Friday, August 31, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 31st, 2007 Edition

- The reviews for Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is out, and the two big Hollywood trade papers are not too kind to it. Variety's Derek Elley say that it's a two and a half-hour period drama that's a long haul for relatively little returns, and Hollywood Reporter's Ray Bennett says the film has long period of boredom relieved by moments of extremely heightened excitement. Honestly, I never expected Ang Lee to pull off an espionage thriller, and it seems like he didn't here. Are there any actually any good reviews to earn the film the reported "standing ovation" it got?

- We know that Hollywood is no good at adapting games, but what about the Japanese? The popular Nintendo DS game "Professor Layton and the Curious Village" will be turned into a movie, and the game is just the first in a trilogy too.

-Twitch has more on the shooting progress of Hong Sang-Soo's Night and Day in France. If you remember, Hong is actually looking for volunteers to appear as extra, but you should probably be in France and speak Korean and/or French.

- Johnnie To is getting to be an even harder-working man than Andy Lau. Not only did he just bring The Mad Detective (probably not named The Detective anymore because Aaron Kwok's The Detective is coming), he also wrapped up the Mainland Chinese romance Linger, finishing up The Sparrow (another one of the Johnnie To films made on a Wong Kar-Wai schedule), the remake of the French film The Red Circle, AND now he's going to produce a trilogy of films about tomb-raiding. I am almost sure they will suck less that those Tomb Raider movies.

- Speaking of Mad Detective, Kaiju Shakedown has a few more stills from the film. Looks like vintage To to me.

- Japan finally passes a law making camcording movies in movie theaters illegal. How come those annoying MPA people didn't go and push for it more. And why didn't the US go and make a complaint about that with the World Trade Organization?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 8/31/2007

Today's only box office report is that of Hong Kong's Thursday opening day. 7 films opened yesterday, with 3 of them I would consider as wide releases. Among them, the best performer was the teen thriller Disturbia (which didn't get much promotion here). From 24 screens, the Rear Window-in-shitty-teen-rock-music made HK$230,000 for second place. The next one on the list is a bit of a surprise. Alfred Cheung's Mainland-targeted Contract Lover (review soon in the spin-off) managed to make HK$220,000 from 26 screens, considering that the show I went to last night only had 12 people (and the group I saw it with made up 7 of them). Next on 20 screens is the Korean puppy drama Hearty Paws, which opened with just HK$120,000. This is also a little surprising because puppy films tend to do very well in Hong Kong.

As for the limited releases (I would consider 15 screens and under a limited release, by the way), only one made it to the top 10. The American torture porn Captivity made only HK$60,000 on 14 screens. The other 3 films - La Vie En Rose (2 screens), Renaissance (1 screen), and The Number 23 (1 screen) - naturally didn't make it into the top 10.


- I mentioned that Sicko opened at only about 10% of Fahrenheit 911, but I didn't take into account that Fahrenheit had a wider opening. In fact, Sicko's opening was actually 134% of the opening for Bowling for Columbine.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/30/2007

Ah-ha, I haven't used a Suede song since two months ago, so it's just about time to use one again. From the album Head Music, it's one of my favorite Suede songs - "Everything Will Flow."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 30th, 2007 Edition

Call me lazy, call me tired, or just call it plain Thursday syndrome, but there's again not all that much news out there.

- Everyone is trying to break into that China market, and the only way is co-produce them with China, and the only way to do that is to get Chinese government approval. The first successful Australian production to pull this off will be Roger Spottiswoode's The Children of Huang Shi, co-starring Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. In traditional ethnographic gaze, the film will be about a British journalist who team up with an Austrlian nurse to rescue Chinese children oppressed by the Japanese during World War II.

- The Hong Kong Asian Film Festival (smaller than the Hong Kong International Film Festival and a different organizer) will feature some pretty huge films this year, including Ang Lee's Lust Caution (which is opening the festival), Lee Chang-Dong's Secret Sunshine, Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises, and Jia Zhangke's Useless.

- Speaking of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, Lee said that while his film did get the most restrictive rating the American censors could give (NC-17 - no one under 17 may be admitted), he hopes to use it to change perceptions about the rating itself. While I would like to see Lee pull that off, I doubt it would be an Asian espionage triller that will do it. An NC-17 itself means that it won't reach beyond the urban areas because newspapers won't even advertise them, and theaterowners are too conservative to show them.

On the other hand, category-III films (no one under 18 may be admitted) are able to get wide advertising and theater bookings here in Hong Kong. And yet, society is somewhat more conservative. What's the deal here?

- This all sounds a little complicated (it's easy to get broadband TV here in Hong Kong, but how do you do it in the states, where all kinds of infrastructure problems can prevent it), but there is now a new way to get Asian programming into your American homes, thanks to (for once) American Chinese video content distributor Tai Seng.

- Jason Gray continues to try to spread word-of-mouth for the Pia festival winning film This World of Ours. I just requested for a copy of the film with the director Ryo Nakajima, so I'll be checking it out and hopefully help him spread word. Why? Because I believe in good karma, especially for an aspiring director like myself.

- About freaking time. NHK chairman actually asks at a committee meeting to reduce license fee by 10%. That way, corrupted producers will have less money to pocket.

- Remember that "Sing this song and you'll die" movie with the creative advertising? Densen Uta opened this past weekend in Japan on 106 screens and managed to make only 31.21 million yen, outside of the top 10. That opening is only 74% of the opening for the last teen girl-infected horror film Ghost Train.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/29/2007

Today's song is a blast from my early university past. He was one of the more promising R&B singer from Taiwan that just isn't doing so well anymore, but this single, one of his first, was a long-time favorite at the Karaoke for me. From his first album, it's the title song "3 AM"

The Golden Rock - August 29th, 2007 Edition

- Suddenly the Hong Kong film slate this year just got a lot more packed, with new films by Johnnie To, Pang Ho-Cheung, Derek Chiu Sung-Kei, and now the Pang Brothers have a new film coming next month. Starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Oxide Pang, who last made the OK Diary, The Detective looks like it might be more darkly humorous in the vein of Leave Me Alone, and also marks the first major role by Kwok since his best actor win with After This, Our Exile.

- There's a trailer for Jia Zhangke's latest documentary Useless, which follows a piece of cloth from the Chinese factory to the catwalks of Paris. The trailer only covers the factory section, but it looks pretty interesting.

- Someone told me before that Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki actually vowed to her fans that she would never write English lyrics in her songs (although she's used plenty of English song titles). And I noticed that it was true until last year's Bold and Delicious. However, I would only call it half-English because unless she means something very dirty, Bold and Delicious doesn't really make a bit of fucking sense.

Despite Hamasaki going all English and foreign, apparently Japanese music are using less foreign language in their lyrics these days, seeing a reversal back to more Japanese lyrics. I personally haven't seen a reversal of that trend, but I'm a selective J-pop listener, so what do I know?

- Speaking of J-pop, it's time for those Oricon charts. On the fairly active singles chart, the latest Keisuke Kuwata single, the theme song for the film Tengoku De Kimi ni Aetara, debuts at number 1 with 93,000 copies sold. Meanwhile, Aiko is not too far behind with her latest, selling 76,000 copies for second place. Mika Nakashima is further behind at 3rd place with her latest single after selling 56,000 copies. Lastly, Tokyo Jihen's latest only sold under 33,000 copies for a 5th place debut. Next week, expect L'Arc~en~ciel's latest to take the top spot, and Utada Hikaru's latest (which I again don't think is all that great) won't have a chance at the top spot.

On the album chart, Hideaki Tokunaga's cover album not only holds the number 1 spot, losing only 30% of sales, the other two cover albums also saw a sales boost to 13th and 16th places, respectively. Other than that, the album chart was pretty quiet, with Sukima Switch still selling a lot of their latest album. Next week, look for Ketsumeishi's latest album to do really really well.

- Everyone wins! The Seoul Drama Award gave away its awards to dramas from China, Japan, AND Korea. Hell, even the UK's Prime Suspect won an award. Wait a minute, is "A Dwarf Launches a Small Ball" the same thing as "A Ball Shot By a Midget?" It can't be!

