Sunday, December 31, 2006

Yoko Tsuno: Aventures Allemandes

“Tranquillement, le Rhin et la Moselle déambulent entre plateaux et coteaux. Mais, pas loin de leurs rives, des hommes jouent avec le feu et provoquent la mort. Un orgue dont le souffle diabolique rend fou. Un vampire qui vient, la nuit, vider d'une partie de son sang la jolie Ingrid. Une machine capable de transformer la foudre en arme de destruction... Décidément, l'Allemagne, derrière les charmes de ses paysages, recèle bien des mystères et des dangers! Comprend: "L'orgue du Diable", "La Frontière de la Vie", "Le Feu de Wotan." Ce second volume est complété d'un copieux dossier de documents inédits.”

Yoko Tsuno c'est de l'histoire ancienne, non? Ces aventures ont d'abord été publiées dans le magazine Spirou, puis compilées, respectivement en 1972-73, 1976-77 et 1984! Mais si la technologie qu'utilise Yoko et ses amis est plutôt démodée (sauf les éléments de science-fiction, bien sûr), le récit des aventures de la jolie nippone demeure toujours actuel et captivant. Ce qui rend intéressante cette compilation thématique, c'est d'abord le dossier de 24 pages qui explique et illustre la génèse des albums. Ce qui la rend irrésistible, c'est son incroyable prix de $24.95! Pour trois albums! Cette série me rappelle bien des souvenirs d'enfance... C'est une lecture agréable, assemblée en un superbe volume.

Intégrale Yoko Tsuno T.02: Aventures Allemandes, par Roger Leloup. Ed. Dupuis, 2006. Couleur, 20 x 22 cm, 176 pgs. $24.95 Can. Tous Publics. ISBN-10: 2800138416; ISBN-13: 978-2800138411. Site officiel.

Yoko Tsuno © Dupuis, 2006.


After the disappearance of his wife, a Montreal vice detective makes his own investigation and the clues bring him to the rich mansion of a beautiful and reclusive woman. His own bad behavior will put him in trouble as someone frame him from the murder of his friend's wife. He follows the mysterious woman to Venice and discovers her terrifying secret: she's a “vampire” that keep her eternal beauty by seducing young women before drinking and bathing in their blood!

It is based on the real-life of Erszebet Bathory, a 16th Century Hungarian Countess that allegedly tortured and killed 650 young women to bathe in their blood in the hope to gain eternal life. The movie was not treated nicely by most of the critics, who seem to have thought that it had not enough sex to be soft porn (but lots of lesbian action!) and not enough violence to be horror (well, we do see some blood). It is more of an erotic thriller with a nice & sexy vampire story. The police work of the main character is not very credible, but the characters are all fascinating and the photography, the sets are beautiful. It was shot mostly in Montreal and offer a very nice use of the locations. A few scenes were also shot in Venice and in Umbria. The movie has an opened ending: we suspect what will happen next, and we can let our imagination go wild, but we don't know for sure. Personally, I wanted to see this movie because a friend of mine had a small role in it. But I only recognized him because I knew which role he was playing—we don't even see his face. I was surprised by the good quality of the production and, even if the story is not very original, I was well entertained.

Eternal. Canada, 2004, 107 min.; Dir./Scr.: Wilhelm Liebenberg & Federico Sanchez; Phot.: Jamie Thompson; Ed.: Isabelle Levesque; Cast: Conrad Pla, Caroline Néron, Victoria Sanchez, Sarah Manninen, Ilona Elkin, Liane Balaban. Rated R (Strong sexual content, violence & language). Official web page.

Eternal ©2004 4128257 Canada, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Packaging © 2005 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


I feel like those old rechargeable batteries that, at some point, just can't recharge anymore... I just want to lie down here and sleep for a couple of centuries. Or watch a movie and lose myself in someone else's life. But I can't rest. There's too many things to do. And if I do rest, I end up being consumed by guilt... It is sickening.

Another year is ending. Please stop pushing the fast-forward button! I want to enjoy life, not see it flashes past my eyes!

Hopefully, the new year will bring some good things. I guess I should take time to do a kind of retrospective...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eight Below

A guide working with a scientific expedition in Antarctica has to leave his beloved sled dogs behind when their base is evacuated due to an unusually strong storm. The eight dogs have to survive the harsh conditions by themselves, against impossible odds. For six months their master is agonising over the unknown fate of his dogs, trying to gather the funds in order to come back and rescue them.

