Monday, December 26, 2016

Miss Sloane (Directed by John Madden) ****

Perfectionist and lobbyist, Elizabeth Sloane plays her politically marked cards so close to her chest, no one can predict what scrupulous move she will make next to win at all costs.  Dressed to kill, she belongs to the ace suit, but the one of hearts is not one she holds. Winning for her means changing the gun law so ensure dangerous offenders are prevented from buying them. Sloane is Washington’s top lobbyist whose drive to succeed brings her on the brink of ruin. Her life is lonely and without love of any sort. Her passion lies in getting what she must do to win, even if it means spying on her own team or throwing making public a very private incident affecting her key team member.

This is a long film that moves as fast as Jessica Chastain talks and walks in this political thriller that shows just how dastardly everyone plays their hand when it comes to winning the lobbyist game. She's marvelous in this role. Korean script writer Jonathon Perera inserted a tangle of twists typical in Korean films, but this is truly an American Capitol Hill pot boiler.

Friday, December 23, 2016

What will ISIS Do After It Kills Everybody?

There is no post political after-killing agenda with ISIS. It is a killing machine, and that is its sole purpose. After the total world annihilation it is determined to achieve, what new society will it create? One never hears about its vision after every non-Muslim is skewered, other than kill, kill, kill.
There will be no music, scientific research to better mankind’s health, in every kind of way.

No there there will be just big black hole, but the hole is here on earth, not in space. And it will be filled with the colour red.

What demented aberrations in family upbringing could nurture encourage and celebrate such a loathsome goal?

What kind of mothers swaddled their babies? What kind of men beat up their wives? The cowardly violence is a genesis that surely started in these control-freak families: husbands subjugating wives, beating them, brothers stoning their own sisters, kids following the commandments that would avoid shame even if it meant family killings.

There is no hope for this kind of human. There is no Western wrath enormous enough to match theirs; there is no way to turn these endlessly ill creatures of death around. Just as mankind went form Neanderthal to  fully erect homo sapiens (knowing man), one wonders if ISIS is a collective regression into a homo subspecies whose name has the word  "kill" in its Latin form.

ISIS will not be content until the world’s dry earth and seas are brimming blood. They will feel proud only when this happens, knowing they did this, knowing that the impulse to kill can’t be stopped. Hopefully, they’ll turn on one another, and then from our graves we can heave a long eternal sigh of relief.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SUGAR MOUNTAIN (Directed by Richard Gray) ***

Alaskan wilderness is the major backdrop for this film with a plot that is highly unlikely – or is it? It's compelling but something doesn’t ring true about it all; that could be because the implausible plot in the film is based on a falsehood.

Miles and Liam (two brothers) intent on saving the fishing boat of their late mother hatch a scheme. Miles, the older sibling will fake getting lost in the snowy wilds in the mountains and stay undetected for 10 days. But this movie is full of hoaxes that don’t bring in the money they hope to get from writing a book about Miles’ dangerous mishap in the mountains. 

Instead, the plan gets found out and each brother must conjure up a way to keep the deception going. Ironically, Miles wants out of the plan once he returns from the mountain, but the trek caused severe injury to him.

Once back, he has a change of heart, and this stirs up even more problems. In the end, the mother’s boat is the least of the brothers' worries. The interminable number of big and small plot twists becomes a parody on the reversal of fortune for most everyone involved. Still, the acting wasn’t bad, but the  vivid scenery was the true scene stealer of it all.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Allied (Directed by Robert Zemeckis) ***

In 1942, Pitt's Canadian intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachutes into North Africa – the best scene in the film with James Bond style, minus the music. He makes his way to Casablanca. His mission is to assassinate the German ambassador with the help of Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), a French Resistance fighter who will be posing as his wife and who has gotten herself into the good graces of the local Nazi chiefs. Over the next few days, they prepare themselves for the mission while trying to establish themselves as a loving married couple so as not to arouse any suspicion. There is attraction between them despite their professional attitudes of faking things. Still, their masked fiction fades; the two can’t resist one another which culminates inside a car during a desert dust storm (effective indeed). They complete their mission in an equally spectacular manner. During their escape, Max asks Marianne to return to London with him so that they can get married. She eagerly agrees.
A year later with Max and Marianne are happily married and living in London with their newborn baby Anna. (That labor scene outside at night during an air raid was well done).

