Ghost in the Shell

At first glance, the story of this live-action version seems rather faithful to the original. If the manga offers the base of the story (chap. 1, 3, part of 8, 9 and 11), it follows more the storytelling of the animated movie. Shirow’s manga is rather disorganized with lots of silly or humorous moments, while Oshii’s anime movie is more linear, but with lots of reflective and philosophical pauses (maybe a little too much). In this regard, the live-action movie seems more balanced. Of course, they changed a few things here and there but the spirit is all there (no pun intended). My main complain is that this story doesn’t show any Fuchikoma (think tanks, a.k.a. Tachikoma (in the TV series): spider-like robots with great sense of humour that assist in combat) and it is missing the incredibly beautiful music by Kanji Kawai, which is heard in the movie only in the end credits. However, the biggest change is in the background stories of both the puppet master and of the Major, which were completely altered in order to link them together. I am not sure (I can’t really remember) but I think they may have taken a few elements from the TV series and OVAs (at least the part on the origin of the Major). They also kept a hint of philosophical reflection (not too much, but just enough) to preserve the mood of the original movie—the age-old existential question of what’s make us “us”. They also paid an homage to Mamoru Oshii by putting his favourite dog (basset hound) in the story (actually, Batou’s dog comes from the second movie, Innocence — which is itself based on chap. 6 of the manga).

I heard plenty of negative comments. People complained they chose an American actress to play a Japanese character (first, this comment came out in the midst of the Hollywood whitewashing scandal and, anyway, not many Japanese actresses would have the action and language skills to play that role — although I like that Takeshi Kitano acts only in Japanese). They also complained that her acting lacked expression (come on, she plays a human turned into a machine, wondering if she’s still human, so it’s part of her role). On the other hand, some purist fans complained that they changed this or that. It’s not a perfect movie (personnally, I hate the design of the spider-tank!) and it was obviously not good enough for many since it didn’t performed well at the box office (which barely exceeded the production budget) and received lukewarm reviews (45% on Rotten Tomatoes !).

Of course, I don’t know if someone who has never heard of the Ghost in the shell universe would be able to follow, understand and really appreciate it. Because I am a fan, I am probably biased. So I wonder: purely in a technical point of view, is it a good movie? I think so. The story is captivating and interesting as it asks some relevant questions about human nature and it remains one of the best depiction of the cyberpunk genre I’ve seen. The storytelling is fluid and easy to follow (unlike Oshii’s movie), the acting is good and the special effects are superb. In the end, what else should we expect from a movie? Ghost in the shell is a complex universe, first in its story (socio-political cyberpunk) but also in its making as the franchise includes several manga, movies, TV series and OVAs, so maybe we should try to see the live-action more as what it is in itself than try too hard to compare it to the manga or anime. For my part, it’s an excellent entertainment and I enjoyed it a lot.

Ghost in the shell: USA, 2017, 107 min., PG-13. Dir.: Rupert Sanders; Scr.: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, and Ehren Kruger (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow); Phot.: Jess Hall; Ed.: Neil Smith, Billy Rich; Mus.: Clint Mansell, Lorne Balfe; Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, and Juliette Binoche.

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Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku kidōtai : Gōsuto In Za Sheru / Mobile Armored Riot Police: Ghost in the Shell) : Japan, 1995, 82 min.; Dir.: Mamoru Oshii; Scr.: Kazunori Itō (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow); Phot.: Hisao Shirai; Ed.: Shūichi Kakesu, Shigeyuki Yamamori; Mus.: Kenji Kawai; Voices: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, and Iemasa Kayumi.

An excellent adaptation of the manga although with a little too much philosophical pauses. If the sequel movie is also nice (Ghost in the shell 2: Innocence) it doesn’t follow the manga. My favourite part of the franchise is the TV series Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (there’s also an OVA series: Ghost in the shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture).

[ ANNAmazonBiblioGoogleIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

 

Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku Kidōtai / Mobile Armored Riot Police) by Masamune Shirow (translated by Frederik L Schodt and Toren Smith). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, 2004. 368 pg. $24.95 US / $33.99 Can. ISBN 1-59307-228-7.

This is one of my favourites manga. It offers an excellent cyberpunk story (although the storytelling is a little episodic and disorganized), with an awkward mix of action and humour. The second part, Man-Machine Interface, has a better graphical quality and incredible cyberpunk scenes, but the complexity of its political and terrorist plots makes it a little hard to follow.

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Movie capsule-reviews (02.017.204)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

The latest Luc Besson’s movie (The Professional, Fifth Element, Lucy) is based on the comic series Valérian and Laureline by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. That series is one of my favourite comics and it has a quintessential place in my heart as it is one of the series that made me discover science-fiction (in the comic magazine Pilote). The movie looks like a Fifth Element on speed and a darker Star Wars. It respects the spirit of the comic but doesn’t really FEEL like it. However, despite many criticism I’ve heard, I found the acting to be faithful enough to the original characters (at least as they were portrayed in the latest albums): a somewhat clumsy Valerian (however, I admit that, barring some occasional heroism, he is far from being an action hero in the comic) and an intelligent, kick-ass and beautiful Laureline! I am also sure that some dumbass will complain that the spaceship looks a little like the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars but, since the comic series was created ten years before Lucas’ franchise, I am sure it is the other way around.

