Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Valerian Trailer

Time Jam, the animation (co-produced with the Japanese studio Satelight) based on the French comics “Valerian & Laureline, Agents Spatio-Temporel”, has been once again delayed but a new trailer is available.

Version Française:

English Version:

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Worldcon in Montreal in 2009!

Incredible but true: In 2009 the WorldCon will be in Montreal!

Following the vote of the fans attending the 65th International Science-Fiction Convention held at Yokohama, Japan, on the first week-end of September, Montreal has been chosen as the host of the convention in 2009 by only 166 votes.

I attended only two WorldCon before: Boston in '89 and Winnipeg in '94 (I missed Toronto in 2003 and Boston in '04 because I was too busy with work -- now that's in Montreal, I will not miss it for sure). In 2008, it will be in Denver (too far for me to attend).

Links: WorldCon, Anticipation / Montreal 2009.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Apple TV

I have been using the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) to view video files for a couple of years and I like it very much since it is offering a great variety of settings -- but lately I've been having problem running hi-def video and mkv format. I guess we are slowly approaching the processing limits of the Xbox (unless the XBMC migrates to the 360). Therefore, I started looking for a replacement. The new Apple TV seemed to be a suitable candidate.

I've now been owning an Apple TV (the 40 Gb hard drive model) for less than a month and so far I am relatively satisfied with it. It looks very nice, play video well and offers a few bonuses (streaming photos, music, podcast, and youTube videos). You can either stream your videos to the ATV or synch them to store them locally. It is full of potential. Unfortunately, for now, there are three area where it is very limited. I guess it is a work in progress.

First, it plays only three video format: .mp4, .m4v and .mov (but the latter under very limited conditions; I've not figured out yet what make some .mov work and some not). However, you can use Quicktime or other video converters to convert almost any format into .m4v. I mostly watch .avi (plus a few .mkv) and didn't have any problems converting them, but it is a time consuming process (depending of the video format -- .avi seems faster to convert-- and the computer used to process the file, it can take from 30 min. (on my new iMac Intel 2.4 Ghz) to over ten hours (on my iMac G5 1.8 Ghz) to convert an half-hour episode). [UPDATE: It even converts the .srt files for the subtitles!]

Second, it is made to work only with a widescreen HDTV. I was able to plug the ATV to my old standard TV with an expensive component video cable and setting the ATV's resolution to 480i, but I am nevertheless losing some parts of the picture on each side. The XBMC has the advantage of offering various screen formats.

Third, you can only stream or synch your videos (or photos, music, etc) through iTunes, while with XBMC you can stream them from any of your computer drives.

Of course, most of those problems (save the TV resolution) can be solved with a hack. But while you crack open the XB only with a software, in the case of the ATV, you have to physically crack open the box and remove the hard drive in order to install new softwares that extend the ATV capabilities, like enabling SSH (Secure Shell, a network protocol allowing to communicate with the ATV and exchange data, therefore being able to install new softwares without having to remove the drive anymore), adding a file browser (ATVfiles), an external hard drive, play any video codec (through Perian) or even running the full OS X! But I am not encline to void the warranty of my expensive ATV -- yet. And all this “work under the hood” is rather complicated to perform. Many people suggested that the best way (although even more expensive) to replace the XBMC would be to buy a Mac Mini and use Frontrow to watch video. It has the advantage of being a fully fonctional computer.

However, I am not ready to give up on the ATV. As I said, it has much potential. Here are the improvements I would like to see in the future:

• Apple should open the Apple TV to developpers. If the ATV could play all video codecs straight out of the box and if it had the ability to run small application (the YouTube player is a start), then it would be, officially -- not in a hacked way, a more powerful media center than the XBMC.

• Adding a Gigabite ethernet (like Apple recently did for the Airport Extreme) would also be nice. Even with the standard 10/100 ethernet cable it is much faster to stream or synch than doing it wireless.

• Adding a radio tuner (either iTunes or ShoutCast). I really don't understand why ATV doesn't give access to the iTunes radio stations!

• A CATV tuner and PVR capability (but I already have the cable box/PVR for that -- so maybe the ability to take content from the cable box/PVR) would be interesting

• Ability to buy or rent content on the internet directly from the ATV. In fact, in Canada, we cannot even download TV shows or movies from the iTunes store, so for us the ATV--as it is right now--is pretty useless. I wonder why they even bother to sell it. So, first, let's hope that the Canadian iTunes store will soon offer TV or movie videos for sales.

