FFM 2018: Wrap-up

FFM2018-banner2

It has been a good festival this year.

There was no scuffle to get the credentials, no problem with the schedule or screenings and an excellent selection of titles. 

Of course, it could be better. Apparently they brought back the Movie Market (and the press room?). I heard it was on the third floor of the Imperial, but couldn’t find how to get to it… In the past, they were always the practical places to access press information and to be able to screen video on our own schedule. However, what I really miss is the press conferences where we could have direct access to the film crew and cast of the movies in competition. Beside that, for me, the festival is already all I needs it to be.

As long as there’s good movies to watch, people should be happy. At least, as long as there’s Japanese movies, I’ll be happy. Although, come to think of it, the festival deserves a bigger audience. In the past, I used to see lots of people from the local Japanese community, but I saw very few of them this year. Most of the movie I’ve screened this year had barely an audience of a dozen people! Of course, there was absolutely no advertising this year and very little media coverage, so it certainly didn’t helped. And the last couple of years have had a fair share of scheduling and screening problems which might also have discouraged people from attending this year. If there is a festival next year (the same question come back every year lately), this really must be improved.

Another needed improvement, beside more advertising, would be more screens. The festival could use at least a couple more rooms of the Quartier Latin (if not the entire floor like in the good old years). However, for that to happen, the festival would need more budget. Not to put on lavish parties, but to make sure that all the movies can be screened at least a couple of times. Why not giving the festival a chance and give it again at least some subsidies?

The festival certainly has its share of detractors. People who don’t think it can improve or who want to see something else in its stead. Strangely, most of the criticism seems to come from the anglophone community (for example, the articles in The Gazette appears to be quite hostile). However, I don’t think that the majority of people in or around the local movie industry want the festival to continue in its downward spiral of death. But we don’t want a glamorous festival like Cannes or Toronto either (yeah, it’s nice to see Brad Pitt or the latest blockbuster with its load of stars, but what’s the use if that movie is gonna by in all theatres two weeks later?). Personally, I want a festival where I can see movies I couldn’t see anywhere else. Movies from all around the world. A festival that gives their chances to young or unknown directors, to small productions. A festival that doesn’t exclude stars, but that is not built around them. That’s what the festival was in the past and I think this formula can still works. There is no other festival like this one. And we can still mend its wounds. We must. Of course, every parties will need to water down its position a little. The government (local, provincial or federal) must look past previous disagreements and accept to provide a little help. And Losique needs to let go of his creation and prepare some sort of succession. Pass on the mantle while still remaining in the background to provide his knowledge and wisdom. If he doesn’t do that, the festival will surely die with him… We’ve seen a little improvement this year, so let’s hope it can continue in that direction…

All in all, this year, I’ve succeeded to watch five of the eight Japanese movies. I am pretty happy with this score. The selection included a great variety: a samurai movie, a docudrama-style movie, a comedy, a yakuza movie and a biopic — I wish I could have added to my score card the documentary, the action movie and the scary co-production!  And almost all the titles I’ve seen were good movies — save one which was a disappointment. Beside this last entry, I was able to write seven articles (including five movie comments) about the festival (which represents more articles than La Presse, Le Devoir or The Gazette each wrote about the FFM !).

Please read our other articles on the festival:

Your can also check the review of the Japanese movies at the FFM by Claude R. Blouin (in French: “FFM 2018: Cinq témoins japonais de la condition humaine” on Shomingeki.org)

[ Traduire ]

The festival’s awards:

Continue reading

Electoral conundrum

On October 1st the population of Quebec will have to vote to put their favourite candidates in the National Assembly. I find myself in quite an electoral conundrum since the lack of leadership makes it impossible to find anyone worth of my support. Every party has good ideas, but also so many stupid ones. I began this reflection when my union started a campaign advocating not voting for either the Liberals or the CAQ because “they are all the same” and that “we deserve better”… But if not them, who?

Continue reading

Zone Out

Zone OutKindergarten teacher, Chinatsu is always in a state of stress. And it is at this moment that a pupil of her class is murdered. Totally distraught, Chinatsu begins to sink into a world of illusion that she can not control. (FFM)

I don’t know what they have put in the water of that city but all the characters in this movie offer a whole catalog of mental illness: Chinatsu, a kindergarten teacher, cracks under the pressure brought by all those helicopter parents and develops schizophrenia; her acupuncture doctor, Yuichi, suffers from Capgras syndrome; Naoto, a salesman bullied by his seniors, has nomophobia; Akamatsu, the convenience store clerk, suffers from Asperger; Mitsuki, Haruka’s mother, suffer from Munchausen syndrome, etc. I guess it was the purpose of the director to show with this docudrama-style movie what it is to have such illness and how difficult it can be for the families.

