July 2007 Archives
I just bought a Flickr Pro account, and all my old sets (despite removing all pics from them, and deleting them) automagically reappeared.
My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smurfmatic/
The Slanted Screen is a documentary film by Jeff Adachi.
A screening of The Slanted Screen will be presented on Friday July 27th at 7PM, at the Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal. The movie lasts for 60 minutes, and a short discussion will follow. It is a follow-up to the General Tao, Kung Fu, Ching Chong round table on Chinese identity and multiculturalism in Canada held in early June 2007, and screening of Chinese Restaurants during the same month.
Facebook event for this activity.
Now that the Audio-Video Zone has converted to Flash for its interface (over a month ago, actually, following repeated attacks from the Linux/open-source community), I can use this superb multimedia delivery tool on Linux. I tried it on my desktop, which runs an up-to-date version of Ubuntu Feisty, yesterday, using Firefox and the mplayer plug-in (with the appropriate codecs), and I was able to stream audio and video.
However, when I tried with Ubuntu Gutsy, which is still in development, and only to be released in late October, the video or audio clip would load, but then mysteriously stop. I've yet to figure out how to get debugging messages. When I saved the stopped clip, and tried playing it, I noticed that I could play the URL contained in the asx, with mplayer and the "-playlist" option. Then, I thought that something was wrong with the plug-in, so went to download a previous Ubuntu package of mozilla-mplayer with the Feisty (3.31) and installed it over the current Gutsy one (3.40). It did not help, as the error stayed the same. I also tried downgrading mplayer as well, and it did not work either.
I did not take more time to investigate this, but I venture a guess that it could be Firefox. There might also be something wrong with my install also, since I tweaked a number of things, custom-installed programs, etc (doubtful, since it worked fine with Feisty, to the best of my memory). But, if there are bugs to be reported, it should be on Launchpad. I thought it was bug #112055 (with fix), but it does not solve the problem for me.
It wasn't only Radio-Canada's Audio-Video zone that was problematic on Gutsy, but also on BBC News (see one of the video streams links, lower on the page). Since the streams were working alright on Feisty, it is hopeful that it will be repaired by release day (or that it is totally an idiosyncratic problem).
Multimedia has definitely been Linux's Achilles Heel, but it surely wasn't helped by the fact that it has been developed in a proprietary way by the industry and arguably because multimedia is (still) something too complex for the open-source world to handle.
And finally, to conclude this year's Fantasia, went to catch Memories of Matsuko, a movie by the same guys behind Kamikaze Girls. Colorful, flowery, extremely bittersweet. Tragic event after another, told in the same sugar-coated manner (which style it is all about). It became a tad long (130 minutes, it was), as we sorta get that Matsuko's life was tragic and that the mystery surrounding her death should be quickly revealed.
Felt a lot longer than it really was (103 minutes), and was reminiscent of a previous Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie, Doppleganger. Sort of à la Suicide Club, started becoming comically odd two-thirds into the movie.
Subversive, with all the politically-incorrect contents that it may afford. It was an awful movie, awfully-behaving that is. But also somewhat awful in the form. All the "American" women happened to be slavic (per their accent).
Very very cute.
Finally, I moved my templates to be compliant with MT4. I am not sure why it happened, but I needed to recreate all my templates (not styles, but really the underlying structure) that were originally made under MT version 3.1.
The most tedious part was to get the default templates of MT4 to appear, as there were no default templates in my backend, even after running the mt-upgrade script. I didn't read readmes, so don't know if that was to be expected until some official release, but I really wanted to try the built-in styles (such as this one here, Hills Green). To get the default templates, for index templates, I first had to change the template type for existing indexes from "custom index template" to whatever it was supposed to be - and as for those that did not exist, create a blank one, while guessing the names of the templates to be (can be based on previous versions of MT) and then do a "refresh template" from the plugin action drop-down menu (it's a preinstalled plugin).
Also, all the widget that I previously had were not good with the built-in styles CSS, because they used "modules-*" as class/id names instead of "widget-*".
Also, interesting news about Movable Type is that Six Apart announced an open-source version of MT (this site is currently using MT4 Beta 7).
Contrarily to what was previously announced, there won't be free screenings of those premiering HK flicks, for reasons still unknown (none of this was even announced on the website).
There is also an extra day of film presentations, as it has usually been the case.
Montmayeur is a documentarist whose films are featured in this year's festival. We caught these two videos after the screening of In The Mood For Doyle:
The most notable of this triple-header (originally advertised as a double of the two first ones) was necessarily In The Mood For Doyle. It was what impressed festival programmers and movie-goers alike. If you are a fan of Christopher Doyle, which is the case for most fans of Wong Kar-wai, then this is a must-see, if you can find it. The director, Yves Montmayeur, was in fact present to introduce the films. In a single ride, we're able to meet all the characters of Mister Doyle, a really really crazy (dingue) man, as translated by singing on Night Shyamalan's set, or pseudo-impromptu disruption of the Olivier Assayas interview.
