go watch it, as soon as I get myself to go catch Spiderman 3.

- New York Post critic Lou Lumenick warns that Evan Almighty, now officially the most expensive comedy ever made, might not be any good. Come to think of it, I've never heard of a good comedy that runs under 90 minutes.

- Yesterday, I reported that the winner of the Shanghai International Film Festival will be allowed to see a release in China without worrying about import quotas. And now, here are the official selections.

- EastSouthWestNorth has a link to an English TVB-produced special about The Society For Truth and Light, a conservative group in Hong Kong that is very much on the opposing side against the Chinese University of Hong Kong student newspaper controversy, and is a strong opponent against laws that outlaw discrimination of "sexual minorities" (that would mean the gays). The focus of the program is that they have recently been teaching a human rights course to schoolteachers. My favorite quote about the course: "If you think your time is valuable, don't try to join this course." Sounds like a quote ready for print.

- Japan must really love Richard Gere. After being featured in several ads in Japan and dancing with former Prime Minister Koizumi, now he's taking part in one of Japan's most beloved pet stories. That's right, Richard Gere has signed on to star and produce "Hachiko: A Dog's Story," playing the role of the professor owner who meets a tragic end. At least Japanese distributor Shochiku has its hands in it, or Japanese audiences might be crying foul.

- Korea, you guys are getting an Universal Studios theme park. I guess there's no need to go to Osaka anymore, huh?

- I'm sure many people know that there's such thing as a news agenda, which means news producers has an agenda in putting what they think is the most important story early in the newscast. This, I believe, is the reason why perhaps such agendas may be a little misguided sometimes. If you look at the top left corner, this news came on 12 minutes into the newscast. Are there actually less important news out there then a Civet running around in a TV station, or is it just to show the Japanese police's lack of priority in solving crimes?

2 comments:

Vincent said...

Comedies under 90 minutes? Either you forgot about Woody Allen or you don't care for him. Either way, awww...

GoldenRockProductions said...

Hi, Vincent,

Actually, my answer is neither. Being a young age of 22 and my interest in Asian films, I haven't watched much Woody Allen films. I've seen Annie Hall and Everybody Says I Love You, and loved both, though.

Though Woody Allen has quite a few comedies under 90 minutes, I don't think Allen makes "studio pictures." They never make that much money, and he always has creative control, right?