Fantasia 2018


The 22nd edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival will be held in Montreal from July 12th to August 2nd 2018. It specializes in animated and live-action genre cinema (fantasy, horror, action, science-fiction, etc.), but mostly horror and asian action movies. It will open with Daniel Roby’s “Dans la brume” (a Canada-France co-production). As usual, the festival will be offering “over 125 features and 220 shorts, featuring the premieres of more than 100 cutting-edge visions from across the world.”

The asian movies line-up (our main interest here) includes eight movies from China (six from Hong Kong), twenty-four from South-Korea, one from Vietnam and, of course, twenty-eight from Japan (including six anime). Here’s the list of Japanese movies:



It is interesting to note that a large majority of those movies are manga or novel adaptations. I am particularly interested in seeing The Travelling Cat Chronicles and Tremble All You Want — unfortunately I don’t have time to attend the festival… Check the festival website for more details (description, cast & crew info, schedule, location, etc).

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Customer service is dead!

It seems that wherever we go these days companies don’t care about customer service. Either they have a quasi monopole and it’s irrelevant or, despite a competitive environment, nobody seems to pay attention to the need or satisfaction of the customer. It must be really bad in my area — or I am a VERY unlucky customer — because I keep having those horrible experiences with customer service.

Beside the notoriously bad customer service of telecom companies like Bell (about which I have talked many times — their Fibe TV is superb but their wi-fi is quite shitty and their tech service doesn’t seem to care — unless they can sell you extra service or device that supposedly would improve the situation) I can easily mention three or four companies that gave me bad service just in the last couple of weeks!

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Does that ring a bell?

Bell offers a notoriously bad service to its customers. In fact, as I mentioned recently, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services  tells us that 32% of all complaints from Canadian consumers are related to Bell! I experienced this personally numerous times (I once had five services with them [phone, cellphone, internet, web hosting and satellite TV] and cancelled it all because of a really bad customer service!). Recently, after switching internet & TV service from Videotron to Bell, my VoIP phone from a third party stopped working properly and, when I called Bell technical service, I was told that they didn’t support VoIP phone and that if I wanted a good phone service I should use theirs! Also, as soon as I started using their wi-fi, half my numerous devices using internet (computers, iPhone, iPad, VoIP phone, thermostat, WeMo Insight & Switch, Philips Hue lights, printer, garage door opener, security cameras, etc. — I have over twenty different devices requiring wi-fi!) wouldn’t connect properly through their WPS and it took me a long time to figure a way to have everything working in a decent and almost stable way (using a combination of DMZ and MAC filtering — as well as using my sister’s Videotron‘s wi-fi!). Clearly, this bad service thing is not a myth… At least it has a ring of truth, but I am sure many other people can confirm that.

I always wondered how come that a company with such a bad reputation would, first, manage to stay in business and, second, never make any attempt to improve either their service or reputation. This week, I just figured it all: why improve your crappy service when you can just charge your customers for an improved premium service ?!

For instance, if you are not satisfied with the crappy-almost-inexistant technical service, you can simply subscribe to their “Bell Tech Expert” service for only $6.00 per month! There’s no incentive for them to offer a good service if they are making money with the premium service option!

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 20.04.03Or, if you find their crappy, unstable wi-fi service unbearable, you can simply subscribe to their “Whole Home Wi-Fi” service that uses a network of pods plugins that works with the Home Hub 3000 to strengthen and optimize the wi-fi! Only for $5.00 per month extra!

Some people will put up with the crappy service and some will pay up for the extra (real) service. You subscribe to Bell because (you think) they offer more than the competitor for a much cheaper price, but you end up paying more anyway for what should be standard service…

Quite annoying!

Unfortunately, I could never go back to Videotron’s TV service because Bell’s system is really amazing. It’s only their wi-fi (and customer service) that’s totally crap. Unfortunately, this makes their offers of Wi-Fi pods very tempting…

But at least, now, the Bell’s secret is out of the bag!

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Discovery: Mujin

Mujin_1I read mostly manga and I am particularly interested in historical manga. Every now and then I discover a new one. Earlier this week, Imagine-nation — a TV show airing on NHK World and dedicated to Japanese pop culture — talked about the manga series Mujin by Tetuzoh Okadaya. The show first aired on Monday December 11 and will be available for streaming until December 19.

