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Bollywood audiences come out for John Abraham's dramatic capture, Happy Girls are here to sing, and why hasn't anyone thought of RoboGeisha before? All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
New York hits theaters
Fresh off a two month strike, Bollywood is back with its latest big film, New York, Kabir Khan's brisk thriller set during the tumultuous months following 9/11. The film takes a look at two Indian men, as their fragmented youth evolves into adulthood. One man named Omar, played by upcoming star Neil Nitin Mukesh, struggles to keep himself together as he sees fellow South Asian Americans like his college friend Samir (John Abraham), fall prey to discrimination and radical assumptions following the aftermath of 9/11. In typical thriller fashion, Omar launches his own terrorist attack into motion. While the film has received early reviews describing its predictability, the Bollywood film breaks out of the genre's convention by revealing graphic scenes including various forms of torture. The film was successful in the Indian box office when it opened June 26th, making it the first major Bollywood hit of the year. --Timothy Natividad
Prisoners from Phillippines pay tribute to Jackson
A few years ago, the YouTube clip of Filipino inmates dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" entertained thousands around the globe. In light of MJ's recent passing, a performance was held last Saturday, June 27, in the Cebu provincial jail. Cristano Niere, an inmate who impersonated MJ in the famous video clip, was able to take that role again in the most recent performance. The dancing, which began as a means of exercise and relief of stress in the jail, created an international spectacle as 700 spectators watched at the prison yard. I guess this just goes to show the vast influence and effect Michael Jackson's career has had worldwide. The tribute, along with various other dances to famous songs, can be seen here. --Megan Chun
Director Yoo Hyun-mok passes away
Yoo Hyun-mok, a man widely considered to be a pioneer of realism in Korean cinema, passed away on June 18, 2009. He was 83. His 1961 film Obaltan is often regarded as the one of the best Korean films of all time, according to local critics' polls. His 1965 film Martyr was the first Korean film ever to be exported to the U.S. The controversial, sociopolitical nature of his films sometimes got in him trouble with commercial producers, and he was once arrested for violation of the Anti-Communist Law, although all charges were eventually dropped. He had produced 40 films and won 30 national film awards including nine best director awards at the annual Grand Bell (Daejong) Film Festival. In addition to his directorial work, Yoo acted as vice president of the Motion Pictures Association of Korea, director of the Korean Film Archive, and chairman of the Korean Directors' Association and the Film Art Society of Korea. He also taught at Dongguk University for many years before becoming Dean of the Department of Arts. The local Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will posthumously award him a special medal to honor his contribution to Korean cinema. The Korea Herald described his work as poignantly capturing "the chaos of post-war Korea and... the existential angst of Korea's fast industrializing society." --Ada Tseng
RoboGeisha Soon to Come
Those of you who have fully recovered from Noboru Iguchi's violent over-the-top Machine Girl can now sink your teeth into his latest entry into the Japanese blood-gore genre. RoboGeisha: Geisha is Beautiful! Geisha is Robot" has trailers up for viewing and it will make your faces cringe. The film is beyond anything imaginable, including sword tongues, armpit swords, even eyes being gauged out via fried shrimp. Similar to Machine Girl, plot is of minimal purpose in the film, if anything, just a mechanism for displaying gut wrenching decapitations and equally grotesque fountains of blood. Though the film follows a certain fetishized tale of a Geisha, Iguchi's bizarre narration should be enough to entice an audience to it's undeclared release date. As suggested by the trailer, viewers may pay for the whole movie seat on this one, though they may only use the edge. --Timothy Natividad
Giant Gundam Robot Looms Over Tokyo
In commemoration for the 30th anniversary of Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam anime, Sunrise and Bandai Namco have constructed a giant Gundam robot measuring at 59ft tall and weighing 35 tons. Exceptionally detailed, the life-size robot is a replica of the famous RX-78-2 Gundam model and is capable of moving its head and emitting lights and mist. The Gundam franchise began in 1979 as an animated television series and soon found its way into other various media forms such as manga, novels, and video games. The giant Gundam which towers over Shiokaze Park in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan has already drawn thousands of visitors as it nears completion. The official unveiling date has been scheduled for July 11 and will continue until August 31. It will usher in the in Gundam Big Expo starting August 21. --Michael Lom
Hunan TV's Happy Girls Attempts to find the next Chinese Idol
Hunan TV, one of China's premiere television companies, is set to air the Chinese version of American Idol. The show, Happy Girls is an extension of the popular Super Girls and Happy Boys, two shows that have already won the hearts of viewers in years past. In similar American Idol-esque fashion, drama has already surrounded the set of Happy Girls, as popular contestant Gong Mi has withdrawn from the competition, in what seems to be a mix of publicity stunts. However, much hype has already surrounded the show, as over 150,000 applicants alone auditioned for a spot on the reality hit. --Timothy Natividad
Results from Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards
The 20th Golden Melody Awards took place in Taipei on June 27th, and it turns out Taiwan loves Jay Chou (even when APA writers might argue his latest album Capricorn fails to live up to his past potential). Chou was nominated for eight awards, but took home Best Mandarin Male Singer, Best Song of the Year ("Fragrant Rice"), and Best Music Video ("Mr. Magic"). Eason Chan took home the Best Mandarin album prize for his latest album, Don't Want to Let Go -- and was thankful to receive the award from "his idol," Mr. Jacky Cheung (who performed his 1993 hit "Farewell Kiss" at the ceremony). Best Mandarin Female Singer went to Sandee Chan (One Thing is Important), and The Nanwan Sisters were honored in the Best Singing Group and Best Aboriginal Album categories. 24-year-old indie singer-songwriter Crowd Lu (100 Ways of Living), who had five nominations going into the ceremony, took home the award for Best Newcomer and Best Composer. Veteran singer Jody Chiang won Best Taiwanese Album for her work on Hold You Tight, while Huang Yi-ling kept her winning streak by nabbing Best Taiwanese Female Singer for the third time in a row. Similarly, Mayday set a record with its third Best Band win, previously taking home the honor in 2001 and 2004. At one point, Momoko Tao, who has been hosting the ceremony for the last ten years, asked the audience to applaud as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson. "I believe many of the singers attending today's ceremony were influenced by him," she said. --Ada Tseng
Date Posted: 7/3/2009