It is the tradition for my Christmas vacations to read and watch lots of cartoons. Sometimes I read again the complete collection of Astérix or of Tintin. And, at this time of the year, there’s plenty of cartoon on TV. This year, since I am already reading plenty of manga, I decided to go in the documentary way. I’ve found and watched two interesting documentaries about famous cartoon artists (and I read a book of each for good mesure).
Who are you, Charlie Brown?
This documentary, narrated by Lupita Nyong’o, is covering three subjects. First, it brings us a new animated story where Charlie Brown agonize on the fact that he must write an essay about himself for school and he goes on a quest of self-discovery. Also, with the help of old interviews with Charles M Schulz (aka “Sparky”) and some of his close friends and family members we learn about who was the creator of Peanuts and about the genesis of the comics. Finally, fans, actors and other creators discuss the influence the comics had on them and on the global culture.
The documentary is interesting and also very entertaining, but also a little short and somewhat superficial. We see some early drawings of the Peanuts’ gang (a comic strip called Lil’ Folks) but it never mentions his other comic series, like Young Pillars (which I commented in 2015) or It’s Only a Game. It also doesn’t mention the fact that Schulz’ house was burned down during the Santa Rosa’s fire in October 2017. Fortunately, the nearby Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, where the original illustrations are stored, was spared.Nevertheless, this documentary is a great way to celebrate the cultural icon that Charlie Brown is and introduce him to a new generation of comic readers.
Who are you, Charlie Brown? : USA, 2021, 54 min.; Dir.: Michael Bonfiglio; Scr.: Michael Bonfiglio & Marcella Steingart; Ed.: Tim K. Smith; Music: Jeff Morrow; Rated PG. It has received a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (91% from the audience) and 7.2/10 on IMDb.
To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:
Of course, after viewing this documentary I was feeling like reading some old Charlie Brown comics. I chose a short one and got lost in nostalgia. When I was a kid, having outgrown the school library, I was making regular trips to one of the city’s libraries to borrow Peanuts’ compilations (the library was located on top of an old fire-station and it reeked of gaz and engine’ oil — for years after that the idea of a library was evoking in me a mix of awe and nauseous feelings!)
This book offers a selection of cartoons from the compilation The Way of the fussbudget is not easy, vol. III. Part of the Peanuts Coronet collection (#79), it was meant to provide a shorter and more affordable sampling of the Peanuts’ world. It present a single four-panel strip per page. The volume doesn’t have a particular thematic and I don’t know if the strips are in chronological order. It is simply a variety of stories involving all characters (Snoopy and Woodstock, Linus and Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, Spike, and, of course, Sally and Charlie Brown). It is a light reading that provides mindless vintage entertainment.
Nice shot, Snoopy!, by Charles M Schulz. New York: Fawcett Crest (Ballantine Books/Random House), May 1988. 128 pages, 4.25 x 7 in., $US 2.95 / $C 3.95, ISBN 0-449-21404-4. For readership of all ages.
For more information you can check the following websites:
This is an older documentary but I just discovered it. It explores the phenomenon that is the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, interview lots of people (fans, actor Seth Green, editor Lee Salem and other artists) who pay tribute to its popularity and talk about how it influenced them and the global culture. It also talks a little about its creator, Bill Watterson, who NEVER appears in the documentary (apparently he is a very shy and private person).
It is a very interesting documentary and it reminded me of all the reasons why Calvin and Hobbes was my favourite comic strip. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t learn more about its creator (although I can understand why someone who’s such a purist about his art would shy away fame and a fortune in licensing). However, the documentary also talk about the cartoon world in general and, if I couldn’t see Mr. Watterson, I could hear from many of the artists who created other strips that I like a lot too: Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Jan Eliot (Stone Soup), Bill Amend (FoxTrot), Wiley Miller (Non Sequitur), Dan Piraro (Bizarro), etc. It was definitively worth watching.
Dear Mr. Watterson : USA, 2013, 89 min.; Dir.: Joel Allen Schroeder; Phot.: Andrew Waruszewski; Ed.: Joel Allen Schroeder; Music: Mike Boggs; Prod.: Chris Browne & Matt McUsic; Rated PG. It has received a score of 62% on Rotten Tomatoes (51% from the audience), 54% on Metacritic and 6.4/10 on IMDb.
To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:
Again, watching this documentary made me want to read the comic again. I have a little less than a dozen compilations and I chose to read the one that I thought would be the most representative: The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, which includes all strips from the first two compilations (Calvin and Hobbes and Something Under the Bed Is Drooling). In this strip we enviously follow the (mis)adventures of an over-imaginative boy with his pet (stuffed?) tiger. It is superbly drawn in a simple, clean but descriptive style. The humour is brilliant. It is both entertaining and full of meaning. A must read.
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. Kansas City: Andrews & McMeel (Universal Press Syndicate), March 1989. 256 pages, 8.5 x 10.7 in., $US $18.99 / $C 37.99, ISBN 0-8362-1805-1. For teenage readership (12+).