• a fan (because the ATV is REALLY getting hot quickly)

• a switch off (I never understood this idea of building appliance without a switch off).

With those improvements, the Apple TV would be a great video appliance for an entertainment room and I would really enjoy it. However, for now, I cannot recommend it to movie & anime fans as a XBMC replacement.

For more information on the Apple TV, see this collection of Apple TV resources.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Apple to open their Canadian flag-store in Montreal

According to AppleInsider, Apple is planning to open a multi-story store on Ste-Catherine street West for Summer or early Fall 2008. They would heavily renovate (in the hip way that Apple's stores are known for: with lots of glass and aluminum) the MENS building (1321 Ste Catherine W) near De La Montagne street (see pictures). Work should start this winter.

That's a great news, since downtown Montreal has been lacking a decent Mac-friendly store since the demise of Bmac several years ago. It's even getting difficult to find a decent computer store (besides the big chains like Staples, Future Shop or The Source). I even noticed this week that the CompuSmart on Square Philips had disappeared -- but at the same time I discovered that there was a tiny Micro-Boutique on the fourth floor of the Eaton Center. There's also MicroBytes that is good for accessories and peripherals. The best specialized stores are now mostly online (what about touching & physically checking the product before buying?). So, there's nothing like a big, real Apple Store. One opened earlier this year at the Carrefour Laval, but it's relatively small (I was rather disappointed when I visited). Apparently, the new downtown Apple store will be 9,300 square feet, a bit smaller than the Manhattan store!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New iMacs!

Also today, Apple finally announced the new iMac models!

The new look of the iMac is made of aluminum and glass. The 17-inch models are eliminated and replace by a low-end 20-inch (2 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 Gb memory, 250 Gb HD, $1,199.00 US / $1,299.00 Can) and both the 20-inch (2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 Gb memory, 320 Gb HD, $1,499.00 US / $1,599.00 Can) and 24-inch (2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 Gb memory, 320 Gb HD, $1,799.00 US / $1,899.00 Can) models are quite improved for the same price they were before! Finally, a new high-performence 24-inch model is added (2.8 Ghz Intel Core 2 Extreme, 2 Gb memory, 500 Gb HD, $2,299.00 US / $2,449.00 Can). All models includes a new, slimmer, keyboard and are available now. Wow!

Apple also launched iLife '08 and iWork '08, upgraded the Mac Mini and boosted .Mac (with .Mac Gallery and 10 Gb of storage!). It was a great day for Apple fans. The next step will be the release of the Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) later this fall...

I have been waiting for this day all year long. I was planning to upgrade my old iMac G5 (1.8 Ghz, 1 Gb of memory, 150 Gb HD) for an Intel earlier this year when rumors of new iMac models started circulating, so I decided to wait. Despite the great news, choosing the right model was an agonizing process. I was really tempted by a 24-inch that runs faster, but I unfortunately had to manage my wallet, so I reluctantly went for the bigger 20-inch (but I boosted its memory to 2 Gb -- I also took the opportunity to order Parallel, an EyeTV 250 and an Apple TV). Now I can't wait to receive that baby!

Montreal World Film Festival 2007

Today, the 31st Montreal World Film Festival announced its programmation. The Festival, which will be held from August 23 to September 3, 2007, will offer 230 movie features and 215 shorts from 70 countries (including 53 world premieres (PM), 56 international premieres (PI), 59 North American premieres (PNA), and 42 Canadian premieres (PC))!

Unfortunately, there is very little Japanese movies at the festival this year: two in competition (COMP), one out of competition (HC), four in the “Focus On World Cinema” segment (REG) and one short:

KURO-OBI (Black Belt) (COMP) (PM) Japan / 2006 / 95 min / Dir.: Shunichi Nagasaki; Cast : Akihito Yagi, Tatsuya Naka, Yuji Suzuki, Takayasu Komiya, Yasuto Kosuda, Kenji Anan, Masahiro Sudo, Taro Suwa, Arashi Fukasawa, Narumi Konno. Set in the 1930s in Japan, three martial arts practitioners who are competing to inherit the mantle of their late master, are ordered to enlist in the military. Having no choice, the trio leave their dojo for an encounter with fate. Review.

