Saturday, June 29, 2013

Asian Film Directors Dominate 2013!

(photo by
Asian film directors led 3 American blockbuster movies and had their biggest year yet in 2013.  Overall, these critically-acclaimed directors helmed 7 films with a variety of genres:  drama, action, horror, and science-fiction.  The year also marked the debut of 2 famed Korean directors, who were both making their first foray into English-language films.  With several notable Asian films making their debut in America, the year was filled with Asian film directors making their mark.

ASIAN FILM DIRECTORS:  Summer Blockbusters!  

Blockbuster films AFTER EARTH directed by M. Night Shyamalan, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION directed Jon M. Chu, and FAST AND FURIOUS 6 directed by Justin Lin, marked the first time in Hollywood history that 3 Asian-American directors would debut their big-budget films in one year!

FAST AND FURIOUS 6 went bonkers at the box-office with $230M domestically and $437M overseas.  Lin has helmed the last 3 films of the FAST AND FURIOUS series (2009, 2011, and 2013), with each film breaking box-office records every time.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION did well at the box-office, finishing with $122M domestically and $249M overseas.  The ensemble film, starring Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson, Channing Tatum, and Byung Hun-Lee, is the just the second in a film franchise that is expected to be highly-successful.

AFTER EARTH may have been a mild disappointment with $57M domestic but the film's $114M earnings overseas turned a profit for the movie starring Will Smith and son Jaden.

Director M. Night Shyamalan (photo by

ASIAN FILM DIRECTORS:  Mixed Results    

The Dean of Asian film directors, Ang Lee, started the year off with a bang with LIFE OF PI, winning the Oscar for Best Director at the 2013 Academy Awards.  According to Box Office Mojo, LIFE OF PI not only became a critical success but it also did well at the box-office, bringing in more than $600M worldwide ($124M domestic, $484M overseas).  

The year also marked the debut of critically-acclaimed Korean Director Kim Ji-Woon, who directed his first English-language film, THE LAST STAND, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Released in late January, THE LAST STAND also signaled the return of Schwarzenegger to the big screen.  Despite favorable reviews, the film was a box-office disappointment.  It should be noted that it wasn't a good year overall for action stars Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson (SNITCH), Bruce Willis (A GOOD YEAR TO DIE HARD), and Arnold, who had lower than expected box-office returns.

2013 also saw the debut of famed Korean director Park Chan-wook in the psychological-thriller STOKER.  The independent film starring Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska was a hit at the Sundance festival earlier in the year.  The critically-acclaimed film had modest success at the box-office when it was released in March.

Bollywood director Ayan Mukerji had a successful debut at the American box-office with his Bollywood film YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI.  The film starring Ranbir Kapoor was ranked #9 among Indian films making their debut in U.S. cinema.  The popularity of Bollywood films keeps growing with no sign of stopping among a fan base consisting of Indian immigrants and Bollywood fans in America.

Director James Wan  (photo by

Famed horror director James Wan (SAW series, DEAD SILENCE, INSIDIOUS) is expected to have a big year with the release of two horror films:  THE CONJURING (July 19) and INSIDIOUS PART 2 (September 13).

Japanese horror director Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On: The Grudge series and the American versions THE GRUDGE and THE GRUDGE 2) returns to American cinema on August 12 with the supernatural horror film, 7500.

Critically-acclaimed Chinese director Wong Kar Wai is set to release THE GRANDMASTER (August 23), the highly anticipated film on legendary martial arts master Yip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee. The controversial film took 10 years to develop.

Director Ang Lee (photo by

A Very Good Year

2013 has been good year for Asian film directors and there is hope that their stock will continue to rise in Hollywood.  The success of these directors is no fluke and can be credited to their considerable talent and hard work.  

As more Asian film directors are entering the American film industry, it is with hope that this becomes the first step to truly diversifying Hollywood.

Check out the trailers of upcoming films:





Monday, June 17, 2013

Why the Elimination of Judith Hill May Change THE VOICE!

There is no doubt that professional singer Judith Hill is super talented and has a bright future but her shocking elimination on THE VOICE on Tuesday May 28 raised many questions about why the American public did not vote for her and it may be the reason why a change to the format of the hit show may be inevitable.