The other two were 30-minute episodes destined for TV. The Milkyway Image one was more a sort of making-of for several movies of the HK-based independent film production house. The treatment for the latter two was also different, as there was no narrator in In The Mood For Doyle. unny bit in the Milkyway one where Andy Lau attempts English - he should never do that again.
Mr Montmayeur stayed 15 minutes after the movie answering questions, from whether he was influenced by Chris Doyle for the making of the documentary, and how long it took him to know this fantastic circle of HK celebrities.
It was well-made, and left me rather chilly coming out from the theatre. Horror flicks in Asia often succeed with very little blood, few close-combat weapons, and with lots of single-mother and child ghosts. Polyglot characters, just like in WKW's flicks. The movie was interrupted by some disruption that forced authorities to close down all Concordia buildings (downtown and Loyola campuses) at around 9:30PM tonight, which delayed the movie presentation by an hour. Met cool Fantasia people and Concordia cinema profs while killing time.
Beijing Bubbles is an amazing survey of the Beijing Punk/Rock/Alternative music scene. Some of the songs were awfully familiar. I first thought that it was Joyside (whose name I felt like I've heard before), but they were in fact tracks #1 and #5 of the Chill Bands Out (and one of many Chinese indie offerings available on Yesasia), a sampler released by Modern Sky's Guava Records label.
Track #1 is a song called 我爱你 (I love you) by "New Pants" (新裤子), a band founded in 1996, and was apparently a big hit in China. In the movie, they were the ones talking around a table in some office, and whose band member's father we meet at some point in the movie (complaining about his son's appearance). The music video for this song was in fact named Best Music Video in 2000 by Channel [V].
Track #5 is a song called 把它送给你 (Giving this to you) by "Sand" or Sha Zi (沙子), also founded in 1996. In the movie, it was that dude who gave the visit of Tiananmen Square, w/ opinions on the 6/4, and whose really hip mother greeted the documentarists.
Online publicity stunt, but I don't care, because Montreal needs a stylish Japanese clothing store:
Style, style, style. Fantasia movies, why are you always about style? Very stylish, but it is about what it is, a treat for the eyes, entertaining entertainment. Probably another movie ordered by the Macau Tourism Board (see Isabella).
The first memory slot is easily accessible from a small door on the bottom face of the laptop. If you are upgrading your memory, you will need to upgrade both modules in order to preserve your dual-channel configuration.The Owner's Manual that came with the notebook does not even mention where to find the second memory slot. After finding a PC World review of the XPS m1210, we found out that the elusive second RAM slot is located under the keyboard...
For the XPS m1210, you will be looking for PC2-5300 667MHz DDR2 200-pin SO-DIMM RAM. The cheapest RAM today (July 2007) costs around 120CAD for 2 x 1Gb. If you don't want to void your warranty, then the kind that Dell sells (actually from Kingston - even if the RAM that originally came with my notebook was from Korean manufacturer Hynix) is 90CAD for each slab of 1Gb. Prices don't include shipping, nor taxes, but your local computer store should have this item and save you the former.
I do find it a little illogical to bundle Asian films with fantastic films, into something called "genre", but with a limited market for Asian films in Montreal, there does not seem to be an alternative way.
A quick search on the Internet indicates that Toronto has a Toronto Reel Asian International Film Fest since 2002 (with After This Our Exile as North American premiere on opening night), whereas Vancouver has a Vancouver Asian Film Festival since 1996, which are both relatively smaller festivals than Fantasia, in terms of movies shown (80-90 and 40-50, respectively, versus Fantasia's 200+).
In a sense, it's absolutely fine like this, because the end result is still the screening of recent high-quality Asian/Chinese films in theatres for a ridiculously low price ($6.50) which no mainstream cinema is able to match. Besides, my movie list never ever matches those of the fantastic/horror film seekers... Whereas I was not attracted to last year's festival premiere The Descent, they probably were not towards this year's Tekkon Kinkreet. I suppose that we eventually meet at (the rather cheap) The Matrimony, but not at (the movie-award gatherer) After This Our Exile.
Perhaps does not have the most convincing plot or most enticing storyline, but shows off Macau beautifully, on the visual, but also (especially) musically. The title of the movie (same as the leading actress' first name) is suggestive of the "video album" type, but isn't quite it, as she doesn't monopolize the screen at all.
The two HK movies that were originally canceled, A Mob Story and Dead Air have been re-announced on Fantasia's ticket booth board as free movies, to be shown at their original planned date and time on Saturday July 21st.
