Weekly notable news (W10-11)

The last couple of weeks were so busy that it felt like months.

Strangely, after getting temperatures up to 10℃ in February, we had nearly -20℃ in March! And, as it warmed up a little and all the snow we had received during the winter had almost melted, we got hit by the biggest snowstorm of the year! This mid-march wallop left us with almost two feet (sixty centimeters) of snow in one night and one day! It felt like January again! Today, Spring has officially arrived and it is above zero again, but I have the feeling that this roller-coaster is not over. There’s really no seasons anymore…

It was the sixth anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster (as well as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster), but lately the news were dominated by the various scandals rocking the Trump Presidency, mostly the Russia Dossier and allegations of Russian interference during the electoral process. Despite Trump doing his best to distract our attention from it, it become increasingly clear that his campaign has had contacts and possibly collusion with Russian interests. We can only wonder how much his Presidency is politically and financially compromised by this. Lately, I’ve started watching MSNBC and it is fascinating. It gives me a brand new perspective. Now, considering that it took only ONE blow-job to put Clinton on the impeachment path and that Trump has been plagued already with numerous questionable business deals and sexual misconduct allegations, I am wondering how much more it will take to remove this evil clown from office !!!

Another notable event was the fact that my Jawbone fitness band broke and that I replaced it with a Fitbit. It’s my third Jawbone fitness band that breaks (first a UP24, then a UP2 and finally a UP3 and in all cases it was the rubber of the band that broke apart) so, that’s it, I’ve decided to never use that company again (too bad, I really liked their app). Considering the reviews and quality/price ratio, I chose to replace it with a Fitbit Flex 2 band. Since I already have an Apple Watch, I decided to go with a simpler model and I was impressed with Fitbit’s clever concept of the device itself being separated from the band so you can switch band at will for fashion reasons or if it breaks. I am a little disappointed with the app but I am sure I’ll get used to it. So far, it is working quite well.

I also discovered that I had been screwed by Dropbox — which I used to host all the images for this blog. They changed their policy and now all the image links are irreparably broken. I’ve already taken temporarily measures to keep the most recent or important entries of the blog illustrated, but I am considering to eventually switch to a WordPress blog (with the same web hosting service that was used for the magazine). The transition will probably be slow and incremental since it is a lot of work.

However, the last couple of weeks were mostly dedicated to preparing for my mother’s funerals. I took a week off from work not only to help my sister preparing the funeral (book the hall, choose and order the buffet, shop all the stuff that was needed, contact people, make appointments, fill paperwork, plan the ceremony, etc.) but mainly to prepare the music medley and produce a commemorative video that would pay hommage to my mother’s memory (it is now available in two slightly different versions, on both this blog and my Vimeo page). Strangely, the funerals for the father of one of my dear friends were on the same day…

I was hoping to take advantage of this little time off also to catch up on my reading and writing, maybe go see a movie and visit a museum, but it was so busy that I couldn’t do anything. I even got behind in my TV shows watching.

Unfortunately, I also barely managed to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered only a few notable news & links — which I share with you nevertheless (in both french or english, and in no particular order), after the jump.

[ Traduire ]

Continue reading

Monthly notable news (W53-03)

The Holidays and the couple of weeks that followed were rather quiet. Thankfully, I had to deal with much less craziness at work. But that was only the eye of the storm and those depressing days (scientifically certified as such since Blue Monday fell on January 16th this year) are coming to an end. The days are getting longer and more shit will soon hit the fan. Of course, there’s also this endless American nightmare with everything Trump. I wish I could forget about all that and never hear about it again, but unfortunately that’s what the world has become now.

I am already getting behind in my writings, but I caught up a little with my TV and movie watching. Besides the restarting new seasons (mostly Call The Midwife, Colony, Endeavour, Father Brown, Homeland), the notable new additions are Victoria and Dark Angel (although those two have already ended) as well as the weird Young Pope (a young and reckless leader is unexpectedly elected to head the Church — a little reminescent of the whole “orange is the new black” American electoral fiasco — but it’s directed by Paolo Sorrentino, who gave us La grande bellezza) and the quite interesting Mercy Street, a medical period drama set at the Mansion House Hospital during the American Civil War.