Although the title might let us believe that it’s an adaptation of the Empire of a Thousand Planets, the movie’s story is, in fact, based on Ambassador of the Shadows (the sixth album: L’ambassadeur des ombres) and is relatively faithful to the original. However, in the movie, Central Point is rename Alpha and its origin story has unfortunately been changed to make it centred on Earth (it evolved from the Space Station) and the humans are kind of in control of the Council (this human-centred aspect goes against the spirit of the comic — although it reflects the imperialistic ambition of the humans in the comics). We find in the movie some of the critters from the original story like the shingouz (the three informants) or the transmuteur grognon de Bluxte (the converter) — but the role of the latter is quite different. And the biggest change of all: in the original story it is Laureline who conducts the investigation to save Valerian who was captured with the ambassador (and not the contrary as in the film). And of course the movie ending is more positive (for Earth) than in the comic but it is still a kind of love story between Valerian and Laureline. All in all, it is a nice adaptation of the original story.

My only complain is that the time-traveling aspect has been totally erased from the story — because, above all, Valerian & Laureline are spatio-temporal agents! That omission is rather annoying. But, since there will never be another Valerian comics (unless, of course, the authors feel the movie’s pressure), this adaptation is surely the next best thing (slightly above the animated tv series). The 3D effects are superb and provide quite an immersive experience. The story is good, the acting great and the movie offers excellent workmanship (although quite expensive). I can’t ask for more. All in all, despite the fact that the reviews are not that good (maybe people can’t appreciate french sci-fi?), I was entertained and enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Fantastic Beast and where to find them

This movie is really fleshing out the Harry Potter universe and giving it a different perspective, this time from 1926 New York (the relations between wizards and no-majs [muggles] is completely different). It makes the Potter’s alternate universe much more interesting. The acting is good but it is especially the designs and the special effects for the beasts that are commendable — although by moments it looks a little too much like a bestiary (menagerie catalog). The period sets and costumes are really excellent. Over all it’s quite a good entertainment. I am looking forward for the next movie (after taking the effort of creating an all-new cast of characters for this spin-off, I guess it would be a shame not to make it at least a trilogy!). Strangely, the extras on the BluRay Disc are almost as long as the movie itself!

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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Silence

The movie is set in the same era than the TV mini-series Shogun (James Clavell‘s best-selling novel was inspired by the fascinating life of English navigator William Adams). While Shogun was mainly concentrating on the political reasons that brought Tokugawa Ieyasu to ban christianity and the Jesuits from Japan, Silence explores the religious reasons. The Japanese mind-set (buddhism, shinto) was said to be incompatible with the Church teachings which was often distorted by the local followers. Also, like in the 2nd century Roman Empire, a religion empowering the poor and disfranchised was seen as subversive. Finally, the shogunate was quite wary of the political interferences caused by the religious and economical rivalries between the European superpowers of the time (Spain, Portugal, England, Netherland). Japanese had no patience toward the European arrogance, although they would gladly use their knowledge (medicine, science, technology) when it was needed and trade with the Dutch — who didn’t care much about spreading their religion.

Along with The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun, Silence is part of a trilogy of movies where Scorsese explores the struggle with faith, a subject that seems dear to him. Based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō (which had already been adapted to the screen in 1971 by Masahiro Shinoda), the story is inspired by the life of Giuseppe Chiara, an Italian Jesuit who went to Japan during the Kakure (hidden) Kirishitan period in search for fellow priest Cristóvão Ferreira. In many aspect, Silence is similar to The Last Temptation as the main character wonder why the terrible suffering he witnesses is met only by God’s silence. He is also constantly pushed to renounce his faith by Japanese officials and then tempted by his tormentors to reveal he didn’t!

It is a quite beautiful movie on a very interesting and deep subject (although, personally, I find it hard to comprehend how people could endure this kind of hardship for such a silly belief) but it is a bit long, cerebral and offers several cruel scenes. Despite great acting, the movie received quite a lukewarm reception, not so much amongst the critics [see reviews from The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New Yorker] as from the public (the box office was abysmal). It’s understandable for a beautiful but difficult movie that was released against a though competition (the Martin Luther King holiday weekend also saw the release of Hidden Figures, La La Land and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story !!!). Despite all this, I liked it very much.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Warcraft

Even if I never played any of the World of Warcraft games, I liked this fantasy movie because somehow it felt familiar. The world is obviously well developed (i.e. numerous video games, novels and comics), the story is interesting, the acting is good enough and the special effects are excellent. When it comes to those so-called “blue-screen” movies (actually they’re green), where most of the scenes involves some sort of special effects, I am always afraid the story will be shallow, but it is not the case here. Despite the fact that there has been plenty of other high fantasy movies and TV series around recently (The Hobbit & Lord of the rings, Shannara Chronicles, etc.), this one offer something original enough to be interesting and entertaining. Of course, you still have humans, dwarves, elves and, most importantly, orcs, but the mix doesn’t feel stale. It is interesting to note that Warcraft was directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), the son of David Bowie.

