Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/30/2007

After spending last week with the guys, this week we look to turn to the girls. From the great album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it's my favorite Lauryn Hill song - "Ex-Factor."

The Golden Rock - July 30th, 2007 Edition

Hong Kong box office and Korean box office charts aren't up yet, so today's entry is slightly shorter than usual.

- We'll start with the Japanese audience rankings. As expected, Harry Potter stays on for another week, but suffers a pretty huge drop (a preview of things to come when the full chart comes out for tomorrow). Ratatouille, the latest film from Pixar Studios, opens at number 2, and everything down to number 7 gets bumped down. Meanwhile, the animated film Summer Days with Coo (Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi) opens at 8th place.

Sadly, that 8th place, 26.7 million yen opening in a crowded kids film market (Pokemon, Harry Potter, Monkey Magic, The Piano Forest) means that the film opened only at 13% of the director's previous film.

- The full Korean box office top 10 isn't up yet, but I can tell you that the "historical" drama May 18th, which is getting bad reviews on its accuracy but apparently getting good word-of-mouth everywhere else, is now the hit of the year. On its first weekend, it beat out Voice of a Murderer for the best opening of the year by attracting 1.45 million admissions, even beating out Ratatouille and Die Hard 4.0 for the top spot.

I asked in the Podcast that never got uploaded whether Korean films can survive the rest of the year with its upcoming slate of genre films, but looks like May 18th just saved the industry as we know it. For now.

- The Japanese elections on Sunday meant that there were no dramas on, but there were still a bunch of season lows posted this past week. The Monday 9 pm Fuji TV drama First Kiss rebounded from its disastrous second week by scoring a 15.2 rating for its third episode (roughly 9.87 million people), while Hanazakarino Kimitachihe hangs on with a 16.6 rating (10.8 million or so). Yama Onna Kabe Onna rebounded slightly to a 12.7 rating (8.24 million). The hostess drama Jotei continues to drop with a 10.9 rating for its third episode (roughly 7.1 million). Sushi Ouji, whose movie version has already been greenlit, saw a somewhat disappointing start with only an 8.8 rating (roughly 5.7 million), the lowest premiere rating for that time slot since the fall 2006 season.

- Lovehkfilm sees reviews for the Japanese tearjerker Tears For You, the relatively unknown new Francis Ng film The Closet (note: Not a film with homosexual issues), and for the Japanese romantic comedy Christmas on July 24th Avenue by yours truly.

- Twitch also has a bunch of reviews - one for the Japanese horror film The Slit-Mouthed Woman, one for Studio Ghibli's Tales From Earthsea, and one for Wilson Yip's actioner Flashpoint.

- There's a rumor going around that Rush Hour 3 might be banned from China because of its "anti-Chinese elements." The first two films belittle and make fun of the Chinese plenty, but they weren't banned, so why now? Then again, there are plenty of reasons why China would not want to "ban" a Hollywood film now anyway.

- The lineup for the Asian Film Festival of Dallas is out. It's no New York Asian Film Festival, but the lineup is fairly solid anyway.

- Taiwanese cinematic auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien is set to receive the Leopard of Honor at the upcoming Locarno Film Festival, where his first French film (psss.....Cafe Lumiere wasn't in Chinese either, Variety) Flight of the Red Balloon is set to screen.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/29/2007

Today's song wraps up the unofficial theme of the week, which is male quick pop songs (except for the Ekin song, of course). From the album Good Job, it's Rip Slyme with Sunset Surround. Don't worry, unlike their latest MTV, this one is work-safe.

The Golden Rock - July 29th, 2007 Edition

I had a Podcast ready and everything, but Audacity somehow manages to fuck up my introduction (one track suddenly silenced the other one for a certain period of time, even though I didn't ask for the silence), and now no more Podcast because I have no energy to spend hours editing it again. So last week was the final Podcast for a while, and maybe we'll try it all over again in Hong Kong.

- The opening of a major multiplex in Tokyo started a new trend - stage show on movie screens. There's something similar to that here in the States, broadcasting concerts on a nationwide system of cinemas. The series of stage shows, 4 in all, sold 14,000 tickets during its run, so perhaps it's no surprise that they already sold 5000 advance tickets for their latest show in 2 days. I can understand why people outside Tokyo might need something like this, but I already imagine live stage shows being better, you know......live?

- For some reason, wasn't the news on the box office result of the American-produced documentary Nanking much better two weeks ago? With rich people shelling out donations and theaters reducing prices to get people into the theater, I thought it was supposed to be a hit in Nanjing. However, looks like it's suffering under the Hollywood syndrome as well, where there's just not enough screens to go around for it.

- The battle of TV continues in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong's biggest cable provider i-Cable has started its own record label to directly challenge freecaster TVB's monopoly on music artists.

- Variety has a little more on the Asian films that will be featured at this year's Venice Film Festival, including an impressive four in competition.

Asian Popcorn has more specific on one of them - the long-delayed The Sun Also Rises by Jiang Wen.

- The Sun Also Rises co-stars Jaycee Chan, who is also currently in the Hong Kong action film Invisible Targets. His father Jackie has the soon-to-be-crappy sequel Rush Hour 3, which also stars Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu, who talks about her experiences on the set.

Just to finish playing that 6 degrees of separation game, Zhang was in Protege with Daniel Wu, who was in Twins Effects 2 with Jaycee. Boo-ya!

- Jaycee was in Twins effects 2 with Charlene Choi, who was in Love on the Rocks with Louis Koo, who is in the experimental Hong Kong Cannes participant Triangle by Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnnie To. The official website for the film is up, and according to Mov3.com, the film won't be coming out until....November?!

- We have two reviews from the Japan Times this week to share - Mark Schilling's review for the animated film Kappa no Coo To Natsuyasumi, and Kaori Shoji's review for Hong Kong director Andrew Lau's Hollywood debut The Flock. How can a film sound good and crappy at the same time? Oh, it's by Andrew Lau, that's why.

- In case anyone that reads this blog ever becomes an ad executive in India, you might want to be careful when you do underwear ads.

Yeah, not much news today. Doing that Podcast took a bit out of me. See you back tomorrow.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/28/2007

Call it a half-joke song, or call it a bad choice, but I originally wanted another song from this album. Instead, I shall offer the more popular song from this soundtrack/short film combo.

Don't laugh, it's in the house, but this isn't even mine.

From everyone's favorite Goo Wat Jai, it's Ekin Cheng showing his sensitive side with "The Weather's Fault." Hey, it's perfect for typhoon season.

The Golden Rock - July 28th, 2007 Edition

I apologize for the lack of post yesterday. At least it would make longer weekend entries.

- Sequels tend to open higher anywhere you look, unless when it looks very underwhelming. The rule applies to Hong Kong as well, which is why Michael Bay's Transformers, despite all the hype and the worldwide invasion, had a spectacular opening with HK$2.8 million from 74 screens in Hong Kong on Thursday and still manage to look disappointing. The major sequels - Spiderman 3, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean - have all opened huge with HK$3-6 million opening days on some 100 screens. I keep telling myself that this, in all logic, is a huge opening and it can only get bigger. There must be some sickening obsession in me to see this one fail somewhere in the world.

In other movies, Harry Potter is beginning to slow down, making HK$690,000 on 50 screens for a damn good 16-day total of HK$41.17 million. Benny Chan's Invisible Target looks to hold strong this weekend thanks to word-of-mouth, making HK$560,000 on 36 screens for an 8-day total of HK7.78 million. Look for this to pass the HK$10 million mark by Monday. There were two more openings this week - the latest Doraemon movie made just HK$160,000 on 21 screens (though business will pick up for the weekend, and these things do better on home video anyway), and Hula Girl made a sad HK$10,000 on 3 screens. If you're in Hong Kong and haven't watched Hula Girl, go. There's a reason this ALMOST won the audience award at the New York Asian Film Festival, it's a good syrupy crowdpleaser.