Tetuzoh Okadaya is a former doujin writer who publish regularly in Hakusensha‘s Hanamaru. She seems to specialize in boys love manga but has also dabbled in period drama. Her first manga, Tango no Otoko, has been translated in English (available as The Man of Tango from SuBLime, a yaoi / boys love publisher formed by the partnership between Viz and Animate). You can find more details about her on Baka Updates, Goodreads, Wikipedia and her official web page.

Mujin_v4p6Mujin (無尽 / むじん / lit. “ending” or “expiring”) is a historical manga set in the Bakumatsu period (late Edo period). It tells the story of real-life swordsman Hachiro Iba (1844-1869). He was a bakushin (Shogun’s personal guard) who lost his left arm in the Boshin war and became later the head of the “Yugekitai” (guerilla corps). He was a master of the Shingyōtō-ryū style and died at the battle of Hakodate. Not much is known about him (although he was famously illustrated by Yoshitoshi) so it leaves Tetuzoh Okadaya some freedom to develop her fictitious story around the character. Many manga are set in this fascinating period (Blade of the immortal, Hidamari no ki, Lone wolf and cub, Nobunaga Concerto, Nobunaga no chef, Ooku: The inner chamber, Rurouni Kenshin, Shigurui, Vagabond, etc.) but, unfortunately, this one is not available in English. Nonetheless, it seems quite interesting. (You can find more details on the manga on the Google-translated version of Wikipedia).

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Astérix et la Transitalique

Asterix_et_la_transitalique-cov“Célèbres pour leurs nombreux voyages à travers le Monde Connu, Astérix et Obélix vont cette fois découvrir les nombreux peuples de la péninsule italienne : les Italiques !

En effet, si Astérix et Obélix ont plusieurs fois arpenté les rues de Rome, ils vont pour la 1e fois découvrir que les habitants de l’Italie ne sont pas tous des Romains, n’en déplaise à Obélix ! Les multiples régions de la péninsule sont au contraire habitées par une grande diversité de peuples qui tiennent à préserver leur indépendance, et voient d’un mauvais oeil les velléités de domination de Jules César et ses légions.

Pour Astérix et Obélix, s’engage dans Astérix et la Transitalique une grande aventure aux confins de la péninsule, à la découverte d’une Italie telle que vous ne l’avez jamais vue !”  (Texte du site de l’éditeur)

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Image du mer-fleurie

Fleur mystère / Mystery flower
Mystery flower    Mystery flower (detail)
(iPhone 8+, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2017-10-15)

(iPhone 8+, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2017-10-22)

Est-ce que quelqu’un sait quelle est cette fleur?

Anyone knows what is this flower ?

Ishiguro gets Nobel Prize in literature !

British writer Kazuo Ishiguro (mostly known for his books The remains of the day [1989] and Never let me go [2005], which were both adapted into movies) has received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. The award was announced on October 5th. Sara Danius, the secretary of the Swedish Academy, said that his novels showed “great emotional force” as he was uncovering “the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” She also described his style as a “mix of Jane Austen, comedy of manners and Franz Kafka.” His recurrent themes seem to be identity, memory, time and self-delusion.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 but moved to Surrey, England, at age five because of his father’s work as an oceanographer for the NOCS. He always stayed close to his Japanese roots because, until age fifteen, he had planned to go back to Japan but, instead, his family decided to settle in England (he received British citizenship in 1982). He graduated from UKC in English and Philosophy in 1978 and received a Master in creative writing from UEA in 1980.  Before starting his writing career in 1982, he wanted to be a musician and worked as a social worker. Strangely, his life background and relationship with Japan is very similar with Belgian author Amélie Nothomb and their writings share some themes.

To celebrate Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize, NHK World re-broadcasted a two-part special where the writer gives a lecture about his work. Originally broadcasted on October 22nd and November 5th 2016, the show is titled “First Class [in literature], Kazuo Ishiguro: My Secret of Writing” and is still available for streaming until October 25th, 2017 [Part 1 and Part 2]. It is also partly available on Youtube [in English and in Japanese]. It is very interesting and well worth watching.

Sources: BBC, Le Devoir, Goodreads, HazLitt, Japan Times, NHK World, Wikipedia.

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