Although the ending clearly leave the way for a sequel, none has been produced or announced so far (after a year). The movie did quite well at the box office (nearly three time its budgets) but probably not as much as expected or at least not enough to entice the producers to green-light a sequel. And to me that’s probably the most disappointing aspect of this movie. However, SOMEONE was obviously disappointed by the movie (the game fans? the muggles?) because the critics were not very good (seriously? 28% on Rotten Tomatoes!). Well, it was good enough for me.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Il Divo

After seeing Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, Youth and his TV series The Young Pope, we were curious about his only major film that we hadn’t watch yet. It doesn’t have the depth and beauty of the other movies, but the story is interesting from an historical point of view. I vaguely remember earring in the news about events like the Aldo Moro’s kidnapping and murder in 1978, but don’t know much about the Italian political scene. So, I learned a lot with this movie. It is a biographical drama about Italian seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti who allegedly had ties with the mafia — most of his opponents or critics were murdered — but nothing was ever proven in court. It is set between his seventh election in 1992 and his failed bid for presidency and trial in 1995. Like most European movies, it has a slow pace and long scenes so north American viewers can be easily bored (although there’s a lot of violence). But for me it was worth seeing.

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Pline #1

La grande fresque historique par l’auteure de Thermae Romae.

“Pline était un naturaliste de la Rome antique dont la vie entière fut guidée par une imagination sans limite et un amour inconditionnel de la recherche. Son Histoire naturelle est une encyclopédie monumentale née d’une inextinguible soif de connaissance appliquée à l’ensemble des phénomènes se produisant sur notre planète. Aujourd’hui, nous ne disposons que de très peu de sources nous permettant de nous faire une idée de l’homme qu’était Pline, aussi devons-nous nous en remettre à notre imagination. Un exercice qui, personnellement, me donne la chaire de poule ! Comme j’aimerais que nous puissions remonter dans le temps, mon complice de choc et moi-même, afin de vivre en immersion dans le monde de celui que je considère aujourd’hui comme un mentor !” — Mari Yamazaki (rabat de couverture intérieur et site de l’éditeur)

J’ai découvert ce superbe manga par un article dans un numéro récent d’Animeland. Pline (titre original: プリニウス / Plinius ) est une biographie du naturaliste romain Pline l’Ancien par Mari Yamazaki (Thermae Romae) et Miki Tori. Prépublié au Japon par Shinchôsa dans le périodique Shinchô 45, ce manga seinen, qui est toujours en cours, a déjà cinq tomes de paru au Japon dont trois ont été traduit en français par Casterman.

Le premier volume débute avec Pline s’apprêtant à évacuer Pompéi lors de l’éruption du Vésuve en 79. Il ne se presse pas, prend le temps de prendre un bain et de manger avec son hôte, Pomponianus, car il veut sans doute observer l’éruption aussi longtemps que possible. Il semble n’avoir aucune crainte, contrairement à son scribe, Euclès. Le chapitre suivant nous raconte, en flashback, comment Pline a rencontré Euclès. La maison de celui-ci venait d’être détruite par une éruption de l’Etna et Pline était de passage en Grande-Grèce (Sicile) pour inspecter les lieux et faire office de gouverneur substitut. En mal d’un scribe pour prendre en notes ses observations, il engage Euclès, qui a une formation de grammairien. Toutefois il doit couper court à sa tournée lorsque l’empereur Néron, qui souhaite sa présence pour un concert, le rappel à Rome. Il choisit cependant de rentrer non par bateau mais par la route, ce qui lui permettra de continuer à faire des observations.

Le récit est entrecoupé par ce qui se passe à Rome, à la cour de Néron: les cauchemar que lui laissent encore les souvenirs d’une mère dominatrice, sa concubine Poppée qui le presse pour le mariage et que faire de sa femme, Octavie, qu’il a exilé dans l’île de Pandataria ? Il nous est présenté comme un artiste troublé, au caractère instable, qui n’est pas fait pour diriger un état mais qui est bien entouré, notamment par Vespasien. Après un arrêt à Puteoli pour un bain, Pline arrive enfin à Rome. Il habite dans un quartier mal famé, où se côtoient voleurs et prostitués. Il y rencontre par hasard Néron… Le volume se termine sur une interview avec les auteurs, qui discutent la genèse de leur manga.

Après avoir complété Thermae Romae, Mari Yamazaki voulait faire quelques choses de sérieux sur la Rome Antique et Pline s’est offert comme un sujet tout naturel. Elle s’inspire beaucoup (et cite abondamment) son Histoire Naturelle (Historia Naturalis), une sorte d’encyclopédie en trente-sept volumes qui rassemble la somme du savoir romain de l’époque et qui nous est maintenant très utile pour comprendre cette grande civilisation de l’antiquité. Toutefois, les hypothèse scientifiques de Pline ne sont pas toujours très solides, tombant parfois dans le farfelu et il inclut dans son ouvrage la description de créatures mythologiques comme si elles étaient véritables. Mais même cela nous en dit beaucoup sur la mentalité romaine, prompte à la superstition.

Normalement, les mangas sont le fruit du travail d’un dessinateur et d’un scénariste. Toutefois, dans ce cas-ci, il s’agit de deux artistes: non pas un artiste qui travail avec des assistants (comme c’était le cas pour Thermae Romae) mais bien deux artistes qui collaborent ensemble. Mari Yamazaki se charge du storyboard et du dessin des personnages, alors que Tori Miki se charge de dessiner en détails les paysages et les décors. Yamazaki semble intéressé à établir une corrélation entre la Rome antique et le Japon: déjà avec Thermae Romae elle avait traité de leur engouement mutuel pour les bains publiques et, avec Pline, elle exploite le fait que ces deux civilisations ont sans doute une certaine affinité car elles ont tous deux eut à vivre avec la constante menace des catastrophes due aux séismes et aux volcans: les éruptions du Vésuve et de l’Etna en Italie et les tremblements de terre de Kōbe (1995), de Tōhoku (2011) et Kumamoto (2016) au Japon.