Bliss ends when evidence suggests that the real Marianne Beausejour was killed a couple of years earlier and that his wife is actually a German spy. Max cannot believe this but the evidence, while not quite conclusive, is fairly damning. To settle the question once and for all, he is ordered to leave some fake information lying around where she can find it—if it turns up in the next intercepted German communique, she is guilty. If she does turn out to be a spy, Max is required to kill her. 

If he refuses or tries to tip her off, it will lead to his execution as well. To make matters even more discomfiting, not only is Max not allowed to investigate on his own during the three days it will take to get the potentially damning evidence, he has to go on with Marianne. The ending is epic, but the film falls flat. Marion Cotard was great; Brad Pitt was shockingly boring.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


There are few parks that allow entrance with your dog in Quebec. You can’t even walk along the water side of Lac St-Louis in Lachine. You have to cross the street and take your dog on the sidewalk. Ridiculous! It's  really a drag because one of the joys of walking in nature with your dog is sharing your dogs romp on a leash into freedom in a natural environment with you.  

Your dog keeps you company, and he/she is a great magnet for social banter with strangers you meet on the trails.

I was delighted to find  Sépaq has opened  4 doggy-
on-leash trails in Oka Park along with Frontenac Park in St-François (250 kilometres form Montreal) and Jacques-Cartier Park in Longueil (a mere metro/bus ride away from Montreal).


I headed up to Oka Park (45 minutes by car from Montreal) on December 3rd to take advantage of this new doggy opportunity. My dog Zak and I took the 7-kilometre trail along the Calvaire d’ Oka. Seven colourful wood reliefs in tiny chapel churches replicating the originals ones crafted by François Guernon from Bellville in the 18th-century dotted the trail and at the summit there were four other. Collectively, they replicated the various stages of suffering in the crucifixion of Christ.

It was an unusual adornment built among the tree-clustered path, but they added a sense of reverence to the surrounding nature.

Though there were no colourful leaves on trees at this time of year, the paths were lovely. I spotted two huge pileated (red-capped) woodpeckers tapping away on a tree trunk, and in the distance, I saw Lake of Two Mountains.

The view at the summit was lovely indeed; people were unusually quiet. Maybe they were tired from the walk, or respectful of the religious element at their backs – the four final chapels.

Oka Park is a hot bed of activity for the entire family in summer with its beach, and there are multiple activities for everyone throughout the summer – all under the banner of “The Okasions”.

Winter's coming. The park has six ski trails totaling more than 35 kilometres!

There’s camping and all-facility cabins. For sure, I will return.

For complete information, visit:

For you and your dog(s), go to

Saturday, December 3, 2016

INFERNO (Directed by Ron Howard) **

 A confusing lame script: a cold atmosphere prevails

 In Florence, Italy, Harvard professor of symbolism Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history's most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante's “Inferno”. When he wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks, a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories.   


All mysteries become more visual clued through Botticelli’s painting of hell.

Against this backdrop, Langdon overcomes his amnesia, battles a chilling adversary and grapples with a confusing riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Can he with another professor with whom he once entertained a romance save the world?

This is the lamest of the trilogies, and if Langdon feels confused by memory hallucinations, we are triply baffled. There is no suspense, no chemistry between either of the two female geniuses he works with to prevent the “apocalyptic demise of the world. One of the dames proves to be on side with evil. The glorious Istanbul concert halls final scene if stunning, and perhaps it is this that makes the film worthy of seeing if you can stick it out to the end. Tom Hanks not only tried to save the world in his role as the professor, but you could see him trying to “feel” the part to make the film work.  Fortunately, the novel by Dan Brown  is far superior to its film version.



Thursday, December 1, 2016


News about Métropolis

*Copyright © 2016. Tous droits réservés. L’Équipe Spectra.