For more information you can check the following websites:
During the Civil War some people from Jones County in Mississippi got tired to be regularly fleeced by the confederate army. So a bunch of farmers and escaped slaves decided to fight back and, since they couldn’t get help from the North either, they created their own independent country. In parallel we follow a descendant of the main character who, eighty-five years later, is on trial for intermarrying while being one-eight black! An historical movie that just shows us things never change. An interesting movie to watch now as the Republicans try to roll back the African American right to vote. It is certainly a difficult subject and that’s probably why it was not well received by the viewers and didn’t make any money (they recovered just about half of the production cost!). Personally, I quite enjoyed it: despite the controversial subject it manages to remain entertaining, as there is a good deal of action, it is interesting because it is based on a true story and it is beautifully filmed. What more could I asked? It’s on Netflix, so give it a try!
This is quite an interesting post-apocalyptic movie. The survivor of a solar flare that devastated earth build a robot to take care of his dog when he will be gone — he suffers from radiation sickness since the flare destroyed the ozone layer and earth is bathed in cosmic rays. Because there’s a huge storm coming he must leave his refuge and decide to travel to San Francisco. Through the journey we learn a little more about his past and how the human civilisation was destroyed. However he has little time left to train the robot and teach him concepts like caring and trust. It feels like a prequel to Simak’s novel, City, where a robot and some talking dogs are overseeing a post-human civilization. As the robot is like a little kid, this is a kind of coming of age story. It is surprising how much a single actor (well, it’s Tom Hanks after all), a CGI robot and a dog can be entertaining !
More Tom Hanks. A former Confederate officer, who has nothing left to go back to, is traveling from town to town reading newspapers to the busy locals for a meagre fee. During his travels he finds a young girl of German origin who was kidnapped and raised by Native American and now speaks only Kiowa. He brings her to the local outpost of the Bureau of Indian Affairs so she can be repatriated to Castroville where she has surviving relatives, but the army — too busy trying to maintain law and order — cannot take care of her. Reluctantly, he decides to undertake the four hundred miles journey on his own. After facing many dangers he succeeds in his mission, only to realize that her relatives would only use her as a labourer on their farm wasting her great potential… It could be just a cute adventure movie if it was not loaded with civil rights implications (the relocation of Native Americans in Indian Territory) and set in such a gritty and harsh environment. I didn’t realize that Texas was such a dry place. It is a western full of action, but also rich in thought provoking concepts which highlights a very interesting period of American history: the Reconstruction era. The peace took a long time to come back particularly in frontier area like Texas. It makes of this movie a fascinating story (unfortunately it didn’t make any money, recovering only a third of its production cost… A shame!).
News of the world : USA, 2020, 118 min.; Dir.: Paul Greengrass; Scr.: Paul Greengrass & Luke Davies (based on the novel by Paulette Jiles); Phot.: Dariusz Wolski; Ed.: William Goldenberg; Music: James Newton Howard; Cast:Tom Hanks (Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd), Helena Zengel (Johanna Leonberger / Cicada), Elizabeth Marvel (Ella Gannett); Rated PG. It has received a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (89% from the audience), 73% on Metacritic and 6.8/10 on IMDb. ***
To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:
It tells the story of photojournalist Makoto Fukamachi who, while covering a failed attempt to climb the Everest in Kathmandu, hears that Mallory’s camera has been found. If true this would change the history of mountain-climbing if someone had a definitive proof that Mallory’s expedition had been the first (or not) to reach the summit. Fukamachi thinks that the man in possession of the camera is Jôji Habu, a Japanese mountaineer that has not been seen for years. Back in Japan, he starts investigating Habu, researching archives and interviewing some of his old colleagues and friends. Through his investigation — which has become an obsession — we learn more about who is this Habu. Fukamachi finally catches up to him in the Himalayas as he is preparing to climb the Everest southwest face in winter and without oxygen ! He proposes him to cover his expedition and slowly earns his friendship and trust. What mountaineers seek is the thrill of the journey and achieving the goal, sometimes forgetting about their safety or even the necessity of a return trip…
It is a beautiful story, full of action and suspense, that constitute an ode to mountaineering. As far as I can tell, it seems quite faithful to the manga. The animation is really splendid and is quite a tribute to Taniguchi’s superb artwork. A must-see !
The summit of the gods : France / Luxembourg, 2021, 90 min.; Dir.: Patrick Imbert; Scr.: Patrick Imbert, Magali Pouzol & Jean-Charles Ostorero (based on the manga by Jiro Taniguchi and the 1998 novel by Baku Yumemakura); Dir. Art.: David Coquard-Dassault; Ed.: Benjamin Massoubre & Camillelvis Théry; Music: Amine Bouhafa; Prod.: Folivari & Mélusine; VoiceCast:Damien Boisseau (Fukamachi), Lazare Herson-Macarel (young Habu), Eric Herson-Macarel (old Habu), Kylian Rehlinger (Kishi), Philippe Vincent (editor in chief), Gautier Battoue (young Inoue), Jérôme Keen (old Inoue), Elisabeth Ventura (Ryoko), François Dunoyer (Ang Tsering), Luc Bernard (Ito), Marc Arnaud (Hase), Cédric Dumond (Nima); Rated PG. It has received a score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (86% from the audience), 78% on Metacritic and 7.5/10 on IMDb.