Évidemment, l’histoire de Pline n’est pas un manga qui va passionner tout le monde car on n’y retrouve pas d’action ou de combats mais il offre un sujet très humain sur la curiosité, la découverte de l’univers qui nous entoure et la recherche constante de connaissances. C’est un récit biographique où l’on suit trois personnages: Pline, bien sûr, mais aussi son secrétaire Euclès et l’empereur Néron. On découvre peu à peu leur caractère, leur psychologie. C’est aussi une façon assez extraordinaire de découvrir la civilisation romaine et l’oeuvre de Pline. C’est vraiment intéressant, passionnant même, pour un amateur de manga historique. Et il ne faut surtout pas oublier la superbe qualité artistique du travail de Yamazaki et Miki. En conclusion, ce manga est un incontournable pour tout amateur d’histoire, de Rome et, bien sûr, de Yamazaki !

Extraits: pages 49, 52-53 et 88
Pline, vol. 1: L’appel de Néron, par Mari Yamazaki et Tori Miki. Paris: Casterman (Coll. Sakka), Jan. 2017. 200 pg, 13 x 18 cm, 8,45 € ($15.95 Cnd), ISBN: 978-2-203-13243-6.

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Pline © 2014 Mari Yamazaki, Tori Miki. © 2017 Casterman pour la traduction française.

Commentaire repris sur Goodreads et Les Irrésistibles

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Capsule-reviews: Magazines (02.017.189)

Cela fait toujours bizarre de commenter des périodiques, mais ils sont une partie importante de la littérature (ou de tout autre média dont ils parlent) et méritent notre attention (d’autant plus que c’est une industrie où il est difficile de survivre — j’en sais quelque chose, ayant moi-même été pendant vingt ans rédacteur-en-chef et directeur de production pour un magazine consacré au dessin animé et à la bande-dessinée japonaise).

dBD #115

Le tout dernier numéro de dBD (juillet-août 2017), un magazine consacré à “l’actualité de toute la bande-dessinée” [disponible dans les bibliothèques de Montréal], nous offre un dossier sur la science-fiction et met en couverture Valérian. En plus des inévitables actualités et critiques de parutions récentes, nous y retrouvons plusieurs points d’intérêts: nous avons droit, entre autres, à un interview avec Nora Reddani, commissaire d’exposition à La Villette, qui nous parle de l’exposition “Valérian et Laureline en mission pour la Cité” jusqu’au 14 janvier 2018 à La Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Efa & Rubio nous parle de leur Monet, Nomade de la lumière (chez Lombard), Bocquet rend hommage à Jidéhem ( Sophie), Nicoby parle des petits livres qu’il auto-édite pour le plaisir de ses fans, Chauzy parle de son adaptation BD du roman de Pelot, L’Été en pente douce (chez Fluide Glacial), le couple Jodorowsky / Montandon parle de leur collaboration artistique, le chanteur Adamo parle de ses amitiés avec des bédéistes (Tibet, Uderzo, Peyo, etc.), interview avec Phicil (Courtois & Phicil, La France sur le Pouce, Dargaud), articles sur la BD & l’armée, Hubert (Hubert & Burckel, La nuit mange le jour, Glénat), Brueas & Toulhoat (Block 109 chez Akileos), Cromwell (Cromwell & Gratien, Anita Bomba, journal d’une emmerdeuse, Akileos), et sur le mouvement punk dans la BD. 128 pages, toutes en couleurs, riches en information! Une lecture essentielle (à acheter ou emprunter en biblio) pour ceux qui s’intéresse à la BD sous toutes ses formes (i.e. aussi les comics, mangas, manhwa, etc).

Toutefois, ce qui a le plus retenu mon attention dans ce numéro c’est le trop bref interview (pp. 46-51) avec Christin & Mézières, faites à l’occasion de la sortie prochaine de l’adaptation au cinéma par Luc Besson (Valérian et la cité des milles planètes, sortie à Montréal le 21 juillet!) de leur série culte (Valérian [et Laureline], agent spatio-temporel). On retrouve aussi deux articles sur le genre Pulp (pp. 52-55) et les récits  Post-apocalyptiques en BD (pp. 56-59), mais celui qui m’a le plus intéressé c’est l’article sur la Bédéthèque Idéale de science-fiction (pp. 60-65: 33 titres de 1934 à 2016, incluant cinq mangas!) où je retrouve certains de mes favoris: Lone Sloane (Druillet), Valérian et Laureline (Christin & Mézières), Yoko Tsuno (Leloup), Le vagabond des Limbes (Godard & Ribera), Major Fatal (Moebius), Trilogie Nikopol (Bilal), L’Incal (Jodorowsky & Moebius), Nausicaä (Miyazaki), Akira (Otomo), et 20th Century Boys (Urasawa)… À lire!

[Commentaire aussi disponible sur Goodreads et sur Les Irrésistibles]

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Animeland est un magazine que je suis depuis ses débuts (en avril 1991). J’en avais rencontré les fondateurs (Yvan West Laurence et Cédric Littardi) à AnimeCon (première convention officielle sur l’animation japonaise en Amérique du nord, qui s’est tenue du 30 août au 2 septembre 1991, à San Jose en Californie — c’est d’ailleurs là que j’ai rencontré mon épouse!). C’est l’un des top magazines non-nippon consacré au dessin animé et à la bande-dessinée japonaise et le seul de la francophonie. Il est disponible dans les bibliothèques de Montréal.

