For many films, the upgrade to Blu-ray won't make a drastic difference. For intensely visual ones like Chungking Express and The Last Emperor (both new releases from the Criterion collection), it brings new surprises.
As soon as silent filmmakers were showing films in Asia, they were filming pictures there. APA recounts some of the more provocative instances of how the West has filmed the East.
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Shah Rukh Khan tells us who he is, Setsuro Wakamatsu tells the truth of a 1985 airline disaster, and Tony Jaa tells the doubters off. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
My Name is Khan, Shah Rukh Khan
Following the terrorist attack in India, Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan speaks out about his latest project My Name is Khan, a film that aims to clear misconceptions about Islam. The movie follows the story of six people with Muslim-sounding last names who became the target for discrimination after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. As a Muslim man with a Hindu wife, Shah Rukh Khan is taking on a matter that is close to his heart. While the movie sounds like heavy matters, the Shah Rukh Khan name brand also promises extravagant entertainment. My Name is Khan will be directed by filmmaker buddy Karan Johar, and features Khan's much-anticipated reuinion with onscreen partner Kajol. The movie is in production this month here in Los Angeles and is slated for release next year. --Winghei Kwok
Surprises aplenty at this year's Golden Horse Awards
At this year's Golden Horse Awards, Hong Kong / China coproduction The Warlords upset hometown favorite Cape No. 7 for best picture and best director (Peter Chan). Cape No. 7 had the most awards with five, but two were for the local "best Taiwanese film" and "best Taiwanese filmmaker" prizes; the other three were for best supporting actor (Ma Ju-long), best original score, and best original song. Best actor and actress prizes were also considered surprises -- Zhang Han-yu (The Assembly) and Prudence Liew (True Women For Sale), respectively. In fact, aside from Cape's five wins, all other awards were to some degree surprising -- mostly because for the most part, the judges got them right: Sparrow for cinematography, Connected for editing, Parking for art direction, Winds of September for original screenplay. But by far the highlight of the night was a giddy Ang Lee onstage with the much-missed Brigitte Lin, still ravishing at 54. --Brian Hu
Nodame heads to the Silver Screen
On the heels of the announcement for a third season for the animated version of the Nodame Cantabile series, film distributor Toho has now taken the reins on two live-action films of the same name. Nodame Cantabile follows the lives and entanglement of two very different characters: Noda Megumi (known as "Nodame"), a prodigal, yet eccentric pianist, and Chiaki Shinichi, a multi-talented top student who aspires to be a conductor. Written by Tomoko Ninomiya, the manga series was originally adapted into an award-winning live-action series on Fuji TV, and later on, it was made into an anime series as well. The two films will continue the Paris arc of the live-action specials aired earlier this year. Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi will both reprise their roles as Nodame and Chiaki for the two films. Filming starts next May with scheduled release dates of December 2009 and Spring 2010. –Kanara Ty
Tony Jaa is Bak at No. 1
The King of Thai cinema is back. Despite the myriad of bizarre drama during the Ong Bak 2's production (Jaa inexplicably disappeared to take a sabbatical in a forest), Jaa's directorial debut mercilessly assaulted Thailand's box offices to become the highest grossing local release of the year. The film whipped in over $2 million during the weekend, showing that even when their country is in political and economic turmoil, people will still flock to see the latest blockbusters. Ong Bak 2 also outdid Jaa's 2005 hit, Tom Yum Goong (The Protector), a film in which Jaa's character used elephant bones to sever his enemies' tendons. Awesome. Good to have you back, Tony. --William Hong
Film adaptation of Shizumanu Taiyo
Fans of Toyoko Yamasaki’s novel Shizumanu Taiyo are in luck. The novel is being turned into a big-budget film, starring Ken Watanabe, best known for his role in The Last Samurai. Directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu, the movie has an estimaged budget of over two billion yen and a running time of over three hours. The story follows a man (Watanabe) who served as the chair of an airline labor union during real-life events that happened surrounding the 1985 Japan Airlines disaster. It was previously conceived as impossible to create a movie adaptation of the book because of its connection to existing people and companies. In a previous 2000 attempt, airline industries were uncooperative. Despite those setbacks, Shizumanu Taiyo will now be filmed without any help from the airline industries. The airplane scenes will be shot using computer generated graphics and a constructed set. Filming is scheduled to begin in January. Locations include Iran, Nairobi, New York, and Japan. The film is set to be released fall of 2009. --Kristie Hang
The Chaser is a runaway hit at Korea Film Awards
What a gnarly way to start one's directorial career: Na Hong-jin's suspenseful thriller The Chaser ran away with seven awards at the 7th Korean Film Awards, bringing home best picture, best actor (Kim Yoon-suk), best screenplay, best lighting, and best editing. Na Hong-jin also won in the best director and best new director categories, too. On a more worrisome note, Warner Brothers owns the rights to produce an American remake of The Chaser. Normally that'd be a cause for much brow furrowing and snarky comments about Hollywood's excellent history of remaking Asian films (I can count the number of good ones with one finger...my middle one), but rumor has it that the script writer (William Monahan) and lead actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) from The Departed, a solid remake of Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, are involved. So maybe it won't suck. --William Hong
Starlit for Yan
The upcoming TV drama Starlit is a love story starring Jerry Yan, Terri Kwan, Alice Tseng, and Chen Zi Kai. Cheng Yue (Jerry Yan) and Rui Shan (Alice Tseng) are initially a high-profile golden couple in the music industry. However, after an accident, Cheng Yue’s life is completely altered, which leads him to leave his hometown and travel around the world. Starlit will be broadcast on PTS (Public Television Services) channel starting Chinese New Year. This is the first time a Jerry Yan drama has been shown on PTS, and Yan hopes audiences can see a different side to his acting. To see the official trailer, click here. To see a 10 Minute Preview (at Shanghai Presscon), click here. --Kristie Hang
Warner Bros. Japan presents Subaru, a movie not about a car but about ballerinas. The film features a diverse cast and crew. From Hong Kong is director Chi-Ngai Lee and producer Bill Kong. From Japan is actress Meisa Kuroki, who plays the lead ballerina. From Korea is actress Go Ara who plays Meisa's rival. The movie centers on a teenage girl (Kuroki) who strives to become a world-famous ballerina. The movie will be shot in Tokyo and Shanghai. --Christie Liu
EXILE is Japanese best-selling artist in 2008
With nearly 20 billion yen in sales, Japanese group EXILE came out on top after Oricon released their sales rankings for 2008. Looking at their singles, albums, and DVDs, the group sold 5.2 million copies which came out to 19.58 billion yen. Pop star Ayumi Hamasaki and rock group B'z did not even come close, only achieving 7.19 and 7.16 billion yen in sales. Namie Amuro (6.80 billion) and Kobukuro (6.69 billion) round out the top five. EXILE also had three best albums in the Top 10 albums list for the year. –-Kanara Ty
Japanese composer Minoru Endo passes away
One of the most important figures in Japanese contemporary music, famous composer Minoru Endo died of a heart attack last week in Tokyo. Endo was known for having written more than 5,000 songs for famous artists such as Hibari Misora, Saburo Kitajima, Masako Mori, Chiyoko Shimakura, and Kazuo Funaki. After first attempting a career as a singer and musician, he turned to composing. He got his first hit in 1957 with his composition of Takeo Fujishima's "Otsukisan Konbanwa." –-Kanara Ty
Date Posted: 12/12/2008