Weekly notable news (w17-19)

Another few weeks have passed quickly without anything significant happening: More crazy weeks at works and rainy week-ends where I don’t feel I accomplished anything. I am tired and really need a longer vacation. Next week I’ll start a ten-day holiday where I’ll be able to rest (sleep late!), catch up on stuff (writing, work around the house), travel around (Ottawa’s Tulip’s festival, Quebec City, botanical garden, museums, the libraries book sale, bury my mother’s ashes, etc.) and, above all, completely forget about work for a while. Or so I thought!

In hope for greener pastures, I have applied for a new library job (more responsibilities, further from home, but a greater challenge for my skills and a much better salary). However, after a lengthy processus, they scheduled an interview right in the middle of my vacation and at nine o’clock on the morning of my BIRTHDAY! Not only they made me filled a psychological test online (it’s called “an inventory of personality” and it will probably reveal that I am a total psycho) but they didn’t even bother to reply when I asked if it was possible to reschedule, so I’ll do my best to be there and we’ll see. Que sera, sera.

The weather has really been lousy lately. May is supposed to be the nicest month of all (and not only because it’s my birthday). Overall, it has been cold and rainy. It even snowed a little last week. In may! Hopefully, it will not portend that the summer will be likewise, and it will soon improve (at least for my vacations, please!).

Something strange happened at the beginning of the month: out of the blue, one late afternoon, I started to smell a vague odour of gazoline in the basement. It didn’t come from the obvious source, the garage. Usually, such smell comes from the sewage (through a dried P-trap) or from a dead animal but, in this case, it seemed to come from the pit of the water-pipe entry. I called the city and was told not to worry, it was “probably” not toxic and might have come from some work on the pipes in the neighbourhood (I couldn’t locate any nearby). I cracked open a window and the next morning it was gone. I never knew what it was.

The unlucky streak didn’t stop there. Not only I broke a piece of tooth while eating a granola bar during my lunch break at work (and I am still waiting for the dentist to find some spare time for an appointment), but I also discovered that the damage to the rear balcony of the house is more extensive than I first thought. The supporting posts are not planted deep enough (they rest on concrete supports that are just on the surface while they should be in soil deep enough so it never freezes in winter — who are the morons who built this house?!) so the ground expansion due to the freezing is slowly ripping the balcony off the house. So much that it has now become worrisome. We will have to do the repairs sooner than expected and it will probably be quite costly! What an exciting boring life!

Again, I must remind myself not to let the outside world rattle my core. Carpe diem, my boy, carpe diem!

Finally, I managed to stay acquainted with some of the affairs of the world and gathered notable news & links of interest — which I share with you (in both french or english, and organized into a few basic categories), after the jump.

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Monthly notable news (W12-16)

Another month (or so) has passed at lightning speed. Lots of stuff to do, particularly now that spring has come. We had plenty of rain at first, however now the weather is more enjoyable but still a little chilly. The humidity has made my left knee (and a bit my right ankle) hurt and, for a week, my back pain came back with a vengeance — libraries can be hard work sometimes (and not only for the soul; although it can be amusing too). I also had an episode of high blood glucose and I feared I would become a full-blown diabetic but it returned to my pre-diabetic “normal” after a week. This is no work for old men…

It has been a busy month. We’ve visited the notary twice for mom’s succession paperwork and there was plenty of work around the house particularly for the garden cleaning. I also had to deal with many unexpected problems: some strange Bell bug kept me from my blog for a week and I had some leaky roof, front door handle and water heater issues (the latter two just this weekend). Installing two more Outdoor Nest Cams (as one of my cheap IP cameras died following water damage inside the window) has been a strain on the Bell Wi-Fi causing serious performance problems. I’ll probably solve this issue by going back to Videotron, but only for the internet (I’ll share my sister’s).

A question on FB made me look back at my collection of old books and share my love for them. I also purchased a new Telephoto Mirror Lens for my camera. My TV viewing habits didn’t change much. I still watch too much TV: the new season for old series (When calls the Heart, Into the Badlands, Doctor Who) but two series are particularly worth mentioning for their quality: Anne and The Expense (and its beautiful opening credits with Norwegian vocals — listen on Soundcloud and Youtube). I also wanted to go see Ghost in the Shell in theatre but the reviews were not too good so I decided to wait. However, I’ll definitely won’t miss the Valerian‘s movie when it is released!