Animeland #214

Les points saillants de ce récent numéro (Février/Mars 2017) d’Animeland (en plus des indispensables actualités et commentaires sur les parutions récentes) sont deux dossiers sur le cyberpunk dans la manga et l’anime (dont un article sur Ghost in the shell qui fait la couverture) et sur le manga de Naruto, un enquête sur les école manga (bande-dessinée) en France, un article “tendances” sur le fait que les séries animées sont maintenant beaucoup plus courte que dans les années ’80 et ’90, des introduction sur plusieurs anime (Kabanneri of the Iron Fortress, ACCA 13, Yôjo Senki, les anime de vélo, The Great Passage, Redline, La tour au-delà des nuages, Haibane Renmei), manga (March comes in like a lion, Perfect Crime, Pline, Magical Girl Boy, Les Fleurs du mal, Dragons Seekers, Le troisième Gédéon), jeu videos (The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy XV), des portraits de seiyu (Maaya Sakamoto) et musicien (Shiro Sagisu), et six interviews (avec Travis Knight [Kubo], John Musker et Ron Clements [Vaiana], l’équipe de WIT Studio, Eisaku Inoue [One Piece], Shinya Kinoshita, Morihiko Ishikawa).

Dans ce numéro, j’ai fait la géniale découverte du manga Pline, une biographie du naturaliste romain Pline l’Ancien par Mari Yamazaki (Thermae Romae) et Miki Tori. Prépublié au Japon par Shinchôsa dans le périodique Shinchô 45, ce manga seinen, qui est toujours en cours, a déjà quatre tomes de paru dont trois ont été traduit en français par Casterman. À lire absolument!

On y révèle également les résultat du Grand Prix Animeland 2016: Meilleur anime: Yuri!!! On Ice; Meilleur film: Your name.; Meilleur film étranger: La tortue rouge; Meilleur manga: ex-aequo Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction (Kana) / Le mari de mon Frère (Akata); Meilleur manga one-shot: Marie-Antoinette: La jeunesse d’une reine (Glénat); Meilleur shônen: My Hero Academia (Ki-oon); Meilleur shôjo: Perfect World (Akata); Meilleur yaoi: ex-aequo Doukyusei (Boy’s love/IDP) / L’Étranger de la plage (Boy’s love/IDP); Meilleur seinen: Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction (Kana).

Somme toute, c’est une lecture indispensable pour quiconque désir rester à jour sur les parutions d’anime et de manga.

[Commentaire aussi disponible sur Goodreads et Les Irrésistibles]

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Animeland #215

Avec son plus récent numéro (Avril/Mai 2017), Animeland se renouvelle avec une maquette plus épurée. En plus des indispensables actualités et commentaires sur les parutions récentes, ce numéro est riche en dossiers: la tradition dans la pop culture japonaise (religion, vie quotidienne et folklore), le marché du manga en 2016 (l’embellie se confirme: hausse du chiffre d’affaire de 7.9%), les adaptations live de manga et d’anime (au Japon, à Hollywood et ailleurs, et surtout un article sur l’adaptation cinématographique de Ghost in the shell) et sur les superbes mangas historiques de Shin’ichi Sakamoto Innocent et Innocent Rouge.

Le magazine nous présente également de nombreux anime (Perfect Blue, Genocidal Organ, Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga, Freaky Girls, Chain Chronicle, Onihei, Ah! My Godess), manga (Man in the window, Fire Force, Berserk, Moving Forward, L’enfant et le maudit, To your eternity), jeu videos (Yakuza O, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard), des portraits de seiyu (Adeline Chetail) et musicien (Susumu Hirasawa), ainsi que quatre interviews (avec Yuichi Nakamura & Takahiro Sakurai [Genocidal Organ], Shinichiro Kashiwada & Shingo Adachi [Sword Art Online]). 116 pages (et un poster) pleines d’info indispensables pour tout amateur d’animation japonaise et de manga!

[Commentaire aussi disponible sur Goodreads et Les Irrésistibles]

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Movie capsule-reviews (02.017.182)

I meant to catch up on those comments in a long time, so here are a bunch of them…

Jason Bourne

The bad guys at the CIA who erased his memories, killed several of his girlfriends as well as his father are still after him despite the fact the he just want to be left alone… It seems that spy movies now are just endless car chases and computer hacking. Boring!

 

 

 

 

[ AmazonIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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La La Land

A beautiful film that pays tribute to the city of L.A., to Jazz and to the cinema of the fifties but the director cannot deny the French blood flowing in his veins because his film is strangely reminiscent of Jacques Demy‘s The Young Girls of Rochefort, and of some cinematographic techniques of Lelouche. While paying tribute, he manges to escapes (particularly with its ending) many of Hollywood movies’ stereotypes and therefore deserves all the attention and accolades he has received. A must see, definitely.

