Sunday, June 29, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


The fourth instalment of Indiana Jones is to Steven Spielberg (Minority Report) what House of Flying Daggers is to Zhang Yimou (The Road Home). In both cases, these two famous movie directors wanted to take it easy and have fun. However, Spielberg's attempt to have fun is a nightmare for movie viewers.

First of all, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins when we learn that a Russian squad led by Colonel Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), during the 1950s, were trying to steal a secret artifact known as the Crystal Skull by using Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones (Harrison Ford). Of course, this is not any kind of artifact; it's hidden in an American top-secret military base. However, as Jones escapes the Russians' clutches, a race between him and the USA's number-one enemy (at the time of the Cold War) will begin to uncover the secret behind the Crystal Skull.

Obviously, while Spielberg probably felt like a kid in a sandlot with this movie, the same thing can't be said for movie viewers. In fact, unlike what Yimou did for House of Flying Daggers, the director behind great movies like Saving Private Ryan doesn't even bother to display a minimum of effort to make this flick being a presentable one. Therefore, one may wonder if Spielberg lost his passion for movie making.

After all, with a fairly good screenwriter like David Koepp (Spider-Man), this movie can't even feast our appetite with a coherent storyline. Thus, the script is unwillingly too slow. Of course, this is not due to the fact that Spielberg tried to emulate Wong Kar-Wai's style. Let's just say that the story takes so much time to unfold before our eyes. As a result of such a bad scriptwriting, this movie's first part is nothing more than a succession of hilarious scenes that don't even have a logical link between them.

In other words, while looking at the first part, we come to wonder if this movie has any story at all...

Even worse, when the story supposedly begins, we just want to hold ourself back from rolling on the floor and laughing. This means that Koepp doesn't succeed in saving this movie from a catastrophe with a succession of action scenes - that are rather interesting. In fact, one may get the same feeling when watching a 1970s kung-fu movie: the lack of flesh in the story is just a pathetic excuse to pile up one action scene after another.

Evidently, this movie's mindlessness is due to not just the lack of coherence from the storyline, but also the lack of depth in the development of characters. Unfortunately, the characters are just caricatures of a cartoon characters. For instance, while Indiana Jones looks like the hero who always have the answer for getting out of a mess, some characters revolving around him seem to be just here in order to look like dumbs for the rest of the movie. All in all, even though the cast seem enthusiastic at playing in this flick, its members is stuck with one-dimensional characters. Without a doubt, the lack of nuances in the cast's forced performance make us lose any interest for the movie.

With such a review, does it mean that the movie might not please to the audience in general? Once again, it really depends of what you expect from this movie. If you really want to take a rest, than this movie, thanks to its action scenes, will help you to go to bed. If you just watch it out of curiosity, then expect to be dismayed if you've seen the three previous Indiana Jones movies.

Rating: 2 / 5

***


USA (2008)
Length: 124 minutes
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: David Koepp
Starring: Harrison Ford, Ray Winstone, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf and Karen Allen

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Quebec!


This post is meant to loudly wish a happy birthday to Quebec! Let's just hope that Quebec (as well as Canada) keeps growing as a society in every sense of the term. Hey, rest assured, Quebec had evidently come a long way since the time of Lionel Groulx. Finally, I'll leave you with you a quiz that I made just to see how well you know Quebec.

***

1. In 2005, which Quebecker writer won a literary Governor General Award for his/her novel that takes place during the Second World War.

a) Sergio Kokis
b) Colin McDougall
c) Nicole Fyfe Martel
d) Aki Shimazaki

2. During the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838, who led the Patriotes in their fights against the British?

a) Robert Nelson
b) Wolfred Nelson
c) Louis-Joseph Papineau
d) Marie-Thomas Chevalier de Lorimier

3. In the 1960s, which Quebecker journalist coined the famous expression "Quiet Revolution" to describe the political and social changes occuring in Quebec?

a) Brian Upton
b) Gérard Pelletier
c) Lysianne Gagnon
d) Henry Aubin

4. Which former player of the Montreal Canadiens created the deking technique known as the Spin O-Rama, which consists in evading an opponent by a sudden 180- or 360-degree turn?

a) Denis Savard
b) Guy Lafleur
c) Jean Béliveau
d) Yvon Cournoyer

5. What does the name of Quebec City ("Kébec") means in Algonquin (a Native language)?

a) Where the spirits watch us
b) Where the honoured warriors rest
c) Where the river (the St-Lawrence) narrows
d) Where our History begins

6. Which one of these movies DOES NOT deal with the October Crisis?

a) Les ordres
b) Octobre
c) Le party
d) Les bons débarras

7. In which Quebecker city is the first French-speaking military regiment based?

a) St-Jean
b) Matane
c) Valcartier
d) St-Georges

8. In the 1960s, during the Montreal Canadiens' games, while many French Quebecker hockey fans grew up listening to the play-by-play comments of René Lecavalier, most English Quebeckers actually grew up to whose play-by-play comments? Hint: He came up with the expression "a hair-raising save".

a) Bob Cole
b) Danny Gallivan
c) Brian MacFarlane
d) Craig Simpson

9. In 1977, who created the concept of Quebec's National Improvisation League (LNI)?

a) Luc Senay and Réjean Tremblay
b) Guy A. Lepage and Yves Pelletier
c) Robert Gravel and Yvon Leduc
d) Yvan Ponton and Réal Bossé

10. Which Quebecker playwright built his reputation on plays that talk about poor working class people of the Plateau Mont-Royal, a district of Montreal?

a) Wajdi Mouawad
b) Robert Lepage
c) Fred Barry
d) Michel Tremblay

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There Is a Future Outside of Montreal for Immigrants!