To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:
The House Atreides receives as a new fief from the Padishah EmperorShaddam Corrino IV the planet Arrakis. It was previously under the rule of their arch-enemy, the House Harkonnen, and is the only source of the most precious substance in the universe, the Spice, as it is essential to the Spacing GuildNavigators. It expands consciousness, giving them the prescience needed for interstellar travel. However, it is a poisonous gift. House Atreides has become too powerful and the Emperor seeks to destroy them. Unassuming young Paul Atreides, the only son to the Duke, must leave his beloved Caladan for the dangerous desert planet. After an assassination attempt, the betrayal of his family by the Imperial House and the invasion of his new home by the cruel Harkonnen, he must flee with his mother into the desert and seek refuge among its native population, the Fremen. Against all rules of her Order, Paul has been trained by his mother in the Bene Gesserit way which gives him an hidden advantage. Quickly, the young boy will have to become a man and step into a prophetized future…
As far as I can remember the novel, the movie seems to be faithful to the original story. It seems to be the best adaptation of the novel so far. Some aspects were changed or removed to better suit a cinematic narration but the original spirit of the book is all there. None of those changes bother me. It was quite a powerful book and the movie is even more powerful as it offer strong imagery and soundtrack. The action is good. The cast is well chosen (Zendaya as Chani is perfect!). My only complaint is… where and when is the rest of the story !!! I can’t wait for the release of the second part. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s any planning for going further than the first book… A must-see if you like great sci-fi or are a fan of the novel.
A movie with Sophia Loren based on a novel by Emile Ajar about a young troubled Nigerian boy taken in by a retired prostitute who survived the nazi dead camps. The original story was set in Paris, but for the purpose of this movie they moved it to the city of Bari in Italy. The director is the son of Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti Sr. The same story was also adapted by Moshé Mizrahi in a 1977 movie titled Madame Rosaand starringSimone Signoret. It is a beautiful but slow movie (like most European film). It is amazing that Loren can still perform so well in her eighties!
This movie gives us a romantic adaptation of the true story of the discovery of what would become the king tut of Britain… In 1939, as WW2 looms, a Suffolklandowner hires a local amateur archaeologist to investigate a series of tumuli that reveal to be an Anglo-Saxonship burial dating from the 6th or 7th century, belonging possibly to King Rædwald of East Anglia. It is now known as the ship burial of Sutton Hoo and constitute what is probably the greatest treasure ever discovered in the United Kingdom. The story is interesting because it shows that countryside archaeology is nothing simple or glamorous as it reveals all the gritty details of the endeavour. The movie is not entirely accurate as it has diminished the importance of Peggy Piggott (played by Lily James), changed the age of some characters and eliminated the people (Mercie Lack, Barbara Wagstaff and O.G.S. Crawford) who documented the dig with photography to replace them by one single fictional character, Rory Lomax, in order to simplify the story and add a romantic interest for the main character. It remains entertaining and quite educational as it teach viewers about an important discovery.
Another very good Tarantino movie, full of stars, drama, suspense and, of course, violence. We follow an has-been western actor (Rick Dalton played by DiCaprio) and his buddy stunt-double (Cliff Booth played by Pitt) as they keep criss-closing path with their neighbours, the Polanski/Tate couple, and a group of hippies. The fateful night when they all meet is approaching… Tarantino uses a couple of fictional characters to weave a complex storyline that skillfully mixes comedy with drama and tell the nostalgic story of a film industry that is about to move from its fading Golden age to a new era. It is a compelling movie that is both entertaining and edifying as it is full of interesting cultural references. And I never saw the twist of the end coming !
“Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
It has been a while since I’ve been surprised by a movie with a really original story…
A CIA agent find himself involved in a temporal war. I don’t know how much more I should say about the story without giving any spoilers… Consider yourself WARNED[just highlight to read]. People in a future earth ravaged by climate change try to save themselves by destroying their past — with a time f*ck up. Obviously they don’t believe in the Grand-Father Paradox. But another faction don’t want to take that risk and try to stop the plan. All is fought in our now…(END OF WARNING!).
It is a great movie with good action and an interesting story. The storytelling is obviously complex and I am sure that there’s holes in the storyline — you really have to pay attention — but at some point I don’t really care. I just want to be entertained and to enjoy the movie. It makes the most beautifully fascinating use of the Sator Square ! It was great and it is really worth watching.