- Turns out Hong Kong's TVB (who make some of the most popular mediocre TV dramas in the world) got even more nominations at the International Emmy Awards, this time they're for acting.

- Under "Oh, silly China!" news today, turns out Charlene Choi's character in the Hong Kong comedy Simply Actors has been changed for its upcoming Mainland Chinese release. While in the original version, she plays a softcore porn actress from the Mainland, she'll be an actress that specializes in bad movies with some regional dialect of Mandarin. Apparently, even Choi herself doesn't mind, saying that she's not qualified to make softcore porn. Just give it a few more years, Charlene...

- Korean auteur Hong Sang-Soo is looking for extras to act in his latest film. The catch? You should probably be living in France to do it, since he's shooting there.

- Heroes actor/whiz kid Masi Oka (whose interview in better-than-when-he's-acting Japanese is here) says that Lost actually paved the way for Asian-American actors in American television. There WAS Sammo Hung's Martial Law, but I think he's actually right that it took this long.

- A few days ago, I said to take the news of Peter Chan Ho-Sun's latest film "Deng Dai" with a grain of salt, but I guess it's OK to trust it now that Variety Asia is reporting it.

- I didn't mean for this news to be last, but Feng Xiaogang's average-looking war flick The Assembly will be opening the Pusan film festival next month. Isn't this not even set to come out until Lunar New Year? Still, props to Feng for not taking the easy way with making some World War II film, instead focusing on the Chinese civil war.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 8/29/2007

- The Japanese box office numbers are out, as Rush Hour overtakes Harry Potter to become number 1. This is because the Rush Hour movies attract a larger adult audience, who pay a higher ticket price. On the other hand, Harry Potter attracts more kids, who pay a lower ticket price. Hence, more people may have gone to watch Harry Potter, but Rush Hour 3 made more money. Actually, the top 4 movies are fairly close to each other, with Rush Hour 3 making 211 million yen, Harry Potter making 210 million yen, Life Tengoku de Kimi Ni Aetara with 190 million yen, and Ocean's 13 with 187 million yen.

Michael Moore's Sicko opened way lower than his last film Fahrenheit 911 with 25.3 million yen. In fact, looks to be only about 10% of its 257 million yen opening.

Oh, Taxi 4 opened at 7th place, at only 65% of Taxi 3's opening. I almost forgot it opened, just like most of the world forgot this franchise still exists.

- In Chinese box office, Blood Brother loses only 13% of their opening audience, and Alfred Cheung's Contract Lover (which I'll be watching tomorrow) lost an astounding 9%. Could it actually be any good?

Sadly, Donnie Yen/Wilson Yip's Flash Point ended up losing 60%

- Look what movie popped back up on the mid-week top 10 in Hong Kong? Blood Brothers! From 20 screens, the flopper made only HK$80,000, and has yet to cross the HK$1 million mark at a 6-day total of HK$760,000.

Other than that, only two films on the top 10 took in more than HK$10,000 per screen - Evan Almighty with HK$710,000 from 29 screens, and the Thai horror film Alone with HK$240,000 from 16 screens. This Thursday should see a pretty busy top 10 list, as 7 films are opening.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/28/2007

As I wrote in The Golden Gate Meets the Lion Rock, I was at the Jacky Cheung concert yesterday. So of course today I would pick a Jacky Cheung song, except I'm actually going to pick a song he DIDN'T sing. For an pop superstar like Cheung, it's impossible for him to sing every single hits (which was probably the audience didn't have so much patience), so there is quite a big batch to pick from. Today, it's a cover song, which Cheung has quite a few in his long list of hits. Easily found on any compilation, it's "Seeing You Again."

Guess what? The original song's name is actually the same, but I couldn't the video, so there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 28th, 2007 Edition

- It's reviews time! Hollywood Reporter has a surprisingly informed (i.e. references to director's earlier films) review of Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen's Flash Point. Todd Brown also reviews Flash Point with mixed enthusiasm. Lovehkfilm's Kozo chimes in with a review of Blood Brothers. Actually, AP's Min Lee also chimes in with a review of Blood Brothers. Lovehkfilm's Sanjuro writes a review for Nana 2, or how to ruin a franchise that couldn't retain its actors. Lastly, there's a review of Takashi Miike's Ryu Go Gotoku by new guest reviewer at Lovehkfilm Jmaruyama.

- The return of Grady Hendrix's Kaiju Shakedown is slowly rendering this blog useless. For one, he's packed a whole weekend's worth of Hong Kong film news into one entry, though some have already appeared here already.

- I was pretty young when I watched that animated series City Hunter on TV. Of course, with the time slot of after-midnight on Hong Kong's TVB, it was like eating the fruit that is close to the location of the forbidden fruit (which would probably be, and it should tell you how far it has slip into the back of my mind, considering how young I was when I lived in Hong Kong. Now someone (the news didn't specify) is bringing it back as a live-action drama with a Korean actor in the leading role.

- Taiwan is pissed because someone who writes for the Venice Film festival identified Ang Lee's Lust, Caution and Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers as being from "Taiwan, China" while the Taiwanese art film Help Me Eros used just "Taiwan." However, the two films are actually Taiwan/China co-productions, so could someone have just gotten lazy with their slashes?

- Apparently this is how the Japanese distributor of Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan decided to promote the film. Fitting or tasteless?

- Know how to tell that Jackie Chan is getting old? He's hurt himself again on the set of his latest movie, but this time is because he triggered an earlier injury from another movie. Those back pains are no joke at his age.

- Another addition to the Tokyo International Film festival is Jigyaku No Uta (or "Happily Ever After) starring Miki Nakatani and Hiroshi Abe. Naturally, Kaiju Shakedown already has more.

- Aubrey Lam, whose Twelve Nights is a personal favorite, has a new film coming out called "Anna and Anna" starring Karena Lam. However, its plot description of two women in difference places that look the same sound somewhat similar to The Double Life of Veronique.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 8/28/07

Sorry for the break yesterday (I actually did write something), but I'm back today with a news post later. But first, your Asian box office report.

- In Hong Kong, only 4 of the five openers made it to the top 10 on the Sunday box office top 10. Evan Almighty is on top, having made HK$1.09 million from 29 screens for an impressive 4-day total of HK$3.97 million. Next on the openers list is the sci-fi flop The Invasion. From 28 screens, the Nicole Kidman-starring remake made an OK HK$470,000 from 28 screens for 3rd place and a 4-day total of HK$1.85 million. Third is the Thai horror film Alone with HK$260,000 from 16 screens for a HK$1.18 million 4-day gross. 4th is the Japanese animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, making HK$190,000 on 16 screens and a 4-day total of HK$600,000. It's hard to call this a disappointment, because it actually only did solid independent film numbers in Japan as well.

So what film does that left us? The John Woo-produced Blood Brothers! Because it's not even on the top 10, I can't even tell how much it made on Sunday (definitely less HK$150,000 on 20 screens that aren't even showing it all day), but Variety reports that it's only made HK$600,000 so far. At least it's doing pretty well in China, where they must love all that moralizing about brotherhood. Nevertheless, they already took down that huge billboard for the film at the Kowloon side of the Harbor Tunnel. Such a realistic world this is.

In holdovers, Rush Hour 3 made only HK$430,000 from 34 screens for a 11-day total of just HK$6.69 million (very bad for a Jackie Chan movie); Ratatouille is still going very very strong with HK$580,000 from 30 screens for a 25-day total of HK$23.13 million; and Jay Chou's Secret (the secret? It kind of sucks) is still around with HK$240,000 from 22 screens on Sunday for a 25-day total of HK$12.89 million, and may very well surpasses Invisible Target's gross. It's considered an Hong Kong film?

- In Korea, the period film May 18 retook the top spot, bumping dragon movie D-War down the second place. The two Korean-movie-industry saviors have now attracted 6.61 million and 8 million admissions, respectively. What's more impressive this week is actually the fact that 8 of the ten films are Korean, showing a resurgence of popularity (or just more attractive movies coming out?) for local films.

- Japanese box office numbers aren't out yet, but the audience ranking shows that Harry Pot-tah once again takes the top spot, with Rush Hour 3 and the Japanese tear-inducing drama Life Tengoku De Kimi Ni Aetara taking the second and third spot, respectively.