Eight Below is the remake of the Japanese movie Antarctica (Nankyoku Monogatari / South Pole Story) (directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara, with a script by Toshiro Ishido, Koreyoshi Kurahara, Tatsuo Nogami and Kan Saji, and starring Ken Takakura and Tsunehiko Watase—with a small role for Susan Napier, author of “Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke”!—and music by Vangelis). Based on the true story of a 1958 Japanese Antarctic expedition, it was released in 1983 and became a huge success. The original movie was a real tear-jerker, had a superb photography and focused on the dogs' hardship (out of fifteen Sakhalin Huskies, only two survived).

The American version is still a sad movie showing the beautiful landscape of Antarctica (in fact it was mostly shot in Canada and Greenland, with some stock footage of Antarctica), but it is certainly not as beautiful as the original. It is the story of an American Antarctic expedition and focuses mostly on the dogs' master emotions, his rescue efforts and it is a much shorter movie (120 min. vs 143 min). The Leopard Seal that attacks the dogs doesn't look real and somebody should have told the director that during the Antarctic winter, it is mostly dark. What annoyed me the most is the fact that [SPOILER: highlight to reveal] all dogs but two survived [/SPOILER], the total opposite of the original movie — but, hey!, it's a Walt Disney movie after all! However, all in all, it is a nice, entertaining movie. The extras include deleted scenes and a “making of.”

Eight Below. USA, 2006, 120 min.; Dir.: Frank Marshall; Scr.: David DiGilio (based on Nankyoku Monogatari); Phot.: Don Burgess; Ed.: Christopher Rouse; Music: Mark Isham; Cast: Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, Jason Biggs. Rated PG.

Eight Below © Disney.

The Tailor Of Panama

An English tailor in Panama is weaving lies to make himself interesting. A disgraced English spy on the downside of his career is looking for opportunities to improve his situation, for conspiracies to report to his superiors and redeem himself. They were made for each other and almost bring doom to Panama.

It is a nice story, but nothing like the hype displayed on the back of the DVD: “mind-blowing spy chase!” or “seductive spy thriller.” For a movie that bring together the writing of John Le Carré, the direction of John Boorman, the talent of Geoffrey Rush, Pierce Brosnan and Jamie Lee Curtis, it is rather disappointing. I was expecting some explosive action like in a Bond movie, a Jack Ryan or movies like Traffic. No big surprises. However, it is an intelligent story, rich in human elements. I was not bored, so it is still a good entertainment. The DVD is multilingual and offers an alternate ending and an interview with Rush and Brosnan.

The Tailor of Panama. USA/Ireland, 2001, 109 min.; Dir.: John Boorman; Scr.: Andrew Davies, John Le Carré, John Boorman; Phot.: Philippe Rousselot; Ed.: Ron Davis; Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis. Rated R.

The Tailor of Panama ©2000 Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. All Rights Reserved. Packaging © Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Fog of Life

In the last few months or years,
I feel I've lived in a constant fog.
To my body it feels like mud.
It's like I can't move forward easily,
As if every muscle is sleeping.

And my mind is all foggy,
I can't see and think clearly.
I feel things are slipping away
From the grasp of my will.

I guess I should resolve myself
To exercice a little more
And maybe it will wake
My body from its torpor.

I should also make the effort
To keep my mind active,
Writting about everything.
That's why I've revived this blog
And I'll try to talk about all—
Could it really be called reviews?—
All the movies, books and news
That I've seen, read and digested
Even if they aren't work-related.

But I fear I won't have the energy
To completely brake away from the chains
Constraining my wings from spreading
And keeping me from feeling alive!

(ok, next time I'll try to have it rhyme)

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel!

...or Happy Holidays (whatever the Holiday your are enjoying right now)... to the few people reading this blog (and everybody else around the Globe)!

...ou Joyeuses Fêtes (peut importe les Fêtes que vous célébrez en ce moment)... aux quelques personnes qui lisent ce blog (et à tous les autres sur la planètes)!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Phantom of the Opera

I have just seen Joel Schumacher's The Phantom of the Opera on DVD. I have not read Gaston Leroux novel or seen the musical, so it is difficult for me to compare. However, I have seen another movie version directed by Dwight H. Little and starring Robert Englund (Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street). This 1989 version is a more modern interpretation (with science-fiction elements) that tries to be an horror movie (hence the choice of Englund as the Phantom—but the fact that I kept seeing Freddy instead made it a rather funny movie) but it certainly does not have the classy look of Schumacher' version.