   An updated experience for artists, artisans and audiences

To mark Montreal’s 375th anniversary, TELUS and L’Équipe Spectra join forces
to ensure the success of the Métropolis

Montreal, Thursday, December 1, 2016L’Équipe Spectra, which has been seeking a partner to invest in modernizing Métropolis, its legendary showroom on Ste. Catherine Street East, is delighted to announce that a partnership agreement has been finalized to that end with TELUS, a major player in our economy and a leader in the country’s telecommunications sector. Beginning in late 2016, the two companies, sharing a passion for the performing arts and new technologies, will pool their expertise to modernize the venue in order to offer Montrealers an updated world class performing arts experience.

An investment in the future
“When two leaders in their respective domains work together on a project this exhilarating, we can expect great things. With our company, counting almost 40 years of experience in the entertainment industry; TELUS, a leading company in the domain of new technologies; and Métropolis, the #1 venue in Canada, we have everything it takes to offer Montrealers the perfect gift!” stated Jacques-André Dupont, CEO of L’Équipe Spectra.

Jacques-André Dupont (foreground) & François Gratton

Photo by Nancy Snipper

François Gratton, Executive Vice-President, TELUS and Partner Solutions and President, Business Solutions East and TELUS Québec, adds: “Montreal is renowned for its vibrant music scene and as an outstanding springboard for emerging artists. Through this partnership, TELUS wishes to mark the city’s 375th anniversary by bestowing it with a lasting cultural legacy, through an investment intended to revitalize this legendary venue and burnish Montreal’s reputation on the international scene. Together, we will ensure the cachet and integrity of the venue is preserved so that spectators, artists and performers alike can rediscover the iconic space they have always loved.”

Get ready for M TELUS

M TELUS logo

As a tribute to Métropolis and heralding the new partnership with TELUS, the legendary hall that has thrilled Montreal for 30 years will become M TELUS in May, 2017. And it should be emphasized that L’Équipe Spectra and TELUS are especially concerned with preserving the historic character of the venue; no surprise, then, to find traces of a living legacy amidst the modernized venue.
This is not the first collaboration between these two companies. TELUS has proudly supported emerging Quebec artists for the past 15 years, providing a platform and exposure of their work by including them in the company’s advertising campaigns. In fact, in 2012, it was at the Métropolis that TELUS launched its compilation album of songs featured in its campaigns.
Ranking 1st in Canada and 13th on the long list of the 200 greatest concert clubs in the world in industry magazine Pollstar, Métropolis is, first and foremost, The favourite show venue of Montrealers and the many visitors and tourists who flock to it to cheer on the biggest and greatest artists on the planet, a flagship of the Quartier des spectacles and our downtown culture. And so it will remain.

Under this agreement, TELUS commits to invest more than 5 million dollars over the next 10 years. Architectural and construction work will stretch over three years, notably including a complete modernization of the lighting and sound systems, with additional staging elements as well. Work will feature a bright, user-friendly redevelopment of the Ste. Catherine Street façade, as well as refurbishment of the lobby and loges (boxes). TELUS will bring its technological skill and know-how to bear in order to maximize the spectator experience, offering fans a completely modernized, rejuvenated experience, as well as promotional support for producers and artists.
In addition to preserving the integrity and unique character of the performance hall, the shared goal is to improve the quality and high standards of the shows and concerts presented for the audience, artists, employees and producers, and offer a showroom worthy of the international reputation of the Montreal cultural scene.
There is no closure expected, and the venue will continue to present shows while construction is in progress.

One venue, 132 years of history
Over its 132-year history, 59 Ste. Catherine Street East has enjoyed a number of incarnations:

  • Founded in 1884 as a skating rink.
  • The following year, it became Théâtre Français, a summer theatre.
  • From the 1920s, the venue became The Loew’s Court cinema, before once again becoming Théâtre Français.
  • After two fires, it was rebuilt in early 1930 as a theatre: décor was handled by Emmanuel Briffa, who was also responsible for the Théâtre Outremont.
  • From 1960 to 1981, the venue became Cinema Eros, screening adult films.
  • After a six-year closure, the space became “Métropolis,” a discotheque and showroom.
  • In 1997, L’Équipe Spectra purchased Métropolis and reconfigured it as a venue exclusively dedicated to live performance. Since then, it has welcomed such prestigious artists as David Bowie, Prince, Beck, Les Rita Mitsouko, Kraftwerk, Radiohead, Björk and Stromae, to name but a few. The venue is also an essential creative space for local talents: Jean Leloup, Louis-Jean Cormier, Pierre Lapointe, Daniel Bélanger, Ariane Moffatt and Plume Latraverse have all headlined here.
  • In 2017, Métropolis will become M TELUS, continuing to serve as a launching pad for local musicians, welcome the world’s finest international artists, and offer an outstanding venue for performing arts and popular celebrations in the heart of Montreal.

About L’Équipe Spectra
Since its founding in 1977 by Alain Simard, André Ménard and Denyse McCann, L’Équipe Spectra has contributed to developing and raising the profile of the Montreal cultural scene at both the national and international level, with an array of major productions and events including: major popular events such as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the FrancoFolies de Montréal and MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, that celebrate music, the arts and gastronomy; a rich variety of high-quality stage productions, conceived and developed for touring purposes; Spectra Musique, a bold record label featuring both emerging stars and big names on the local and international scenes; the Maison du Festival, a one-of-a-kind cultural complex housing a live showroom, bistro, jazz resource centre and cinematheque, a gallery, an exhibition hall and a boutique, all right in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles; a dynamic artists’ agency representing some of the most talented and highly respected artists on the Québec and French cultural scenes; three renowned concert halls; international-calibre exhibitions that redefine the museum experience, including Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, created and developed with X3 Productions to offer a unique visitor experience; a complete service for organizing corporate events and cultural sponsorship.

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is Canada’s fastest-growing national telecommunications company, with $12.5 billion of annual revenue and 12.5 million customer connections, including 8.5 million wireless subscribers, 1.5 million residential network access lines, 1.6 million high-speed Internet subscribers and 1 million TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video, and is Canada’s largest health-care IT provider.

About TELUS in Quebec
Over the next four years, TELUS plans to invest more than $2 billion in the construction of new infrastructure and installations across Quebec. Between 2000 and the end of 2020, TELUS will have invested more than $27 billion in the province to expand its leading wireline and wireless infrastructure. As part of this commitment, TELUS has extended its fibre-optic network directly to homes, businesses, schools and health care facilities in numerous urban and rural communities to deliver innovation and help drive economic growth in the province.
In keeping with the company’s philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, team members and retirees have contributed more than $54 million and 540,000 volunteer hours to charitable and community organizations throughout Quebec since 2000.Created in 2005 by TELUS President and CEO Darren Entwistle, these 15 local community boards are dedicated to supporting local projects. Since they were founded, the three Quebec-based Community Boards have donated more than $12.45 million to thousands of local charitable projects conducted by organizations such as L’Ancre des jeunes, Motivaction Jeunesse and the CRBM foundation, among others.
In September 2012, TELUS opened a state-of-the-art Intelligent Internet Data Centre in Rimouski, Quebec. TELUS chose to build the centre in Rimouski due to availability of a skilled workforce in the community, abundant green features (including an abundance of hydroelectricity) and cool climate. In 2015, the TELUS Intelligent Internet Data Centre in Rimouski, recognized as one of the world’s most technologically innovative and energy-efficient facilities, received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Award for sustainable development.


Luiza Staniec
Director, press relations and social media
514 665-34

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In 1956, brave students in Hungary embarked on an unplanned march in Budapest. The Russians brought in tanks. Sometimes students found reprieve as guns were handed out by resistance fighters to civilians on the street to fight the Russians. Told through the narration of former author Anna Porter who witnessed much of this as a 12-year-old girl, she escaped  with her mother after a close call at Shopron border crossing of being turned back by Russians to New Zealand, and finally after much traveling around the world, she settled in Toronto.