- There's some rumors out there explaining why Kenneth Bi's The Drummer was suddenly pulled from the Hong Kong International Film Festival Summer Pops lineup. Apparently, in order to get into certain festivals, films are required to not having screened in its country of origin(Can anyone confirm this?), which means Bi and Co. chose to get its film into a foreign film festival (in this case, the Locarno festival) for sales possibilities rather than pushing local buzz. I don't blame them, but that's a pretty major diss for the local audiences, and proof that perhaps Asian films are no longer made for their local audiences any longer.

Even Vexville, another competitor at the Locarno Film Festival AND part of the Summer Pops lineup, has yet to open in Japan.

- Hollywood has gotten out everything they've got for Comic-Con, where it's not just about comics. It's like the new ShoWest (a yearly convention for exhibitors) for the ticket-buying fanboys (or now, even film buffs).

- zzzzzzz, the MPA continues their crusade in Asia by bringing a 23-minute documentary to Indian students about intellectual property. I want to stop reporting this too, but I'm relaying it just to show how annoying they are about showing off their efforts.

- It's redundant but less boring because of its ridiculousness, the Chinese government continues to dictate how to fuck up youths in their own special way by continuing to crack down on anything related to the Japanese comic Death Note. Now they have gone as far as shutting down websites that have anything to do with it. And the MPA is confused why people still violate intellectual property in China?

- Youtube is set to put in place their copyright recognition software, stopping any files that are copyrighted from being put on the site in September. This is going to mean that the Song of the Day feature would be in jeopardy, and also means your votes will fail to count anyway.

But hey, be sure to keep voting anyway, because democracy is fun and exciting.

- Korea Pop Wars writes about the new DVD set of Shin Sang-Ok movies. For those who don't know, Shin is one of the most important Korean directors in Asian film history and has worked on everything from classic 60s films to the Three Ninja movies in Hollywood.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a review of the Nobuhiro Yamashita youth film Tennen Kokkeko. The Japan Times review from last week is here.

Tomorrow, more news and the final Golden Rock Podcast for a while.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/26/2007

Today's Song of the Day and I have a bit of history. I first heard it many years ago as a commercial song for an All Nippon Airlines commercial (it was during my high school youtube-less days, I believe). It took me months, and maybe even years, before I found the song's artist, then the song's name, then the album. Luckily, my search was not fruitless, as I eventually grabbed the album from a local Japanese bookstore.

Then the album turned out to be not really that good. Still, the song is still good and possibly worth the search. From Steady & Co. and their album Chambers, it's "Only Holy Story."

I couldn't find the original commercial, so here's 20 minutes of Japanese commercials to make it up. There are some gems in there.

The Golden Rock - July 26th, 2007 Edition

- Apparently there are quite a few fans of David Lynch in Japan. His latest Inland Empire, which I honestly think it looks too weird to be my kind of film, opened on two screens in Japan this past weekend. With three shows a day over two days, the film attracted 2031 admissions and grossed 3.24 million yen. Considering one theater seats only 111 and the other seats 232, that's a pretty good opening. According to Eiga Consultant, people started lining up at the Tokyo cinema 2 hours before the first show and the last show was sold out three hours beforehand. Also, the pamphlet/program had a 40% sales rate. Either that means good-of-mouth or it means people just plain don't get it. Return business, anyone?

- Inland Empire was released by Kadakawa films in Japan, who also released the remake The Murder of the Inugami Clan, a ton of smaller films, and a bunch of TV shows after ruling the Japanese film world way back then. Now they are planning to do their own "fight fire with fire" strategy by posting their copyrighted material onto Youtube. However, they are also developing a program that would find internet video content that are violating copyright, though I'm not exactly sure whatever that means.

- Hollywood Reporter has more on the hit opening weekend for the Thai horror film Alone at the Korean box office, including the distributor's strategy to market Thai horror as the next big wave and that J-horror is over. They're a couple years behind, but hey, whatever works for them.

- Recently, Japan entertainment trend reporting website Oricon polled people on what they thing is the scariest J-horror film. The results aren't really all that surprising.

- Time for Venice festival news - First, Jason Gray has information on the Japanese selections, both in and out of competition (They even gave an in competition spot to Takeshii Miike. Is this a first for Miike in a major European film festival?). Then you can just go and check out the entire list at Variety, which includes quite a few major Asian films.

- On the other hand, things are definitely not going very well at the Bangkok International Film Festival, where there are more sellers than buyers at the market, films are not well-attended, and one Thai executive even said the money spent should've gone straight to the film industry instead. Ouch.

- It's reviews time! Twitch has a review of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Retribution, a rather long review of the new Korean film May 18th, and a shorter one for Japanese blockbuster Dororo. Then, Variety's Derek Elley turns in a review for the opener for the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Eternal Hearts.

- The Weinstein Company has snapped up another Asian film that they could potentially ruin, this time one of Vietnam's biggest films ever.

- Yesterday I reported the misreporting of casting news regarding Derek Yee's The Shinjuku Incident. Today Hollywood Reporter, whom I consider to be a pretty accurate news reporting organization, reports that China Film Group is onboard as a co-producer, which means you know the good guys and/or the Chinese will again win in the end.

- Apparently Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou's latest single, the theme song for his directorial debut Secrets, is suggested to be a breakthrough in style by incorporating British rock influences. Why is this news, especially when he's done it before already?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/25/2007

Today's Song of the Day is an attempt to continue the summer motif, and to I guess continue this week's unofficial theme of male pop songs. From the album Amazing dream, it's Aaron Kwok's Summer Aloha:

Honestly, I don't know what's sadder: the fact that I like singing this at Karaoke, or the fact that I bought the album way back when. That would make a good poll.

The Golden Rock - July 25th, 2007 Edition

- Starting with those Oricon charts, both the singles and album charts saw very good sales this past week. On the singles side, Ayumi Hamasaki's latest (which features a short film co-starring Hong Kong actor Shawn Yu in the more expensive version) scored a huge debut, selling 110,000 copies for an easy first place finish. This is Hamasaki's 9th consecutive year of having a number 1 single, which ties the record set by Akina Nakamori throughout the 1980s. Actually, in the rest of the top 10, there's only one single that's not new on the chart, and that is Erika (as in Sawajiri)'s debut single, which sold another 18,800 copies in its third week. A little unlucky on the charts this week are Porno Graffiti and Orange Range, whose latest both hit chart-topping numbers (90,000 and 64,000 copies, respectively), but ended up at 2nd and 3rd place instead. In fact, looking at the daily charts, next week's predicted winner Morning Musume isn't even likely to sell more than 80,000 copies of their latest, although Ai Otsuka is following close behind to fight for that top spot.

- In the equally busy albums chart, another Johnny's Jimusho group KinKi Kids wins the top spot, selling 301,000 copies of their latest album. Far far behind is American band Sum 41 (holy shit, they're still around?), who sold 62,000 copies of their latest album a week ahead of the American release. Amazingly, hip-rock band (that's a made-up genre by yours truly) Greeeen's debut album continues to hang on at 3rd place, while Namie Amuro's latest (which, in a shameless plug, I reviewed recently) also remains consistent at 4th place. According to the daily charts, the two Orange Range compilations is expected to win the upcoming week, with Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik's latest album right behind them.

- I don't mean to trash the Japanese blockbuster film Monkey Magic so consistently, but bad news just keeps coming in one after another, so I can't help but report it. According to this blog post linked by Eiga Consultant, Monkey Magic suffered a huge loss not only due to the arrival of Harry Potter, but also because the film has earned horrible word-of-mouth, with comments like "childish" and "unnecessary" being thrown around on the internet. Also, the excessive television appearances by star Shingo Katori has led audiences to be fed up with his attempt to promote the film. With a budget of 3 billion yen (mostly spent on advertising and CGI), no wonder Fuji TV needs a 5.9 billion yen gross.

