June 5, 2009: News from Abroad
Brillante Mendoza wins at Cannes, Japan goes crazy for new Murakami novel, and Bong Joon-ho's Mother receives unconditional love at the box office. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
Published: Friday, June 05, 2009
Asian cinema triumphs at Cannes and the press is outraged. Exclamation points: ready!
Scandal at Cannes! Von Trier films the unspeakable! Gasper Noe descends further into hell! Murder and mutilation! Ah but no greater scandal than the much-hated Asian films which took home cinema's classiest prizes! Best director goes to the main offender, Brillante Mendoza, for his reputably unwatchable "study" of violence, Kinatay! The press room erupts in boos! And stylish bad boy Park Chan-wook shares the jury prize for his latest, Thirst, a vampire movie that allegedly eats other vampire movies and then regurgitates the guts and calls it cinema! The Cannes press room: riot! And best screenplay goes to Feng Mei for writing Lou Ye's supposedly aimless and deflated Spring Fever, the cause of much disappointment despite the graphic gay sex and the blatant China-defiance and the justification for everyone's favorite Chinese cinema tagline: banned! banned! banned! Press room reporters in unison: hiss! Ah, but Mendoza, Park, and Lou will be back, because Cannes loves cinema and cinema loves scandal! Vive la France! --Brian Hu
Mother of a Box Office Hit
Another Korean Cannes premiere causing a huge stir is Bong Jun Ho's new film Mother. The director is most famous in the west for The Host, his family drama set to the story of a monster terrorizing Seoul, though he has directed many other films including Memories of Murder and Barking Dogs Never Bite. Mother, the tale of a mother protecting her reclusive and mentally challenged son after he is charged with murder, beat out both Angels and Demons and Terminator Salvation in the Korean box office this past week with almost a million and a half viewers, including over two hundred thousand viewers its opening day. After its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, the murder mystery, set in the countryside, incurs comparisons with Bong's previous work, Memories of Murder, for a similar setting and genre. The film has been sold to be shown in Japan. The film exhibits the talent not only of the famous director, but also the cinematographer Hong Kyung Pyo, who brings in his experience from films such as Taegukgi and Eye for an Eye. --Frederick Steihl
Latest Murakami novel out in Japan
Less is more -- a lot more, as seen in the case of Haruki Murakami's newest novel, 1Q84, that was released last Friday with no pre-release marketing. Author of Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami has made a name for himself in the literary world. Due to the five-year wait, the unknown plot line, and the mysterious title, the huge amount of pre-sales for the novel forced the publishing company to print 100,000 more copies, bringing the total to 480,000. The novel is said to be 1,055 pages and the publishing company has yet to decide if an English-translated version will be released. --Megan Chun
Takeru come to Life
Takashi Miike is set to direct a $30 million adaptation of Takeru, a comic book by Buichi Terasawa. Terasawa is one of Japan's most famous manga artists, and his digital manga Cobra has sparked much interests in his readers. This project is going to be backed by Nagasawa Yoshiya's Real Products production. Much visual wizardry will be employed, because Miike wants to make this adaptation as lifelike as possible. --Joyce Huang
International Indian Film Academy Awards set to entertain
Internationally renowned beauty Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will be dancing at the 10th IIFA awards, which will be held in Macau beginning June 11th, in hopes of bringing Bollywood to China. Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor have also both been confirmed to perform. The show will be hosted by Riteish Deshmukh, Lara Dutta, and Boman Irani. However, the usual highlight of the awards, which is the movie premiere, has been cancelled due to the ongoing strike of new Bollywood releases. Instead, Cirque de Soleil will be taking its place. --Kristie Hang
Magic Bell bonds Korea and China
Korea and China plan to team up for the production of the new blockbuster, The Legend of the Magic Bell. So far, the film is budgeted at $30 million, and is set to be shot in 3-D. Major members of the Chinese and Korean film industries are signing on to the production: director Kim Jonghak (The Legend of Four Gods), producer Terence Chang (Face/Off), screenwriter Guo Zheng (Red Cliff). The film is also being backed by Terence Chang and John Woo's Lion Rock Entertainment, Kim Jonghak Productions, and Tosoa Entertainment. The Mandarin-language film is an adaptation of an old legend of a warrior who falls in love with a demoness, but is forced to turn her to stone to save the world, yet they meet again 5000 years later when the warrior has been reincarnated into a demon hunter. The female lead is set to be Taiwanese star Renee Yuan (Love Me Again), while negotiations for the male lead have begun with both Korea's Rain and Won Bin (Mother). The film will start shooting in 2010 with a 2011 or early 2012 release. --Frederick Steihl