“En Grèce, sur une île des Cyclades, un homme se souvient de la ville d’Alexandrie. Avec une mémoire d’archiviste, il raconte ce qu’il a vécu là-bas avant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Narrateur anonyme, Anglo-Irlandais entre deux âges, professeur par nécessité, il classe ses souvenirs, raconte son amour pour Justine, une jeune pianiste séduisante, un peu nymphomane et somnambule ; il évoque sa liaison avec l’émouvante Melissa, sa maîtresse phtisique. D’autres personnages se dessinent. D’abord Nessim, le mari amoureux et complaisant de Justine, Pombal, le Français, Clea, l’artiste-peintre, Balthazar, le médecin philosophe. Mais Justine, d’abord Justine, est au coeur de ce noeud serré, complexe, étrange, d’amours multiples et incertaines…
En achevant le premier tome de son fameux Quatuor d’Alexandrie (Balthazar, Mountolive et Clea succéderont à Justine et seront publiés entre 1957 et 1960), Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) en donna à son ami Henry Miller une définition devenue célèbre : “C’est une sorte de poème en prose adressé à l’une des grandes capitales du coeur, la Capitale de la mémoire…””
Un Britannique déchu, l’aspirant romancier et enseignant L.G. Darley, évoque les souvenirs d’une affaire qu’il a eu à Alexandrie avec la passionnée Justine Hosnari et par ce fait tente de s’exorciser de cet amour impossible. Justine est un roman d’atmosphère sur l’amour — l’amour d’une femme mais surtout l’amour d’une cité: Alexandrie. C’est très beau, très bien écrit mais aussi un peu ennuyant. Cela m’a pris presque deux ans à lire ces deux-cent cinquante pages, dans mes moments libres, entre d’autres livres. C’est la première partie d’une tétralogie (Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie) où chacune des parties est plus ou moins axées sur un personnage différent (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive et Cléa), offrant chaque fois une perspective différentes sur l’entourage du narrateur (L.G. Darley).
L’auteur, Lawrence Durrell, est un homme très cosmopolite qui haïssait l’Angleterre (sa société rigide et son climat). Né en Inde il a successivement habité à Corfou en Grèce, à Paris (où il a collaboré avec Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin et Alfred Perlès), à Alexandrie (où il était attaché de presse de l’ambassade Britannique), à Rhodes, en Argentine (où il travaillait pour le British Council Institute), en Yougoslavie, à Chypre (où il a été enseignant) et il s’est établi finalement dans le sud de la France. Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie a définitivement des accents autobiographiques, Durrell s’inspirant d’éléments de sa propre vie: son travail pour le gouvernement Britannique, le fait que sa première épouse s’installe à Jérusalem après leur séparation (comme Justine qui part pour un kibboutz en Palestine), et sa deuxième femme (Eve, une juive alexandrine) étant hospitalisée en Angleterre suite à une dépression, il s’installe à Chypre avec leur fille et prend un travail d’enseignant (comme le narrateur du roman). Et il a sûrement beaucoup aimé la ville d’Alexandrie… C’est là qu’il a rencontré Eve. C’est une ville cosmopolite comme lui, qui offre un complexe mélange de toutes les cultures et toutes les religions. Riches et pauvres s’y côtoient, partageant une culture tant Européenne qu’Arabe, sans trop s’offusquer des moeurs ou de la religion de chacun, qu’ils soient musulmans, juifs, orthodoxes ou chrétiens.
Justine, publié en 1957, a été écrit pendant le séjour de Durrell à Chypre (1952-56). Si il a une belle écriture et qu’il utilise une prose sensuelle et poétique, son style est plutôt expérimental pour l’époque. La narration est désarticulée, avançant et reculant au fil des souvenirs et des sentiments du personnage principal. Et comme ces flashbacks interviennent généralement sans la moindre transition, cela peut laisser le lecteur confus. Si le coeur du récit est le triangle amoureux entre le narrateur, Justine et son mari, le banquier copte Nessim, Durrell y ajoute un ensemble de personnages colorés qu’il utilise pour évoquer la beauté et la diversité de l’Alexandrie d’avant-guerre, ajouter une intrigue socio-politique et même un discours philosophique (voir mystique, au travers du groupe d’adeptes de la Cabbale qui se réunit autour de Balthazar). Toutefois, il s’en sert surtout pour donner une perspective multiple au récit (un peu comme dans le film Rashōmon). C’est aussi en quelque sorte un concept dickien, puisqu’il explore comment notre perception de la réalité est somme toute relative…
“Nous cherchons tous des motifs rationnels de croire à l’absurde. (…) après tous les ouvrages des philosophes sur son âme et des docteurs sur son corps, que pouvons-nous affirmer que nous sachions réellement sur l’Homme? Qu’il est, en fin de compte, qu’un passage pour les liquides et les solides, un tuyau de chair.”