OH-OKU (Oh-Oku, The Women Of The Inner Palace) (COMP) (PI) Japan / 2007 / 128 min / Dir.: Toru Hayashi; Cast : Yukie Nakama, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Haruka Igawa, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Kaoru Sugita, Machiko Washio, Kaori Yamaguchi, Maki Kubota, Yuki Matsushita, Reiko Takashima. Set during the short reign of child Shogun Ietsugu Tokugawa, OH-OKU recounts the legendary power struggle between the young shogun's natural mother and his official wife, who must watch her stake in the bloodline. Review.

BIZAN (HC) (PNA) Japan / 2007 / 120 min / Dir.: Isshin Inudo; Cast : Nanako Matsushima, Takao Osawa, Nobuko Miyamata, Aya Enjoji, Tatsuo Yamada, Manami Kurose, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Takeo Nakahara, Ken Kaneko. A Tokyo travel agent who returns to her hometown when her mother is hospitalized for cancer discovers that the father she never met is not dead as her mother always claimed. She sets out to find him and perhaps re-unite the family before it is too late. Review.

DEAR FRIENDS (REG) (PI) Japan / 2007 / 115 min / Dir.: Kasuyuki Morosawa; Cast : Keiko Kitagawa,Yuika Motokariya, Masaya Kikawada, Airi Toriyama, Mao Sasaki, Hatsune Matsushima, Mantaro Koichi, Naoko Otani, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Ren Osugi; Prod. & Sales: Toei Company Ltd.

MAMIYA KYOUDAI (The Mamiya Brothers) (REG) (PNA) Japan / 2006 / 119 min / Dir.: Yoshimitsu Morita; Cast : Kuranosuke Sasaki, Muga Tsukaji, Miyuki Nakajima, Takako Tokiwa, Erika Sawajiri, Keiko Kitagawa, Hiromi Iwasaki, Ryuta Sato, Teppei Yokota, Koji Sato, Kenichi Katsura; Prod. & Sales: Yasushi Tsuge, Kazuko Misawa, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Inc.. The nerdy Mamiya brothers live in a comfortable Tokyo apartment, work 9-to-5 jobs and have done everything together for over thirty years. Everything but date girls. Which they've never done at all. They decide a curry-and-Monopoly party might kick-start their love lives... Review.

SAKURAN (REG) (PC) Japan / 2007 / 111 min / Dir.: Mika Ninagawa; Cast : Anna Tsuchiya, Kippei Narimiya, Yoshino Kimura, Miho Kanno, Masatoshi Nagase, Minami, Hiroshi Yamamoto; Prod.: Mitsuru Uda, Yoshinori Fujita, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Inc. An elegant red light district flourished in In 17th century Edo, as Tokyo was then known. SAKURAN tells the story of one woman living in the lustrous world who was determined to stand on her own two feet and live life as she pleased. Review.

TANA-NO-SUMI (The Dark Corners Of The Shelves) (REG) (PI) Japan / 2007 / 81 min / Dir.: Hajime Kadoi; Cast : Ren Osugi, Ryoko Uchida, Makiko Watanabe, Hideo Sakaki; Prod.: Kazuhiro Koike, Little Bird (Espero Keikaku). A woman comes into Yasuo's toy shop and, without a word, buys an old toy and leaves. The woman is Yoko, Yasuo's former wife who walked out on him and their son eight years ago... Review.

Grand Odyssey (REG - Short) (PNA) Japan - France / 2007 / 19 min / Dir.: Tomoyuki Kato; Cast : Yuzo Kayama, Natsumi Okumura. Review.

Check the festival's web site for more details. Bon festival!

See the full Event Report in Protoculture Addicts #96: 71.

See also our quick overview of the festival and our Picture Gallery.

[updated 2007/8/20 and 2008/5/13]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sci-Fi Anime

Sci-Fi Anime, one of the rare anime-related specialized stores in the Montreal area (along with Marché Clandestin and Mangaya) has just moved to a new location:

2186 Ste-Catherine W
Montreal, Qc H3H 1H7
(514) 482-7844

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I would like to remind you that Otakuthon, the only anime convention in Montreal, will be held at Concordia university on August 4 & 5. Check their website for details and, if you live in the Montreal area, come meet us there!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fantasia 2007

Fantasia, North America's Premier Genre Film Festival, has announced today its 2007 programming. The 11th edition of the festival will be held July 5-23 in three theatres (Hall, J.A. DeSeve and D.B. Clarke) of Montreal's Concordia University. It will offer 120 features films, 10 documentaries and 22 programs of short features (totalling 250 local and international shorts). There will also be more than fifty guests. The Program Book will be on sale friday June 29th at the cost of $5. Tickets will be available for $7.50 or $65 for a booklet of 10 tickets.