I have always considered blogging (and writing in general) as an essential mental exercice (as much as my daily walks) to keep in shape, the mind sharp and age better. However, now I have some doubt. It sometimes feels like a strain since I have less and less time to do it. I have to split my waking hours between my wife-together time, my me-time and work (from which I always come back exhausted). Lately, I had lots of problems with the blog (the Dropbox issue, not being able to log in for an entire week) and it leaves me with the dilema of having to choose between fixing the layout on the old posts or writing new material (or try to do both and be unhappy with the result). I just wonders if it is really worth it.

Maybe I should try less to DO something and just take more time to enjoy life right now (going to movies, to the museums, to the botanical garden, READ more, etc.) without always thinking about sharing it, what I would say about it, which angle I could use to explain the subject better or tell an interesting story about the whole experience. My health won’t improve with the years and I am quite sure that there is less road in front of me than behind, so maybe I should just take the most of it and enjoy the moment. Who’s reading me anyway. Although, I often say that I am writing for myself, so I can read what I wrote one day and remember how it was (particularly when I would not remember it at all). It is just like a journal left adrift in the binary stream of time, to create some sort of posterity.

Both ways seem kind of selfish: if I do write I feel guilty of not doing more of my life and, if I don’t, I feel I am letting myself down. Either way it is a losing battle. •Sigh* It’s the age-old depressing philosophical question: Did I ever really lived and did it really matter? I can only press on and hope for the best.

Finally, I nevertheless managed to stay acquainted with the (ever so depressing) affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly divided into a few thematics), after the jump.

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Weekly notable news (W42)

Not much happened this week. Same old, same old, as we say. Some aberrations at work keep exasperating me (but there’s only 552 more weeks to endure). On the way back from a doctor’s appointment, my wife and I walked through the mountain to admire the colours of fall. It was superb and I wonder why we don’t do this kind of walk more often. We’ve also spent time watching more of the American presidential insanities, two excellent animated features (Miss Hokusai and Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha Movie 1: The Red Desert! It’s Beautiful) as well as a new episode of Poldark. For my part, I’ve also started a promising new series (Westworld) and watched the season finale of Halt and Catch Fire. And I probably did a zillion other things (like updating my anime & manga bibliography) that I can’t even remember. But, does it really matter?

However, I do remember that I managed to find some 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):



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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):


Pearl Before Swine: Friday, May 27, 2016

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

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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


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

[A-Ah! That's what they are doing!]

Between Friends: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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Weekly notable news (W36)

I always do 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 this week (in no particular order):

Revue de Presse du FFM

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Weekly notable news (week 34)

This last week was rather quiet and a good part of the notable news & links that I found interesting were related to the Montreal World Film Festival which is coming very soon. I’ve spent a lot of my spare time lately finishing my coverage from last year’s festival and preparing to cover its upcoming 40th anniversary edition.

Lots of people are bitching about the festival. Those people want a glamorous festival like Cannes or Toronto, but they really don't understand the nature of the Montreal's festival. I am not saying that the MWFF is without flaws (there are aplenty) but I am quite satisfied with what we have here: a quiet, fan-oriented festival that showcase film as an art-form and a vehicle of culture for film-makers from any country, of any age and of various skill levels. Toronto is a commercial festival. I don't want to see stars that I can see everyday on TV or movies that will be released in theatres two weeks later. I want to see great stories and beautiful movies that I cannot see anywhere else but the MWFF. And there is plenty of stars there too: actors and directors from Japan, Portugal, Iran, Turkey, to name just a few places, and from all over Europe. That's good enough for me. I just want to enjoy myself, to be amazed and I really don't care about the politics of it all. I can't understand why our various level of government want to punish movie fans and not support such a great festival.

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Dear Deer

“A woman stares at a deserted exhibition in the local museum, a place said to be haunted by the phantom of a deer, “Ryomo-Shika”... Twenty-five years earlier three siblings reported seeing the deer, becoming first famous, then infamous when their claim was debunked. The fallout was devastating. The second son, Yoshio, is now living in a psychiatric institution; Akiko, the unsociable youngest daughter, lives in the country with an older man; and the eldest son, Fujio, who has remained in town, is burdened with debt from the family’s failing business. Now, with their father dying, the three siblings along with their respective partners and friends, have returned home, their first reunion in many years. But time hasn’t dulled their rivalries and or their rancour. They find themselves once again at a crossroads in life.”

(Text from the Festival's program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot's elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

I admit that I misunderstood the movie description in the program, so I thought it would be some sort of ghost story. Not at all.