— Lawrence Durrell, Justine (Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie, Le livre de Poche, p. 93) [une réflexion qui rappelle beaucoup Marcus Aurelius dans ses Pensées pour moi-même]
Cette complexité stylistique fait de ce roman, paradoxalement, à la fois un texte attrayant qui captive par sa beauté (au point qu’on en continue la lecture parfois sans même porter attention au récit) et une lecture difficile, voir même par moment désagréable. Je ne sais trop si c’est parce que j’ai lu ce roman par petits bouts, ou parce que j’ai changé plusieurs fois de la version originale à la traduction française (selon la disponibilité du document) mais l’écriture de Durrell m’est apparu compliquée et même parfois difficile à déchiffrer. Il me fallait souvent relire un paragraphe plus d’une fois pour en saisir le sens — certaines phrases échappant totalement à ma compréhension! C’est la version originale qui m’a donné le plus de fil à retordre. Est-ce dû à mon niveau de lecture de la langue de Shakespeare (que je croyais pourtant excellente) ou est-ce que le traducteur français en a poli le texte plus qu’il n’aurait dû en arrondissant certains angles du style de Durrell? Ou alors c’est simplement le style désarticulée de Durrell qui est très demandant. Étrangement, pour passer le temps au travail, j’ai commencé à lire le second tome, Balthazar. Je le lis par curiosité sans avoir vraiment l’intension de le terminer. Chose surprenante, je trouve cette lecture plus facile et plus agréable. Sans vraiment parler d’ “action”, l’histoire progresse plus rapidement et est moins “atmosphérique.” Avec la seconde partie, l’auteur a probablement trouvé son rythme… On verra si j’en continue la lecture…
D’une certaine façon ce roman m’a plus intéressé pour ce qu’il reflétait de la vie de son auteur que pour son récit lui-même. Durrell est un auteur réputé (qui a même été considéré pour un prix Nobel de littérature) et Justine (en fait, l’ensemble de la tétralogie) est considéré comme son chef-d’oeuvre, se plaçant soixante-dixième parmi les cents meilleurs romans de langue anglaise du vingtième siècle. Alors, même si mon impression est plutôt mitigé parce que j’en ai trouvé la lecture difficile, je crois que c’est tout de même un beau roman, profond, qui mérite d’être lu.
Le Quatuor d’Alexandrie (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea) par Lawrence Durrell (Traduction parRoger Giroux). Paris: Livre de Poche (Coll. Classiques modernes / Pochothèque), octobre 1992. 1056 pages, 25,00 € / $44.95 Can., ISBN 978-2-330-07074-8. Pour lectorat jeune adulte (16+).
Quelle ne fut pas ma surprise de découvrir que la tétralogie a été adapté en un film hollywoodien à la fin des année soixante ! Il est décrit comme “Les amours d’un jeune Anglais à Alexandrie à la fin des années 1930 avec une prostituée et la femme d’un riche banquier qui complote contre les Anglais” (Wikipedia).
Le film me semble relativement fidèle au roman. Bien sûr certaines scènes ont été changées et, comme je n’ai lu que le premier quart de la tétralogie, je ne peut pas juger du reste. Je me demande cependant si la partie avec le traffic d’arme et le fait que Darley a été manipulé par Justine a été ajouté pour le film ou si c’est simplement dans la partie du roman que je n’ai pas lu. Si cela représente bien reste de l’histoire, je suis intrigué et peut-être continuerai-je à le lire… Le roman se lit peut être comme un oignon et, avec chaque nouvelle partie, Darley découvre sans doute des vérités de plus en plus profondes sur Justine…
Le film offre une narration bien évidemment linéaire avec juste les éléments essentiels de l’intrigue. Vu de cette façon les personnages sont étrangement bidimentionnels. Est-ce que cela fait du sens pour celui qui n’a pas lu le roman? Et le film nous présente une Alexandrie qui semble plus perverse que belle…
Malheureusement, malgré un casting rempli d’acteurs connus, le film fut un échec total puisqu’il ne rapporta qu’un peu plus de deux millions de dollars au Box Office (alors qu’il en a coûté presque huit à produire).Il semble aussi qu’il ait fait piètre impression sur l’audience qui ne lui a donné une cote que 5.6 / 10 sur IMBd et 36% sur Rotten Tomatoes.
Toutefois, ce qui est vraiment intéressant (et amusant) dans cette expérience de lecture, c’est ce qui m’a fait découvrir Lawrence Durrell — et toute sa famille. Car, à une exception près, ce sont tous des auteurs publiés que j’ai découvert en regardant sur PBS la série télé de la ITV Les Durrells à Corfou(The Durrells). Cette série télé de vingt-six épisodes relate les mésaventures (parfois loufoques) de la famille durant un séjour de quatre ans (1935–1939) sur l’île grecque de Corfou.