By the way, I'm going on this by my barely-intermediate Japanese knowledge, so feel free to correct me.

- Speaking of mis-reporting, there are reasons why I don't look at Mainland Chinese websites for movie news. First, I don't read simplified Chinese (at least not good enough to translate), and second, I have a personal vendetta against one particular English site (coughcrienglishcough). Now a case of misreporting rumors has been added to that list of reason. According to Hong Kong's Ming Pao's entertainment columnist, who is possibly screenwriter Chan Hing-Ka, a rumor from a Mainland China website reported that Ken Watanabe and Hideaki Takizawa has joined the cast of Derek Yee's The Shinjuku Incident. The rumor was spread quickly, prompting Yee to come out and denied it. Excerpt from the Chinese article translated here:



The entertainment industry is a very sensitive one. If an actor reads a report about a film casting another actor, only to see him/herself also invited afterwards, then they might see themselves as "scraps." That means he/she only got invited to join a film because another actor turned it down.

Managers/agents show special care into these kind of reports. Don't think that Japanese agencies don't look at Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese news; they are actually quite clear on it, and once such report comes out, they would immediately verify it.


Once, a local director reported collaborating with a Japanese actor too early. Once the report came out, the actor's agency called to verify on the same, and the internet wasn't even as popular at the time as it is today.


Some media would post certain rumors without verification. Sometimes, a call or two can verify the news, but they don't do it anyway. As the fake news spread gradually farther, it would concurrently cause more and more harm to those involved.

Of course, this isn't the only fake report spreading around these days. After reports of Stephen Chow signing on to play Kato in the Green Hornet, Chow's management came out the next day to deny it, even though the original post only says the film's writer would LIKE to Chow for the role.

Don't worry, The Golden Rock always strive to report the most accurate and verified news on Asian entertainment with the most bias a hypocrite like me can give out. Why do you think it takes me 2 hours a day to write an entry? Nevertheless, corrections to any possibly misreported stories are welcomed.

- Shinji Aoyama's latest Sad Vacation is going to Venice. However, it will not be in competition, but in the Orizzonti sidebar section instead.

- Those in Hong Kong take note: Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou's directorial debut Secrets is having sneak previews this coming weekend. Just get your tickets early, they're getting snapped up fast. Oh, and Jay Chou will be at two of those shows on Sunday, which seem to be sold out by now anyway (that would be the seating charts filled with red you see in the post).

- Joel Schumacher, who has been blamed for single-handedly screwing up the Batman franchise once upon a time, is in talks to direct the remake of Johnnie To's action flick Breaking News. I enjoyed Tigerland and Phone Booth (another thriller set in limited space and time compression), so this might turn out OK.

- Malaysian major bookstore chains, in protest of grocery superstore slashing book prices, boycotted the latest Harry Potter book. Of course, the bookstores have ended the ban because the "customers are the ones would suffer." 1) Can't they just go to the grocery superstores to buy the book at a lower price anyway? and 2) Am I the only who find an irony in huge bookstore chains protesting cheaper book prices when these chains were once responsible for putting mom-and-pop bookstores out of business with their lower prices?

- The nominees for the Seoul Television Festival is out, and one drama's nomination seems a little absurd to me. The Japanese comic adaptation-Taiwanese drama Hanazakarino Kimitachihe, which is seeing its own Japanese adaption on TV right now, was apparently nominated because the judges thought the drama's style was fresh, which is weird considering it's an adaption of established work. Then again, I'm just picky against idol dramas.

- Speaking of bad TV dramas, Japan's own foreigners' rights crusader Arudou Debito is up in arms about a clip from the popular drama Hana Yori Dango 2, in which the only African American presence in the show happen to come in the form of only criminals. While I'm not as angry as he is (American dramas do the same to minorities - remember the first episode of Heroes?), this only goes to show that bad TV is universal. And this was the top-rated/top satisfaction/most illegally-downloaded drama of that season, people.

- This is the perfect follow-up. NHK is planning a three-part drama special about an international romance that blossoms between a Korean man and a Japanese woman. Um...they already did this a few years ago, guys. I know, I saw it. It wasn't that good.

- Before everyone else, namely Hollywood, blames China for selling all this pirated movies, China would like to let you know that the technology came from everyone else! Yes, we knew that China is not exactly the most technologically innovative country in the world.

- From the Japanese trailer blog comes a trailer for the film Grow (Guro), about a high school boy who runs into three ghostly mentors before his death and learns to...well, grow.

- If anyone out there thought those "Hong Kong handover commemoration films" were a good idea, get ready for "2008 Chinese Olympic commemoration films!" According to this blog post, the first one up is "The Romance of the Pheonix," starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Clifton Ko. I'll probably be watching this anyway just because I'm a completist.

- Right on time for the 60th anniversary of its independence, there will be a 6-day long showcase of Indian culture in LA come mid-August. The focus is said to be on Indian cinema, which means I'm sure there will be some awesome dancing involved.

- Variety's Derek Elley has a review of Takeshii Miike's latest theatrical release from a few months ago - the video game adaptation Ryu Ga Gotoku, better known in the states as just Yakuza.

- Lastly, but certainly not last, German actor Ulrich Muehe, who starred as a conflicted agent for the East Germany secret police in the brilliant The Lives of Others, has passed away at the age of 54.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Poll For All

As much as I enjoy sharing a song everyday, Youtube sadly does not contain every single song I like (nor does it contain every single song you like). I figured I should take advantage of the polls feature and throw this question out there - Should the Song of the Day feature continue even after the upcoming hiatus? A simple yes or no would do (though if you feel like adding more, a comment or an e-mail would be nice too). Look on your right for that poll.

The poll ends at midnight, August 4th Hong Kong time (that's 9 am August 3rd San Francisco time, and 5 pm GMT August 3rd).

Here's a little video to encourage you all to vote (not for this guy, though)

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/24/2007

Continuing with the quality boyish pop songs motif from yesterday, today we have a song from Japanese pop duo Chemistry's 2005 album Fo(U)r. It's Almost In Love.

The Golden Rock - July 24th, 2007 Edition

- The numbers for the Japanese box office is out from Box Office Mojo, but just as Warner Bros. has done in the past, it seems like they're over-reporting their gross again. Box Office Mojo reports that the film made 2.27 billion yen, including supposedly 2.05 billion yen over the two-day period of July 21-22 because it opened on a Friday. Now, those who read Eiga Consultant (i.e., me) know that just ain't true, because Potter made 1.12 billion yen from three days of previews last week (cue WB spokesperson - "Our wizardry will fight any typhoon that comes our way."), so Potter actually made just roughly over 1.1 billion yen. While the gross after the first weekend beats the previous film, hence making it the highest-opening Harry Potter film, the 2-day gross is actually only 84% of the previous film. Then again, why am I painting a movie that opened with over 1.1 billion yen as disappointing anyway? It's the misreporting that pisses me off more.

In the rest of the top 10, Pokemon suffers the largest drop of 50%, while Monkey Magic's near-40% drop isn't boding well for those early estimates, and even Indie dark comedy hit Kisaragi somehow made it to the top 10, thanks to the convenient omission of the Anpanman movie from the Box Office Mojo charts.

- I feel like I'm just repeating myself in saying that foreign films have yet again dominated the South Korean box office. There's a bright spot, though - a Thai horror movie has managed to score 295,000 admissions to the 4th place of the top 10. I'll let Mark Russell at Korea Pop Wars do the work again.

- Speaking of Mr. Russell, there's an interview by him with Jeong Tae-Song, the head of Korean blockbuster distributor Showbox. A little disappointing, however, that Jeong couldn't dish out more explanation towards his company's actions, including why it pulled out of Kim Ji-Woon's The Good, The Bad, and the Weird.

- Don't worry, Korean cinema, Japanese distributors are still buying your movies.

