“En 1997, alors qu'il est responsable d'une ONG médicale dans le Caucase, Christophe André a vu sa vie basculer du jour au lendemain après avoir été enlevé en pleine nuit et emmené, cagoule sur la tête, vers une destination inconnue. Guy Delisle l'a rencontré des années plus tard et a recueilli le récit de sa captivité – un enfer qui a duré 111 jours. Que peut-il se passer dans la tête d'un otage lorsque tout espoir de libération semble évanoui ? Un ouvrage déchirant, par l'auteur de Pyongyang, de Shenzhen, de Chroniques birmanes et de Chroniques de Jérusalem.” [ Texte du site de l'éditeur ]
“Être otage, c'est pire qu'être en prison. En prison, tu sais pourquoi tu es là et à quelle date tu vas sortir. Quand t'es otage, tu n'as même pas ce genre de repères. Tu n'as rien.” [ Texte de la couverture arrière ]
In a post-cataclysmic world, humanity survives in a small utopian society which is peaceful and content, but colourless and deprived of emotions. With his coming of age, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned a role as Receiver of Memory and instructed by the Giver (Jeff Bridges), who telepathically shares with him all the memories from the ancient time in order to give him the wisdom necessary to advise the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) in her decisions. With this knowledge comes the realization that this seemingly perfect society is in no way morally better than the previous one: citizens are drugged into conformity and when they become less useful or rebellious they are “released to the Elsewhere”, i.e. murdered by lethal injection! To justify their authoritarian ways, the Chief Elder says “When people have the freedom to chose, they chose wrong every single time” — true, but at least they have the freedom to be wrong! By reaching the distant borders of the community, the hero wants to reset the society in hope for a better future (and to save the woman he loves, Fiona (Odeya Rush)). Based on Lois Lowry's young adult novel, this science-fiction movie succeeds, with a relatively small budget ($25 millions), to create an entertaining and thought-provoking story, making us ponder the moral values of our society. Even if it’s a little reminscient of Logan’s Run, this is an excellent movie well worth watching.
This British drama TV series depicts the reign of Queen Victoria from her accession (after the death of her uncle William IV) to her mariage with Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) and the birth of her first child (also named Victoria). It was produced by ITV in the UK and will premiere on PBS’s Masterpiece next week. In a way, it is very similar to the series The Crown that depicts the early reign of Queen Elisabeth II. It is quite interesting to see all the politics and trials that play out around the English monarchy at such an important time in history (the Victorian era was particularly characterized by the industrial revolution and the development of railways). It’s also funny that there is so much German blood (from the House of Hanover and the House of Saxe-Coburg) in the British monarchy, and it created quite a stir at the time. But I must admit that what first caught my attention is the fact that the title role is played by Jenna Coleman (who has also interpreted Clara Oswald, one of the best companions in the new Doctor Who TV series, but also acted in Julian Fellowes’ Titanic and in Dancing on the Edge). Also starring is Rufus Sewell, who plays Victoria’s counsel and Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. I also liked the haunting music theme. I really cannot resist a British historical drama, even less a very good one. Don’t miss it!
This is a two-part mini-series (although it feels more like a TV movie cut in two) produced by ITV in the UK and starring Joanne Froggatt (Anna in Downton Abbey). It will be shown on PBS’s Masterpiece later this year. Inspired by David Wilson’s book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain's First Female Serial Killer, it tells the sordid story of Mary Ann Cotton, a black widow who poisoned three of her four husbands as well as eleven of her thirteen children in order to collect insurance money and survive the harsh conditions women had to endure in nineteenth century England. You can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. A good period drama as it is often the case with Brit TV. Recommended.
An interesting movie showing, from the British point of view, all the procedures and decisions behind a drone strike in Somalia, as well as the moral questions it raises. If you could eliminate three top wanted terrorists as well as two suicide bombers preparing for an eminent attack that could kill up to eighty civilians, would you do it even if it meant probably killing one innocent girl? The collateral damage question is always a difficult choice between two evils. In a way, nothing much happens in this movie as the story is told almost in real time. Everything is in the debate, which makes it clearly a political movie. But is it an apology of war or a critic of the politicians inaptitude? Maybe both? Interesting indeed!
