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 ]

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FFM 2018 Day 1

FFM2018-banner2

Red carpet and Opening ceremony

This year the Festival des Films du Monde (FFM or MWFF, Montreal World Film Festival) strangely seems slightly more organized (at least for the accreditation) than the previous couples of years. They are probably getting used to extreme austerity and benefits from plenty of movie aficionado volunteers. Also, there’s more Japanese movies than last year (but still less than the usual dozen). Unfortunately, since there are only four screens (Cinéma Impérial and Quartier Latin 10, 12 & 13) to show ALL movies, they are shown only once (twice for the titles in competition) and mostly in the afternoon — which is not compatible with my own schedule, so I’ll probably end up viewing only half of the Japanese movies. Too bad, but that’s better than nothing!

However, I was happy that the title selected as opening film was one of the Japanese movies: Samurai’s Promise. No one from the cast or crew was present for the opening ceremony, although there was plenty of actors & actresses from other Japanese and Chinese movies (as well as local dignitaries) parading on the red carpet.

Red carpet photo gallery

 

The only speech was given by the president of the festival, Serge Losique. He seemed tired, but still defiant (although slightly apologetic):

“The festival is a great cathedral open to all. Our role was not to imitate whoever but to be ourselves, to be authentic. (…) Our role was also to helped small unknown countries, like Cape Verde or Sri Lanka [to promote their films]. All we want is for the public, and the journalists, to appreciate the films.”

He continues saying he doesn’t want the glamour of the other festivals but only to showcase the diversity of the world cinema. That’s why it is the “Festival des Films du Monde” [also a word-play in French meaning the festival of the people]. People are asking for stars, he says, but the stars here are the films. He also argues that the directors and actors who come to Montreal are stars in their own countries, and many more have been discovered here, at the festival, and are now stars! [I might add that I’ve seen plenty of great stars at the FFM over the years: Catherine Deneuve, Sofia Loren, Jackie Chan, Robert de Niro, Tony Curtis, Mamoru Oshii, etc.]

He also announces the new policy for the festival to chose as president of the jury a director that has previously won the Grand Prix of the Americas. Also the jury members will not necessarily be present at the festival but will screen the titles in competition via video link (although the president of the jury will always be present in Montreal). He introduces the members of this year’s jury (critic Élie Castiel, Pierre-Henri Deleau, an executive from China Film Group Corporation and another jury whose name will be revealed at the end of the festival) as well as its president, Silvio Caiozzi [Chilean director, winner of last year’s Grand Prix des Amériques], who also said a few words:

“From the beginning this festival always chose nothing but films of cinematographic excellence. Nowadays, I can feel that around the world somehow (…) [in the movie industry] the true quality of films is not looked upon, really. What they look upon is (…) what film has the big budget (…) or the politics (…) but not really the quality of the films. So, really, honestly, (…) in my opinion this is perhaps the only festival that still remains absolutely independant.”

Opening ceremony video

(I understand what Serge Losique is saying here. He is trying to explain and justify his position. The festival is his life-work, his baby, and he doesn’t want to relinquish its control. Indeed, if you accept public money you have to show transparency and do things the way the government wants them to be done… Unfortunately, if he doesn’t step down, pass the mantle to someone else soon (while maybe remaining on board as advisor), the festival will die with him…)

The theatre was not full, like we’ve seen for previous years, but considering the situation, it was full enough (maybe half?). Surprisingly, there was not that many people from the local Japanese community.

It was a short ceremony, a good movie (see my separate comment), the weather was nice, Radio-Canada / CBC was there to report on the event so, all in all, it was a good day for the festival.

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Italian week 2018

SettimanaItalianaDiMontrealLike last year, we have visited the Settimana Italiana di Montreal (the Italian Week), festival held all over Montreal (but mostly in Little Italy, on St-Laurent street between St-Zotique and Jean-Talon streets) from August 3rd to 12th.

This year the festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary with many activities: an exhibition of all its promotional posters, a Fiat 500 car exposition, guided tours, a film festival, an opera presentation of Puccini’s “La Bohème”, a parade of the Sbandieratori Borghi e Sestieri Fiorentini (a group of Italian flag-throwers keeping alive the old military flag-waving tradition), and lots of food, musical displays and entertainments. Each local Italian association has a booth to inform about their activities. It was very interesting.

Here is a photo album and a short video (15 mins) as a memento of this year’s festival:

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Wild Coyote !

IMG_1324This is a video showing a wild coyote coming down my street and stopping by the neighbour’s driveway before continuing on its way (toward the Émile-Journault entrance of the Frédéric-Back Park)… It was taken on August 10, 2018, at 22h44. If you think that they are NOT coming into your neighbourhood you are wrong. Keep an eye on your kids and your small pets!

They are here… but it doesn’t means that we cannot coexist with them [PDF in French]. We have to be vigilant (some might have agressive behaviour but, like here, most will avoid human contact). However, I am against the current city policy to kill the urban invaders. After all, aren’t we the one who are destroying their habitat?

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A quiet minute of relaxation

Sunset on the parc / Couché de soleil au parc

This video offers you a quiet minute of relaxation at the Parc Frédéric-Back as the wind makes the grass dance under the sunset… Enjoy! / Cette vidéo vous offre une minute de détente au Parc Frédéric-Back alors que le vent fait danser l’herbe sous le soleil couchant… Profitez-en !

[ iPhone 8+, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2018-07-08 ]

A quiet minute of relaxation

Botanical garden’s pond
Étang du jardin botanique

This video offers you a quiet minute of relaxation at the botanical garden as the birds tweet around the pond… Enjoy! / Cette vidéo vous offre une minute de détente au jardin botanique alors que les oiseaux gazouillent autour de l’étang… Profitez-en !

[ iPhone 8+, Botanical garden, 2018-06-26 ]