It is a very dark movie and the end result is, unfortunately, barely average. The storytelling is awkward and not particularly skillful, the photography feels amateurish and the acting is so-so — although, the main actress is very charming and switching the actors who plays the two Yuichi toward the end of the movie in order to unexpectedly show the schizophrenia of Chinatsu is, I must say, quite brilliant. Also, the movie is really not well served by the poor translation (in the subtitles). When I noticed two typos in the very first sentence of the movie, I knew that this would spell trouble! (unless they made it on purpose to make us feel crazy!) If it was not already obvious with the production quality, the horrible translation really smelled of tiny budget…

Finally, to really give a last pathetic impression, the absence of a translator for the Q&A at the end of the presentation (due to the minimalistic ressources of the festival this year — what? they couldn’t even find a volunteer to take up the task?) left the poor director and main actress at the mercy of their basic English language skills and made for such a laughable exchange that you could only feel sorry for them. 

However, undertaking such a difficult and serious subject requires some strength. I understand what the director was trying to achieve and I greatly appreciate his efforts (for that I give him extra points!). In a society that was repressed for so long, where you find a real epidemic of bullying (both at school and at the work place, including sexual harassment) and where an aging population is plagued by various forms of dementia, it is really not surprising to find that mental illness has become a great challenge in Japan today. Kudos to the director for trying to bring attention to this problem.

Zone Out / Regarder dans le vide (アウトゾーン / Out Zone): Japan, 2017, 115 mins; Dir.: Hiroshi Kanno; Scr.: Mari Takanashi; Phot.: Makoto Hayashi; Ed.: Aya Mitsuaka; Light.: Sousuke Yoshikado; Sound: Kazuyuki Tutiya; Mus.: Magumi Masui; Cast: Minami Matsunaka (Chinatsu), Masato Oki (Yuichi Akino), Kyoko Toyama (Kyoko), Gen Kuwayama (Naoto), Yusuke Ueda (Akamatsu), Yusuke Sugiyama (Yuichi Kagawa), Ben Hori (Hisashi Aoyama).

Screened at the Cinema Imperial (Sat. 8/25 at 16:30) as part of the “World Great” program (out of competition) of the 42nd Montreal World Film Festival. stars-2-0

[ IMDb ]

[ Traduire ]

Japanese movies at the FFM 2018

FFM2018-banner

FFM2018-posterThe 42nd Montreal World Film Festival will be held from August 23rd to September 3rd 2018. So far there is only seven eight Japanese films listed in the line-up. We will add more details as they are available.

Of course, the festival has had financial troubles for sometime and run on a very minimal staff, so we shouldn’t expect a smooth operation. It will certainly not be better than last year. But the most important part of the festival is that there is movies to watch. This year it will be the nineteenth year that we are covering this movie festival and we hope that it will recover from this difficult period and prosper for many years to come.

The schedule for the Cinema Imperial (CI) is now available (2018/08/22). And the schedule for the Cinéma Quartier Latin (QL) is now also available (2018/08/23). As for previous years, the closing film will be a mystery title to be screened for free at the Cinema Imperial Monday September 3rd at 18:30. 

The FFM just announced the awards for the 42nd Montreal’s World Film Festival and for the 49th Student Film Festival (2018/09/03).

Two Japanese movies won an award: Samurai’s Promise by Daisaku Kimura won for the Special Grand Prix of the Jury (Ex-aequo) and Hiroshi Tachi won the Best Actor award for his role in Life in overtime by Hideo Nakata.

Please, read our comments on the festival:

 

[ Traduire ]

Here is the Japanese movies line-up (after the jump) :

Continue reading

Fantasia 2018

fantasia2018

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:

Anime

Live-Action

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).

Update: You can read a comment (in French) by Claude R. Blouin on some of those movies, “Sept fantaisies japonaises au festival Fantasia 2018” (Shomingeki)

[ Traduire ]

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!

Continue reading

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!

[ Traduire ]