- There's word out there that Andy Lau is signing on to star in the remake of the 1967 version of a Better Tomorrow, which inspired the John Woo classic. Don't mistaken this for the Big Media-backed Another Better Tomorrow. In other news surrounding the film, Stephen Fung is in talks to direct, I assume after he finishes the Stephen Chow-produced Jump.

- And who stars in Jump? None other than Hong Kong's handsomest and richest bad boy Edison Chen. Over the years, he's had his run-ins with the paparazzi and the generally unfriendly Hong Kong print press. On his blog, he finally decided to fight back and snap a couple of pictures of his tormentors. Of course, I wouldn't be as stupid as to tell people to "piss or spit in they food" (jeez, thanks for promoting the stereotypes of bad Asian English), but I'm mildly entertained by this. The blog post even ended up on Oriental Daily's Entertainment page's top story (probably because the photographers in the blog post aren't theirs), but you know the reporting isn't going to be fair and balanced....just like this blog.

Is it just me, or isn't it kind of ironic that he asks people to support the "underground" when he's always pimping out mainstream hip-hop fashion and artists from Japan and the States?

- Everyone watch out, Andrew Lau is directing again! At least he usually goes away in just two hours when he's making movies, but now he's making a television series.

- A subsidiary of Japanese public broadcaster NHK has taken getting copyrights a little too seriously by registering the trademark of the name for a drama they haven't even started showing yet. By trademarking the name, they want to collect 3% from each business that wants to use the name in the future. And they wonder why youths don't respect intellectual property.

- There's another review for the Hong Kong action film Invisible Target by Benny Chan.

- EastSouthWestNorth wants to remind everyone that there's no active censorship in Hong Kong. Perhaps I've been a little rash in my opinions, when I'm really just mad at the lack of flexibility and common sense on the part of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority of Hong Kong when classifying "indecent" material.

- I swear I thought that AZN Television, the American cable network targeted towards an Asian American audience, was all but dead, especially when there's no more new original programming coming out. But perhaps they're not quite going away for a while after all.

- Lastly, as a matter of personal interest, the trailer for the new Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited is out. I'm a big fan, so I'm already looking forward to this even before the trailer's out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/23/2007

Today's Song of the Day blasts back to an era when wardrobe like the one in the video(s) are still acceptable. From Japanese most modest-looking pop star, and can be found on his 2004 compilation, it's Noriyuki Makihara's Mou Koi Nante Shi Nai.

Then, found on any Leon Lai compilation such as this one, it's his classic cover "My Love."

Why, yes, that IS Anita Yuen.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2007 Edition

- After what's been a somewhat disappointing summer for Hong Kong cinema, there's finally some good news to report. According to the Sunday numbers from Hong Kong, Benny Chan's actioner Invisible Target made an impressive HK$1.31 million on just 36 screens (and it's been sent off to the smaller screens in almost all the multiplexes it's playing in thanks to Harry Potter). After 4 days, the Nicholas Tse-Shawn Yu-Jaycee Chan starrer has made HK$4.6 million and word-of-mouth may bring it to the HK$10 million mark, which has become a sad sad standard for success.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter did actually win Sunday, making HK$3.1 million on 83 screens (see what I mean about Invisible Target getting shafted?) for a 12-day total of HK$37.03 million. Now that it'll be passing the HK$40 million mark in a day or two, let's start looking towards 50 mil, which I'm sure no one will be surprised about. Meanwhile, the Japanese animated film Keroro 2 (which apparently is only out on a Cantonese dub in theatres?!) makes HK$790,000 on 28 screens, many of them not playing it past 5 pm, for the 4-day total of HK$2.32 million.

From Hollywood, the Nicholas Cage sci-fi thriller Next makes HK$220,000 on just 15 screens for HK$780,000 after 4 days, and Quentin Tarantino's talky Death Proof director's cut makes just another HK$60,000 on 5 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000. I'm not surprised that more visually exciting Planet Terror will end up doing better, especially when Tarantino's self-indulgent talk about grindhouse movies won't translate quite well in Chinese.


- This week, Lovehkfilm has a review of the aforementioned Invisible Target, the straight-to-video (at least in America) stinker Kung Fu Fighter, the Singaporean comedy Just Follow Law by Jack Neo, the Japanese blockbuster sequel Limit of Love: Umizaru, Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi's Korean debut Soo, and the Shunji Iwai-directed documentary Filmful Life (with the last two by yours truly).

- In Japan audience rankings, who honestly didn't expect Harry Potter to take the weekend? That bumps everything down a spot, except for 300, which gets bumped off of the top 10 along with Zodiac by the animated film The Piano Forest.

- In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the American-made documentary Nanking is a hit, with theaters lowering ticket prices and donors pouring money to make sure as many people get to see it as possible. Anyone see an agenda in Chinese people making a Chinese government-approved documentary a hit?

- Time for endless analysis of Japanese drama ratings. Fuji's big Monday drama First Kiss gets a Joudan Janai-sized drop from a promising 19.7 rating (about 12.8 million) the first week straight down to a 13.2 (about 8.6 million) for its second week. The "Taiwan got them first, now we're taking them back" comic adaptation dramas Hana Zakari No Kimi Tachi He and Yamada Taro Monogatari saw one fall slightly and the other got a bit of a bump. Hana lost about 200,000 viewers, while Yamada gained about 400,000 viewers. Don't worry, they're on different nights and different time slots anyway.

Meanwhile, the critical favorite/Freaky Friday-ripoff Papa To Musume No Nanakakan got a season high of 14.1 rating (roughly 9.15 million), and Fuji's experimental Saturday 11pm time slot drama Life hangs on with a 10.9 (7.1 million), which is the same as last week. Oh, and Yama Onna Kabe Onna continues its slow drop to a 12.1 rating (7.9 million viewers) this week for its third episode.

As always, all the information for this season's drama can be found on Tokyograph.

- After the earlier reported Joey Yung=Mandy Moore MTV discovery, netizens have found yet another MTV by the same director that seems to be derived from an original Japanese source. Except unlike the Joey Yung incident, where EEG and Yung herself seem to simply ignore the complaints, the Taiwanese pop star actually released a statement within hours acknowledging the complaints. Then her manager released his own statement, apologizing and stating that he has asked video play to stop immediately. And then after all of that does the director finally apologize, saying that he did watch YUI's MTV as a learning tool, but didn't intend to copy. However, he has not acknowledged copying Mandy Moore's video.

Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning because the star knows that it's not her fault, but at least she took the effort to clear her name and apologize, unlike the EEG/Gold Label attitude, where they use "coincidence" as the ultimate excuse for everything.

- That was fast. Milkyway screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi's directorial debut Eye in the Sky literally just left theaters this past weekend, and a DVD has already been announced for August 4th.

- playwright-screenwriter-sometimes-director Koki Mitani is back with a new film after the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel (a great comedy, by the way). This time it's a darker piece about a gang thug who brings in an actor to pretend to be an assassin when he can't find a real one. Apparently he's promising three laughs a minute (at least that means it won't run too long like Uchoten Hotel did). Sanspo also does some over-reporting and predicts it might make 12 billion yen based on the Mitani's films' box office pattern. Please fuck off with that kind of stuff already.

- Speaking of "what the fuck?" The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow will play Kato in the Green Hornet movie alongside.......Seth Rogan?! Who the hell put together that dartboard?

Thankfully, a closer look shows that the news is from an LA Times blog that reports Seth Rogan WANTS Stephen Chow for Kato. Chow has NOT officially signed on. In fact, he probably hasn't even been pitched the idea yet.

- Oh, my bad. The controversial Bangkok International Film Festival got under way last Thursday, but hasn't really seen much clear success in attendance.

- Speaking of festivals, the Toronto Film Festival has announced most of its midnight madness lineup, which includes Wilson Yip's Flashpoint and Hitoshi Matsumoto's Dai Nipponjin.