 

 

[ AmazonBiblio — IMdBOfficial — WikipediaYoutube ]

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King Charles III

I thought this TV movie would be quite bad: poorly made, poorly acted and of bad taste. But actually, it is beautifully made and, although the acting is not stellar, it is acceptable. It also brings the interesting question of what would happen to England, and to the monarchy, when the Queen dies. I always thought that it’s a bit too soon to make movies about people who are still alive. That’s why, in my opinion, Victoria is less edgy then The Crown. It’s touchy to tell the story of the early reign of Elisabeth II while she’s still the Queen and it’s even more touchy to speculate about how the monarchy would survives the death of such a long lasting monarch while she still lives. Many people have never known anybody else on the throne. Wouldn’t it put the whole existence of the monarchy in question? I think that the questions asked by this movie are spot on — although the portrayal of the royal family was often quite out of character (A resentful Charles? An over ambitious Kate Middleton?) — but all this is only speculation. Hence plenty of controversy in the press when it first aired in the U.K.

As it is based on a play, it feels very theatrical (even lyrical sometimes) and almost sounds like a shakespearian play (with verses, rhymes and lots of aparte) — so why should we be surprised that its plot offers such drama? It sounds really beautiful, particularly because of its soundtrack using baroque-style religious chants in latin — quite similar to what they used in Victoria. It’s not a really great movie but is certainly worth seeing if you are interested in either the British monarchy or in political/speculative fiction. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

[ AmazonIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Inferno

It’s the first movie of that series for which I did not read the book. I stopped after twenty pages because all Dan Brown books seem follow the same formula, so it felt boring. And because I didn’t have foreknowledge, the movie didn’t feel boring at all. In fact, the idea of the amnesia is a clever trick that allows for a well constructed thriller.

 

 

 

 

[ AmazonBiblio — IMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Florence Foster Jenkins

This movie tells us that sometimes the beauty is not in the quality of a work but in its persistance. It is quite funny and sad altogether. Biographical movies of unlikable characters can be a drag, but in the end everybody has redeemable qualities. It ends up that Florence Foster Jenkins was an interesting woman after all (even if she really was a bad singer!) and I enjoyed the movie. Particularly because of the remarkable performances by the three main actors, but mostly Meryl Streep.

 

 

 

[ AmazonBiblio — IMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Le roi dance

After watching the second season of Versailles, we felt like seeing more of Louis XIV. However, this old movie by Gérard Corbiau (Farinelli) is more about the rise and fall of Jean-Baptiste Lully than the Sun King himself. The baroque musician was a favourite of the king and worked at the court from 1661 to 1686, when his dissolute life brought him disgrace. He wrote dances and ballets for the king, music for plays (collaborating with Molière amongst others), several operas and some sacred music. The historical subject is quite interesting, but the movie shows its age, is rather slow and nearly boring.

 

 

[ AmazonBiblio — IMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Ah, sequels… I was fearing that this would be a mere repeat of the first movie, but it is just simply worse: meaner, badder aliens come with much bigger ship and their queen to suck up the core of the planet! But, there is hope, because the enemy of my enemy is my friend?! It is very superficial and not very original. So, how comes that I enjoyed it? Probably the brainless action, over-present special effects and a few good ideas… However, I am getting a little tired of those alien invasion movies.

 

 

 

[ AmazonBiblio —  IMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Arrival

You could think this is just another alien invasion catastrophe movie, but you couldn’t be more wrong. This is the most beautifully complexe film I’ve seen in a very long time. Based on the novellaStory of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, it tells the story of linguist Louise Banks who is called upon by the government to help translate the language of aliens who just landed lenticular spacecrafts on twelve Earth locations. The squid-like “heptapods” have a written language made of complex circular symbols. With trials and errors she manages to exchange vocabulary and build trust until they can finally ask the million dollars question: “why are they here?” The answer will bring the world to the brink of war! Learning their language and understanding its relationship with time will also change her forever…

It’s a movie about communication and language, of course, but also about understanding and relationship. Her relationship with the aliens, with her colleague Ian Donnelly, with her daughter Hannah, with the Chinese General Shang, with time… It is certainly not an action movie — as there are many slow and long scenes — but it is a beautifully made science-fiction thriller. The most interesting to me is that it is a local movie, shot in Quebec by French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique, Incendies, Sicario and currently working on Blade Runner 2049 and developing a new adaptation of Dune) ! A must see.

[ AmazonBiblio — IMdBOfficial — WikipediaYoutube ]

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Chagall

En fin de semaine j’ai finalement réussi à visiter l’exposition Chagall au Musée des Beaux-Arts avant qu’elle ne se termine. D’habitude je ne suis pas trop fervent d’art moderne mais je dois avoué avoir été surpris par celle-ci. Marc Chagall est juste assez figuratif pour que je l’apprécie. Il a une palette de couleurs attrayante et ses sujets sont très révélateurs de la culture qui l’a nourrie (il était juif hassidique russe). Étrangement, les thématiques récurrentes dans son oeuvre semblent correspondre aux instruments à cordes (violons, mandolines), au coq et au cirque! C’est un artiste très polyvalent qui a touché à pratiquement tout les media, de la peinture à la sculpture, aux fresques et aux vitraux, de même qu’à la céramique ainsi qu’aux décors et costumes de scènes…

Une très belle exposition qui m’a beaucoup apprise. Un gros merci au Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal pour nous abreuver, année après année, de tant de culture!

Voici un bref aperçu de l’exposition :

Et voici quelques unes de mes oeuvres favorites de Chagall :

Vous pouvez voir une sélection plus complète des oeuvres qui m’ont le plus touché sur l’album Flickr que j’ai créé à cet effet.

Et si vous désirez en connaître plus sur ce grand artiste du vingtième siècle vous trouverez en bibliothèque probablement tout ce qu’il vous faut pour satisfaire votre curiosité.