Specifically, the opening for "Life" is actually pretty good, making 194 million yen over its opening weekend. That's actually 145% of the opening for star Takao Ozawa's previous film Bizan (which made 1.2 billion yen). However, many of these films require word of mouth to get Bizan's numbers.

News post up next.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/26/2007

Today's Song of the Day is a song I will shamelessly say is one of the few songs I still can't pull off well at Karaoke after 5 long years. From the no longer-around boy pop collective VRF and their second EP New World, it's "Delusion."

The Golden Rock - August 26th, 2007 Edition

- The problem with being a director that makes the highest-grossing film that year is that expectations suddenly grows high on everything you do. This is the case with Isao Yukisada. After Crying Out for Love in the Center of the World made a ton of cash in Japan, Yukisada's work has been hit-and-miss, with studio films Kita No Zeronen and Haru No Yuki. Then he returns to write and direct Into the Faraway Sky, a children's fantasy film that he started working on from scratch for 7 years. However, his name is the only thing that the film had going for it, and 27.04 million yen on about 120 screens. That opening is only 15% of The Great Yokai War. Would this mean Yukisada is going back to studio-friendly big movies?

- Apparently, there's a trailer for the sequel to the hit film Always: Sunset on Third Street that I can't get to work. Anyway, director Takashi Yamazaki returns to the director's chair (apparently, no one called him to make Returner 2)

- Speaking of Returner, Takeshi Kaneshiro is apparently director Peter Chan Ho-Sun's Robert De Niro, as Kaneshiro will be starring in his third Chan film in a row. This time, it's back to the vein of the romance genre about a pair of lovers who wait 18 years for each other. Note: the link in that post to the Mainland Chinese website no longer works, so I have no idea whether this news is true or not.

- Did anyone notice a pretty big absence from Hong Kong's Golden Bauhinia Awards? It was Derek Yee's Protege - the film had only one nomination (for music), but it somehow made the award's 10 Best Chinese Film list. The list is as follows:

Protege, The Postmodern Life of My Aunt, After This Our Exile, Exiled, Crazy Stone, Still Life, Isabella, Election 2, Battle of Wits, and Curse of the Golden Flower. Where's Exodus, the film that got the most nomiations?

Source: Oriental Daily

- The Japanese action flick Midnight Eagle, co-produced by Universal Pictures, will get its premiere in Los Angeles thanks to its Hollywood connections. This is to build momentum for the upcoming American film market, as well as its screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival. For some reason, the trailers I've seen just can't get me excited about this film at all.

- A modest worldwide action star vs. an arrogant worldwide action star. Who to believe? Jackie Chan (that's the arrogant one) wrote that his fight with Jet Li on Forbidden Kingdom was fast and natural and will probably be equivalent to Jesus rising up to save the world. However, Jet Li says that don't get your hopes up and that he and Chan are both getting too old for this shit.

- Stephen Gauger's The Owl and Sparrow won the narrative award at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. Here is a list of winner from Twitch.

- Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) is making a follow-up to his film "Tachiguishi Retsudan" with the omnibus film "Shin. Onna Tachiguishi Retsudan." One of the six films will apparently feature a 17-minute long monologue....with the short film just running 23 minutes long.

- China bans yet another TV show, this time about cosmetic surgery and sex changes. However, the authority does mention that the show contain bloody images, so maybe it was riped for a ban, unlike some stupid talent show.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/25/2007

As it is for many, I'm sure, knowledge of today's song comes from the cult favorite comedy Office Space. It's not hard to guess which song stood out the most from that movie. From any greatest hits album such as this, it's Geto Boys' "Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta."

As much as I wanted to put the original video on, this is the only uncensored version out there. NOTE: LANGUAGE IN VIDEO IS NOT WORK-SAFE

Here it is used in Office Space:

The Golden Rock - August 25th, 2007 Edition

- The independent 20-something drama Koisuru Madori, starring Yui Aragaki (who also stars in the recently-wrapped Papa To Musume No Nanakakan) and Oscar-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi, opened on 13 screens last weekend, attracting just 4931 admissions and 7.77 million yen on its opening Saturday and Sunday. However, one theater in Tokyo's Shibuya district actually accounted for 37% of the admissions with 1806 admissions and 2.85 million yen. That makes attendance at the rest of the 12 screens even worse.

Personally, I like these sunny urban 20-something romance pieces, and these usually attract a good number of audiences, so what's up?

- With the deadline for submitting films for the best foreign film at the Academy Awards coming up, Asian countries are moving quick to find their best to represent them. While Peter Chan Ho-Sun is trying finish Warlords to get it into the Oscars (where I expect period epic fatigue to stop it from getting anywhere), three films from South Korea has been admitted, and Thailand has decided to submit the second film out of a trilogy about a legendary king.

- Twitch has a review of Asian-American director Justin Lin's latest film Finishing the Game from the Dallas Asian Film Festival. The "review" is more of a review of the screening than a review of the movie, though.

- Speaking of reviews, Japan Times' Mark Schilling reviews "J.J." Sonny Chiba's directorial debut Oyaji. My favorite part is his continuing description of how much Chiba still kicks ass in this movie, despite being 67 years old.

- A film that didn't come out with reviews is Jet Li's latest Hollywood B-movie War (named Rouge Assassin here in Asia). On the day of its opening, the two big trade papers already have reviews of it already. Variety's Joy Leydon calls it a flabby and formulaic programmer. Meanwhile, Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck calls it a thoroughly forgettable exploitationer that will not enhance its stars' resumes. The saddest part is that I will probably go see it anyway.

- Two pirate DVD retailers in China have been ordered to over $27,00o to 6 Hollywood studios for selling pirated copies of their movies. Great, now these studios can cover their coffee cost for the month.

- Under "do we really need this?" news today, American pop duo Aly & AJ (umm...they'd actually have to be known to be "pop") will be singing the theme for for Kenta Fukasaku's horror flick XX (or X-Cross). Note to producers: Not every Japanese film needs a theme song.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/24/07

Yesterday I had Inkpot, which Hong Kong's People Mountain People Sea group PixelToy covers in their latest album. Today, we have an actual PixelToy song for the Song of the Day, and the wait was because I had no idea PixelToy is one word, not two. What a fan I am. From their first album The Science of Love, it's "Try Speaking"

The Golden Rock - August 24th, 2007 Edition

- It was another active day at the Hong Kong box office on Thursday opening day. However, the bad news is that only one film actually did well. Granted, all 5 opening films got into the top 10 slots, but none of them opened on more than 30 screens. That's why the top film was the box office flop Evan Almighty. On 29 screens, the Steve Carell-starring comedy made HK$780,000 on its opening day. Very far behind is yet another box office flop, The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman. On 28 screens, the remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers made just HK$360,000, doomed to repeat the same fate it did in the United States. Even the Thai horror film Alone, which I'm sure got some publicity from having its ads and trailers censored, got a better per-screen average, making HK$250,000 from 16 screens.

Now we're down to the floppers. Not even the Wu and Woo names could get audiences to go catch Blood Brothers (I did though). On a meager 20 screens, the period action-drama made just HK$130,000. Doing a little better on the per-screen is the Japanese animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, featuring the voice of pop star Janice Vidal (er...last I checked, she couldn't even speak Cantonese properly) on 15 out of its 16 screens, made just HK$110,000. Expect one of these to do better during the weekend, and it ain't the one I've seen.

As for the holdovers, Rush Hour 3 is good as dead with just HK$310,000 on 34 screens for an 8-day total of HK$5.43 million (remember Jackie Chan himself has a stake in this, as he owns the distribution rights for the Chinese-speaking regions), and Wilson Yip's Flash Point with Donnie Yen is not looking to get to the HK$10 million mark with HK$8.28 million after 15 days. I thought it was good enough to make more, but hey, that's just me.

- With the news yesterday about the new Japanese film database by Eiren, Jason Gray shares a few more already existing Japanese movie databases. Yay, more references to cross-check.

- China box office is on the rise, expecting to make 3 billion yuan. However, quite a big chunk of that has been from those really huge Hollywood movies, though a lot of that is expected to be from the high-profile Chinese films at the end of the year.