- Lastly, Hollywood Reporter gives brief reviews of Shinya Tsukamoto's Nightmare Detective and Lee Sang-Il's Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Golden Rock Podcast - 7/22/2007

This week ended up being longer, despite having less news. Sorry if it gets back to boring from last week's shorter entry.

The 4th Golden Rock Podcast - 7/22/2007 (right click--->save as. 96 kbps MP3. 16.2 mb. 22:29)

This week's theme song: DJ Shadow - Mongrel Meets Its Maker

This week on the Podcast:

- Preview screenings for Hollywood films in Asia - are they really needed?
-----> Why the hell do I care about box office so much?

- the Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Licensing Council saga. How does that affect The Golden Rock?

- the LOSERS and WINNERS of the week.

Please do enjoy, and keep sending those comments in. Thanks for listening!

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/22/2007

I'm just finally finishing up the Yakuza Papers series by Kinji Fukasaku, and I can't get that damn hummable theme song out of my head, even though it's not available on CD, as far as I know. Today's Song of the day, therefore, can only be a cover of it by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.

The Golden Rock - July 22nd, 2007 Edition

Yet another Podcast done, will be up in a little bit.

- Perhaps the Korean Wave hasn't quite disappeared in Japan, as the drama Maundy Sunday opened last weekend on 7 screens in Japan, grossing 8.7 million yen over three days for a not-too-bad per-screen average of 1.24 million yen. The most promising news about that opening is actually the fact that word-of-mouth is so good that audiences are buying up the pamphlets at the theatres after they watched the film, with more than 30% sold from each theatre. This means people might be showing the pamphlets to other people, driving a healthy final gross in the long run. Then again, best we don't get all excited over the results of just one film.

US $1=121 yen

- The final satisfaction ranking for last season's Japanese television drama is out, and as expected, Kaetta Kita Jikou Keisatsu and Liar Game take the top two top spots. The biggest news, however, is that only 6 dramas got a satisfaction rate of over 70%, showing how crappy dramas were this past season.

- Speaking of TV dramas, the Daily Yomiuri has reviews for a few more of the dramas this season, this time focusing on the female-oriented dramas such as the politically incorrect Yama Onna Kabe Onna.

- EastSouthWestNorth translate a post explaining why Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing Authroity is destined to fail now that it's under so much scrutiny.

- Japan's public broadcaster NHK is planning to put their programs online....but only for people who pay their mandatory subscription fee. 1) Shouldn't NHK hold the rights to all the shows, and 2) How will they be able to tell who's paying the fee or not?

- Proving that there is not such thing as double jeopardy in China, Chinese search engine site Baidu has been sued yet again for the same crime by another company. The popular search engine was once sued by record companies for providing links to illegal downloads of music, and now it has been sued for the same thing by another record company. If four internationally-renowned record companies couldn't win, what makes this company think it would?

- How can Japanese films, even blockbuster films, manage to come in at such a low budget? Simple, according to produce Taka Ichise - just underpay everyone.

- As a amateur music critic, I know i shouldn't indulge in having an idol and all, but I admit it - despite my criticisms for her recent work, J-pop artist Hikaru Utada is my idol, which is why I am pretty happy to know that she has been voted as Japan's favorite artist once again after a few years off the popularity wagon. Too bad it was due to her most mediocre single ever released.

- Korea Pop War's Mark Russell has a review of the new big Korean film May 18, which is one of the few final hopes for Korean cinema this summer amid the Hollywood invasion.

- Carol Lai's Hong Kong horror film Naraka 19 was originally slated to open on August 2nd, only to get pushed back to September...except that there was an ad up in an Hong Kong subway station stating that it'll be out in August. Nevertheless, promotion is fully under way, and even promotional activities such as cast appearances are stating its delayed September release. It will also have a screening at the summer edition of the Hong Kong International Film Festival days before its release.

- The Pia Film Festival in Japan, known for launching many young talents, has wrapped successfully, with one particularly warped tale of bullying and terrorism standing out.

- Lastly, file this under "movie ideas that i have no interest in" today from Japan. Yes, yet another time-traveling romance.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/21/2007

I picked something groovy for the Song of the Day today. It needs little introduction, and there's little to say because people talk very little about this track from that particular album. From Daft Punk's 2001 album Discovery, it's Something About Us.

The Golden Rock - July 21st, 2007 Edition

- Monkey Magic and Pokemon better watch out in Japan this weekend, because Harry Potter has officially landed and is set wipe out everything in its way. Just last weekend, Potter managed to make 1.17 billion yen (US$1=121 yen, at least as of today) from three days of previews. That shatters the three-day preview record previously set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which made 940 million yen during its 3-day previews. Looks like that 5.9 billion yen mark Fuji TV wants for Monkey Magic is looking tougher and tougher.

- The latest Harry Potter film is actually one of the reviews this weekend from Japan Times, whose Giovanni Fazio gives it a positive review. Meanwhile, Japan Times' Mark Schilling reviews Nobuhiro Yamashita's latest Tennen Kokkeko (You read right, this is already Yamashita's second release of the year), which actually looks likes Yamashita's back to its Linda Linda Linda youth movie roots (click on 予告 for trailers). From Kaori Shoji comes a review of Gus Van Sant's 1984 directorial debut Mala Noche, which is playing once a night at a Tokyo theater.

- Then the Daily Yomiuri reviews Kishu Izushi's "trilogy" film Lazurus. All three parts are currently playing at one Tokyo theater for another week. It's pretty amazing that the credits on the poster show that this 200-minute trilogy is partly made by a committee of students.

- The saga with Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority continues after it was widely criticized by even mainstream newspaper for gripping their iron fist at the Hong Kong book fair. Now the head has come out and does what every salaried worker doesn't want their managers to do: blame the little guys. More on this ongoing saga on the podcast tomorrow.

- Leon Lai and Zhang Ziyi are talking about the preparations they're making to star in Chen Kaige's latest film Mei Lanfang. One of them is applying a lot of hand cream before sleep, which I'm sure Leon does from time to time anyway.

- The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival has just wrapped up, although its closing ceremonies and awards were handed out on Thursday. Korea Pop Wars has a small wrap-up of the festival, which is going down as one of the best in years.

- I didn't know this was considered news - Taiwan television is actually churning out Japanese comic adaptations for dramas quicker than Japan. Sadly, Japan has caught on with those annoying-looking teen dramas.

- Speaking of Japanese dramas, last season's ratings winner Proposal Daisakusen got a complete sweep at the Nikkan Sports Spring drama poll, including an overwhelming win for best drama and best actor. The surprise is that the two most popular dramas according to the Oricon satisfaction rankings - Liar Game and Kaette Kita Jikou Keisatsu - only got 4th and 5th place. Oh well, it's not like they actually win any prize.

- Yet another copying incident with a Hong Kong pop star - Joey Yung's latest MTV for her song "On Your Left and Right" has been revealed to be eerily similar (as in almost identical) to the Mandy Moore MTV Extraordinary (I didn't know Mandy Moore is still singing, and I live in her target market). If this is true, this wouldn't be Yung's fault anyway, but it can't be reflecting too well on her character after the "pirated wardrobe" incident earlier in the year. Click on the links next to the pictures to see the respective MTVs.

Still plenty of news coming tomorrow, as well as the Podcast. Sorry for the delays in replying to your comments, they should all be replied to by now.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Golden Rock - July 20th Edition

Back a little earlier than expected with a somewhat shorter entry than usual. But I do bring good news AND bad news.

- In Hong Kong Thursday opening day box office numbers, despite Harry Potter and an assortment of foreign movies taking up screens in Hong Kong (Transformers is looking to do the same next weekend), Benny Chan's Invisible Targets managed to open strongly with HK$940,000 on 34 screens. Considering almost all multiplexes simply throwing it into smaller screens (Pot-tah still has those big screens), this is a really promising start. If these numbers hold up, it could be doing HK$4 million or so by the end of the weekend, and it might even cross the HK$10 million mark. By the way, Twitch has a review.