The African-Japanese-American beauty was a popular fixture on Season 4 and her path to the finals appeared to be "locked up" before her surprising elimination in the round of 16.  The shocking result caught all the judges and the audience by surprise, which led Hill's mentor and Coach Adam Levine to utter the controversial words, "I hate this country". There is no clear explanation as to why Hill was eliminated but there are reasons which are NOT related to her talent that led to her downfall on THE VOICE.

The once-backup singer to Michael Jackson was a remarkable talent on the show but some critics including Rolling Stone writer Katy Kroll believe that voters may have perceived her "to be too polished and too professional to win THE VOICE."   For some reason, Judith Hill's consistent performances week after week may have actually "turned off" voters, who felt that singers with no professional singing background, were more deserving to win the show.

If Judith Hill's resume was not revealed on THE VOICE, there is a good chance that she would still be on the show based on her singing ability alone.

THE VOICE may be a singing show but it is a popularity contest too and having Judith Hill's professional background being revealed may have led some voters to sympathize with the other singers, who were not fortunate enough to have extensive training like Hill.

The show does allow professional singers to audition on the show no matter what previous record label experience they've had.  The show profiles each contestant and reveals their singing background whether they are an amateur or professional. Although some voters understand that the show has a mix of amateur and professional singers, Judith Hill's elimination was unfortunate and may cause the producers of the show to re-think the mixture of "amateur" and "professional" musicians on THE VOICE.

Should there be a shakeup on THE VOICE to pit amateur versus professional singers on the show?

There should be a change so that voters can understand the clear distinction of WHO is amateur and WHO is professional.  The change in format would result in pitting professional singers against each other in one category and amateurs versus the others in another category.  The final showdown would result in the top amateur singer pitted against the professional.

There should be a criteria allowing professional singers on the show.  No high-profile singer, who had previous chart success at one point in their career, would be allowed on the show.  Backup singers like Judith Hill or singers, who had a record deal with no success, would be allowed in the competition.

There is no question that the talented singer deserved to be in the finale on Monday June 17, which has country singers the Swon Brothers and Danielle Bradbery pitted against pop music artist Michelle Chamuel.  Unfortunately, Judith Hill was deemed "overqualified" to be on THE VOICE.  


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day, Screwed Up by "Bad Fathers"

Father's Day is the low-key holiday that no one pays much attention to because of all the bad things done by "bad fathers."  According to the annual National Retail Federation survey, Father's Day (at $13.3B) is one the lowest shopping holidays when compared to Easter ($17.2B), Valentine's Day ($18.6B), and Mother's Day ($20.7B).  Thanks to some of the Worst Fathers in History, who have either ended up in jail or committed horrific crimes or abandoned the family, the holiday remains underrated and under-appreciated.  

Sonora Smart Dodd founded the holiday back in 1910 because of her admiration for her father, William Jackson Smart, who raised 6 children as a single dad.  Her dad was definitely a "keeper" because a single man raising 6 children back in the 1800s was unheard of.   It was MEN, who resisting the idea of having such a holiday, until another woman, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, accused Congress in 1957 of "ignoring fathers while honoring mothers."  Years later, Father's Day was officially signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972.

Father's Day is a painful holiday for some, who have either been mistreated or abandoned by their dads.  For some, the memory of a bad childhood fueled by a drunken or abusive father, have caused many to become haunted and tormented by their past.

The holiday may not be a good thing to celebrate, but for those, who have managed to forgive their bad father and managed to "move-on," Father's Day is worth honoring.   Most of these victims have become good and responsible dad themselves, getting away from the legacy that was left by their father.  If there is anything good that a victim can learn from their "bad experience," is to become a better person and better father for their own family.

For the many, who have been brought up by a good father, they are considered extremely lucky and a rare breed in most cases.  It's a "big plus" if someone had both parents raise them.  I had only 9 years with my father when he passed away, but it was 9 quality years.  My mother became a single parent and she had to balance becoming a mother and a father at the same time.

Father's Day should always serve as an inspiration for new and established fathers to appreciate the role of becoming a dad.  It should be a day of reflection, more than anything else.

Oh yeah, if you get a great tie or a big screen television or a tool set, that's an added bonus.

Most important, the holiday is a good time for those, who were victims of a bad father.  This is a time to  bury the past and become the good dad your bad father couldn't be.