- It's from those guys at Oriental Daily again, which is strange because they keep picking up the only stories that at least two other major Hong Kong newspapers don't pick up. This time, Soi Cheang's Dog Bite Dog has been sold to be remade in India. I'm hoping that no song and dance is involved, and that the assassin won't be from Pakistan (props to those who get the reference).

By the way, producer Sam Leung is apparently looking to do a sequel to Dog Bite Dog with the original cast. Having watched the film, how the hell are they going to pull that off?

- In more reports from Chinese newspapers, The Pye-Dog starring Eason Chan, which has yet to get a release in Hong Kong, will be heading to three different films festivals - Stockholm International Film Festival, the Asia Oceanic Film Festival (?), and the German International Innocence Films Festival (???).

- With Takeshi Kitano's Glory to the Filmmaker (Kantoku Banzai) heading to Venice, the organizers have decided to establish a new award, and Kitano's getting it. The name of the award? "Glory to the Filmmaker!"

Lust, Caution too lusty?

A post on Hollywood Elsewhere reported today that Ang Lee's espionage thriller Lust, Caution has been rated NC-17 in the United States for "explicit sexuality". That means that no children under 17 may be admitted, period. Apparently, the producer and the studio aren't even planning to appeal the rating (which is what they usually do, because NC-17 tend to kill all commercial appeal), meaning that they know they're guilty as charged.

With that rating in America, it's likely that the film will receive similar ratings around the world, which means I won't have to watch the film with a bunch of Wang Leehom fan girls. What a ballsy move by Ang Lee.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/23/2007

The idea for today's Song of the Day came from the latest PixelToy album, where a cover of this song exists (more on this in a possible review in The Golden Gate Meets the Lion Rock). While I have no idea why there would be a song about putting ink in the ink pot, it was catchy (and clean) enough to be the official Hong Kong lottery show theme song. From the album Inkpot/Attila, it's Ink Pot.

The Golden Rock - August 23rd, 2007 Edition

- Jia Zhangke's award-winning Still Life finally hit the arthouse screen of Japan. In the 204-seat theater, the film attracted 1811 people and 2.34 million yen in its opening Saturday and Sunday. With 5 shows a day, that's 181.1 people per show, and apparently all shows on Sunday (except the last one) were sold out. I never knew Jia Zhangke had that many fans in Japan.

- Some reports are reporting that two stations under the Japanese satellite TV provider SkyPerfect TV has been ordered to pay copyright owners of some Chinese dramas because they were shown without any permission or compensation. However, those two stations are actually revealed to be China-based TV stations, not Japanese.

- Eiren, or the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan, have started a Japanese movie database containing information on all Japanese films made after the year 2000. Don't worry, they're working to make an even more complete database in the future. The only problem is that the database is in Japanese, so no luck to my fellow foreign Japanese film fans.

- the first teaser for Lee Myung-Se's M is up, and while it looks really beautiful (shot in digital?), I'm always afraid of films that look beautiful because they turn out crappy (Natural City, anyone?).

- On the heels of the resurgence of local films in South Korea, thanks to D-War and May 18, the upcoming Sookmyeong is now the most expensive distribution deal for a Korean film to Japan this year. Don't pop the champagne open yet, though, its US$2 million price tag is only half of what Korean films got at the height of the Korean wave in Japan.

- To complete a trifecta of Korean film news, Kaiju Shakedown introduces an overdue Korean film about cooking.

- After Wild Mama, there's another dubiously named character-based drama coming this fall. This time it's Mop Girl, which is about exactly what the title suggests.

- Despite being reported this week, the badly named Zhang Ziyi/Jang Dong-gun starrer Laundry Warrior has not been shooting since May because Jang is injured, and Zhang is already off shooting the new Chen Kaige movie. However, the star of Chen Kaige's film Leon Lai is off shooting the latest Chang Siu-Tung film with Kelly Chan and Donnie Yen, so who's where?

- Under "films we don't really care about" today, some Asian actors has joined the cast of The Pink Panther 2, where they will most likely just play some type of Asian stereotype.

- The complete lineup for the Toronto International Film Festival is out, but it's way too long for me to pick out what's worth mentioning, so I'll leave that to you all.

- Taiwanese New Wave director Edward Yang, who recently passed away, will receive the Filmmaker of the Year award at the Pusan International Film Festival. There will also be a retrospective of Yang's films as well.

I don't like to pimp out the new Spin-off blog, The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock, but I just wrote a brief review of Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers there, so check it out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/22/2007

Today's Song of the Day isn't from any album. In fact, I don't even know who the hell sings it. But I can guarantee you that this is one of the best damn Songs of the Day ever. Not from any album, it's the Japanese "Jack Bauer Song".

Here is the original post from Japan Probe, which also feature translated lyrics.

The Golden Rock - August 22nd, 2007 Edition

After a slow news day comes a really busy one.

- As usual, let's look at Japan's Oricon charts. During a slow week for the singles chart, veteran pop star Kazumasa Oda tops the chart with his latest single, selling just over 48,000 copies. With this, Oda now has the dubious honor of being the oldest artist to have a number 1 single at 59 years and 11 months old. Meanwhile, pop group Tokio follows closely at second place with 45,000 copies of their latest single sold, and the latest million-seller Sen No Kaze Ni Natte is still on the top 10 at 6th place with another 23,000 copies sold. Expect a more active singles chart next week, with Aiko's latest expected to take the top spot.

On the album chart, Hideaki Tokunaga (whom you might remember for giving a borderline-creepy cover of Mika Nakashima's Yuki Na Hana) takes the number one spot with his latest cover album, selling 115,000 copies. However, the two Zard compilations (as in a way to cash in on fans' grief by charging them double for songs they probably already have) sold a combined 175,000 copies for second and third place, respectively. Next week, expect Tokunaga to take the top spot again, but with the usual drop in sales.

- In Chinese box office, Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers opened quite well, with its opening gross being 104% of Flash Point's opening 2 weeks ago. Then again, Flash Point's gross actually went up in its second week, which is not looking like it will happen to Blood Brothers. Oh, if anyone cared, Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting's Contract Lover starring Richie Ren and Fan Bing Bing opened with one-third of Blood Brothers' gross, although I have no idea on how many screens it opened.

- Ang Lee's Lust, Caution continues to prepare for its invasion of arthouses around the world with yet another film festival slot, this time as the opening film at Turkey's Eurasia Film Festival.

- I was hoping to be the first to break this, but both Kaiju Shakedown and AP News beat me to it. Anyway, according to the not-very-credible Oriental Daily in Hong Kong (still the best-selling newspaper though), Fruit Chan confirmed that he will be making "Kowloon City," a film produced by Terence "John Woo's right-hand man" Chang about two young martial arts students that immigrated overseas during the 50s. One of them happens to be Bruce Lee. Chan is considering a wide talent search for his Bruce Lee, and would even abandon the project if he can't find a suitable actor for the role.

- At this year's New York Korean Film Festival, a panel of directors and scholars will sit down and once again discuss whether the Korean Wave is dead. I'm almost sure the answer will be "no, but __________"

- Warner Brothers, who dipped into Asian film in Taiwan and Japan, will now attempt to break into the Indian market with the film Made in China. Before you think it's a satire on Chinese exports, the film will actually take on a crappier storyline about a cook mistaken for a martial arts hero.

- After Paris Je T'aime got me all hot for omnibus films about cities, I've been looking very very forward to the Michel Gondry/Leos Corax/ Bong Joon-Ho omnibus "Tokyo!" Now it's been revealed that Yu Aoi and Teruyuki Kagawa will be starring in Bong's short, about a shut-in that falls in love with a pizza delivery girl.

- I've seen the trailer for Peter Chan Ho-Sun's The Warlords at almost every movie I've been to so far in Hong Kong, but I somehow can't really get too excited about it. I know, it has Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, AND Jet Li, plus a whole lot of killin', but I don't know how many more big-budget period epics I can take. Looking at how mediocre Curse of the Golden Flower did around the world, I'd say even the rest of the world are kind of tired. That's not stopping Chan from rushing to finish his film and show it somewhere to get it eligible for a best foreign film Oscar, though.