I’ll try to reinvent myself this year (so much to do) and push forward even harder on the path to improve my temperament and expend my knowledge. That’s the only purpose one can have.

Despite everything, I tried to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english): Continue reading

Weekly notable news (W40-41)

In the last couple of weeks I felt deprived of all my energy. I couldn’t do or write much. All I did was updating my “Anime & manga bibliography” (and it’s far from finished). Depressingly, the news were dominated by the US election mud slinging. However, I discovered by chance a new french pop singer named Zaz (iTunes, Wikipedia, Youtube) — a great scratchy voice — and, with my wife, I’ve finished watching the fourth season of Mr. Selfridge as well as the mini-series And Then There Were None (a recent British-american adaptation of the famous Agatha Christie’s novel).

If the crazy pace at work (btw, only 553 weeks left!) can sometimes break my spirit (or, like now, my back!), there’s always something to rejuvenate my soul. Earlier today I took, with my wife, a long walk through the park of the Île-de-la-Visitation, observing the nature, the river, the automnal colours, and visiting the Sault-au-Récollet mill as well as the maison du pressoir. It was beautiful. I took several nice pictures.

Finally, of course, I still found a little time to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world. I therefore share with you a few notable news & links that I came across lately (in no particular order):

Funnies

Between friends: Monday, May 30, 2016

Non Sequitur: Monday, May 30, 2016

Between friends: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dilbert: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[ Traduire ]

Weekly notable news (W39)

Another busy week spent brooding about the craziness at work (still 555 weeks before retirement), going to the hospital for another CT enterography for my wife and backing-up my computers to install macOS 10.12 Sierra on both my iMac and Mac Mini. Didn’t have much else on my mind.

To relax we finished watching Dancing on the edge (Brit period drama about a black jazz band, part mystery and part social commentary on racism), the first episode of Maigret (Brit adaptation of Georges Simenon‘s police drama set in the ’50s Paris with Rowan Atkinson in the title role!!! It’s quite good once you’ve passed seeing Mr. Bean face. Now I understand why he never speaks in his sketches: he has a really serious, deep voice!) as well as the first two episodes of the second season of Poldark (yes, another Brit period drama).

And, of course, I still found a little time to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world. I therefore share with you a few notable news & links that I came across this week (in no particular order):

Funnies

Pearl Before Swine: Friday, May 27, 2016

[Reminds me of someone…]
Ben: Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

[ Traduire ]

Weekly notable news (W37-38)

The first two weeks of September proved to be rather challenging. First, I was trying to see as many of the Japanese movies shown at the Montreal World Films Festival as I could despite the troubles that the festival was experiencing and the fact that the schedule was constantly changing. Then, my wife woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating abdominal pain and we ended up at the hospital’s emergency ward. They kept her for five days and performed several tests without being sure of the nature or cause of the problems. They found some sort of enteritis to the small intestine and a gastritis. She feels well now, but it is a worrying situation since we’re still waiting for the result of the biopsy and more tests are scheduled. She survived cancer once ten years ago, so we are waiting the results with apprehension.

It was tiring for me during that time because I had to shuttle back and forth between work (a.k.a the madhouse), the hospital and (once) the film festival. But the beginning of September also brought a few good news: Apple announced some new products as well as released updates, and I got a well over-due pay raise! Unfortunately, there’s still five-hundred-and-fifty-seven weeks left before I can retire from work and dedicate my entire time to my personal projects (like writing).

Despite all this, I found time to watch a few dvds at home with my wife. First, we watch Belle et Sébastien 2: L’Aventure continue. It’s a cute adventure dog movie, full of improbabilities but it also reminded me of the TV series I was watching when I was a kid. Then I watched Gods of Egypt (by myself because my wife doesn’t like sci-fi stuff), which tells — super-heroes style — the founding myth of Egypt where Horus must fight his uncle Set who killed his father Osiris in order to reign over Earth. Horus is helped by the thief Bek, who just want to save his lover Zaya. If you would removed the specials effects from this movie, it would have nothing left of interest…

Finally, I watch Hail, Caesar. It’s a star-laden film by the Coen brothers which poke fun of the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s while managing to recreate several of its archetypes: the peblum movies, the synchronized swimming and tap dancing movies, stunt-filled westerns, etc. The film follow studio manager Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) trying to hold production together while unmarried actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) becomes pregnant and big star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is abducted by a conspiration of communists! Hilarious, beautifully written and an interesting window on the era.

