May 26, 2006


A typical scene at CannesSo how did it go at Cannes for the Asian films on display?

The winners were THE HOST and BABEL, with Koji Yakusho and Rinko Kikuchi as two of the characters in this multi-stranded movie about Very Bad Things happening to people. Wang Chao's LUXURY CAR didn't make a lot of waves but it got a great review in Variety. Kim Ki-Duk's TIME also got a good review, but didn't make a big splash. It will be opening the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic next month, however.

Lou Ye's SUMMER PALACE seemed to be a disappointment. Reviews were mixed - some good, some bad - but after all the build-up around the whole "will it or won't it screen?" question it seemed to be a bit of an anticlimax.

There were several losers. CITY OF VIOLENCE (which just opened in Korea and got picked up by The Weinstein Company) didn't get much publicity at all from its screening and actually turned some people off who were excited to see it. Apparently few folks were at the screening and due to a scheduling mix-up many of them were expecting a different film. SILK garnered a very negative review from Variety, although it got a much more positive one from the Hollywood Reporter. And Jo Odagiri film YURERU (SWAY) has just picked up its first negative Variety review.

Overall, there was a much stronger Asian presence at Cannes, and some commentators were impressed that the tables seemed to have turned with Asian producers and distributors no longer being treated like second-class citizens. One article contains some fun quotes backing this up, like this one:

"We cannot sell anything to Korea these days. They don't need us," bemoaned one Blighty seller.

And there were also issues with certain Asian territories just not wanting to pick up some Euro and American product. Even the latest Woody Allen movie couldn't be sold to Japan. And that, to me, is a good thing.

(Big thanks to the many sharp-eyed readers who kept me posted on what happened at Cannes. It's all over now, so have a rest)

May 26, 2006 at 01:23 PM in News | Permalink


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can't read most of this article - most of the text doesn't show up. how come?

Posted by: sheshe | May 26, 2006 4:03:07 PM

It's weird--that happens to me sometimes too, and then I visit later and it's fixed. What I do is select the broken text and paste it in the comment box and read it there.

Posted by: Justin Slotman | May 26, 2006 7:23:30 PM

Most of Woody Allen's work of the last 10 years has been crap, although I did like MATCH POINT. Celebrating it not getting released in Japan is lame punk iconoclasm. Are you happy that recent films by Chantal Akerman, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer came out straight to DVD in the US? I can testify that TOMORROW WE MOVE is pretty bad, but even mediocrities by important directors deserve to be seen.

Posted by: Steve | May 26, 2006 8:57:50 PM

I get the broken text too sometimes. Doesn't seem to matter which browser I use.

Posted by: Rhythm-X | May 27, 2006 11:25:11 AM

The great thing about this blog is that it's mine and so I can wallow in my own tastes and preferences without having to worry about reflecting the canon or what other people think. I really don't like Woody Allen. I can't think of a single Woody Allen movie that I've ever enjoyed in the slightest. That may make me a philistine, it may make me stupid, it may make me outside the mainstream, it may make me a lousy person to write about movies, but I can only be honest. I gotta be me! So Woody Allen not getting picked up in Japan, to me, says that the nation of Japan is finally wising up and starting to realize that I'm right. And that's something to celebrate.

As for the weird text things, my editor just informed me that apparently there's something called "spam tags" that attach themselves to the site through the comments interface and aren't visible to the naked or partially clothed eye and they signal their presence by messing up the text. When it happens he has to go in there like a plumber and unclog the code.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | May 27, 2006 3:06:33 PM

"I really don't like Woody Allen."

I second that feeling.

Posted by: x | May 27, 2006 4:56:24 PM

OK, I can see where you're coming from. I didn't realize that you disliked all Woody Allen films, rather than simply the recent ones everyone hates. I can't help thinking, though, that if some American publication celebrated the fact that an Asian film by a respectable but faded director didn't get picked up by a U.S. distributor, you'd be the first to jump on them.

Posted by: Steve | May 27, 2006 6:45:48 PM

Well, you do have a point, so I can't entirely disagree with you, Steve. And your reversing the polarity of the argumento-tron makes a good point. But in my defense I don't think THE PROMISE should have gotten the wide release it did, I don't think Stanley Kwan's EVERLASTING REGRET is a movie that should get anything more than a video release in the US, and if Tsui Hark's SEVEN SWORDS gets a theatrical release I'll be quite annoyed since it's not a movie I think is that great and would only get a release based on his name and some kind of "Super Kung Fu" packaging.

Oddly enough, I watched MATCH POINT last night and I thought it was fair enough but I was surprised at the fact that it was basically CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS 2006. And it wasn't even as complex or as morally compromised as C&M; - but it's not fair of me to criticize since I don't like his movies anyways so I'm hardly unbiased. The one thing that did make me giggle, though, was a scene where everyone was out at the country house sitting outside and they were all sitting in the garden in whites and pastels except for the evil Chris who was wearing black. Maybe they should have given him a moustache to twirl, as well. And the piped-in opera got on my nerves somewhat. But that's just me.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | May 28, 2006 6:55:24 AM

The best Woody Allen movie is still STARDUST MEMORIES and that's because he plays take two (not take one) of Louis Armstrong's rendition of the song. His most telling films are MANHATTAN (underage lust) and SWEET AND LOWDOWN where Samantha Morton plays a kind of deaf mute which I believe is an approximation of how WA regards his Korean wife-daughter. This man has serious issues about family and sexuality which is why he emulates Ingmar Bergman. From that point of view, WA is an interesting filmmaker - phantasies become him. And that's even before we get to the Freudian road block of Godard!

Posted by: zero | May 29, 2006 12:35:06 AM

This discussion has ended already, but I just discovered this blog so I'll add my one cent: I love the films of Woody Allen--all those in which HE is not on screen. "Melinda & Melinda" was such a relief because he finally gave SOMEONE ELSE his role. I'd rather have Will Ferrell acting like Woody than to see Woody acting like Woody. Gosh, I really loved that film.
If only I could edit Allen out of "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Annie Hall"...then I could actually sit down and watch both movies without clutching my remote control...however each film would only last a few minutes after the editing... Ach, verpiß dich Woody!!

Posted by: Debs | Sep 6, 2006 6:32:48 AM

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