- The two winners of the Chinese film competition are going to Hollywood to meet studio executives and visit film sets. I can't wait to buy pirated copies of their movies.

- There isn't much details, but a live-action version of the Studio Ghibli classic Grave of the Fireflies is in the works. Like all the versions of the story, this will be adapted from the original pseudo-nonfiction novel and be very very depressing.

- I never thought it would happen, but a program by Hong Kong's TVB actually got nominated for an international emmy award. No, it's not for a drama, but for a news programming, which is probably what TVB is best at anyway.

- I won't be translating the whole thing, but there's a Chinese review of Walt Disney China's The Magic Gourd on the Chinese movie blog (what the shit is a gourd anyway?). Essentially, the review compares the film with an educational fantasy fairy tale for children, and that it does what it intends to do effectively. Basically, it's not all bad, it's know, for the kids.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 8/22/2007

The Song of the day is back. Today's song probably comes from the fact that the Japanese drama 14 Sai No Haha ("Mother At 14) is playing on Hong Kong TV. That inspired me to put up its theme song. From the album Home, it's Mr. Children's "Shirushi."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 21st, 2007 Edition

A really slow news day today, so this entry is mercifully shorter than usual.

- The Japanese box office numbers show that the weekend match-up between Ocean's 13 and Harry Potter was much closer than I thought. Despite Ocean's 37 % drop (in comparison to Potter's 27%), the difference between the two films were only a little more than 2 million yen. Nevertheless, Ocean benefited from the holiday week, with 1.75 billion yen already in the bank. Plus, both these films are released by Warner Bros., so they win either way.

Like everywhere else it played, Ratatouille is holding on based on word-of-mouth, losing only 7% of its business from last weekend. The biggest drop again goes to the latest Naruto movie. Meanwhile, Isao Yukisada's latest Into the Faraway Sky failed to attract audiences based on Yukisada's name alone, making only 26 million yen from 121 screens.

The only opening that made it to the top 10 is Fumihiko Sori's animated film Vexville. On 181 screens, the film only made 42 million yen. That's only 66% of Fumihiko's producing effort Appleseed's opening. However, the film has been sold to 129 countries for distribution, so I'm sure these guys will make their money back.

- A bit outdated, but Stephen Chow's latest is no longer called A Hope, but CJ7, which would be a more literal translation from the film's Chinese name, which i have no idea how to type in pinyin.
- Aya Ueto is going to be playing her first role as a mother in the fall Fuji TV drama Wild Mama. Apparently she will be a stepmom that argues with a lot of people. How does that make good TV again?

- In an effort to make you look more forward to the awards and not concentrate on its redundancy, the Asia Pacific Film Awards (to take place in Australia, not Asia) has just completed a complementary program featuring interviews with a lot of big-name Asian directors. Well, at least big names to me, alright?

- Any amateur game developers now have a new goal to reach - a win at the Amateur Division of the Japan Game Awards.

- Major South Korean entertainment firm Sidus (and I say major because I see its logo quite often) is penetrating the US market by buying a slice of Asian-American-targeted cable network Imaginasian TV. This means expect more Korean entertainment on American cable television, and that ain't bad.

See? mercifully short.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 20th, 2007 Edition.

If you haven't noticed the link section by now, I now officially announce the opening of The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock. As I wrote in the first post, this spin-off blog is a result of a realization that the daily The Golden Rock entries are getting way too long. I will move all movie reviews and general Hong Kong observations into that blog, so expect reviews of some of the films I've seen here in Hong Kong and probably better pictures. Either way, it'll be fun.

- If these stats are right, it was a pretty busy Sunday at the Hong Kong box office. Pixar's Ratatouille pulled a surprising victory over Jackie Chan's Rush Hour 3, making HK$1.07 million on 33 screens, passing the HK$20 million mark after 18 days. While Rush Hour 3 won Thursday, its weekend bump wasn't enough, making only HK$1 million on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$3.52 million. Then again, a few people at the screening I went to (out of a meager 15 or so) seemed to have enjoy it. Maybe they were high. The other opening film of the weekend, Walt Disney China's The Magic Gourd, rebounded from its weak Thursday opening for a Sunday gross of HK$310,000 from 16 screens for a 4-day total of HK$840,000, ensuring that the film will indeed pass the HK$1 million mark. I walked by one of the theaters showing it on Sunday, and the monitor showed that the film was actually at at least 80-85% capacity, so I'm not surprised it did so well that day.

As for returning films, The Simpsons Movie leads the pack with HK$700,000 on 36 screens for an 11-day total of HK$8.07 million. It should pass the HK$10 million mark this coming week, especially for a cartoon that I've never seen shown on HK television (is it on HK television? Let me know). The Bourne Ultimatum managed to retain some word-of-mouth and rebounded on Sunday with HK$550,000 on 30 screens for a HK$6.88 million 11-day total. Another action film getting word-of-mouth but still being pushed out is Wilson Yip's Flash Point (which I will review on the spin-off). Screens are dwindling down, and a lot of exhibitors are only showing this three times or less a day, but it still made HK$460,000 on 28 screens for a 11-day total of HK$7.35 million.

- Holy shit, this D-War thing is getting crazy. After its third weekend, the dragon-in-LA blockbuster has now accumulated 7.45 million admissions and is now the 7th biggest film of all time in Korea. the "historical" film May 18 ain't doing so bad, either, with over 6 million admissions already. With Korean films taking the top 4 spots this weekend, does that mean local films are making a comeback, or just a weakening Hollywood lineup?

- We won't have any numbers for Japan until tomorrow, but admission rankings shows Harry Potter overtaking Ocean's 13 to become number 1 again. Under "disappointing openings" today, Fumihiko Sori's Vexville opens at 9th place.

- In a brief roundup of drama ratings, Papa To Musume No Nanakakan wrapped up on Sunday with a 14.5 rating after scoring a season-low 11.9 rating last week. In the end, the Freaky Friday-clone scored an OK-average of 13.9, making it the 4th highest-rated drama of the season if things hold up. Meanwhile, the highest-rated drama of the season title was between First Kiss and Hana Zagari no Kimitachi he, but both are suffering from season-low ratings. Actually, everything is suffering from falling ratings, but Hana happened to have started high enough to stay on top.

Lastly, Sushi Ouji, the drama that had such high expectations that a movie was greenlit before the drama even began airing, has fallen to a 5.9 rating in its 4th week after premiering it with an 8.8. Who do they exactly expect to see the movie now?

- Wow. Sonny Chiba's directorial debut is set to be released this Friday, and I had no idea. Oyaji stars Sonny Chiba as a loving father who dies in a family that ends up tearing his family apart. However, he suddenly returns the life, and I guess kicks a lot of ass with a shovel. It'll only play in one Tokyo theater for one show a night, but it actually looks pretty good. Hell, I'll buy an advance ticket just for that lighter.

And yes, I realize from the trailer that Chiba is only co-directing it, but I would guess that applies to scenes he's not in, so that makes it a pretty big deal.

- Vietnamese-French director Tran Ahn Hung (Cyclo) is working on a new film, and it actually features a pretty major Panasian cast. I know Josh Harnett isn't anything exciting, but it also features Shawn Yu (an actor I'm coming to like more and more), Lee Byung-Heon, and Japanese drama king Kimura Takuya. The story doesn't sound that good, but I can't help but hope for the best.

- And they wonder why Hong Kong people can't accept Mainland Chinese movies. The chairman of China Film Group was reported saying that China needs more films that promote nationalism and are "ethically inspiring." The quote that pissed me off the most? "'The reality of this country's economic reforms is that the country, the race, is prospering...There can't be anyone who makes fun of it. People who do either have ulterior motives or they're mentally challenged'" He really sounds like an American right-winger when he says that; maybe he should move to the American South and let the people who know what they're doing (i.e. the filmmakers) do their jobs.

- Hell, even Jet Li is pissed at the way movies work in China. After attempting to make movies with positive messages that still fail to get into China, Li is speaking out about his annoyances.

- In a related note, Zhang Ziyi will star in a movie called Laundry Warriors.

- The US trailer for Johnnie To's Exiled is up from Magnolia Pictures, and they sure make it look better than your usual Hong Kong action film trailer. Still, what's up with all the shots of the girl in her underwear? Those are all from the same scene.