The programming will include over sixty feature films from Asia (plus twenty-two short films): 27 from Japan (including 3 anime), 17 from Korea (including one animation), 10 from Hong Kong and 8 from other Asian countries (Thailand, China, Taiwan).

Again this year the festival offers only three Japanese animation features: Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society, Naruto The Movie: Ninja Clash In The Land Of Snow, and Tekkon Kinkreet (dir. Michael Arias, animated by Studio 4' C).

Luckily we are more fortunate with the Japanese live-action line-up. Are particularly noteworthy: Always: Sunset On Third Street (Takashi Yamazaki), Big Bang Love: Juvenile A (Takashi Miike), Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name (both by Shusuke Kaneko, who will be present), Exte: Hair Extensions and Hazard (both by Sion Sono, who's among the guests), Memories Of Matsuko (Tetsuya Nakashima, who also directed Kamikaze Girls), Nightmare Detective (Shinya Tsukamoto), Retribution (Kiyoshi Kurosawa), The Rug Cop (Minoru Kawasaki), Ultraman Mebius & Ultra Brothers (Kazuya Konaka), The World Sinks Except Japan (Minoru Kawasaki), and Zebraman (Takashi Miike).

The Japanese programming also includes: 893239, Arch Angels (Issei Oda), Sun Scarred (Takashi Miike), Ten Nights Of Dreams, Woman Transformation, and Wool 100%.

The Korean programming includes: 200 Pounds Beauty, Aachi & Ssipak, A Bloody Aria, The City Of Violence, Dasepo Naughty Girls, A Dirty Carnival, The Fox Family, The King And The Clown, Like a Virgin, Midnight Ballad For a Ghost Theatre, Once In A Summer, The Restless, Roommates, The Show Must Go On (Han Jae-Rim, guest), Time, War Of Flowers, and Yobi The Five-Tailed Fox (animation).

The Hong Kong programming includes: The 14 Amazons, After This Our Exile, A Battle Of Wits, Dead Air, Dairy, Dog Bite Dog, Exiled (Johnnie To), Isabella, A Mob Story, and One Armed Boxer.

Also noteworthy is the program of Korean Shorts, the Tribute to Akio Jissoji Arthouse Ultraman 2, and the documentaries (particularly Animania, Taiwan Black Movies, and the Yves Montmayeur series: Electric Yakusa: Go To Hell, Ghibli Et Le Mystère Miyazaki, Hong Kong Film Noir, Les Enragés Du Cinéma Coréen).

On a personal note, I would also recommend Stalker (a 1979 Russian movie by Andrei Tarkovsky).

Check either in PA or here for reviews.

Have a nice festival!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Japanese Film Wins Cannes Grand Prix

If the Cannes Film Festival's Palme D'Or went to a Romanian movie, the Grand Prix was won by Naomi Kawase's Mogari no Mori. That's another movie that we will try to put our hands on and review...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mail Snafu

I knew the U.S. Postal Service can sometimes be bad and that a recent survey revealed that Americans were rather weak in geography -- but I didn't know to what extend. A parcel that I recently mailed to a customer in Israel came back -- with a stamped note saying “wrong address” in Spanish -- from Costa Rica !!! That's what we called really lost! But at least it came back...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Telemarketing Hell

Tired of getting harassed by telemarketers who want to sell you stuff when you are busy doing something else (like eating or sleeping)? Always wondered who the hell can call you twice a day for a week without leaving a message and your caller ID simply says “unavailable”? Are you annoyed by phone calls that, when you pick up the phone, there's nothing on the line?

I just found this great website, 800 Notes, where people can leave comments on those annoying unidentified phone numbers usually used by telemarketers. By exchanging information, you can figure out who they are and what to do to make those phone calls stop. I like it.

You can also find some information from the CRTC here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Montreal Manga Store!

The anime store Marché Clandestin has spawned a manga store.

The Marché Clandestin MANGAYA is conveniently located just above the Marché Clandestin: 325 Ontario Est, Suite 101, Montreal, Qc, H2X 1H7 (Ph: (514) 510-6507; Web: www.mcanime.com/mangaya/). It is open Monday to Saturday, from noon to 7 pm. It is near the Berri-UQAM métro station.