Still, Pot-tah and his buddies took the day with HK$1.35 million on 90 screens for a 9-day total of HK$28.16 million. Somehow, HK$40 million is looking a little farther than I thought. In other opening films, the Japanese cartoon Keroro movie took HK$530,000 on 27 screens, Next with Nicholas Cage (I already get to watch this on the plane in 2 weeks) took just HK$140,000 on 17 screens, and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof took in just HK$50,000 on 6 screens after making HK$90,000 on previews the last few weeks. It probably won't even match Planet Terror's current total of HK$1.54 million.

- In other box office news, Pirates of the Caribbean has done what Spiderman 3 promised to but couldn't do - cross the 10 billion yen mark in box office gross in Japan.

- This Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority thing is getting out of hand. At the Hong Kong Book Fair, TELA officials were strolling around, randomly looking for shit to classified like the Gestapo, and they happened upon 17 books that were problematic and bullied the seller to stopped selling it without classification. Someone please stop them before they embarrass Hong Kong any further.

- Speaking of embarrassing, America is acting like the schoolyard bully-turned-yard snitch and threatening China to remove barriers for foreign music or risk having that added to their current complaint with the World Trade Organization. You mean let uncensored entertainment enter China in their unaltered original form, thus protecting the artistic integrity of the original works? Impossible!

- I didn't report on that Chinese cardboard box meat bun story because it was kind of nasty and had nothing to do with Asian entertainment. Little did I know that it IS Asian entertainment, because it was faked by a producer of the Chinese TV program.

No song of the day, but a full entry and back on the usual schedule tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Golden Rock - July 17th, 2007 Edition

OK, just a relatively short entry today, and perhaps a break for the rest of the week due to familial obligations.

- Box Office Mojo has no box office figures for Japan up yet, but the audience ranking for the 14th and 15th (I emphasize this because it was a three-day weekend. More later) shows the Pokemon movie at number one, and super-duper-ultra-wide release Monkey Magic/Saiyuki (which Jason Gray pointed out it's actually the widest Japanese live-action release ever. The widest animation release has got to be a Ghibli movie, just not the last two) managed only number two.

Here's where it gets messy - Variety reports that the film made about 795 million yen over three days, despite the typhoon (understandable - typhoon means bad weather, bad weather means people don't want to go out.....or go somewhere indoors like a movie theater) and the earthquake in Niigata? Not to undermine Niigata, been there once, real pretty, but real rural too. So people can possibly be so upset about a devastating earthquake in Niigata to stop themselves from watching a movie about a monkey and a female monk fighting some cgi monsters? I don't mean to show any lack of sympathy for the victims - I was in Japan during the last Niigata earthquake, and it wasn't fun even from Tokyo - but I agree with Jason that writing as if Monkey Magic had fought mother nature and won seems....ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the story of the weekend ought to be the Pokemon movie, because it managed to make 780 million yen in TWO days. Of course, there's this whole thing about getting something on the Nintendo DS in the movie theater, but it managed to open at 190% of the last movie's opening, and may very well get pretty close to the highest Pokemon film gross of 7.24 billion yen, set by the first film. However, I think it has more to do with the fact that it's the 10th anniversary movie anyway. Take that, SMAP monkey king.

- In Korea box office, Harry Potter dominated to no one's surprise. Transformers is getting very close to breaking the record for highest number of admissions for a foreign film (yay, fighting robots!), and Black House continues to hang on for Korean films at 4th place with 1.2 million admissions.

- Sorry, Japanese TV ratings take too long to go over, so I'll keep things really short. The Monday night 9pm Fuji TV drama (typically the hottest time slot for dramas) First Kiss scored a huge premiere with 19.7 rating (we'll talk about its crash and burn next week). The apparently very annoying Hana Sakari No Kimi Tachi He earned more viewers with an 16.8 rating, Yama Onna Kabe Onna, which someone asked me to track, fell just a little bit to a 13.5 rating in its second week, and TV Asahi's bar hostess drama Jotei scored a so-so 12.4 rating. As always, read up on information on dramas at Tokyograph.

- Director Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises disappeared just before it was supposed to premiere at Cannes. Turns out it got rejected, because "parts of the film were mangled in post-production," which might be the Chinese excuse for a messy third-act that people hated. Anyway, the film will now finally premiere this fall in Venice and China.

- Japanese public broadcaster NHK charges every household in Japan for watching, no matter how much time you spend watching it. After a wave of people finally fed with their recent corruption scandals, a bunch of people stopped paying. Now NHK has decided to cut fees by 20% and get rid of those annoying door-to-door guys that came to my dorm room to collect. As a side note: I apologize to NHK again for just cancelling my bank account before leaving Japan without notifying them. Thank you for not taking me to court, you greedy assholes.

That's it for the week (probably). I'll be back on time for the weekend, and I'll keep tracking world out there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Golden Rock Podcast - 7/16/2007

It's a little late, but it's here. Except I forgot to continue the Winners and Losers of the Week. Oh well, at least it's shorter.

The Third Golden Rock Podcast - 7/16/2007. (right click--->save as. 96 kbps MP3. 10.3 mb. 14:20)

This week's theme song - Edison Chen - TP Won!!!!!!

On the Podcast this week:

Verbal review: Transformers

Hong Kong Summer films, part 2 - This summer sucks

Future goals of Asian films - remake and foreign distribution?

Does the sales of advance tickets in Japan affect studio guesstimates?

Thanks again to everyone's comments, and enjoy.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/16/2007

Today's Song of the Day is chosen not because it' san OK song, but because of its surprising quality. I had no interest in American model Leah Dizon's "musical" career in Japan previously, but I randomly ran into this MTV and was pleasantly surprised. It's her first single "Softly."

Too bad she doesn't quite pull off the falsetto live. Time to work on that voice a little bit.

The Golden Rock - July 16th, 2007 Edition

The Podcast is ready, just waiting to be uploaded.

- Who is actually surprised that Harry Potter is the number one film this weekend in Hong Kong? According to the Sunday box office numbers, Pot-tah expanded to 105 screens on Sunday and made HK$5.23 million for a 5-day total of HK$20.71 million. I don't anticipating this thing slowing down soon, so it should pass the HK$40 million mark. However, also note that this gross is after ticket price inflation of HK$10 and a ticket for the IMAX showing cost double the usual ticket. Again, number of admissions, in my mind, is the true measure of success, but they don't roll like that in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Die Hard 4 is actually still bringing in the audiences (good word-of-mouth?), grossing another HK$840,000 on what is officially its second weekend (though it's actually its third, thanks to a full week of "previews") from 36 screens for a 18-day total of HK$15.6 million. Shrek 3, on the other hand, lost a ton of business to Harry Potter and made only HK$400,000 from 33 screens for an 18-day total of HK$19.8 million.

The top Hong Kong performer this weekend is still Hooked On You, making a so-so HK$250,000 on 19 screens for an 18-day total of HK$8.74 million. The question everyone that cares is asking is whether Hooked On You will pass the HK$10 million mark. With HK$1.25 million to go, I'm personally not expecting it to happen, but it'll get pretty close. Wonder Women continues its slow fading process with only HK$90,000 on 9 screens (it's already down to two to three shows a day in most theatres) for an 11-day total of just HK$1.36 million. This weekend, I'm not just expecting, but really hoping that Invisible Targets would do well. Pretty please?

- Transformers (reviewed in the Podcast today) broke the opening day record for a foreign film in China and also had a very impressive weekend overall.

- Elsewhere, Japan had a national holiday on Monday, so no box office figures or drama ratings have come in yet. We might get to it tomorrow.

- Just like the movie business in Hong Kong, even Universal music is now turning to China to make more bucks.

- Loft, known to be Kiyoshi Kurosawa's crappier film from the past year, is now on an English-subtitled Malaysian DVD. Watch at your own risk.