- The India film industry not-so-politely ask you all to stop calling their film industry Bollywood. And I politely ask them to stop remaking movies and just add sing-and-dance scenes into it.

- They're so in love! While Wilson Yip's next film is a co-directing effort that puts Donnie Yen as a horror-action hero, they're already working on their film after that. What's scary is that Yen will play Wisely, a legendary modern literary character that one can compare as the Sherlock Holmes of Hong Kong - but with supernatural aspects. In case you don't know, the last Wisely movie was Wesley's Mysterious Files. Now I know what kind of expectations to put on this.

- There's a review for one of this year's major Japanese drama adaptation films Unfair: The Movie. Caution, it does contain some spoilers, including one major plot twist.

- Chinese audiences are in love with contrived reality, as the reality gimmick show Wife Swap is a hit. And yet they're not allowed to watch Chow Yun-Fat play a Singaporean.

- This remains unconfirmed, but Pang Ho-Cheung, whose award-nominated Exodus is coming out next month, will be producing with Chapman To on a new film after the critical success of Isabella, the first film under their production company. This new film will make up 8 stories of different genres (all to be directed by Pang?) and its initial cast list include Chapman To himself, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue, Isabella Leung, and Gillian Chung.

Source: Oriental Daily.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 19th, 2007 Edition

- I reported earlier in the week that Ocean's Thirteen opened fairly huge in Japan last weekend, bumping Transformers all the way from first to third place. Turns out its 380 million yen opening is only 70% of Ocean's Twelve and 54% of Ocean's Eleven. However, the film did open just before the weeklong Obon holidays in Japan, which means it might catch during the week and for this weekend as well. With no big Hollywood blockbusters opening this weekend, that is certainly seeming more likely now. We shall know by Tuesday.

- As reported yesterday, four of the five Hong Kong TVB Tigers of the late 80s (sans Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) are reuniting for the latest film by director Derek Chiu Sung-Kei. Now we can report that Brothers will be coming in October, and the Chinese-language Hong Kong film blog has pictures from the press conference showing the all-male cast.

- After scoring 10 nominations at the Golden Bauhinia Awards (without screening it at all anywhere publicly), there's a trailer out for Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus. It might just be a teaser, but this is looking to be easily the strangest Pang film yet. Add the poster now in HK cinemas, this is lining up to be one of the most intriguing-looking Hong Kong film in a long time.

- This week's Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri talks about the dramas Japanese television networks have for the fall to try and push the ratings back up. I don't know, three detective dramas in one season looks to be a bit much.

- Yu Ha, who made the adult drama Marriage is a Crazy Thing in 2002, made two violent gangster dramas in a row- Once Upon a Time in High School and A Dirty Carnival. Now the poet/filmmaker is dipping his hand into the historical and possibly gay romance drama genre. Apparently, the director simply describes it as "a love story between men," which would probably be a good pitch for Donnie Yen's Flash Point.

- Japanese mega-producer Haruki Kadokawa and director Takashi Miike are teaming up (how many movies does Miike have in the pipe now? I count 3 including this one) for a sci-fi film named Kamisama no Puzzle (God's Puzzle). I can't tell whether it's supposed to be a comedy or drama.

- Was anyone wondering how Andrew Lau's Hollywood debut The Flock did in Japan (I believe it's the first territory in the world to have it in theaters, but I could be wrong)? Along with The Pang Brothers' The Messengers, The Flock opened on around 20-50 screens and ended up making less than 100 million yen. Yes, in Japan, they won't even watch Hollywood films by Hong Kong directors.

100 million yen isn't even US$1 million, by the way.

- Johnnie To's Mad Detective (formerly named The Detective) is going to the Venice Film Festival after all. To refresh your memory, Mad Detective marks the first dramatic collaboration between Johnnie To and best actor winner Lau Ching-Wan since.....well, in a long ass time. That automatically should make it a film to look forward to.

- Hey, Australia. Don't pirate movies and end up getting nothing like Canada.

Expect the Podcast to be back next week, and maybe that promised new feature tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 18th, 2007 Edition

- Under "where did this movie come from?" news today, director Derek Chiu Sung-Kei is actually working on a new film called Brothers that reunite four of the five TVB Tigers from the 80s (they were previously in a film called....The Tigers in 1991). This time, Tony Leung is the missing one. Some has rumored that it's because his salary is too high, which doesn't make sense because I suspect Andy Lau's asking price would be just as high, and the official excuse is that Leung couldn't be in it because of the schedule. Who's replacing the role meant for Leung? Eason Chan. I think I hear some collective groans, but I remain optimistic.

By the way, the five TVB Tigers were Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Miu Kiu-Wai, Felix Wong Yut-Wah, and Ken Tong Chun-Yip.

- For those in Japan that wanted to see Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodridguez's Grindhouse films in their original double feature form, the U.S. version will be playing for a week in Tokyo and Osaka start August 24th. Those that want to see the director's cut can wait until next month. Don't think you're saving money watching the double features - they're charging 3000 yen, or the price of two student tickets, for the 3-hour film.

- Speaking of Hollywood in Japan, it's no secret that Japanese films have been doing worse than last year at the local box office. Thanks to that, Hollywood films have taken back the reins, with box office for Hollywood films in Japan up 22% from the same period last year. On the other hand, the box office for films by the Japanese big 3 is down 13%. Ouch.

- Sadly, some of the biggest films of the year have been drama adaptations such as Unfair the Movie and Monkey Magic. In addition to Hero with Kimura Takuya in September, now we have Hana Yori Dango coming to a big screen near you next summer. To retain objectivity, I shall avoid cursing and hoping for the film's failure, because we know that just won't work. The least I can hope is that it won't offer scenes such as this.

- Opening this weekend in Japan is the animated film Vexvile, the latest by Fumihiko Sori (who directed the live-action Ping Pong and produced the cult favorite Appleseed). It looked pretty promising, but the review in Japan Times by Mark Schilling might change my expectations a bit. Still, one negative review won't stop it from getting its distribution rights sold to 129 countries.

- Yesterday's Hong Kong newspapers offer a second full-page ad for the Wong Jing/Eric Tsang-produced remake comedy Beauty and the 7 Beasts. In addition to the femme fatale Meng Yao (whom the poster describes as a cross between Ti Na and Miriam Yeung), the "seven beasts" will be Eric Tsang, Nat Chan, Gordon Lam, Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai, Chin Kar-Lok, Lam Chi-Shin, and Wong Cho-Lam. We can expect this soon-to-be-appreciated-only-in-Europe masterpiece by the mid-autumn festival, which is around the end of September. What we don't know is how many people will pay to watch it. Well, that's at least one here......

- They're break-dance fighting! MTV China is teaming up with an Italian apparel company for a reality show that would give the best dancer in China an all-expenses-paid trip to go meet Justin Timberlake. To show the amount of quality expected from the show, Edison Chen will be one of the on-air commentators.

That's it for today. Expect some (relatively) good news from Hong Kong films tomorrow, and some other stuff, I guess. In case someone happens to be reading out there.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 17th, 2007 Edition

- This week in Hong Kong, we have Jackie Chan's Rush Hour 3 (reviewed by Lovehkfilm's Sanjuro) vs. Walt Disney's first Chinese production The Magic Gourd (what the hell is a Gourd anyway?). On Thursday opening day, Rush Hour 3 wins with HK$700,000 on 38 screens, which guarantees it a win for the weekend, but it'll not likely hit HK$10 million. On the other hand, The Magic Gourd, featuring Gigi Leung and the voice of Lau Ching-Wan (as the gourd in question), might not even make HK$1 million. Despite Disney's attempts to get people in the theater (like the HK$15 off with a stub from Ratatouille at two theatres) and its hit status in Mainland China, the film only made HK$140,000 on 16 screens, probably exactly because it looked too catered to the Mainland Chinese market.