As far as I know it is the first store in Montreal to specialize only in manga -- both in French and in English (and eventually in Japanese too!). It covers all genres: shojo, shonen, yaoi, yuri, seinen, etc., and even carries novels. They have a special: buy 10 manga and get one free (of a value up to $12.95 Can).

It has just opened so the place is small and they don't have a large selection yet, but they already have a nice choice of manga and many titles that you would never see in your regular book store. It is REALLY worth checking out.

Monday, March 12, 2007

30th Japan Academy Prize

On February 16th were held the 30th Japan Academy Prize--the equivalent of the American Academy Awards for Japan. Like for the Oscars, the Japanese movies awards are voted by the members of the Nippon Academy-cho Association, so it is not a popularity prize but one voted by their peers. However, it remains an excellent way to take the pulse of the Japanese cinema.

The presentation of the awards is very different compared to its American conterpart: the film industry people sit not in a theatre but around tables and there's no entertainment show, no singing, no slapstic jokes, no long speaches. Instead, a TV presentator interview every single nominee. It allows us to learn much about the background of the actors and about the movies.

Here are the winners for 2007:

Best Movie: Hula Girls. The other nominees were: Ashita no Kioku (Memories of Tomorrow), Yamato, The Uchoten Hotel (Suite Dreams) [see review in PA#90: 74], Bushi no Ichibun (Love & Honor).

Best Anime: Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). The other nominees were: Stormy Night, Tales From Earthsea, Brave Story, Detective Conan: The Private Eyes' Requiem.

Best Director: Sang-Il Lee (Hula Girls). The other nominees were: Junya Sato (Yamato), Tetsuya Nakashima (The Life Of Hated Matsuko), Koki Mitani (Uchoten Hotel), Yoji Yamada (Bushi no Ichibun).

Best Actor: Ken Watanabe (Memories Of Tomorrow). The other nominees were: Joe Odagiri (Yureru), Satoshi Tsumabuki (Namida Soujou), Akira Terao (The Algebra Which The Doctor Loved), Koji Yakusyo (Uchoten Hotel).

Best Actress: Miki Nakatani (Life Of Hated Matsuko) [she was playing Hermes in Train Man]. The other nominees were: Rei Dan (Bushi no Ichibun), Masami Nagasawa (Namida Soujou), Kanako Higuchi (Memories of Tomorrow), Yasuko Matsuyuki (Hula Girls).

Best Supporting Actor: Takashi Sasano (Bushi no Ichibun). The other nominees were: Takao Osawa (Rinding In The Metro), Teruyuki Kagawa (Yureru (Swing)), Koichi Sato (Uchoten Hotel), Kenichi Matsuyama (Yamato) [he also played Shin in Nana and “L” in Death Note].

Best Supporting Actress: Yu Aoi (Yamato) . The other nominees were: Yu Aoi (Hula Girls) [she also played Hagu in Honey & Clover], Sumiko Fuji (Hula Girls), Masako Matai (Kamome Shokudo [see review in PA#90: 74]), Kaori Momoi ( Bushi no Ichibun ).

Best Foreign Language Film: Flag Of Our Fathers. The other nominees were: Crash, The DaVinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Hotel Rwanda.

Newcomers Awards: Kenta Suga (Sunset Of Three District--Always), Muga Tsukaji (Mamiya Brothers), Mokomichi Hayami (Rough), Kenichi Matsuyama (Yamato), Yu Aoi (Hula Girls, Yamato), Rei Dan (Bushi no Ichibun), Shizuyo Yamazaki (Hula Girls), Yui (Midnight Sun [see review in PA#90: 74]).

Technical Awards: Film Editing: Yoshiyuki Koike (Kiraware Matsuko no Isshou); Sound Recording: Nobuhiko Matsukage & Tetsuo Segawa (Yamato); Art Direction: Toshiyuki Matsumiya & Shigeyuki Kondo (Yamato); Lighting Direction: Takeshi Nakasu (Bushi no Ichibun); Cinematography: Matsuo Naganuma (Bushi no Ichibun); Music: Gabriele Roberto & Takeshi Shibuya (Kiraware Matsuko no Isshou); Screenplay: Sang-Il Lee & Daisuke Habara (Hula Girls).