À la mort de son époux à Dalhousie, en Inde, en 1928, Louisa Durrell décide de déménager sa famille en Angleterre, à Bournemouth (Dorset), en 1932. Mais la famille y est misérable et à l’instigation de l’aîné — Lawrence (Larry), qui suggère qu’un climat tempéré serait plus agréable — elle déménage à nouveau à Corfou en 1935. Lawrence, vingt-trois ans et écrivain en herbe, s’y rend en premier avec son épouse Nancy Myers. Louisa l’y rejoint avec le reste de la famille: Leslie (dix-huit ans, dont l’intérêt se limite à la chasse et aux armes à feux), Margaret (Margo, seize ans et égocentrique, qui s’intéresse surtout aux garçons) et le cadet Gerald (Gerry, dix ans, qui ne s’intéresse qu’aux animaux). Ils seront aidé dans leur aventures par le chauffeur de taxi exubérant Spýros Hakaiópoulos et le médecin, naturaliste et traducteur Theódoros (Théo) Stefanídis. Chose amusante, si Lawrence parle de son séjour à Corfou dans son livre Prospero’s Cell, il y mentionne à peine la présence de sa famille. À l’opposé, Gerry, dans sa Trilogie de Corfou, ne mentionne jamais la présence de Nancy, la femme de Lawrence, ce qui fait qu’elle n’apparait pas dans la série télé… Avec le début de la deuxième guerre mondiale et l’invasion imminente de la Grèce par les Allemands, la famille retourne en Angleterre en 1939. Lawrence et Nancy, quant à eux, fuient à Alexandrie en 1941.
La série télé est très amusante et divertissante. Je la recommande chaudement.
En plus de l’oeuvre prolifique de Lawrence Durrell (dont Citrons acides qui relate son séjour à Chypre), son frère Gerald a écrit plusieurs ouvrage sur son travail de naturaliste et de conservationniste (il a pour ainsi dire réinventé le concept moderne du zoo) mais il est surtout connu pour sa “Trilogie de Corfou” (Ma famille et autres animauxpublié en 1956 [Nelligan], Oiseaux, bêtes et grande personnes publié en 1969 et Le jardin des dieux publié en 1978) qui relate avec beaucoup d’humour le séjour de la famille en Grèce et a inspiré la série télé.Même sa soeur Margaret a écrit un livre sur la pension de famille qu’elle a tenu à Bournemouth après le retour de Grèce, intitulé Whatever happened to Margo? [Nelligan], écrit dans les années ’60 et publié par sa petite-fille en 1995 (qui a retrouvé le manuscrit dans le grenier). Je vais m’efforcer de lire quelques uns de ces ouvrages et de les commenter plus tard…
À noter aussi que le 11 mars 1968 Lawrence Durrell a été interviewé à Radio-Canada sur l’émission Le Sel de la Semaine, animée par Fernand Seguin. L’entrevue est disponible sur les archives de Radio-Canada, sur Youtube et sur DVD [Nelligan]. On la décrit ainsi: “Lors de son passage au «Sel de la semaine», l’écrivain dévoile la source de son inspiration pour son chef-d’oeuvre [«Quatuor d’Alexandrie»]. L’animateur le questionne d’abord sur son parcours inusité, sur son enfance, sa carrière diplomatique, sa discipline d’écriture, ses rencontres, entre autres sa rencontre déterminante avec l’Américain Henry Miller”. C’est fort intéressant d’entendre l’auteur lui-même parler de sa vie et de son oeuvre.
“World War IV is over, but a bomb has gone off in Newport City, killing a major arms dealer who may have ties with the mysterious 501 Organization.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]
In the first episode (June 2013, 58 min.), we discover the Major when she is still in the military. As she comes back to Japan, she must do an investigation on the possible corruption of her deceased superior officer as well as on his murder. She discover that she is much more involved that she would have thought. In the course of her investigation, she encounters Aramaki, who offers her a job as consultant. This episode, as well as the whole series, offer us the origin story of the Major and the Section 9. It is quite an interesting story and the animation is pretty good (not as much as the movies, of course).
GITS Arise 2: Ghost Whisperers
“Freed of her responsibilities for the 501 Organization, Motoko must now learn how to take orders from Aramaki.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]
In the second episode (November 2013, 56 min.), we find again a story where the military are being scapegoated and seek revenge for it — but they are actually being manipulated. The Major is told to assemble a team but it might be hard to chose the members… As always, it is a nice cyberpunk story with great animation.
GITS Arise 3: Ghost Tears
“As Motoko and Batou attempt to thwart a mysterious terrorist group, Togusa tracks the killer of a man with a prosthetic leg made by Mermaid’s Leg.” [Text from Netflix, see also the Japanese trailer]
In the third episode (June 2014, 58 min.), the Major has assembled a team composed of her recent “adversaries”, but they are still just a bunch of mercenaries working for Section 9. And she is still missing a member to fit with Aramaki’s requirement. This a story of foreign terrorists using technology to move their ideology forward. The Logicoma (a bigger and less advanced version of the Tachicoma) are interacting more with the team. The theme of artificial intelligence is, as always, omnipresent.