In holdovers, all the second-weekend movies aren't looking to do too well, with The Simpsons Movie leading the pack, making HK$390,000 on 38 screens for an 8-day total of HK$6.1 million. Donnie, I mean Wilson Yip's Flashpoint is looking to do the best per-screen business with HK$360,000 on 28 screens, much of those already showing it only 3 or less times a day. After 8 days, it's made HK$6 million, so Grady Hendrix was right that it would probably limp to HK$10 million, if possible. Lastly, The Bourne Ultimatum (great action thriller, by the way, even if it's a little light on plot) looks for follow the pattern of the first two movies with only HK$250,000 on 32 screens for an 8-day total of just HK$5.32 million.

- The big news today in the Asian film world is, of course, the announcement of the Golden Bauhinia Award nominations. Even though I'm a fan of Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung, I have no idea whether to be happy or not that his latest Exodus (which doesn't even open until mid-September here) managed to get 10 nominations. The fact that Filmko revealed that the Critics Association got to see the film because they pretty much asked the production company to screen it for them after seeing the ad only reflects poorly on the awards and possibly on the film itself. Hell, it's kind of like voting for a chief executive in Hong Kong (800 elite members choose one guy), and no one wants to be reminded of not getting democracy when it counts.

Still, I was assured tonight that Exodus is going to be at least quite an interesting film, so I'm looking at these nominations as a good step to get some asses in the theaters.

- I forgot this by a few days again, but Variety's Derek Elley managed to write a review of Kenneth Bi's The Drummer, which premiered at the Locarno Film Festival at the expense of letting Hong Kong audiences see it at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

- Unlike Prison Break, China is remaking yet another foreign series, this time adapting (I think with permission?) the comic/cartoon Prince of Tennis.

There's not much today, because it's so late and I need to leave some stuff to report during the weekend. So keep checking in over the weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 16th Edition

As usual, there's not really much news on Thursdays, and there's even a bit of a Hong Kong slant on things today.

- Most of the Toronto International Festival lineup has been announced, and the Asian selection looks real yummy. This year we have Ang Lee, Edmond Pang, Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers (although the words "cautionary tale" has me cautious), Nobuhiro Yamashita, Hur Jin-Ho, Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai, Takeshi Kitano, Aoyama Shinji, and Im Kwon-Taek.

- Forgot to mention this for a few days, but Lovehkfilm has a review of Wilson Yip's loving tribute to Donnie Yen and his bloody face Flash Point.

- Writer/director Koki Mitani, who last wrote and directed the chaotic and often funny The Uchoten Hotel, has upgraded his predictions for his next film The Magic Hour. Now he's promising 10 laughs in three minutes instead of his earlier prediction of 3 laughs a minute. I'll be counting, ok?

- After Monkey Magic became the widest release for a live-action Japanese film, that record is about to be quickly broken, and by another SMAP member, no less. Kimura Takuya's drama adaptation film Hero is set to open on 470 screens (again, the blog post says it's the widest for a Japanese film, period, but who can confirm this?). With ratings topping at over 30%, can the film's demand meet the supply come September?

- Under "it's worse than I thought" news today, a full page ad for that Eric Tsang/Wong Jing collaboration, now named Beauty and the 7 Beasts, was on the pages of Hong Kong newspapers today. The woman on the poster, according to the comment section, is Meng Yao, who played DJ Sammy's wife/manager in the comedy shitter Super Fans. According to the ad, that is the woman that is supposed to "make your mouth dry, have a fever, suffer from increased heartbeats, make your body grow stiff, and cause your nose to bleed." Is it just me, or is Hong Kong cinema getting increasingly out of touch with reality?

- Remember Lost in Beijing? The film by Chinese director Li Yu that suffered a bunch of cuts for its Chinese release, but even is uncut version as found to be not that big of a deal. Nevertheless, even though the film has cleared the censors, its release is still being put off to "create a healthy and harmonious environment" ahead of the Chinese communist party's congress. They ought to know that to really bury a film is to release it in so little screens that no one cares, not allow such news to go out.

- On the other hand, China has finally cleared the Japanese disaster film The Sinking of Japan for theatrical release. It's a movie where Japan sinks, so why wouldn't China allow it?

- A trailer for Asian-American star Daniel Henney's latest film My Father is out. This one looks pretty demanding in terms of acting skills, but after Seducing Mr. Perfect, it's going to take a hell of a lot more than a trailer to convince me that Henney might be able to act.

- In more "silly Chinese censors" news, the government television agency killed off a talent show called "The First Time I was Touched." I think the word touched is to mean emotionally, not physically. Still, censors says the show create a negative social effect and is damaging the medium of television. How fucking ironic is that?

- When I signed up for internet/broadband TV last week, the service was promoting the new English Premier League service. That's why I don't blame Hong Kong pay TV for going after bars that not only steal cable, but use it to make money.

- Apparently, the latest Lee Myung-Se film M is finished. For those that don't know, Lee made a huge splash with Nowhere to Hide, but pissed a lot of people off with Duelist, so let's see how this one goes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 15th, 2007 Edition

- Let's start today with the Japanese Oricon charts. The singles chart was pretty packed this week, with 17 of the top 30 singles being new releases. Leading the pack is Johnny's Entertainment pop duo Takki and Tsubasa with their latest single, selling 57,700 copies to get the number 1 spot. The rest of the chart see fairly weak sales, including Leah Dizon's 3rd single all the way down in 16th place, selling only 12,500 copies. However, that could be due to the announcement of the release of her debut album for next month, meaning fans can wait a month for their 14-track studio modified fix of Dizon's singing. Expect next week's sales on the charts to be pretty low, with Tokio and Kazumasa Oda vying for the top spot.

The album chart is even quieter, with Sukima Switch's compilation album still ruling the charts with another 145,000 copies sold. The two Orange Range compilations continue to sell strongly, with a combined sales of 73,000 copies to take second and third place. Def Tech member Micro's debut solo album only sold 33,000 copies for a 4th place debut, and looks like band Greeeen's hit debut album will finally drop from the top 10 next week. Next week, the profit from the death of the pop artist Zard continues as two compilations will share the first and second spot.

- They keep reporting it, and I keep linking it. Korean distributor Showbox announces that dragon in LA film D-War has now officially become the 10th best-selling Korean film of all time, proving again that cinematic quality doesn't necessarily have a correlation with financial success. Also, Korea Pop Wars report that the success of the film might be going over the head of director Shim Hyung-Rae a little bit.

- The Thai horror film Alone, which was a minor hit in Korea last month, is coming soon to Hong Kong, but not without its controversies. The TELA (these guys again!) said the trailers and posters are too disturbing for public display, and has forced the distributors to cut and silence the trailer for theatre lobbies, as well as changing the posters.

Then again, the original trailer, which is now cut in all its forms, was pretty disturbing.

Original Chinese report

- I can probably link any site for this report - the lineup for the upcoming Pusan Promotion Plan, where filmmakers take their upcoming projects to meet with possible financiers, has been announced. This year, we have high-profile filmmakers (i.e. those that I've heard of) such as Fruit Chan, Hong Sang-Soo, Sono Sion, and Daniel Yu.

- Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke, who has made a string of films that were banned by the government before straightening up, sees his latest film Tattoo Age shelved because of the sensitive subject matter of the Cultural Revolution and they were unable to cast Asian superstar Jay Chou in a role. Jay Chou in a Jia Zhangke movie? He sure has come a long way from Xiao Wu.

- Speaking of ultra art films, Variety has a review of Locarno Film Festival winner The Rebirth (Ai No Yokan)

- In China's never-ending attempts to please the foreigners about intellectual copyrights before the 2008 Olympics (how can a country that held a huge ceremony to celebrate the one-year countdown to the actual opening date not be excited about it?), the government will look to shutting down websites that allow illegal download of copyright materials, which would give them an excuse to go after those banned books too.

- Johnnie To and Lau Ching-Wan are teaming up for a long-awaited dramatic effort that I predict will probably be loved by film fans, but not make much money. Sorry, Lau Ching-Wan, as much as I love him as an actor, actually isn't that great of a box office draw....neither is Andy On and Kelly Lin.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 14th, 2007 Edition

- The Japanese box office numbers are out, showing that Ocean's Thirteen opened fairly well with 496 million yen, and Transformers dropping 36.5% in its second week, which again is somewhat surprising considering how well it has done with word-of-mouth elsewhere. Of course, its drop to third place is also because Harry Potter dropped only by 7% to keep its second-place spot.