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Capsule reviews

The Giver

In a post-cataclysmic world, humanity survives in a small utopian society which is peaceful and content, but colourless and deprived of emotions. With his coming of age, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned a role as Receiver of Memory and instructed by the Giver (Jeff Bridges), who telepathically shares with him all the memories from the ancient time in order to give him the wisdom necessary to advise the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) in her decisions. With this knowledge comes the realization that this seemingly perfect society is in no way morally better than the previous one: citizens are drugged into conformity and when they become less useful or rebellious they are “released to the Elsewhere”, i.e. murdered by lethal injection! To justify their authoritarian ways, the Chief Elder says “When people have the freedom to chose, they chose wrong every single time” — true, but at least they have the freedom to be wrong! By reaching the distant borders of the community, the hero wants to reset the society in hope for a better future (and to save the woman he loves, Fiona (Odeya Rush)). Based on Lois Lowry‘s young adult novel, this science-fiction movie succeeds, with a relatively small budget ($25 millions), to create an entertaining and thought-provoking story, making us ponder the moral values of our society. Even if it’s a little reminscient of Logan’s Run, this is an excellent movie well worth watching.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Victoria

This British drama TV series depicts the reign of Queen Victoria from her accession (after the death of her uncle William IV) to her mariage with Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) and the birth of her first child (also named Victoria). It was produced by ITV in the UK and will premiere on PBS’s Masterpiece next week. In a way, it is very similar to the series The Crown that depicts the early reign of Queen Elisabeth II. It is quite interesting to see all the politics and trials that play out around the English monarchy at such an important time in history (the Victorian era was particularly characterized by the industrial revolution and the development of railways). It’s also funny that there is so much German blood (from the House of Hanover and the House of Saxe-Coburg) in the British monarchy, and it created quite a stir at the time. But I must admit that what first caught my attention is the fact that the title role is played by Jenna Coleman (who has also interpreted Clara Oswald, one of the best companions in the new Doctor Who TV series, but also acted in Julian FellowesTitanic and in Dancing on the Edge). Also starring is Rufus Sewell, who plays Victoria’s counsel and Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. I also liked the haunting music theme. I really cannot resist a British historical drama, even less a very good one. Don’t miss it!

[ AmazonIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Dark Angel

This is a two-part mini-series (although it feels more like a TV movie cut in two) produced by ITV in the UK and starring Joanne Froggatt (Anna in Downton Abbey). It will be shown on PBS’s Masterpiece later this year. Inspired by David Wilson’s book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain’s First Female Serial Killer, it tells the sordid story of Mary Ann Cotton, a black widow who poisoned three of her four husbands as well as eleven of her thirteen children in order to collect insurance money and survive the harsh conditions women had to endure in nineteenth century England. You can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. A good period drama as it is often the case with Brit TV. Recommended.

[ AmazonIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Eye in the Sky

An interesting movie showing, from the British point of view, all the procedures and decisions behind a drone strike in Somalia, as well as the moral questions it raises. If you could eliminate three top wanted terrorists as well as two suicide bombers preparing for an eminent attack that could kill up to eighty civilians, would you do it even if it meant probably killing one innocent girl? The collateral damage question is always a difficult choice between two evils. In a way, nothing much happens in this movie as the story is told almost in real time. Everything is in the debate, which makes it clearly a political movie. But is it an apology of war or a critic of the politicians inaptitude? Maybe both? Interesting indeed!

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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A Ghost of a Chance

Emi (Eri Fukatsu) is a lawyer whose client is accused of murdering his wife. But he couldn’t have done it since the night of the murder he was pined down in his hotel room by a ghost! What sort of defence can you build when your only witness is the ghost of a samurai? You manage to make him testify, of course! A funny japanese movie just as I like them, with a great line-up of actors (Toshiyuki Nishida, Hiroshi Abe, Kiichi Nakai, Koichi Sato, Takayuki Kinoshita, Yūko Takeuchi, Tadanobu Asano, etc.)!

I stumbled on this movie while watching TV Japan — a New-York based Japanese language channel operated by NHK Cosmomedia America and broadcasting a compilation of the best programming from the top Japanese networks and studios, including news and entertainment programs such as movies, dramas, variety shows, anime, sporting events, etc. (and available in Canada thanks to Bell Fibe TV!). I am glad that they show movies subtitled in english once in while.

[ AmazonAsianWikiIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Suffragette

Maud (Carey Mulligan) works in an industrial laundry house and gets involved by chance in the suffragette movement. Participating in illegal protests causes her to be outcast by her husband, which in turn drives her even further into political activism. Protests become more and more violent with property damages and bombings, hunger strikes when they were jailed, but it fails to really attract attention since the government controls the press… Until one woman, Emily Davison, is killed on a race track in front of the king. In 1928, women’s rights were finally recognized in Britain. But it took fifteen years to get there and the movie doesn’t show how Maud managed to survive during that time (if she could). Meryl Streep has a brief cameo as one of the movement’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s unbelievable to see how bad were women’s living and working conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For that, it’s an interesting movie but I found it was lacking passion.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBOfficial sitesWikipediaYoutube ]

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English Extensive Reading Manual

One of my Japanese friends, Kazu-chan, has just published a book!