As always I did my best to keep myself acquainted with the affairs of the world. So, let me share with you a few notable news & links that I came across in the last few weeks (in no particular order):

Apple new products

Funnies

Dilbert: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 / “Boss Figures Out A System”

[A-Ah! That’s what they are doing!]

Between Friends: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

[ Traduire ]

Strange things

Some days you see the strangest things.

Yesterday, after coming out from the metro station on my way to work, I saw a guy riding a bicycle while carrying on his gloved hand an hawk (or a falcon). Usually, falconry is practiced on horseback, but I guess you have to go with the mean you have…

A few minutes later, I saw two F-18 fighter-jets crossing the sky from left to right. I wondered if it was a good omen or a bad one. I don’t really remember how it works; my old roman (or wasn’t it etruscan?) art of divination skill is rather rusty.

FFM Update


We are continuing our coverage of the Festival des Films du Monde (FFM)

With all the schedule changes I wasted days off on days that had the screening I wanted to see cancelled so I couldn’t take more days off to watch the couple of movies that were shown at the Outremont Wednesday (Frozen Fireworks, Hold my Hand) and Friday (Tsukiji Wonderland, Ken-san). And my wife was hospitalized due to a sudden illness today so I couldn’t watch A loving husband… At least I managed to see three Japanese movies. Maybe one more tomorrow…

Sunday September 4, 17h30 (CI.04.5) COMP

Good Morning Show (グッドモーニングショー / Guddo Moningu Sho): Japan, 2016, 103 min.; Dir./Scr.: Ryoichi Kimizuka; Cast: Kiichi Nakai, Masami Nagasawa, Mirai Shida, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kento Hayashi, Zen Kajiwara, Haruka Kinami, Shunsuke Daitô, Gaku Hamada, Yô Yoshida, Yutaka Matsushige, Saburô Tokitô. The morning variety show, a staple of television around the world, offers news and entertainment but TV host Shingo didn’t expect to be himself the source of the news and entertainment.

Two more theatres are showing FFM movies, so now all the movies selected and previously announced will be screened at least once: the Cineplex Forum (2313 St. Catherine St. West Suite 101 – Metro Atwater // Oh, you choose now to join the party, you moron) and the Cinema Dollar (6900 Décarie Square — Métro Namur). Unfortunately, the Cineplex Forum has shown Her love boils bathwater Saturday at 10h00 and I missed it.

Please, check the schedule on the festival’s website.

All the announced guests are supposed to be there: Liu Yifei, Willem Dafoe and Isabelle Adjani.

Don’t forget to enjoy the festival while you can because it might very well be the last!

Press reviews:

[ Traduire ]

MWFF Update Day 3


We are continuing our coverage of the Festival des Films du Monde (FFM)

Yesterday, I’ve put on Vimeo a short video of The Seal of the Sun‘s crew introducing their movie before the screening (unfortunately, I had camera troubles, so the video is not very good and it’s incomplete).

I also went to the screening of The Black Widow Business. It’s a good comedy build around what should be a dark subject: women “seeking out old wealthy men to wed and deprive the bereaved family’s inheritance”. There was again a good attendance as the first level of the theatre was nearly three-quarter full (about 250~350 people). I’ll tell you more about it later.

After the Théatre Outremont announcing it will show the “Documentaries” and “Focus on World Cinema” segments of the festival, now it is the Cinéma du Parc (3575, av. du Parc) that has announced that it will show the movies for the 47th Student Film Festival for free! As usual, check the schedule on the festival’s website.