However, the biggest drop in the top 10 goes to the latest Naruto movie, which lost 47% of its audience, while the smallest drop belongs to - and I'm almost kind of sad to say this - Monkey Magic, which lost only 3% of its audience to make 2.98 billion yen total, inching ever closer for Fuji TV to break even.

- According to Mark Russell's Korea Pop Wars, turns out D-War is actually close to getting 5.71 million admissions and has already passed the break-even point at the standards of the reported budget.

- My new favorite weekly feature these days is the Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri website. This week, writer Wm. Penn writes about what's on Japanese TV this week and a possible ratings crisis on stations' hands.

- And yet, Japan are still rolling out one drama adaptation film after another. The latest is the hit Kimura Takuya drama Hero, and a trailer is floating around online. Honestly, it's not doing much for me, but that's because I've never seen Hero.....Oriental 188 Mall, here I come.

- My bad. I totally forgot to acknowledge that Grady Hendrix's informative Asian cinema blog Kaiju Shakedown is back, and in a much more complicated link. The link section shall be updated. Anyway, Grady reports today that Hong Kong video distributor Mei Ah's remastered version of Patrick Tam Ka-Ming's Nomad is actually not the director's cut, and that the "corrected" version will be out in 2008.

- After a Tokyo multiplex found success with weekly showing of Korean star Bae Yong-Joon's dramas, a smaller independent theater is doing the same with Korean star So Ji Sub's Choa Choa (is that the real name? Or just the Japanese name?). If this is a success as well, then looks like the Korean wave isn't so dead after all in Japan.

- The Japanese song "Sen No Kaze Ni Natte," based on an English poem found at the World Trade Center in New York, has finally sold one million copies after becoming a huge hit the first half of the year.

- I don't know if this can be considered a compliment to someone that's already been in the business for 20 years - Director Peter Chan Ho-Sun said his biggest surprise from making the period action film The Warlords is Jet Li's dramatic acting ability. Actually, that moment came for me while watching Fearless.

- I'm going to make a small private confession - I consider my most creative time in terms of scriptwriting to be right after I got dumped by my second girlfriend. During that period, I actually wrote 3 or 4 short film scripts, none of which I ended up making. I mention this because Kazuaki Kiriya, better known perhaps as ex-Mr. Utada Hikaru, seems to be going through a similar thing. Not only is he currently shooting a Japanese film, it's actually confirmed that he also have his Hollywood debut lined up.

- In casting news today, Koyuki, whose most famous role is in The Last Samurai, has signed up to for Blood: The Last Vampire alongside Jeon Ji-Hyun (to be credited as Gianna Jun). These international Pan-Asian co-production in English just don't seem to turn out very well (Dragon Squad, anyone?), so I don't expect much.

Meanwhile, the television remake of Akira Kurosawa's High And Low has signed up high-profile young actor Satoshi Tsumabuki as the kidnapper.

- The United States government's bullying continues, as they have asked the World Trade Organization to put together a panel to settle their complaint against China over piracy of their films. Just what exactly are they expecting the Chinese government to do, ask for a couple of bucks from every Chinese citizen to pay off the MPA?

Oh, they want to work bilaterally, so that means they want to actually go into China and take down every single pirate vendors themselves.

- One place America doesn't need to go to is Shenzhen, where crackdown on pirate vendors have caused the number of vendors to go from 1,000 to 50 in the last few years. Is that enough result for you, America?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Golden Rock - August 13th, 2007 Edition

The Golden Rock is back, around the same size and hopefully the same quality. Now reporting from Hong Kong, posting times will naturally be different, but hopefully still daily.

- As always, let's look at the Hong Kong Sunday box office. Pixar's Ratatouille has a very strong second weekend, making HK$1.63 million on only 34 screens for a 14-day total of HK14.81 million already. This should have no problem getting past the HK$25 million mark set by The Incredibles. Meanwhile, the three opening films opened neck-to-neck, with The Simpsons Movie (whose Hong Kong dub version features Josie Ho, Wyman Wong, Denise "HOCC" Ho, and pop star Ivana Wong) leading the pack, making HK$1.24 million on 37 screens for a 4-day total of HK$3.92 million. While The Bourne Supremacy is in third of the three films in total 4-day box office (HK$3.8 million), it was just under The Simpsons with HK$1.1 million on 31 screens. This means Wilson Yip's Donnie Yen lovefest Flashpoint made HK$1.01 million on 33 screens, but did better overall this weekend with the 4-day total of HK$3.89 million(although this actually include the HK$200,000 from previews last weekend). With fairly positive word-of-mouth amongst Hong Kong moviegoers, this should cross the HK$10 million mark.

Don't count those leftover films out, though. Transformers is already near the HK$35 million mark after 18 days by making HK$940,000 on 34 screens; Jay Chou's Jay Chou lovefest Secret actually continues to hang on (probably thanks to the Jay Chou fans) with HK$640,000 on 31 screens (Variety Asia reports its box office success elsewhere in Asia here); even Harry Potter made HK$230,000 on 17 screens for a 33-day total of HK$49.98 million. Invisible Target, which pretty much got pushed out of theaters, looks to end its run with HK$13.19 million. All in all, this was a pretty huge weekend at the box office, which was probably helped by the passing typhoon and just generally crappy weather.

- In Japanese audience rankings, Transformers got pushed all the way down to third place for its second week by Ocean's 13 and Harry Potter, which is somewhat surprising because it's done so well with word-of-mouth elsewhere. Ocean's 13 is the only new film in the top 10.

This week, Hideo Nakata's Kaidan dropped from 8th place to 10th place in its second week, meaning that despite being somewhat well-reviewed, it'll go away quickly amidst the late-Summer box office. It's also the only adult-oriented Japanese blockbuster this summer. Kaidan's opening is only 51% compared to the star's last film The Murder of the Inugami Clan
and only 81% of Nakata's The Ring 2 (although I don't know why Eiga Consultant chose to compare with that). Looks like summer is just not the time for this type of films.

- In the Korean box office, D-War wins its second weekend with a total 5.06 million viewers already after a roughly 50% drop in attendance. Don't count May 18 out, though, as it has already attracted over 4.5 million viewers. These two films have already surpassed Voice of a Murderer as the two best-grossing Korean films of the year.

- While it's cool that the American animated series Afro Samurai will see all 5 of its episodes in Japanese theaters, the cooler part of this report is that Samuel L. Jackson will be in a planned live-action version.

- Under "This cannot be good" news today, Eric Tsang (a producer that can be said to have pretty low taste - look at what he did to the ending of Men Suddenly in Black 2) is teaming up with Wong Jing (an even cheaper producer who's intelligent but makes movies of low taste and lack of originality - look at all of his movies) to remake the 1970 film The Seven Colour Wolf (I can't confirm this English title because of the Yesasia name for it. Can anyone?), with Chung Su-Kei (who has made shit like Feel 100% 2003 and Nine Girls and a Ghost) taking the director's seat. No word yet on who will star, I believe.

- Again, an artsy Japanese film that drove audiences away has taken a major award at an European film festival. Masahiro Kobayashi's The Rebirth won the top award The Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. However, with two Asian films taking the top prize, the festival is apparently moving into the elitist artsy film festival that is drawing less interest from buyers.

- The Hong Kong entertainment news programs have been reporting for several days about Chung Siu-Tung's latest period martial arts film (another one?!), this time with Kelly Chan in her first period role in a long time, Leon Lai, and Donnie Yen. It's not very likely, however, that Yen will go topless in this one.

- In China, people are so insistent on seeing movies illegally and for free that they're moving off the streets and into internet cafes.

- Under "who died and made him boss?" news today, Jackie Chan says that he hopes to finish the animated film Taiwanese director Edward Yang started working on for years before his death. Then again, the film IS based on Chan's life, so I guess that would make him the new boss.

- Lastly, two major Thai directors are planning on developing the country's first script development project, taking on 30 aspiring screenwriters on workshops and pitch meetings. This could, in the long run, breathe new life into the slowly-expanding Thai film industry.

Song of the Day will return some time this week, and expect something new with The Golden Rock this week as well.