- The Korean film Public Enemy was a critical and commercial success, which led to its not-so-critically successful sequel Another Public Enemy. Apparently, director Kang Woo-Suk doesn't know how to take a hint, and now he's making a third movie. At least the good news is that Sol Kyung-Ku will return to his role as a corrupted detective from the first film.

- After Sonny Chiba made a sudden announcement last week on television that he is to quit acting, he finally explains it all at a press conference. Apparently, he doesn't plan to retire entirely, but rather cut back and turn to doing other things instead. Hey, I'd join the Thousand Leaves Hollywood school just to ask him how he killed a bull and a bear with Karate.

- Turns out the reason for 20th Century Fox not selling their remake rights for Prison Break isn't really their doing - The Writers Guild of America have policies that prohibits studios from selling their shows to China for remakes (is this ONLY for China, or what?). Nevertheless, Can't Fox still sue the production company if they actually register the name?

- Anti-smoking groups in China are complaining that the drama New Shanghai Bund (based on the classic Hong Kong drama Shanghai Bund) features too much smoking. These guys should just light one up and chill.

- The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Han Sang-Jun by Korea Pop War's own Mark Russell. Han is overseeing his first Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival after the controversy last year, but the festival seems to be back to running smoothly this year.

- There was also a panel with several young Korean directors about the recession of the Korean wave and trying to offere possible ways to stabilization.

- TV Asahi is adapting the novel Hanochi for a drama special (or a mini-series). The novel was already adapted in 2004 for film, and it even won best film and best actor at the Japanese Academy Awards. However, the drama is to make some alterations from the novel and the film. Hell, at least they waited a couple of years.

- The historical Queen's Theatre in Hong Kong is closing down, continuing to signal the death of a golden age in Hong Kong cinema. Now, theatregoers mostly favor multiplexs in malls over single screen theatres such as this. There are still, however, a few older single-screen theatres in Hong Kong, but who knows how long they'll last.

- One of the things I hate most about Japan are street scouts. Stationed on busy streets in neighborhoods like Shinjuku and Shibuya, these men harass women that they think might be suited to join adult business (or the AV industry as well?) and would pretty much be on them like flies on sweets until they reach the train station or they show any interest. Now TV Asahi is making a drama about what is probably one of the crappiest professions in all of Japan.

- When a Hollywood film fails, they tend to have international gross to try and salvage back the rest of the budget. But now the family comedy Evan Almighty, infamously known as the most expensive comedy ever made, can't even rely on Japan, one of Hollywood's largest markets. That's because the Japanese distributor canceled the theatrical release altogether.

- According to writer/director David Goyer, director Alex Proyas is going back to cult favorite sci-fi film Dark City for a brand-new special edition. I myself like Dark City as well, but I wonder if it really needs such an edition.

- Robert De Niro is putting on his ethnographic glasses to produce a film about the Chinese Revolution in 1949 told through the eyes of one of the few foreigners in the country. Not to be a man of little faith, but I predict this is going to suck already.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/15/2007

Today's Song of the Day is a little more hardcore than usual. From my favorite rap group LMF (As in Lazy Muthafucka), and on DJ Tommy's debut EP, it's probably my favorite song of LMF. The bad words they pack into this can earn this blog a category III rating in Hong Kong. It's "I Can't Help But To..."


The Golden Rock - July 15th, 2007 Edition

I couldn't find the time to record and edit the Podcast today, so it'll most likely come tomorrow.

- Kenichi Matsuyama got his big break playing the eccentric detective L in the Death Note movies, but except for scoring his own spin-off film, he has found little success beyond the successful franchise. For instance, his drama Sexy Voice and Robo crashed and burned in the ratings, and his last starring role in the indie film Shindou didn't even attract the audience to make it a successful indie film. Sadly, his latest film Dolphin Blue continues his slump at the box office. On 100 screens, Dolphin Blue opened with only 25 million yen for only a 250,000 yen per-screen average. His last challenge, and the one most likely to resuscitate his popularity, is the Death Note spin-off L. If even that doesn't bring back to audiences, he can kiss his leading man status goodbye pretty soon after that.

- Meanwhile, the biggest release in Japan this holiday weekend, next to the Harry Potter previews, is Saiyuki, the film adaptation of the TV drama based on the famous Chinese tale Journey From the West. Apparently, its release on 461 screens is the widest release ever for a Japanese film (even the Death Note sequel got only a comparatively moderate 362 screen-release), and distributor Toho somehow pinpointed on predicting the film would make 5.9 billion yen. Maybe? Judging from the trailer, I'm leaning towards "maybe not."

- A week or two ago I wrote about the first Disney Chinese production about to open in China. After two weeks, The Magic Gourd has done rather well, already having attract 750,000 admissions for a 16 million yuan total so far. With the weekend gross dropping very slowly, this movie might overtake Protege as the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year. Thus continues Disney's plan of global domination....

- After the Japan Society in New York's own Japanese film festival, the Korea Society has announced the lineup for their own Korean Film Festival. However, the lineup just simply isn't as exciting as the recent Asian film events in New York. Secret Sunshine isn't even on there.

- Two Chinese directors have just finished documentaries that are worth noting, but for different reasons: First, Jia Zhangke has already finished his follow-up to his award-winning narrative film Still Life and companion documentary Dong with Wu Yong, a documentary about the path of fashion from the assembly line to the catwalk. The other is a documentary on the Yasukuni Shrine by unknown Chinese filmmaker Li Ying, who filmed at the controversial Japanese Shrine for over a decade. It's a brave attempt at what seems to be an unbiased view at a subject that has caused such strong emotions in China.

- This weekend, the long-awaited Hong Kong action film Invisible Target finally comes out, and there's a new poster out to further whet your appetite.

- Reviews from the Daily Yomiuri this weekend include the animated omnibus film Genius Party and three of this season's Japanese dramas.

- Speaking of TV in Japan, the American cartoon Spongebob Squarepants (heard of it, never watch it) has caught on after arriving on the public television NHK network. And it's not even the kids that are loving it.

- The next "city" omnibus film to follow Paris je t'aime is, as reported previously, Tokyo! (That's the title. And I know that a New York I Love You is on the way as well). In addition to the three directors involved - Michel Gondry, Leo Cerax, and Boon Joon-Ho - there's also more information about the films, courtesy of Tokyograph.

- I wrote about Twitch's coverage of the film The Wonder Years, about a young girl's search for a rock star she presumes to be her mother, a while ago. Turns out the movie flopped at the box office, and it's coming to DVD with a mere 6-week theatrical-to-DVD window.

- The Motion Pictures Association continues to stick their nose into Asia's business by helping Japan in a campaign to stop Peer-to-peer downloading.

- Get ready to start looking around eBay, because a thief just stole about 25,000 yen worth of clothes from the set that was used for the hit Japanese film Tokyo Tower. The set remained opened for public visitors after the film finished shooting.

- Yuki Tanada, whose last film credit is apparently the screenplay for Sakuran, signed award-winning actress Yu Aoi on for her latest directorial effort Hayakumanen to Nigamushi Onna, about a girl who flees from home to save up money after she was convicted of a crime.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/14/2007

I've heard today's song a few times on the radio, but the traffic jam on the road today really made me listen to it. Then I realize how much of a personal connection it has to my personal life (not that I have a separate public life). I don't let these Songs of the Day show much attachments to me, but I can't really avoid it with this one. In fact, I was a little disappointed that it's not based on a true story. From the Plain White T's album All That We Needed, it's "Hey There Delilah."

The Golden Rock - July 14th, 2007 Edition

- I'm not a fan of Ayumi Hamasaki at all, but for your information - the second MTV of her short film with Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue is up as well. While the annoying flashes and whooshes are gone, it runs out of steam and logic halfway.

- This weekend, Japan Times' Kaori Shoji reviews the kamikaze documentary Tokko (Wings of Defeat), while also turning in a feature on the film, its director Risa Morimoto, and producer Linda Hoagland (one of the most top subtitlers in Japan). Meanwhile, Mark Schilling reviews the Cannes participant dark comedy Funuke Domo, Kanashimi No Ai Wo Misero ( Funuke, Show Some Love, You Losers!)