Canada, through the amazing leadership of Jack Pickersgill who was immigration minister in Canada, he arranged for free transportation and settlement at Powell River in Vancouver. The entire forestry school of Shopron was adopted by Simon Fraser University. Most became great professors. This is a story about student resilience, and Canada taking 37,000 refugees like guests.  There are three parts to this film: the student massacre by the Russians and on and off again occurrence in 1956. The forestry students who escaped to Shopron and fled to the Austrian border were the lucky ones. The settlement in camps at Powell River and the return to visit the country they in the film left behind. Anna porter has written several books about the entire lost generation of bright young people and those that ended up in Canada. A pivotal, important film that shows how Canada rallied when the rest of the world didn't. Canada's generosity to these Hungarian refugees paid off.. It became one of the best success stories regarding the plight of refugees. Canada was their saviour. Archival clips, past and present testimonies make this film truly riveting. Many personal touches recreate the entire period of danger and safety. A CBC documentary. This film was shown at the Hungarian Film Festival, titled “Freedom First” in Toronto.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016



Gourmet Arts Gala – a sensory showstopper in la belle ville

Lyon is set to lionize Montréal en Lumière (MEL). Over a dozen stellar chefs from the city are teaming up with some 40 chefs in Montreal’s landmark kitchens. The grand affair is guaranteed to dazzle the palette of diners, wine lovers, cider fiends, cheese and bread addicts, vegan and health conscious  chia and quinoa fans.

The legendary city - France's  capital of gastronomy - has been a longtime  joie de vivre twin-city fit. Lyon boasts over 4,200 restaurants with over 20 Michelin-star awards. Montreal is opening its kitchens to over 40 overseas’ chefs which includes a parade of 15 chefs from the delectable Délices network – a 4-continent global union of 22 cities of gastronomical repute.

MEL is partnering with Beaujolais wines.



Jérôme Bocuse

Friday, November 25, 2016

THE EXAM (directed by Peter Bergendy) **

In 1957 a clandestine group of intelligence Hungarian spies are charged with secretly testing  to find out who is counter-revolutionary. Andras, under his friend and boss, Pali ensures he conducts fair and square his own test, but Andras himself is being spied on and tested. 

When he falls in love with Eva, the table turns on him and prior to that, his won friend Pali, Eva herself is part of the spy scheme. She is the ultimate test for Andras to prove where his loyalty lies. She’s really a plant with that purpose in mind. The ending is good. (Screened at Hungarian Film Festival in Toronto).


                                                         MissedManners: My litany of  complaints
It’s a sign of our selfish times that people simply ignore the niceties of politeness and consideration; and it starts right before you leave your personal dwelling. Please ladies, stop wearing perfume that overcomes anyone sitting in the movie theatre. Have you ever noticed how  many women think it wise to douse themselves with strong and outdated perfume? It's a stale stench that seems to waft over the entire seating area. Bad enough you have to deal with noisy popcorn eaters and candyphiles with their annoying wrappers. Why do they think, the slower they open the package the quieter it will be? In fact, it just prolongs the earshot agony.

Latecomers to movie theatres think nothing about trampling over you once the movie has started. Even people that arrive on time find it beneath them to say "excuse me" as they step on your feet, passing in front of you to get a seat.

Bus passengers are another bone of contention for me. How about applying some common courtesy – in the form of deodorant?!  It's simply disgusting to sit near a person radiating B.O. instead of a smile. 

Speaking of foul smelling people, smokers reek of stale smoke. I think they should relegate a section in the bus for smokers, so us non-smokers can breathe in ease.

As for sidewalk behaviour, please stop riding your bike on sidewalks that are meant for walking. Even the handicapped speed along  in their nifty vehicles on the sidewalk thinking it's their right to run you over. True, they've been dealt a bad deal, but making me lose a leg out of their anger, is not kindly justice. Sometimes, they come up from behind; there is no bell - nothing to warn you of their speedy approach.

I know everything I say is politically incorrect, or risky, but the truth is, I'm not alone in these complaints. My close friends often greet me with  ominous announcements about the perils they encountered in traveling to my place by public transport.

Courtesy shows class, and class shows consideration, and consideration shows civility – the very foundation upon which we all rely to move without incidence from one place to another on a daily basis.

Now don’t get me started on drivers!