Ten years ago, he came to Montreal through the working holiday program in order to learn English and French. He first got a job at the restaurant where my wife is working, Sakura Gardens, but he realized that a Japanese restaurant was the worse place to learn a new language, so he went to work at the Tim Horton’s on Saint-Denis street instead. After graduating from the prestigious Tokyo University, he was hired by a big venture company, but he quickly discovered that he had no taste for the abuses a junior salaryman (office worker) must endure in Japan (remember Amélie Nothomb’s novel, Fear and Trembling ?).

Choosing a more independent (but alas poorer) lifestyle, he founded with a friend (Akira Sakaizume, a senior in Buddhist literature) the language school Philosophia. While pursuing English learning methods that are more suitable for Japanese people, they are helping students not only to prepare for the college entry exam but also to develop useful English skills. For him it was a dream to help children realize their hope while broadening their mind through English education.

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Movie capsule-reviews

Pompeii

Another totally unrealistic catastrophe movie. Kiefer Sutherland with a ridiculous brit accent and “John Snow” [Kit Harington] as a slave hero pointlessly saving the damsel in distress. Entertaining but not historic.

[ BibliothèqueIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

 

Big Eyes

A Tim Burton movie about the life of American painter Margaret Keane, famous for her children with big eyes art, who had to fight her husband Walter Keane up to court as he took credit for her very successful work. He was a genius of marketing but, as a frustrated wanna-be painter, couldn’t resist to flatter his ego and take credit for “their” success until she got tired of the fraud (and found religion with the Jehovah’s witnesses). Interesting subject, but a quite ordinary delivery.

[ BibliothèqueIMdBOfficial siteWikipediaYoutube ]

Les Visiteurs: La Révolution

En 1123, le chevalier Godefroy de Montmirail, dit « le Hardi » (et son écuyer, Jacquouille la Fripouille) voyagent dans le temps grâce à la potion d’un mage. Mais rien ne va comme prévu et, dans ce troisième opus, le duo (Jean Reno et Christian Clavier) se retrouve en 1793, soit en pleine Terreur révolutionnaire! Amusant mais la formule commence à se faire vieille.

[ BibliothèqueIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

Race

An interesting film about the struggle of a black athlete to get into the 1936 summer Olympics and to show that black lives matter — while teaching a good lesson to Nazi Germany. More interestingly, it’s what the movie fails to show that is the most important: despite his four olympic medals, Jesse Owens will be totally ignored after his return to the U.S.A.. After all, the blacks in America were not that much better off than the jews in Germany. He died of cancer at 66 years old, poor, after holding small jobs and making a few business ventures. He was recognized only posthumously with a Congressional Gold Medal awarded by George W Bush in 1990! Not totally accurate, but a moment in history worth remembering.

[ BibliothèqueIMdBOfficial siteWikipediaYoutube ]

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Salon du livre 2016


Mercredi, après le travail, j’ai profité de l’offre d’une entrée gratuite aux détenteurs de cartes des Bibliothèques de Montréal et de la BANQ pour faire ma visite annuelle au Salon du Livre de Montréal.

En passant chez mes amis d’Alire j’ai remarqué, entre autres, le dernier Patrick Sénécal, L’Autre reflet, l’impressionnant Détectionnaire de Norbert Spehner (qui était d’ailleurs l’un des invités d’honneur du salon), et noté la parution prochaine de L’Année de la science-fiction et du fantastique québécois 1996 (enfin)! Étrangement j’ai remarqué qu’il y avait au salon cette année beaucoup de livres de cuisine végane (un signe des temps, sans doute) et j’ai aperçu ce qui semble être la réédition (pas si récente que ça) du manga de UFO Robot Goldorak. Toutefois, je n’ai rien remarqué de frappant dans les nouveautés et je n’ai pas trouvé le manga de Marie-Antoinette que je cherchais (une nouveauté qui date quand même de septembre! — ça m’a tout de même aidé à mieux résister à la tentation d’acheter quoi que ce soit!).

Je ne comprends vraiment pas pourquoi les éditeurs et distributeurs poussent au salon seulement leur gros titres et meilleurs vendeurs alors que le salon devrait être le lieu pour faire connaître et promouvoir les nouveautés et les titres moins connus!

Autre étonnement: je constate l’absence de kiosques pour les bibliothèques de Montréal et pour la BANQ. Pourtant, par les années passées, ils avaient au moins des kiosques statiques (juste des affiches et des dépliants) ou même partageaient ensemble un kiosque (comme l’an passé). Mais, cette année, rien du tout! Pourtant si les biblios ont besoin d’une chose c’est bien de promotion. Ils pourraient faire la démontration des nouveaux postes d’auto-prêt, ou du catalogue Nelligan Découverte, parler des nouvelles biblios, de celles avec des projets de rénovations, des services en ligne, du prêt numérique, du tout nouveau service de prêt d’instruments de musique, offrir des abonnements (pour augmenter le taux d’abonnés par habitant qui est plus bas au Québec que dans le reste du pays), etc, etc.

Bien sûr, avoir un kiosque au salon et du monde sur le plancher ça coûte de l’argent et la ville (ou le gouvernement) semble penser que la culture c’est pas important. Et pourquoi investir et promouvoir si au bout du compte ça rapporte rien? Les bénéfices rapportés par les bibliothèques, c’est bien connu, ça ne se voit pas alors ça ne compte pas vraiment. C’est tellement Trump! On est vraiment entré dans une nouvelle ère. Argh! Quelle horreur… Saint-Lovecraft venez à notre secours!

Donc, cette année, un salon plutôt décevant. Heureusement que je ne manque pas de livres à lire!

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