I stumbled on this movie while watching TV Japan — a New-York based Japanese language channel operated by NHK Cosmomedia America and broadcasting a compilation of the best programming from the top Japanese networks and studios, including news and entertainment programs such as movies, dramas, variety shows, anime, sporting events, etc. (and available in Canada thanks to Bell Fibe TV!). I am glad that they show movies subtitled in english once in while.
Maud (Carey Mulligan) works in an industrial laundry house and gets involved by chance in the suffragette movement. Participating in illegal protests causes her to be outcast by her husband, which in turn drives her even further into political activism. Protests become more and more violent with property damages and bombings, hunger strikes when they were jailed, but it fails to really attract attention since the government controls the press… Until one woman, Emily Davison, is killed on a race track in front of the king. In 1928, women’s rights were finally recognized in Britain. But it took fifteen years to get there and the movie doesn’t show how Maud managed to survive during that time (if she could). Meryl Streep has a brief cameo as one of the movement’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s unbelievable to see how bad were women’s living and working conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For that, it’s an interesting movie but I found it was lacking passion.
J'approuve totalement cette campagne de sensibilisation pour faciliter le déneigement des trottoirs dans notre arrondissement. Toutefois je n'ai pas pu m'empêcher de me sentir insulter par la formulation de ce carton laissé dans ma boîte aux lettres.
N'ayant pas de véhicule, et n'étant donc pas en faute, j'ai trouvé le ton accusateur du carton un peu trop agressif. Le carton aurait été parfait s'il avait été mis sur le pare-brise des véhicules fautifs. Mais dans le cas d'une distribution massive auprès de tous les citoyens, le message aurait dû être formulé “Veuillez à ce que votre véhicule ne nuise pas aux opérations de déneigement!” et non “Votre véhicule nuit actuellement aux opérations de déneigement”… Encore une fois, je ne suis pas trop fier de la stupidité de notre arrondissement.
Malheureusement, les gens n'ont guère de respect pour les règlements, et encore moins pour les pauvres piétons qui doivent naviguer autour de ces obstacles ou sur des trottoirs mal déneigés parce que les chenillettes n'ont pas pu faire leur travail. Utilisez-donc un peu de gros bon sens!
December was a super busy month. I barely had time to read or write anything. Every week I had some meetings or appointments. First, I visited the exhibition “Terre d'Asie” (a private collection owned by Sam & Myrna Myers) at the Pointe-à-Caillère museum (held from November 17 to March 19) [Pictures to come soon]. Then there was a team meeting at work (I've learned nothing new there). I also went to a pubic assembly where the head of the city's libraries was presenting an assessment (what was achieved in the last ten years and what they are planning to do in the next five years) to the City's Permanent Commission on culture (made of elected officials). It was quite interesting and I intend to write a lot more about this as soon as I have a little more time. Finally, there was a couple of Christmas parties and a couple of doctors' appointments.
I watched a few movies or TV series (most series had ended their run for the season, but I watched The Crown, about the first years of Elisabeth II reign, Mars docudrama miniseries, about what the first human trip to the red planet could be), a few Christmas Specials (Grantchester, Call the Midwife, Doctor Who, When calls the Heart) and episode two of Maigret. I have also purchased and installed a new exterior Nest Cam and so far it has survived our first big snow storm (15 cm), freezing temperature (-20'C) and even freezing rain. The camera (and particularly the app to operate it) really works great.