Both are shot in HD. According to the paper version of the Fantasia program (b/c both movies are not linked from the current site), Dead Air (7:00PM) is an International premiere, while A Mob Story (5:00PM) is a North American premiere. The people at the booth said that these movies were in fact re-showing for free, but did not have more infos. Since there isn't an official press release as of Sunday the 15th, someone could possibly e-mail the Fantasia organizers for an explanation.
You will probably have to lineup for around an hour on the Sunday morning brunch rush hour, but the wait will be definitely worth it. We went to L'Avenue du Plateau, otherwise known simply as "L'Avenue", last week, and discovered that none of the five attending people went there before, despite its reputation as a premiere breakfast place on Avenue Mont-Royal on the Plateau.
While waiting outside, we were greeted by loud electronic music by a folk named Michael Meyer, on a compilation prepared by Londonian party venue Fabrik. The place is definitely for twenty/thirtysomething hipsters. Walls were decorated with various graffitis, customers seated in large comfy upholstered chairs.
After waiting for an hour, we ordered. Three of us had omelettes, each of which are prepared with four eggs, unknown (but indecent) amounts of animal fat, and a choice of filling. They were a delight, but made me wish of eating congee for the rest of the week.
922 avenue du Mont Royal Est, around 15-20$ per person, taxes and tips included.
Photos here below:
The Matrimony is a film shot on the Mainland, we think, or at the very least set in pre-war colonized Shanghai. it is a horror flick, but definitely we thought that it was cheap, oh so cheap, with alternate reality endings, and pianos/violins thrown down the stairs. Because it is Fantasia, it is still recommendable. There was no Rene Liu / Fan Bingbing cat fight.
In terms of cinematography, hands down best film of the festival so far (festival where quality of the picture doesn't matter so much as it's gory or thrilling or both). The opening song is the same as Dog Bite Dog's ending one, while they're not in the same movie caste. Malaysia is beautiful, but Shing, Aaron Kwok's character, is one whose tragic personality drains you completely. In extremely dramatic/serious movies, some directors are able to surprise you with certain choices of meta/obscure jokes (similarly to Pen-Ek Ratanaruang of Last Life In The Universe, with the Ichi The Killer advert in a movie that happens to star Tadanobu Asano). Upon searching for Patrick Tam after watching the HK movie awards ceremony, I found out that he was a professor at City U. Qin Hailu, who plays badass madame Hsia also starred in Fruit Chan's Durian Durian as a hooker with a heart of gold, that time. Young actor Gouw Ian Iskandar playing Boy is not of mixed heritage; just another ethnic Chinese whose parents come from all over the place. :P
After This Our Exile plays again on Friday night at 8:50PM, and was far from being sold out tonight (I bought ticket 70-something two hours before the screening, for a theatre that contains 173). Last chance to catch it in a theatre in Montreal probably.
See photo entry of Yellow Fellas Canadian premiere.
Suffers from the same problem that afflicted Spielberg's A.I., even if this one does it rather more self-consciously (by displaying credits way before movie's end). Three actors, Charlene Choi, Shawn Yue and Isabella Leong, share the screen for 99% of the time. Advertised as a fright movie, so when everything ends quite logically, one's necessarily disappointed.
Yet another palace drama flick... Zhang Ziyi is so annoying (as an actress and the film character) that you wish she'd be killed off rather quickly, but not. Zhou Xun won a prize as supporting actress in HK's movie awards this year, despite a minuscule, but pivotal, role. Movie plot is directly inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, so don't act as if you could not predict the ending.
Also, a video entry of the Yellow Fellas premiere.
More pictures in the extended entry:
Good entertainment, and a hell of a ride that held itself for the first 90 minutes. Of the quality you'd expect for a Hong Kong movie in 2007. But pretty boy Edison Chen as a animal-like assassin? As plausible as Stephen Chow in a WKW movie.
Tekkon Kinkreet is visually stunning, and really the quality of a blockbuster, if only people in the West did not have a prejudice against animated films. I did not read up at all, except to make sure about Michael Arias' credentials, as we all have natural doubts about a non-Japanese person doing an animation film. The result was beautifully rendered, shows off the possibilities of anime made with heavy usage of computer tools (that scene of Mr Snake wandering the hallway of Mr Suzuki's hideout). Treasure Town, so rich in details (some of which laughter-inducing to an English-speaking audience), is an absolute treat for the eyes. Still a lot of cinema ahead, but this one deserves keeping the temporary top spot for a while.
See Petronia's review of Tekkon Kinkreet.
Couple of news, before the official website even releases them...
- A Mob Story and Dead Air (not on site anymore, but still in the programme), both slated for Saturday, July 21st, were canceled, according to a poster, as seen in the background of this random picture of Daniel plus fan. (While this is surely impossible b/c of royalties, I hope that they can replace with a HK movie like Ming Ming, which has an extraordinary score loaded with artists from HK alternative label People Mountain People Sea, such as Pixeltoy and at17.)