Usually, I tend to dislike musicals, but the 2004 Phantom is a very powerful movie mainly due to its somptuous sets and, of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber's music. Webber said that he wanted his musical adapted into a movie to make it more accessible to everyone, but I suspect that they just wanted to make more money out of it. It is a beautiful movie, but unfortunately there are some lengths (I briefly fell asleep when they try to trap the Phantom by playing his opera). The only extra on the DVD is the movie trailer, which is very disappointing. You need to get the Two-Disc Special Edition to get the cool goodies. It is nevertheless quite a good entertainment.

A few interesting anecdotes (that my wife read in a Kinema Junpo article): the only known actress, Minnie Driver (who's playing the diva Carlotta), was lip-synching (rather disappointing) and Emmy Rossum (playing Christine) was only sixteen year-old at the time of the shooting!

The Phantom of the Opera. USA/UK, 2004, 141 min.; Dir.: Joel Schumacher; Scr.: Joel Schumacher & Andrew Lloyd Webber (based on the novel by Gaston Leroux); Phot.: John Mathieson; Ed.: Terry Rawlings; Cost.: Alexandra Byrne; Cast: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera © 2004 The Scion Film Phantom Production Partnership. Packaging ©2005 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I just read an interesting essay (Reflections on a Legend) about Evangelion.

When this series came out in 1995, it was definitely the best anime of those days (we have to look at it in the context of the era). Whether you like it or hate it—the series was already controversial then and remains controversial today because it was so over-hyped—this series is certainly one of the most influencial title of the history of anime. It was to anime what Star Wars was to sci-fi movies. However, I agree with the writer of the essay: the series has numerous flaws (in Eva's defense I would like to add that the production team had to deal with censorship and budget cuts—which seriously affected the quality of the series toward the end), but I think its esoteric aspects are part of its qualities.

When I first watched Evangelion, I was literaly floored. My friends and I were watching every episode passionately—raw! Every month we were getting a VHS tape from Japan, where a contact of mine was tapping the show for us. The last show of each tape had just played on Japanese TV less than a week before. Today, in the age of instant downloading it might seem trivial, but in those days it was really something! Of course, since then, there was so many Eva imitations, so many hype, so many re-packaging of the show that we all feel blasé about it.

An amusing anecdote: it's because of all the controversies surrounding the series and the backlash reaction of the anime fans, that Hideaki Anno, the director, became fed-up with anime fandom, eventually leaving the anime industry to direct weird live-action movies instead.

But why are people suddenly talking about Evangelion, you may ask? It's simply because there is a new incarnation of the story coming up in 2007. Like many others, I am rather ambivalent toward yet another Eva repackaging. I find the idea annoying, but yet I can't stop myself from being excited. Like I often say: we'll see.


It seems that there is not a day where I don't feel pain in some part of my body.

Most of the time it's in my back, but sometimes in my legs, my neck, my throat or my head. Sometimes it is even all over.

Lately, it has been in my left elbow. I have an elbow bursitis. It seems that I lean too much on my left elbow when I am working at the computer. I'll put some ice, take some Advil and give some rest to the elbow.

I guess that's what happen when you get older. More and more little nagging health problems. I am really due for a full check up...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Funny Anecdote

Something funny happened last night.

Around midnight I was walking on the street and a huge white SUV stops beside me (I was going to the subway station to meet my wife and walk her back home for safety — I do that once in a while since she was attacked one night on her way back from work). The tinted driver's window goes down and the women at the wheel ask me “You wouldn't happen to have a quarter, would you?”

I know that the price of gas is high, but to beg for money is a little far-fetched!

Of course, I would not give any money to someone who's already wasting so much with a gas-guzzling vehicle...

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Here is the link to the restaurant where my wife is working:

Please have a look and, if you live in the Montreal area, go and eat there!

Love Thy Neighbor!

I consider myself as someone who's quite quiet, conciliatory and understanding. My principle is to leave people alone and I expect them to leave me alone. I live in my little shell, my safe-house, observing the world from the middle of its mediatic web and expecting to be protected from its aggressions.

When the neighbor is renovating his basement and starts with the jackhammer at 8:00 am on Saturday morning (while I just went to bed three hours before because my wife & I are working mostly in the evening and have night owl's habits) I don't complain because I understand that the work need to be done whenever he can do it. When the neighbor's kids are howling or banging the walls (actually, in the first year, I thought they were raising a baby gorilla) and the mother is shouting back at them (and I am quietly sitting in my office trying to concentrate on a complicated article that needed to be written and laid-out yesterday), I don't complain because kids are kids and it's not an easy job to take care of them properly. When the people upstair are walking loudly or moving furniture and I feel the sky is falling down on me (while I am quietly trying to watch TV), there is no use complaining because I cannot ask them to stop living their life (although some understanding and compassion for others should be expected). Well, I guess the world just doesn't work that way.