Quebec's annual immigration quota must not be increased from 45,000 to about 50,000. For our economy's sake, the city of Montreal can't keep single-handedly welcoming most immigrants coming in Quebec.

Obviously, in a free country, an immigrant should theoretically have the right to go live wherever he/she wants. However, potential immigrants should consider going to live outside of Montreal. In fact, if Quebec's metropolis keeps welcoming more than the three quarters of immigrants, there are some economic problems awaiting us.


Most immigrants would straightforwardly affirm that there is "everything" in Montreal. From the worldwide known nightlife, the restaurants (I'm talking about those in the centre of the Island), the four universities (Université de Montréal, McGill, UQÀM and Concordia) and the direct access to governmental services (just like in any other cities in Quebec, anyway), it may seem normal that many immigrants are pleased to go live there. However, let's face it: there's no job for every single Montrealer who are part of the economically active population (EAP).

In other words, it's not because Montreal is Quebec's metropolis that it can economically absorb everybody considering that it welcomed 72.6% of our immigration last year! Besides, the over-concentration of immigrants in the region of Montreal is the source of problems of unemployment. In fact, recent studies conducted by Statistics Canada reveal that at least 80,000 newly arrived immigrants living on the Island of Montreal, who are part of the EAP, are jobless. If you want this in percentage, it gives you 18.1% of newly arrived immigrants who are jobless!

As if it wasn't enough, it's that kind of over-concentration (as a factor among others) that makes Quebec, of all Canadian provinces, have the biggest unemployment rate among immigrants.

In the end, many immigrants coming to Quebec should consider going to live outside of Montreal. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, "immigrants living in small urban centres and in rural areas tend to achieve economic integration much faster than immigrants living in large urban areas". Of course, without generalizing, that same study says that an immigrant living in small urban centres is more likely 1) to be wealthier than one who lives in large urban areas (like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver); and 2) as wealthy as any average Canadian/Quebecker.

Thus, we should partially conclude that potential immigrants coming to Quebec must know if the Montrealer labour market actually needs them. Moreover, let's also point out that in Quebec, immigrants are mostly needed in "resource regions" and small urban centres like the suburbs, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Drummondville or Quebec City, for instance. Besides, where there are available jobs, there's a need for immigration.

In a nutshell, opening your arms to immigration is beautiful. However, can immigrants be any good to us if most of them end up in Montreal as jobless people? Hence, comes the necessity to inform even more immigrants about where they are needed, economically speaking. To that matter, Quebec's Programme d'aide à l'intégration des immigrants et des minorités visibles (PRIIME) might be a good start, but we still have efforts to do. In short, the Charest government can think about increasing Quebec's annual immigration quota when Montreal ceases to welcome the bulk of our immigration at the expense of other administrative regions for our economy's sake.

***

Since the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's foundation puts this city on the map, why don't a lot more immigrants choose to live in this city that looks almost ethnically homogeneous? After all, Quebec City has many attractive assets: 1) It's one of the best places in Canada (far ahead of Montreal, by the way) for investors; 2) the lowest unemployment rate in Quebec (4.9%); 3) one known university (Laval University); 4) a direct access to governmental services (provincial and federal alike).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Senseless Pay Per Drive

The city of Montreal certainly needs money to finance its public transit system. However, establishing toll bridges and turn pikes penalizing people who enter Montreal is a senseless idea.

For some people, this might look like a good idea. With people living in the suburbs of the North and South Shore, that certainly makes a lot of people coming on the island to work, study or have fun. Moreover, creating toll bridges and turn pikes looks, for some silly Montrealers, like a good way to diminish the number of cars circulating on the Island and to finance our public transit system. After all, our city councillors were not shitting us by saying that cars embody a great source of pollution! Hence, this question naturally comes: why should suburban drivers single-handedly finance our public transportation system? Needless to remind you that the bulk of the Société des Transports de Montréal (STM) is on the Island of Montreal.


Obviously, some Montrealers' dream to make suburban drivers pay one buck to enter the Island stands on nothing but questionable assumptions.

This idea foolishly holds suburban drivers responsible for the high number of cars circulating on the Island. The city's plan might act as an incentive for suburbans to use public transit more often. However, Montreal's mayor, Gérald Tremblay, doesn't seem to understand that public transit in suburbs works at - not minutes - every hour on the dot, which makes it an unconvincing alternative.

Thus, even if actions were taken against suburban drivers, Tremblay's plan would give a free ride to Montrealer drivers (no puns intended). Therefore, while the number of cars coming from suburbs might potentially decrease, Montreal will still have to deal with road congestions (especially in highly populated districts, inside highways and the downtown) and pollution created by Montrealer drivers themselves. In the end, it's ludicrous to penalize suburbans by assuming that virtually most Montrealers use public transportation!

In spite of what was said, our city councillors ought to come up with a plan that indiscriminately penalizes both suburban and Montrealer drivers. To that matter, La Presse's columnist Alain Dubuc has once proposed that there should be toll roads at the entrance of Montreal's most popular spots for drivers, especially the downtown. Besides, another idea may consist in asking Quebec's government to grant to Montreal the right to raise the taxes on public parking lots given that Premier Jean Charest is an extremely Montreal-centred person.

Instead of targeting Montrealer and suburban drivers, I'm afraid to tell you that our city councillors make us, Montrealers, look like idiots who pretend to be the centre of the world. Asking suburban drivers to finance our public transit system (and also our roads) can be compared to a kid who wants to live in an apartment for a while by having his/her rents paid by someone else (that reminds me of my sister).

I know that most of you, dear readers who got the patience to read this far, still don't have a car, but what's your opinion?

***

What's currently being played in my laptop's DVD player? It's the complete first season of Dexter. The titular character is a blood spatter analyst by day for the Miami police department. However, by night, he's a serial killer killing criminals who are at large... Here's the trailer:


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