When they were kids, siblings Fujio, Yoshio and Akiko saw a rare deer that was supposed to be extinct and took a blurry picture. But people thought it was an hoax and that they lied to attract attention or just misidentified a common deer. They were quite hurt no to be believed. On top of that, after their mother's death, their father became quite abusive, so the younger brother and sister left their hometown and the older brother stayed to take care of the family business. He has to work hard to keep it (and the town) together despite serious economic problems as a big development company tries to buy off the land. The younger brother seem to have a mild case of obsessive-compulsive disorder as he seems to have internalize all his guilt and frustrations from the childhood. The younger sister is good looking and has always had her ways with men, but unfortunately she eloped with a loser. She is very selfish but she eventually soften. She has a very unhappy life in Tokyo.

Twenty-five years later, they come back to their hometown when their father become gravely ill. They all have been greatly affected by their childhood have serious psychological problems. The death of the father brings back to the surface all their issues and what stayed unsaid for a long time is being expressed making their return trip a cathartic experience that is finally freeing them from the weight that had kept them miserable for all those years.

This is a very beautiful and interesting movie. Japanese movies are always good at showing us the beauty of the countryside. The director said that he was inspired by the fact that people from the countryside and people from the city seem to have very different mentality and way of life.

Dear Deer (????????): Japan, 2015, 107 mins; Dir.: Takeo Kikuchi; Scr.: Noriaki Sugihara; Ed.: Azusa Yamazaki; Music: Takuro Okada; Cast: Yuri Nakamura (Akiko), Yoichiro Saito (Yoshio), Shota Sometani (Fujio), Kôji Kiryû, Rinko Kikuchi, Yûrei Yanagi, Takeshi Yamamoto, Wakana Matsumoto, Yasushi Masaoka.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on September 3rd, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 9, 11h00 – the theatre was filled only at 10% of its capacity) as part of the “First Film World Competition” segment. The director was present to introduce the movie and for a Q&A afterward.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

Dear Deer © 2015 Office Kiryu.

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“A tragic story of a girl who becomes a monster. Deeply in love, Haruka decides to have sex with her boyfriend. But the results are catastrophic: she accidentally kills him. Traumatized, she flees the scene. Her cursed life has begun. Does she have any hope of escaping the malediction? A dark fantasy about life, sex and love. ”

(Text from the Festival's program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot's elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

I was not expecting much from this movie. I thought it would be a Fantasia-style gory and sexual horror movie. I was surprised to discover I was a more subtler and meaningful fantastical tale.

Haruka is cursed. She goes to a love hotel to have sex for the first time with her boyfriend. What should have been a pleasant occasion turns into a nightmare when her boyfriend unexpectedly and painfully dies during intercourse. She has no idea what happened: she was enjoying herself on top of him when there's suddenly a gush of blood as she appears to have ripped off her boyfriend's penis. She flees the scene in horror. The next day, in the news, the police talks of a gruesome murder as the sex of the victim appears to have been bitten off in a very inhuman way.

She skips school and wanders around in a dazed state. Has she dreamed or hallucinated the whole ordeal? Is that a fantasy induced by teenage angst and sexual anxiety? Or is she really some sort of monster and it happened for real? Is that even possible to have teeth "down there"? As she wanders on the road, she is kidnapped and raped by a pervert, but she kills him too, by "biting" off his penis with her vagina. The curse is confirmed.

Eventually, she meets Yosuke — who is nice to her and helps her overcome the trauma. She also meets his sister (so she said but she ends up being a jealous impersonator stalking Yosuke). They starts dating but Haruka fears that if they go further she will kill him. However, she accepts to date him only if they have a sexless relationship. Of course, with time, Yosuke cannot endure such a sexless love and wants to have her even if he knows that it will probably kill him. A love to die for.

The director said he was inspired by the true story of Sada Abe — who killed her lover and kept his penis as a souvenir. Even if the story had already been adapted in several movies — the most famous being Ai no Korida / In the realm of the senses by Nagissa Oshima — it seemed to him to be a good starting point to talk about sex and love.

The movie was very low budget and was shot within twelve days with a crew of seven (all volunteers) but most of the work was done by Tetsuya Okabe (directing, script, editing, etc., even paying for the lunch of the crew!). The film looks pretty good for such a low budget production and the director succeeded to turn a subject of comedic horror into a thoughtful allegory.

The title, Haman (???), is a slang blend (or portemanteau) expression made from ? [Ha, tooth] and ???? [Omanko, vagina] meaning "toothed vagina". I am not sure if the director was aware of this when he wrote the script (most probably), but the idea of the "vagina dentata" (in Latin) can be found in the folklore of many ancient cultures.