The next Japanese movies to be shown are (barring any more schedule changes):


Wednesday August 31, 15h00 at Théatre Outremont (TO.31.3) DOC

Frozen Fireworks: The Legendary Japanese Model Sayoko Yamaguchi (氷の花火 山口小夜子 / Kori no hanabi Yamaguchi Sayoko / lit. “Ice of fireworks Sayoko Yamaguchi”) : Japan, 2015, 97 min.; Dir.: Takako Matsumoto; Prod.: OHO Sayuki; Phot.: KISHIDA Masao; Ed.: MAEJIMA Kenji; Sound: TAKAGI Hajime ; Mus.: HISAMOTO Yukina; Cast: YAMAGUCHI Sayoko, Serge LUTENS, MARUYAMA Keita. A documentary portrait of Yamaguchi Sayoko, Asia’s first “top model”, via rare footage and testimony of friends and professional acquaintances.

Wednesday August 31, 17h00 at Théatre Outremont (TO.31.4) REG

Hold my hand (手をつないでかえろうよ シャングリラの向こうで / Te wo Tsunaide Kaeroyo — Shangurira no Mukou de / lit. “In the other side of the Let’s go home hand in hand Shangri-La”) : Japan, 2016, 105 min.; Dir.: Yoko Narahashi; Scr.: Masayuki Imai; Cast: Tetsuya Bessho, Itsuji Itao, Jay Kabira, Katsuya, Sumire Matsubara, Masahiro Nakai, Nanami. Makoto has a learning disability but dreams of becoming a truck driver. He falls in love with Sakura, a girl who has a similar disability and wants to become a dancer.

Friday September 2, 11h00 at Théatre Outremont (TO.02.1) DOC

Tsukiji Wonderland (築地ワンダーランド) : Japan, 2016, 116 min.; Dir.: Naotaro Endo. A day at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, the biggest wholesale seafood market in the world, for a fascinating view of the seafood business during the ramshackle 80-year-old complex’s last year of operation.

Friday September 2, 17h00 at Théatre Outremont (TO.02.4) DOC

Ken san (健さん) : Japan, 2016, 95 min.; Dir.: Yuichi Hibi; Phot.: Yoshihisa Toda; Ed.: Miyuki Ohgata; Mus.: Tarô Iwashiro. Ken San pieces together the puzzle of the life and legacy of Japan’s mythical acting icon, Ken Takakura. Collaborators, friends and family share intimate stories of Ken’s journey.

Saturday September 3, 13h00 at Cinéma Impérial (CI.03.3) PRE

A loving husband ( 恋妻家宮本 / Koisaika Miyamoto): Japan, 2016, 117 min.; Dir./Scr.: Kazuhiko Yukawa (based on the novel by Kiyoshi Shigematsu); Cast: Yûki Amami (Miyoko), Hiroshi Abe (Yohei). Schoolteacher Yohei is married to Miyoko. For the first time in 25 years they begin to live by themselves when their son marries and moves out. Then Yohei discovers that all’s not well in his marriage.

Sunday September 4, 17h30 at Cinéma Impérial (CI.04.5) COMP

Good Morning Show (グッドモーニングショー / Guddo Moningu Sho): Japan, 2016, 103 min.; Dir./Scr.: Ryoichi Kimizuka; Cast: Kiichi Nakai, Masami Nagasawa, Mirai Shida, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kento Hayashi, Zen Kajiwara, Haruka Kinami, Shunsuke Daitô, Gaku Hamada, Yô Yoshida, Yutaka Matsushige, Saburô Tokitô. The morning variety show, a staple of television around the world, offers news and entertainment but TV host Shingo didn’t expect to be himself the source of the news and entertainment.

As usual, enjoy the festival while you can because it might very well be the last!

Press reviews:

[ Traduire ]

MWFF Update Day 2


We are continuing our coverage of the Festival des Films du Monde (FFM)

Yesterday was my second day at the festival. I went to see Tatara Samurai in the early evening. It was the premiere of the movie so the crew (the director and the two main actors) arrived in great pomp with a limo and the red carpet. There was lots of people and the main floor of the Imperial Theatre was almost full (which means about 300~400 people). It was a beautiful and excellent samurai movie that reminded me a little of Kurosawa. Unfortunately, the more I like a movie the more I find difficult to talk about it. But don’t worry, I’ll manage to organize my notes (as well as edit the video of the screening intro and small Q&A session — taken this time with my old and more reliable camera) in the next few days in order to eventually share them with you.