The biggest novelty of the month was probably that I finally got fed up with the unfulfilled promises of Videotron's new generation Illico TV (mostly I wanted to watch the BBC in HD and wanted to be able to watch ALL my channels on my iPad). So I've switched to Bell Fibe TV and saved fifty dollars a month! From telephone post to finish the installation took more than six hours! Fibe TV is really great (all HD, greater quality picture, all wi-fi, and the Fibe TV app is totally marvellous). But… Bell's internet is really shit. The wi-fi signal is somewhat weak, the range is limited and it doesn't play well with my Apple Airport Extreme & Express routers, my Primus phone router (calls always drop after ten or fifteen minutes) or everything else that relies on wi-fi (my old ip cameras can't connect, the Nest Cam regularly cuts, even the Nest Thermostat lose contact sometimes!). I hope they'll be able to fix that. The worse is the phone issue (and I am sure they will try very hard to have me switch to their own ip phone instead but they can't match all the services I have with Primus). At the same time I also had lots of iPhone battery troubles. I am looking to have this fixed also [later tonight: went to Apple Store and they replaced the battery: it took three hours! I thought they would just swap the phone not repair it in situ].
I can't believe that 2016 is almost over. Even if I have not been able to write as much as I wanted, I did manage to write a little more than last year. To recap the year, you can check all my press reviews & notable news links for the last year. However, all in all, 2016 was not a good year for me. Hopefully, 2017 will be much better. But, unfortunately, I seriously doubt that.
Despite all this, I still found some time to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here's a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I'd like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english):
One of my Japanese friends, Kazu-chan, has just published a book!
Ten years ago, he came to Montreal through the working holiday program in order to learn English and French. He first got a job at the restaurant where my wife is working, Sakura Gardens, but he realized that a Japanese restaurant was the worse place to learn a new language, so he went to work at the Tim Horton's on Saint-Denis street instead. After graduating from the prestigious Tokyo University, he was hired by a big venture company, but he quickly discovered that he had no taste for the abuses a junior salaryman (office worker) must endure in Japan (remember Amélie Nothomb's novel, Fear and Trembling ?).
Choosing a more independent (but alas poorer) lifestyle, he founded with a friend (Akira Sakaizume, a senior in Buddhist literature) the language school Philosophia. While pursuing English learning methods that are more suitable for Japanese people, they are helping students not only to prepare for the college entry exam but also to develop useful English skills. For him it was a dream to help children realize their hope while broadening their mind through English education.
Three weeks ago, while watching the TV show Tokyo Eye on NHK World, I've discovered two manga libraries in Tokyo that I would certainly like to visit one day.
The Tokyo Eye episode that aired November 30th was titled “Tokyo Book Tour.” Its introduction tells us: “In this digital age, people are rediscovering the joy of visiting a physical bookstore. Tokyo might have more bookstores than any city in the world, and this time we look at some of the best ones.” As a travel show dedicated to the Tokyo area (where foreigners discuss sites and attractions they like in the city), this time it introduces us with a dozen notable libraries. Two of them really caught my eyes.
The Tachikawa Manga Park (立川まんがぱーく, located at 3-2-26 Nishiki-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo; website: mangapark.jp) offers 400,000 manga, mostly new and popular titles, to read. The “space is designed to recall an old Japanese home“ and “visitors are free to kick back and simply enjoy reading manga”. You can sit on chairs or benches, lie down on cushions or tatami mats or even hide in a recreated oshiire closet! A dream library for children and teenagers.
The Shojo Manga-kan (少女まんが館, located at 155-5 Ajiro, Akiruno-shi) is a private library entirely dedicated to shojo manga. It offers over 55,000 shojo books and magazines (even some dating back to the meiji-era!). The library is located in the private home of a couple, Jun Nakano and Natsuyo Oi, who are long-time fans and collectors of shojo manga. Since it's private, it is only opened on Saturday and you must first book online. It's a real paradise if you want to study the history of shojo manga.
Also interesting, the latest episode of Tokyo Eye (it aired on December 21st), titled “Tokyo Mottainai!”, is dedicated to unusual recycling ideas which offers a “stylish new twist on a traditional Japanese value.” I particularly like the idea of the restaurant that buys "imperfect" seafood that has gone unsold at the Tsukiji fish market and turns it into delicious cuisine. And the one about the “Mottainai Kids Flea Market” where kids can learn economic skills while recycling their old toys and stuff.
Both shows are still available to watch online (and will stay available for a few weeks).