Meanwhile, other critics in Japan has been praising the film as one of the best of the year, which helped Funuke score a pretty big opening weekend on July 7th. In one Shibuya theater, the film attracted 1870 admissions, grossing 2.84 million yen. However, since the theater actually sits 303 people, and let's say it opened at 4 shows a day (it's now at 5 shows a day), that's just a "pretty good" 77% capacity. Still, you can't ignore that 2.84 million yen gross.

By the way, the film will play with English subtitles from August 4th to August 10th, so you can check it out for yourself which critics are right.

- As the Hong Kong Broadway Cinema chain website has reflected, the Carol Lai-directed horror film Nakara 19, starring EEG stars Gillian Chung and Vincy Chan, has been pushed back from an early August opening to the post-summer date of September 6th. This signals either: 1) Hong Kong films are learning to get out of Hollywood blockbusters' way, or 2) The powers that be don't have much faith in the film. This leaves only two Hong Kong summer films left - Benny Chan's Invisible Target and Wilson Yip's Flashpoint. The Hong Kong Film blog also lists Triangle as an August 23rd opening, but no Hong Kong cinema chain website has confirmed that. More on the Hong Kong summer tomorrow on the Podcast.

- Dave's Trailer Page has a trailer of the Hong Kong limited release hit Two Days in Paris, directed by and starring Julie Delpy. Honestly, it doesn't even look like an arthouse film.

- Everyone has completely forgotten, but it looks like Derek Yee's long-awaited The Shinjuku Incident, featuring Jackie Chan playing a rare dramatic role, is actually now set to start shooting in November. Yes, Jackie Chan is still playing an exchange student in Japan. Actually, now that I think back to my days in Japan, there were some somewhat old Chinese exchange students there, so it MIGHT work. Maybe.

- Posters, posters, posters everywhere. First, we have the latest posters for Yoshimitsu Morita's remake of Sanjuro, then we have the individual character posters for Peter Chan's Warlords.

- In China, a sci-fi writer lost his case against 20th Century Fox and director Roland Emmerich, whom he accused of stealing his play for the hit film The Day After Tomorrow. He lost because 1) He couldn't prove when he wrote the plays, and 2) that 20th Century Fox ever had access to his plays. Ouch. Then again, is Hollywood the only one doing the plagiarizing?

- Spain's Neptuno Films has bought up distribution rights for the China-Singapore co-produced animated series Katakune. So far, the show is set to broadcast in China, Taiwan, and Thailand, with Neptuno planning to bring it to all areas outside Asia and North America.

- The Japanese film University of Laughs, about a clash between a playwright and a government censor, has been adapted into a play by British playwright Richard Harris. In fact, the whole crew just took the play to Japan.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 7/13/2007

I came across today's Song of the Day by pure coincidence. I was doing a bit of shopping in a mall in Hong Kong's Wanchai district that was famous for cheap CDs and DVDs, and I walked into a very narrow second-hand CD/DVD shop not unlike its counterparts in Mongkok. What was strange was that the storeowner was playing this song on repeat. I had thought he was trying out the CD or using it as some kind of audio reference material. Either way, I kind of liked the song anyway, so I thought nothing of it. However, I went back again on another day, and the owner is yet again playing this song, which either gives me the impression that he must play it whenever he's in the shop, or he just happened to played the song again at that exact moment. I'll find out in about a month when I return to the shop.

From the soundtrack for the musical Chess, it's Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok."

Can anyone confirm that this song is, or was at one time, banned by the Thai government?

The Golden Rock - July 13th, 2007 Edition

- Remember yesterday I reported that the new Harry Potter played on only 42 screens in Hong Kong? According to the Hong Kong Thursday opening day numbers (where nothing officially opened since Potter opened on a Wednesday), it's actually playing on 92 screens! This is probably because Ming Pao daily meant 42 theaters, and most of these theaters are multiplexes that are playing the film on multiple screens. This makes the negative reporting on Ming Pao's part more accurate, since the film managed to take in "only" ("only" being a comparative term with Spiderman 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean) HK$3.15 million for the two-day total of HK$6.68 million. Simple math would show that the opening day gross was HK$3.53 million on 92 screens. Still, the opening is the highest in the Potter series, and apparently it's the highest non-holiday opening day ever.

Meanwhile, Die Hard 4 begins to slip with only HK$360,000 on 36 screens after a 15-day official total of HK$13.48 million, and Shrek 3 also dies down with just HK$190,000 on 34 screens with a 15-day total of HK$18.85 million. Believe it or not, there are still four movies on the top ten, even though their grosses are pretty weak - Hooked On You leads the pack with HK$140,000 on 19 screens for a 15-day total of HK$8.09 million; Wonder Women made HK$60,000 on 9 screens for 8-day total of HK$1.11 million (making it the lowest-grossing handover commemoration film out of the three); Eye in the Sky made HK$10,000 on 4 screens for a 22-day total of HK$4.12 million; and Simply Actors made a measly HK$4,000 on 3 screens for HK$9.3 million after 24 days. This is scary: Only two HK films have broken that HK$10 million mark this year - Protege (good) and Love is Not All Around (bad).


- In a prediction of how the latest Pokemon film will do in Japan, 2 million advance tickets have already been sold before the film's opening this weekend. While these tickets are cheaper, at least they're money in the bank before the film has even opened. Plus, we know with kids' films that admissions is the true gauge of success, not money.

- A month ago or so, the Hong Kong press covered the hell out of Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki's visit to Hong Kong to shoot the MTV for her latest single, which also stars Hong Kong model-turned-serious-actor Shawn Yue (no kidding, he went to New York for three months for acting lessons, with a translator in tow and all). Turns out the whole thing is a short film that'll be featured on the DVD accompanying the single, which apparently will be out on the 18th.

The MTV, which I guess is part one, is now on Youtube. Hong Kong certainly looks real pretty, but director Wong Hoi (I think he does music video in HK) edits the whole thing as if he's trying to make Infernal Affairs 328, which again shows the ineptness of MTV filmmaking in Hong Kong (EDIT: Now I remember. Wong Hoi was the editor on Initial D, which means he was responsible for the incredible annoying editing style that single-handedly ruined the film. It all makes sense now.). Plus, the whole communicating by dictionary thing just reminds of that episode of Undeclared where one of the main character can only communicate with his new Japanese girlfriend through talking dictionaries in each other's languages. The storyline, in which Ayumi plays herself falling in love with her bodyguard during a video shoot in Hong Kong, is especially strange, seeing how she had just announced her break-up with her boyfriend of 7 years.

- Speaking of Youtube, Tokyo local broadcasting network TokyoMX, which is like the community news channel, has signed a deal to put their program on the video site. They are the first Japanese television station to do so, and I hope more stations will follow their lead.

- Jason Gray talks about the latest film by Isao Yukisada, who is getting out of his period drama slump after making THE movie of 2004 Crying Out For Love in the Center of the World. Amazingly, this childhood fantasy film is actually an original screenplay rather than based on preexisting material.

- The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (better known as PiFan) launched on Thursday after years of turmoil. However, this year will see 215 films screened in 10 days, and ticket sales are up.

- In more festival news, Ang Lee's latest Lust, Caution has officially been invited to the Venice Film Festival. This year's festival, whose jury will be headed by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is already feeling the Chinese influence after this week's announcement of Alexi Tan's Blood Brother's placement as the festival's closing film.

- Lastly, Benny Chan's Hong Kong summer action flick Invisible Target, which is one of Hong Kong films' final hope this summer, has already been bought up by the Weinstein Company for distribution in North America, Australia, and South Africa. Distribution means they'll hold it until everyone also bought the Hong Kong DVD, then release it with a corny English dub, straight-to-video style.