I never did or say anything to offense my neighbors (at least voluntarily). Nevertheless, last summer someone killed one of my cats with a pellet gun. This summer someone threw poison in my garden (maybe for the feral cats? But the poison can melt into the soil, be absorbed by the plants and eventually affect us) and threw a dead rat wrapped in a plastic bag in the backyard. My newspaper is regularly stolen. This fall, someone threw eggs against the front door (they missed and got the wall instead) and this week someone ripped our door-bell button from the door frame. What have I done to those people? Is it just a series of coincidences and am I paranoid?

Or is it because we speak english — and my wife is Japanese — in a neighborhood that is mostly francophone and local (“pure-laine” like they say)? I find it hard to believe that there is so much hatred and racism in our country...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Music From Japan

I am sure that many anime & manga fans are like me and enjoy listening to Japanese music. It is not always easy to find J-pop DVDs and one cannot download music from iTunes Japan if one doesn't have a credit card registered with a Japanese address. At least, until now!

I learned today, while reading TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog), that you can shop at iTunes Japan from America (or anywhere else) when you purchase iTunes Japan Music Cards!

iTunes Japan Music CardThe funny things is that those cards are available from Jbox (the sister website to Jlist, an online store created by Peter Payne and selling anime, manga & everything Japanese that might interest a fan). The cards are available in ¥1500 ($18 US) and ¥3000 ($35 US) format and Jbox clearly explains how to use them.

The cards are also available from (but that website is in Japanese)...

Have fun!

UPDATE [12/30/06]: Someone on the Anime News Network's forums has pointed out that this item cannot be ordered on from overseas. I have indeed verified that some commodities produced for the Japanese market (Software, Game, Electronics, Home & kitchen, Toy & hobby, Sport, Health & beauty, and certain type of Dvds/videos) are subject to geographical restrictions and cannot deliver them overseas. The iTunes Japan Music Cards are apparently considered as Electronics. Sorry, I didn't know that. It leaves only Jbox as source (although someone also pointed out that the cards were available in some convenience stores).

Blogware Update

I was wrong...

Largemouth just released the final 1.2 version of Blog.Mac and they did not charge me any license fee for the upgrade.

Now, I am not sure what blogware to use... Although I think I still prefer blogger. I am still not satisfy with the available template for Blog.Mac (although, to be honest, there is a free template editor that allow us to modify the templates or create new ones) and the overall interface of blogger is better (Blog.Mac has a few little annoying bugs). Not without mentioning that with Blogger you can use multiple labels (categories) for each entry. Umm...

I still recommend Blog.Mac, which is an excellent program, but I think I'll stick to blogger. (Although I might do double entries on each program for a while until I am 100% decided).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Anime News

For those interested in anime & manga, the new issue of Protoculture Addicts, #89, is now available.
Also, Anime News Network as a new layout that is worth a look.

Please check them out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blog moved back!

Last year, in November 2005, I was feeling that the free blog I was using until then, blogspot, was lacking in features (not much flexibility with the template, no categories, etc.) so I decided to switch to Blog.Mac (1.1.3) and move my blog to a new location on my .Mac iDisk.

I ended up not blogging much (busy times) partly because Blog.Mac designers had announced a new version of their blogware with categories. I was interested in those promised new functions but was reluctant to blog much and then have to re-do everything with the new version (Largemouth people warned us that file format might change with the new version). So I waited...

A couple of month ago, I was tired to wait so I contacted Largemouth Software to ask when the new version of Blog.Mac was coming. I was told it would come two weeks later. After a wait of two MONTHS (no wonder they're called Largemouth), they finally released... a new BETA version (1.2 b2)! I decided to try it and created this test blog. It looks nice, the categories work well, but I will probably have to pay for the upgrade to 1.2.

Considering that they would certainly wait several more months before releasing a final version of 1.2 and that my patience was already at its limit, I decided to try other blogwares. I tested iBlog (2 b8) by Lifli Software and created this test blog. The calendar feature is cool, but the look is disappointing (although you can tweek the template a little) and I was not enthusiastic with paying 1410.00 Indian Rupees ($30 US) for another license!

I was just about to say “Ok, I'll wait another few months before deciding” when I discovered that the blogware I was using at first, now called blogger, has just released a new version with very flexible templates, multiple categories (called here Labels), FTP capability and more cool features! The beauty of it is that it is FREE! So, now I am reviving and updating this blog. Amazing, isn't it?

So far, I am very satisfied with blogger and I recommend it to everyone.