- Yellow Fellas is the only free movie of the festival, on a first-come first-served basis (YouTube trailer). Added coolness, we bumped into the director, Tetsuro Shigematsu, while waiting in line, and he confirmed the oddity of the free screening.
Friends' Fantasia list:
Now, the following is the actual tickets lineup and numbers between square brackets were the number of tickets already sold Tuesday July 3rd (first day tickets go on sale) at 7:30PM, time we bought our ticks at, according to that seemingly-but-not-random number on ticket, to give you an idea of the affluence to certain movies.
Capacity of theatres: (H) Hall Theatre: 720 seats; (C) DB Clarke: 380 seats; (S) J.A. De Sève: 173 seats. Source: Fantasia 2003 + Concordia.
Thu Jul 5: Tekkon Kinkreet (H) 7:00PM ;
Fri Jul 6: Dog Bite Dog (S) 11:55PM ;
Sat Jul 7: Yellow Fellas (C) 5:05PM (free - no ticks available); The Banquet (H) 6:45PM ;
Sun Jul 8: Diary (S) 9:40PM ;
Wed Jul 11: After This Our Exile (S) 9:25PM ;
Fri Jul 13: The Matrimony (S) 4:40PM ;
Sat Jul 14: 13 Beloved (H) 7:00PM ; Isabella (S) 9:15PM ;
Tue Jul 17: Exiled (H) 7:30PM ;
Thu Jul 19: Beijing Bubbles (C) 7:20PM ;
Fri Jul 20: Hong Kong Noir + In The Mood For Doyle (C) 5PM ; Silk (S) 9:25PM ;
Sun Jul 22: The World Sinks Except Japan (H) 7:40PM ; Yobi the Five-Tail Fox (H) 12:00PM .
The first Karen is Karen Tam. I just finished speed-reading through the book to her 2004 exhibit at the M-A-I called Gold Mountain Restaurant Montagne d'Or, which I picked up at the Grande Bibliothèque (late by two days now, and back by the end of today) six weeks ago, as I was doing some background research for the round table.
It took me a while to realize what it was about, because I was originally looking for a documentary film, not an art exhibit that is a critique of orientalism through the recreation of a Chinese restaurant with a number of interesting modifications, justaposition of objects not usually found in the real world.
The installation was of great interest for me, especially after the experience of Chinese Restaurants, even if in fact, what I had in mind entering the Bibliothèque was (vaguely) the work by a second Karen, Karen Cho. That was a movie called In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, a documentary, also made in 2004, telling the story of survivors of the exclusion act era. The Chinese Family Service showed her movie at some point during the past year, but I wasn't following the e-mail lists carefully, and missed it. However, I clearly remember this Karen speaking at the public hearings in Montreal for the then-upcoming formal apology by the Canadian govt, emotionally describing the hardships of Canadian Chinese of this era, including that of her own family. But then, I have no idea why "Gold Mountain Restaurant" was not totally unfamiliar. To make matters even more confusing, both are Montrealers by birth, graduated from Concordia (albeit in different concentrations, of course).
So, Gold Mountain Restaurant: an art installation by Karen Tam, and In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, a documentary film by Karen Cho. Got it.
(H) Hall Theatre; (S) JA De Sève; (C) DB Clarke.
Thu Jul 5: Tekkon Kinkreet (H) 7:00PM;
Fri Jul 6: Dog Bite Dog (S) 11:55PM;
Sat Jul 7: Yellow Fellas (C) 5:05PM; The Banquet (H) 6:45PM;
Sun Jul 8: Diary (S) 9:40PM;
Wed Jul 11: After This Our Exile (S) 9:25PM;
Fri Jul 13: The Matrimony (S) 4:40PM;
Sat Jul 14: 13 Beloved (H) 7:00PM; Isabella (S) 9:15PM;
Tue Jul 17: Exiled (H) 7:30PM;
Thu Jul 19: Ghibli et le Mystère Miyazaki + Animania (C) 5PM; Beijing Bubbles (C) 7:20PM;
Fri Jul 20: Hong Kong Noir + In The Mood For Doyle (C) 5PM; Silk (S) 9:25PM;
Sat Jul 21: A Mob Story (C) 5:00PM;
Sun Jul 22: The World Sinks Except Japan (H) 7:40PM;
Mon Jul 23: Retribution (H) 7:30PM;
Ms. Charlie Fidelman of the Montreal Gazette wrote an article (archived) on us (www.metroboulotresto.com) for their "Montreal from A to Z" series, under the letter "F", for Food.
I also went around the Plateau / Petite-Patrie / Parc-Ext area this morning to add pictures to a bunch of stations (special thanks to Mary for the camera!).