Special Awards: From the Association: Kazuyuki Suzuki (for Special Art Effects); Shigeru Okada Award (for a Corporation): Robot; Outstanding Achievement Award from the Chairman: the planning team of Limit Of Love--Umizaru; Special Awards from the Chairman: late Akira Ifukube (Music), late Shohei Imamura (Director), late Takahiro Tamura (actor), late Tetsuro Tanba (actor), late Takeomi Nagayama (former Shochiku chairman); Popularity Awards: Hula Girls.

I am disappointed that Yamato didn't get more than a few Technical Awards. I thought it would do better than that. See our review in PA#91.

I guess the movies to watch in the following months will be Hula Girls [a group of girls revive their village by creating an Hawaiian show for tourists], Ashita no Kioku (Memories of Tomorrow) [a man's family has to deal with his early Alzheimer], and Bushi no Ichibun [the problems of a young samurai who becomes blind; set in Yoji Yamada's samurai series that also includes The Twilight Samurai [Cf. PA#80: 47] and The Hidden Blade].

© Nippon Academy-cho Association.

Special Thanks to Nobuko Takeda for recording the show and to my wife Miyako for the translation.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Turning The Pages

Yesterday, while reading the Montreal's Gazette, I discovered a very interesting webpage created by the British Library: Turning The Pages.

The BL has digitalized several of their most interesting and valuable books (at least sixteen of them so far) and anyone can browse them on the net. I means literaly browse them: you see a picture of the book and you can turn the page like if the book was really there!

All you need is broadband and a Shockwave plug-in.

At first, I was disappointed. On the main page they were talking about the new version for Vista and I was afraid that it was another of those sites that were useless for us, Mac users. I decided to click on one of the books offered, just in case. And it worked! For Mac, it works directly and you don't need to install anything if you already have the Shockwave plug-in for Safari. And it is REALLY amazing!

As example, here's the Sforza Hours book:

You use the cursor of the mouse to turn the pages (hence the name) with a cute animated effect. You have three buttons at the bottom right of the screen that allow you to see an explanation on the text, hear the same explanation or have a magnifier that you can move around to see in more details the texts or illustrations!

You can browse through a Leonardo's sketchbook, a Mozart's musical dairy, the original Alice by Lewis Carroll, Mercator's Atlas Of Europe, etc. Bravo to the British Library for making such treasure available to the masses!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Triumph Of The Will

“Triumph des Willens” (aka “Dokument vom Reichsparteitag”) is Leni Riefenstahl's infamous propaganda / legendary documentary film about the 1934 Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party, or NSDAP, also known as the Nazi Party) rally in Nuremberg, Germany. It shows mostly parades and speaches by Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Hess, Goering and other top party officials.

Some have argued that this movie cannot be considered a documentry because it was so closely edited that it was clearly made as propaganda for the Third Reich. I disagree. Yes, the movie was edited but Riefenstahl was a very skillful filmaker and she certainly wanted to created a beautiful and powerful movie. I believe the editing was for that purpose and not to forward the agenda of her sponsor, Goebbels' Ministry for Public Enlightment and Propaganda. Despite that she made several films for Hitler documenting the Nazi regime, Riefenstahl has always claimed not to have been a Nazi herself. It would have been propaganda if the movie would have had a narration track exalting the glory of the party, but Riefenstahl is there only to bear witness of the event and Hitler's powerful speaches and theatrics speak for themselves. There's only a modern subtitle translating the speaches and describing who's doing what. In retrospective, it is even more a documentary as it opens a window to what Hitler and the NSDAP were in their beginning--only in their second year of power and five years before the war. It also shows how beautiful the old city of Nuremberg looked before beiing destroyed in the war.

Others would definitely argue that this movie is an abomination and should have never been released on DVD. I beg to disagree. Hitler and the Nazis did exist and it serves no purpose to deny it. In fact, yes, it was a painful period of the human history, but it is also very important to teach it so everybody knows what happened and how it happened in order to avoid ever repeating such terrible mistakes. However, it must also be told that Hitler did a great good to Germany: he used the resentment generated by the defeat and humiliation of the Great War (WWI) to motivate and raise the moral of the Nation, allowing to reorganize the country, rebuilt the destroyed economy (he established the first German autobahn, or highways, for example), but he did it so strongly that it went inevitably on the path of war.