This series (and this episode in particular) shows us a more personal side of the Major as she has a boyfriend. She is shown as being more vulnerable as she is getting often infected by viruses. Both in episodes one and three, she gets personally involved with the subject of her investigation. Also, having a personal relationship is a weakness that enemies can exploit. I guess, with time, she will learn from her mistake and become the more hardened, distant and cold Motoko that we know in the rest of the franchise. Your real enemy is often closer than you might think… This is a really interesting story with good animation. It is certainly a must-see for all Ghost in the Shell fans.
Strangely, this OVA series has five episodes but Netflix has beenstreaming only three of them — go figure why. The two other episodes are “Ghost Stands Alone” (September 2014, see Japanese trailer) and “Pyrophoric Cult” (August 2015, see Japanese trailer). The series was also adapted into a TV series (titled GITS: Arise – Alternative Architecture) and completed by a movie (GITS: Arise – The New Movie, which concludes the plot of episode 5) and a manga (GITS: Arise ~Sleepless Eye~ which was published in Monthly Young Magazine between April 2013 and June 2016, was compiled in seven volumes and tells how Batou and the Major met during the civil war).
I suspect the series was titled “Arise” because it is about the origin story of both the Major and Section 9. All in all, it is a good cyberpunk story, compelling storytelling, full of socio-political background typical of the rest of the franchise. It is well worth watching if you are either an anime fan or a cyberpunk aficionado.
Ghost in the Shell: Arise (攻殻機動隊 ARISE / Kōkaku Kidōtai Araizu / Mobile Armored Riot Police: Arise): Japan, 2013-2015, OVA anime, 5 x 50 min.; Dir. / Char. Des.: Kazuchika Kise; Scr.: Tow Ubukata; Music: Cornelius; Studio: Production I.G. Cast: Maaya Sakamoto / Elizabeth Maxwell (Major Motoko Kusanagi), Ikyuu Jyuku / John Swasey (Aramaki), Kenichiro Matsuda / Christopher Sabat (Batou), Yoji Ueda / Jason Douglas (Paz), Tarusuke Shingaki / Alex Organ (Togusa), Takuro Nakakuni / Marcus Stimac (Saito), Mayumi Asano / Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Kurutsu), Atsushi Miyauchi / Brian Mathis (Mamuro), Masahiro Mamiya / Chris Rager (Ibachi), Kenji Nojima / Eric Vale (Tsumugi), Takanori Hoshino / David Wald (Raizo), Miyuki Sawashiro / Jad Saxton (Logicoma).
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Spring is not just the time to do some maintenance around the house. It’s a good time to do it for the blog too. I haven’t updated the Bibliography and indexes of Book reviews as well as Movie & TV series reviews in over a year! It’s a lot of work but it helps the readers to find their way around the blog.
It’s also a good time to look back at statistics. In those fifteen months I have posted 417 posts (an average of 27.8 per month) and received 7068 visitors (an average of 471.2 per month). This includes about 90 book reviews and 45 movie & TV series reviews — that’s a good ratio 2/1 of books vs media reviews! Overall, since its beginning in late 2017, this blog has produced 1041 posts and has received 24,110 views, 11,655 visitors and 141 followers. It’s good as the blog is getting better, but those numbers are no where near the stats I was getting with my previous hosting service. I don’t know what WordPress is doing, but it’s doesn’t reach as many people. I guess I’ll have to pay more to get more exposure…
In this list, I have left out the blog entries that were mostly pictures or short reflection — it’s worth mentioning if it’s over fifty words. Check it out after the jump >>
“When sustainable war spawns a “post-human” threat, Major Kusanagi and her Section 9 team are called back into action.
In the year 2045, after an economic disaster known as the Synchronized Global Default, rapid developments in AI propelled the world to enter a state of “Sustainable War”. However, the public is not aware of the threat that AI has towards the human race.
Full-body cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her second-in-command Batou are former members of Public Security Section 9, who are now hired mercenaries traveling hot devastated American west coast. This land is full of opportunity for the major and her team, they utilize their enhanced cyberbrains and combat skills from their time working in Section 9. However, things get complicated with the emergence of “post humans,” who have extreme intelligence and physical powers. The members of Section 9 comeback together again in order to face this new threat.”
At the end of the Stand Alone Complex TV series, Section 9 is disbanded. In this series, the team has become a mercenary unit named GHOST that operated outside Japan (mostly in the United States) for the last six years. The only former member that didn’t joined GHOST was Togusa. He hesitated because of his family and later regretted the decision. He eventually divorced and found a job at a private security company. The Prime Minister asks Aramaki to reform Section 9 and Togusa is put in charge of locating his former colleagues.