See my “FFM 2016” album on Flickr
Tatara Samurai poster Tatara Samurai Red Carpet arrival
Actors Naoki Kobayashi, Sho Aoyagi and director Yoshinari Nishikori Actors Naoki Kobayashi and Sho Aoyagi
Yesterday afternoon, I also posted online my comment on the movie The Seal of the Sun.

It is really damn difficult to do any planning during this festival. You think that you finally have your stuff organized, you ask for a day off work and then, bang!, they change the schedule. Again. I really hate this situation. You really need to check the screening schedule every day (in the evening and in the morning)!

The next Japanese movie to be shown will be tonight and then, so far, there’s nothing until next week-end — but note that the movie planned for Saturday night, Her Love Boils Bathwater, is CANCELLED!

Tuesday August 30, 19h40 (CI.30.6) HC

Black Widow Business (後妻業 の 女 / Gosaigyō no onna / lit. “Woman of the second wife industry”) : Japan, 2016, 128 min.; Dir./Scr.: Yasuo Tsuruhashi (based on the novel by Hiroyuki Kurokawa); Cast: Masatoshi Nagase, Masatô Ibu, Machiko Ono. With 4000 matchmaking agencies across Japan serving some 600,000 clients, especially men and women over 65, the pickings are ripe for “black widows”. But the daughter of one victim decides to investigate.

Saturday September 3, 13h00 (CI.03.3) PRE

A loving husband ( 恋妻家宮本 / Koisaika Miyamoto): Japan, 2016, 117 min.; Dir./Scr.: Kazuhiko Yukawa (based on the novel by Kiyoshi Shigematsu); Cast: Yûki Amami (Miyoko), Hiroshi Abe (Yohei). Schoolteacher Yohei is married to Miyoko. For the first time in 25 years they begin to live by themselves when their son marries and moves out. Then Yohei discovers that all’s not well in his marriage.

Sunday September 4, 17h30 (CI.04.5) COMP

Good Morning Show (グッドモーニングショー / Guddo Moningu Sho): Japan, 2016, 103 min.; Dir./Scr.: Ryoichi Kimizuka; Cast: Kiichi Nakai, Masami Nagasawa, Mirai Shida, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kento Hayashi, Zen Kajiwara, Haruka Kinami, Shunsuke Daitô, Gaku Hamada, Yô Yoshida, Yutaka Matsushige, Saburô Tokitô. The morning variety show, a staple of television around the world, offers news and entertainment but TV host Shingo didn’t expect to be himself the source of the news and entertainment.

The presence of Isabelle Adjani (as well as the screening of her film Carole Matthieu) has been postponed at the request of the French actress. No new screening date has been announced yet.

Fortunately there’s not only bad news in the festival. It was announced that, out of sheer compassion for movie-makers and movie-goers, from today until next Sunday the Théatre Outremont (1248 avenue Bernard Ouest, near metro Outremont) will start showing movies for the Festival, effectively doubling the number of screens available! Schedule will be announced day by day, but so far today there’s no Japanese movies being shown.

Anyway, enjoy the festival while you can because it might very well be the last!

Press reviews:

[ Traduire ]

MWFF Update Day 1.2

We are continuing our coverage of this cultural para-olympics

After picking up my media credentials, I rushed back home to grab a bite and my camera, then I quickly came back to the festival to watch the first Japanese movie — which had surprisingly popped up on the most recent schedule update.

The production crew (the usual team of producers, director and actor) was there to introduce their movie, but I unfortunately had camera troubles and couldn’t record the whole presentation (maybe my older, cheaper, less advanced camera would have been better after all?).

The movie was quite interesting because of its subject, but I was rather disappointed by the rendering of the story and the production quality. It felt like a small budget movie while I am sure it was not. Anyway, you’ll see my full comments on the movie as soon as I can transcribe my notes, polish the details and put it online (I have a busy schedule in the next few days — including an aunt funerals — so I cannot promise it will be quick).

In the meantimes, enjoy the festival while you can because, as you know, I fear it may well be the last!

Press reviews:

[ Traduire ]