The movie also make clear that Hitler's achievements were not the result of an haphazard process, but that his evil intents were in the planning from the start. Already in 1934, he makes allusion in his speaches to the racial purity; and the fact that he deliberately chose the swastika as emblem and borrowed so many ideas from the Romans (banners, monumental military display, creating new road infrastructure, etc.) demonstrate that he already had the intention to follow in Napoleon's footsteps and unify Europe under his Thousand-Year Reich.

It is eerie to think that such a dull and ordinary-looking megalomaniac could use monumental sets and perform well-crafted speaches with such a powerful result that it borders mind-control. It is scary to think that it could happen again. And it is funny, because I could not watch this movie without thinking about Star Wars: Lucas definitely found inspiration in this movie for his music, costumes and sets.

“Triumph Of The Will” is a beautiful movie and a great example of cinematogrophic art, but, more importantly, it has a great historical value. It fits quite well in my DVD library, alonside movies like The Birth Of A Nation. It really must be seen.

The extras includes another short movie (17 min.) by Riefenstahl (“Day Of Freedom”) as well as an audio commentary by historian Dr. Anthony R. Santoro. About the movie, see also the Wikipedia page.

Triumph Of The Will. Germany, 1935, 114 min., B&W, subtitled in English; Dir./Ed.: Leni Riefenstahl; Scr.: Leni Riefenstahl, Walter Ruttmann; Phot.: Sepp Allgeier, Karl Attenberger, Werner Bohne; Music: Herbert Windt. Not Rated.

Triumph Of The Will (new edition) ©2000 The Film Preserve, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Packaging ©2006 Synapse Films, Inc

A little rest

Another issue of the magazine has been completed and sent to the printer earlier this week. The reorganization is starting to work since this time the production went a little more smoothly. There was still delays and problems (some that I am really not happy with)--there are always some of those. But this time it was not too bad. Now I can enjoy a little respite.

It doesn't mean that there's no work to do. There is still a zillion things to do (update the web page, take care of orders, answer customers' complains, prepare some new ebooks, prepare shipping, plan next issue, prepare for a convention next week, etc.), but there's less pressure and I am not working fourteen hours each day (seven days per week). It feels good.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lonely Bloggers

University of Calgary professor Michael Keren's book Blogosphere: The New Political Arena says that bloggers are lonely and isolated people. He also adds that bloggers see themselves as rebels against the mundane society, but since their writings receive limited exposure on the internet, he compares them to Don Quixote.

His comments generated lots of reaction. I guess I agree with him on some points. Many personal bloggers are lonely people, and they throw their daily life-capsule in the internet like someone would throw a bottle in the sea. I consider myself in that category. I work at home, my little safe haven, and I barely see anyone beside my wife. I feel lonely, but I know that my weblog's comments won't be read by many. It's like writing a journal and leaving it in plain view, in hope that someone will dare to read it.

However, many blogs go beyond a personal purpose: companies' blogs serve as information hub, some organization set up blogs to gather volunteer or raise funds, many do political commentary. Also, some blogs can become very popular and be read by lots of people... Keren's comment definitely doesn't apply to those.

Source: The Gazette, Montreal, 1/31/07 A1-2. See also here and there.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Design & Fonctionnalité

Dans ma séance quotidienne de Google Reader, où je fais le tour des différents blogs que je lis régulièrement, je me suis arrêté quelques instants sur le site de Science On Blogue! Mario Tessier y commentes, dans l'article “Le iMachin,” la place que le design prend de plus en plus dans les nouvelles technologies. Cela m'a susciter quelques réflections...

La différence dans les approches marketing d'Apple et de Microsoft sont particulièrement évidentes si l'on compare le iPod et le Zune par exemple. Et leur efficacité respective est révélée par le flop du Zune...

Le commentaire de Mr. Dumas me surprend un peu. Sur un blog traitant de science et de culture, il n'y a pas de sujet plus pertinent que de discutter comment la perception des technologies affecte leur utilisation. Car c'est justement sur ce point que se fait l'intersection entre science et culture (et c'est sans doute pourquoi on y retrouve le thème “Arts et Technologies”).

Mais l'avantage des produits d'Apple n'est pas simplement dans le design extérieur: c'est aussi dans le design (conception) des fonctionnalités. Elles sont non seulement souvent supérieur mais également plus accessible, plus facile à utiliser. De la même façon que le design extérieur fait que le produit s'intègre plus facilement (esthétiquement) dans notre environnement, le design des fonctionnalités fait qu'il s'intègre aussi mieux dans notre vie de tout les jours.