All in all, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it. It is amusing to see that the story ends up much more interesting by being treated through a more mainstream movie (with minimum gore and nudity--we see Haruka's breast in only one scene) rather than as a comedic horror film.

Haman (??? / lit. "toothed vagina"): Japan, 2015, 95 min.; Dir./Scr./Ed.: Tetsuya Okabe; Phot.: Yumi Hasegawa; Music: HIR, Shintaro Mieda; Cast: Nonka Baba, Yusuke Kojima, Maki Mizui, Mukau Nakamura, Shoei Uno.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on September 2nd, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 16, 20h30 – the theatre was filled only at 18% of its capacity) as part of the “World Great” segment. The director was present to introduce the movie and for a Q&A afterward.

For more information you can visit the following websites:
Haman © 2015?????.

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The Next Generation Patlabor — Tokyo War

“Over the years since 1988, the "Mobile Police PATLABOR" franchise in Japan has become a pioneer in multimedia, combining anime comics, videograms, films and novels. Until now the films have been animated. The story has now gone live-action... Labor is a robot specifically designed for heavy industry work. The rise of Labors has sparked a revolution in industry, but also an increase in crime. To combat these new Labor crime wave, the police have created a special unit: The Patrol Labor known as the Special Vehicles Section 2 (SV2). This is the birth of "Patlabor". We are now in the 21st century and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s SV2 so-called Patlabor still looks out for misbehaving Labors, but Patlabor is no longer considered necessary because of its cost and care. When Tokyo is attacked by an organization of terrorists using stealth helicopters, SV2 is called in to neutralize the threat.”

(Text from the Festival's program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot's elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

This is a beautiful movie. The CGI seems so perfect that the only thing that looks out of place is the Labor themselves — they look so preposterous, like some old giant toys from another era; that was probably done on purpose.

Not surprisingly (considering it's a movie directed by Mamoru Oshii), this is a Patlabor movie where we see actual labor action only a few minutes in the end. And, of course, the movie have the usual slow moments of politico-philosophical introspection also typical of Oshii's movies. The director himself seems to make a cameo appearance in the movie, with his typical hat and his beloved basset hound dog.

However, I am not sure that anyone who is not already familiar with the Patlabor story could easily understand what's happening in this movie, which seems to come closely after the second anime movie, and which is also the final segment of a 7-part series of live-action films! Even myself, who is well acquainted with the Patlabor universe, had trouble following sometimes (was the pilot of the helicopter the previous SV2 commander? Was she acting to seek some sort of social justice? I am not really sure…). Of course, if you take it strickly as an action movie (and disregards the political stuff) there is not much that you really need to understand to enjoy the movie.

In his introduction of the movie, before the screening, Oshii-San didn't say much. However, he mentioned that he shot his previous film in Montreal (Garm Wars: The Last Druid — for more details on this movie you can check ANN, IMdB, Youtube or Wikipedia).

All in all, this movie offers a great photography, beautiful CGI, a nice near-future sci-fi setting and, as a bonus, it shows us parts of Tokyo that we are not used to see. But it has much more meaning if you are a Patlabor fan, of course.

The Next Generation Patlabor — Tokyo War (The Next Generation ????? ? ???? / Patoreiba: Shuto Kessen / Lit. “Patlabor: Decisive battle over the capital”): Japan, 2015, 93 min.; Dir./Scr.: Mamoru Oshii; Phot.: Hiroshi Machida, Tetsuya Kudo; Art Dir.: Anri Jojo; Ed.: Yoshinori Ohta; Music: Kenji Kawai; Labor Design: Hideki Hashimoto, Katsuya Terada; Cast: Toshio Kakei (Keiji Gotoda), Erina Mano (Akira Izumino), Seiji Fukushi (Yuma Shiobara), Rina Ohta (Kasya), Shigeru Chiba (Shigeo Shiba), Kanna Mori (Rei Haihara), Kotaro Yoshida (Onodera), Reiko Takashima (Kei Takahata), Yoshinori Horimoto (Isamu Otawara), Shigekazu Tajiri (Hiromichi Yamazaki), Kohei Shiotsuka (Shinji Mikiya), Yoshikazu Fujiki (Yoshikatsu Buchiyama).

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 30th, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 9, 21h30 – the theatre was filled only at 14% of its capacity) as part of the “World Great” segment. The director was present to introduce the movie but there was no Q&A due to the late hour of the screening.

For more information you can visit the following websites:
The Next Generation Patlabor — Tokyo War © 2015 HEADGEAR / ”THE NEXT GENERATION -PATLABOR-” PARTNERS.

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