Snow storm aftermath

This week-end we had the first real snow storm of the season (about 20~30 cm) as well as some very cold temperature (in the -20s °C or in the -30s °C with the chill factor). Apparently, it is the first time that we have this combination of snow storm and extreme cold weather since 1920!

Here is a time-lapse video of the storm taken between 2019/01/19 16h00 and 2019/01/20 16h00. So there you have twenty-four hours fast-forwarded in a little less than a minute:

Of course, the borough is in no hurry to pick the snow. Like I previously mentioned, in early January, the snow had not been picked up at all since the beginning of the season which caused piles of ice to form on he street making it quite challenging for the car to park. And when they did try to pick up the icy snow piles in the second week of January, the ice was so hard that it was practically impossible to remove it all, leaving an ice layer as high as the sidewalk (4 to 6 in.)! And when it snows on that, try not to get stuck when you park your car. I understand now why so many people have SUV despite living in the city!

The borough also had trouble removing the snow from the sidewalks. Yesterday I have seen the sidewalk tractor actually working only early in the morning — it passed in front of my house around 7h29. With the wind drift, the people cleaning their driveway or cars and putting the snow on the sidewalk (with total disregard for their fellow citizen who are walking) the sidewalks quickly became completely unpassable for pedestrians. I did see a sidewalk tractor around 15h37, but it was driving in the middle of the street without any snow-plow in the front or even a salt-spreader in the back. In the evening, the sidewalks had not been cleared for over twelve hours and I was worried that my wife would have trouble walking back from the bus stop after work, so I called the city’s public works to let them know and a sidewalk tractor did the job around 22h45…

It really seems that this new administration in city hall is either incompetent or inexperienced or too eager to save money. I don’t mind paying more taxes year after year if the quality of service is maintained or improves. However, if I paid more taxes and the quality of service decreases (and the quality of services has clearly decreased since the beginning of this new administration), then I am really not happy. And since, on top of that, this administration has not been treating its workers well, I seriously regret having voted for them…

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SDL: Entrevue capsule avec Francine Pelletier

entete-communique-02-300x148Dans le cadre du Salon du livre de Montreal 2018, je voulais faire une série de mini (capsules) entrevues avec des auteurs (surtout de science-fiction) de chez nous. Malheureusement, l’ambiance sonore du salon n’était pas adéquate pour des entrevues, alors celles-ci ont été faite hors-site. Le principe de l’entrevue capsule est de s’en tenir à deux ou trois questions de base et que l’entrevue ne dure pas plus que trois à cinq minutes. Cela doit être compacte et bien se digérer!

Voici donc la première de ces entrevues capsules, réalisée avec Francine Pelletier. Pour en savoir plus sur cette auteure de science-fiction — à ne pas confondre avec la journaliste homonyme — et de polar (sous le pseudonyme de Catherine Sylvestre) vous pouvez consulter sa bio/bibliographie sur le site des Éditions Alire ou sur Wikipedia.

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Capsules

SDL: La Philosophie-Fiction

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Voici une vidéo qui offre des extraits de la conférence sur la “Philosophie fiction” présenté sur l’Espace TD du Salon du Livre de Montréal le mercredi 14 novembre 2018 à 19h00 — voir mon billet “SDL: Jour 1, mercredi”. Animée par Jocelyn Lebeau, les participants incluaient Elisabeth Vonarburg, Esther Rochon, Bernard Werber et Karoline Georges. Dans cet extrait il manque les quinze première minutes ainsi que toutes les interventions de Mme Georges (retirées à sa demande)… mais cela reste une très intéressante discussion qu’il valait la peine de partager, je crois.

(Mise à jour: 2018/12/03)

J’ai retiré la video de la conférence à la demande de Karoline Georges qui affirme ne pas avoir donné son consentement pour être filmé ainsi que pour la diffusion de la conférence.  Toutefois aucun consentement de la sorte n’est requis pour filmer et diffuser un événement publique, qui se déroule sur un lieu publique. J’ai vérifié ce point légal avec un ami avocat qui pratique le droit intellectuel international dans une firme importante et qui l’enseigne dans une université américaine. J’ai cependant retiré la video pour le moment par courtoisie.

Je trouve cela très dommage car cette table-ronde offrait une discussion très intéressant et que ce n’est pas tout les jours que des auteurs de science-fiction québécoise ont la chance de débattre ce genre de sujet sur une scène du salon du livre.

Je reste très pantois sur la position de Karoline Georges. Un auteur se présente au salon du livre pour faire la promotion de sa personne et de ses livres. Il est dans son intérêt de rejoindre le plus de personnes possible, chacun étant un lecteur potentiel. Lorsqu’un bibliophile (promoteur de la SFQ de longue date) assiste à une conférence publique (sur un lieu publique), l’enregistre et veut la partager parce qu’il trouve ça bon et intéressant, n’est-ce pas dans l’intérêt de l’auteur qu’elle soit diffusée? Si une personne ne veut pas être vue, elle n’a qu’à NE PAS monter sur une scène publique et prendre la parole! Beaucoup d’auteurs n’ont pas la chance d’avoir une telle tribune. Je ne comprends simplement pas.

Ce sera quoi la prochaine fois? Demander qu’on retire un commentaire de lecture parce qu’on aime pas la critique? Vous en pensez quoi, mes chers lecteurs?

Je serais particulièrement intéressé à lire ce que mes collègues du milieu SFQ en pensent… N’hésitez pas à commenter sur ce billet ou sur le fil Facebook

(mise à jour : 2018/11/20)

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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

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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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