J'ai souvent l'impression que, si les produits de Microsoft sont conçu pour les techniciens et les ingénieurs, ceux d'Apple le sont pour monsieur-tout-le-monde...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Winter At Last!

Finally, winter looks and feels what it should be: cold and with white stuff on the ground.

I know, I know, people driving cars don't like that. It's driving them crazy.

But what is winter without those little flakes falling down the sky?

It makes the child inside me happy.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Love Thy Neighbor (Part 2)

The previous post was apparently not the last of my neighborhood problems.

The worse that can happen is when you feel that your house... is not safe anymore.

Tonight there was an attempt to break into my house. It is the third time that it happens in over ten years. Each time, I've been lucky and nothing was stolen. The thief were always disturbed and fled before completely succeeding to break in.

This time they broke the window of the garage side-door to be able to open the lock. They tried to quietly remove a glass panel on the door between the garage and the house, but they must have realized that I was home and left (I am almost always home; I work here). A little after midnight, I noticed that the garage light was on and went to check, to discover that both garage doors were open and that a window was broken.

Kids? Drug addicts? I don't think so. The fact that they tried to silently remove a glass panel of the inside door instead of simply breaking it let me believe that, if they are not pros, they at least know what they are doing.

No hurry calling the police (last time it took them two days to come!). I'll call them tomorrow. For now I have boarded the broken window, and added a few more locks to the inside door. It should keep them from coming back for a while...

Damn Rogers!

I've been tired of my cellphone (a Nokia 3300) for a while. I have it now for over two years, which is a lot for that kind of technology. I can dream of the Apple iPhone, but I can't wait until this summer (it might take even longer for it to arrive in Canada). Anyway, I don't have much money so I've been eying at the Motorola V360 instead. The Pay-As-You-Go version is sold at only $130 Cdn -- even less if you order it directly from Rogers' web site. Which I did. It was a grave mistake.

I received the phone after three days, but it was defective. It didn't ring at all. After spending over two hours trying to get through the customer service automatic phone system, speaking with someone with such a thick accent that I barely could understand what she was saying (not from India, but New Brunswick!), being bounced back and forth to different departments, being on hold, being hang up by mistake, getting the message “our customer service is now closed, please call back during business hours” at 1 pm (it was friday...), I was finally told that I could exchange the phone -- but not in a store, instead I had to send it back by UPS!! I was also told that my credit card would be credited only after a minimum of twenty-one days, and that I had to make an entirely new order to get a replacement!!!!!

I don't think so.

If I decide to stick with Rogers (IF), I will certainly not order again from their web page. And I urge you to never try it.

I can't believe that a company could have a customer service that sucks so much. And it is not the first time that I encountered such bad service. Bell is as bad if not worse. It is as if they try on purpose to make it the worse experience possible for you, like to discourage you to deal with them. Aren't they worried to lose customers? I just can't understand this business culture.

Been Busy

I haven't blog in two weeks! Sorry! I've been busy and it will probably stay busy for some time. Lots of stuff to do at the job. So I might not blog much for a while. Although I have so many stories, anecdotes, comments and rants I would like to talk about... I'll do my best.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada

This a “fish out of his bowl story.” A young woman comes from Ohio to NYC in the hope to become a journalist. Despite that she has no knowledge or sense of fashion she is hired as personal assistant for the editor of a famous fashion magazine. Even if her boss (Meryl Streep) is a real monster, she manages to survive and learns the ropes, but when she's about to finally get on the top of it, she realises that she is betraying everything she is and all her friends...

This movie is not at all original. We've seen that type of story many times. It does offer good acting and the movie is most of the time funny, so it is a good entertainment, but nothing more. The extras includes deleted scenes, several “making of” featurettes and a gag reel (bloopers).

The Devil Wears Prada. USA, 2006, 109 min.; Dir.:David Frankel; Scr.: Aline Brosh McKenna (based on Lauren Weisberger's novel); Phot.: Florian Ballhaus; Ed.: Mark Livolsi; Costumes: Patricia Field; Cast: Mreyl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci. Rated PG-13 (some sensuality?!). Official website.

The Devil Wears Prada ©2006 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Dune Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I want to wish an Happy New Year to all my readers! May this new year bring you everything you want and particularly good health.

I really hope that 2007 will be better for us. For my part, my elbow is now feeling better, but my back is getting worse and is really killing me.