After a failed mission where they were defending a one-percenter against the attack of a group of outlaws, the GHOST team is kidnapped by the NSA who want to use them in a mission to capture Patrick Huge, the rich owner of a tech company. The target reveals itself as a formidable opponent that can anticipate their move and even hack their cyberbrains. As the Major is about to be taken over, Saito terminate Huge. Smith is furious because he wanted him taken alive in order to study him. He explains that Huge was what the NSA calls a “Post-Human.” So far, humans have improved themselves with cyberbrains and cyber-implants. However, the post-humans are the opposite: A.I. which somehow have succeeded in taking over the brain of humans and therefore represent an unprecedented threat to humanity. Unfortunately, Smith consider the GHOST team as a liability and want to eliminate them. He is stopped by Aramaki who arrives in extremis with new orders from the American President. The new Section 9 mission will be to hunt post-humans.
It’s episode 8 and the real story finally begins. The team is back in Japan after six years (Batou came back a few days earlier but got entangled in a bank robbery). There are three post-humans that have been identified in Japan. One is an ex-boxer who seems to have a grudge against corrupt politicians. He kills the Prime Minister’s father-in-law and then goes after Teito himself but stops short of killing him (maybe he felt that he was a good man?). The next post-humans to be identified is a teenager that wrote a program creating mob justice. As they are investigating his story, Togusa get infected by some of his code and disappears! Will he becomes a post-human too? To be continued… in the second season (another twelve episodes, directed this time by Shinji Aramaki, but no release date has been announced yet).
>> End of Warning <<
I’ve mentioned this series recently and was eager to have a look — although I was sure that I would totally dislike its 3D animation. Yes, a few aspects of the CGI are quite awkward — the movements of the characters seem sometimes odd despite that fact that it’s motion capture animation and some character’s hair, mostly Aramaki’s and Tokusa’s — but the 3D quickly grow on you and you eventually even forget that it’s there as you focus on the action and the story. The character designs (by a Russian artist) are faithful and pleasant (the Major sure looks like a doll!) and the storytelling is excellent: well paced and captivating. My favourite part is that, as usual with Ghost in the Shell, the cyberpunk background world (socio-political setting, technology, etc.) is quite superb.
Interestingly, the story seems inspired by the work of transhumanistRay Kurzweils, who predicted that the A.I.singularity would occur in 2045. One element of the story that differ from the previous series, which are generally nippo-centric, is that the first half is set in the United States (which has experience some sort of civil war again). Also, when I watched the series on Netflix, no dubbed version was available yet because the coronavirus lock-down has delayed production (I am more of a subtitles guy anyway).
So far, this new Stand Alone Complex series seems not much appreciated by the critics, considering the very average ratings that it is receiving (6.0 on IMDb, 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, and C+ on ANN). Anime fans are probably irked by the 3D animation. Too bad for them. It is an excellent anime, well worth watching. It is entertaining, an appropriate continuation of the franchise and, despite my initial misgivings, quite beautiful. A must see for any anime, cyberpunk or Ghost in the Shellfans.
“Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. Four lifelong friends’ lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.”
Four friends of a certain age are meeting regularly for their book club. As they feel they are stuck in their life, they will find the courage to go beyond their confort zone and try new experiences after reading Fifty Shades of Grey ! It is the proof that books can change your life !
Like most rom-com the story is very simple, but quite funny and mostly dialogue-based. The acting is excellent (which is to be expected considering its strong cast), the storytelling is well knit — although it doesn’t offer many surprises. It was very successful at the box office (making about seven times its initial budget) despite very average ratings from the critics (6.1 on IMDb, 54% / 52% on Rotten Tomatoes and 53% on Metacritic). All in all, it is very entertaining. It’s a good movie to forget all your troubles for a moment.
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“After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression.”
It takes the British to produced an interesting bio-pic about the iconic French writer Colette! The movie is very simply made (the budget must have been small) but the sets are very nice and authentic (it was filmed in Budapest). The acting is also quite superb particularly for Keira Knightley. Like all biographical work it is certainly dramatized but it seems quite faithful to the highlight of Colette’s life. The movie focuses mainly on the period when Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (played by Knightley) was married to Henry Gauthier-Villars (aka “Willy”, played by Dominic West), the writing of the Claudine novels and her lesbian affairs, first with American socialite Georgie Raoul-Duval (played by Eleanor Tomlinson, of Poldark fame — although her attempt at an American accent is rather disappointing) and then with the aristocrat Mathilde de Morny (aka “Missy”, played by Denise Gough) — which could be considered the French Gentleman Jack. The movie ends as she separates from Willy, after his Claudine betrayal, and finally starts her prolific solo career as a writer.
Colette offers a very good cinematic experience: it is beautiful, interesting and entertaining all at once and it makes you discover who Colette really was if, like me, you don’t know much about French literature. The movie seems to have gone relatively unnoticed (small box-office of$14.6 millions) despite a rather good critical reception (ratings of 6.7 on IMDb, 87% / 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and of 74 % on Metacritic). However, it is definitely worth watching (and it is currently streaming on Netflix).
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