Tintin’s excellent Quebec adventure

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, Steven Spielberg’s and Peter Jackson’s Tintin opus, is set to come early to Quebec, and Dec. 9 looks like the early release date.

Mille millions de tonerre de brest que je suis content!

Tintin au Quebec





Simpson, Knox and Anthony: Justice denied

Sixteen years to the day of O.J. Simpson being acquitted in the trial of the (past) century, Amanda Knox was released by the Italian courts in the grisly murder of Meredith Kercher. Many people remember where they were at 1 p.m. on Oct. 3, 1995. The day Simpson, the NFL football star, was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Brown’s friend Ronald Goldman.

I’m not sure if 16 years from now we’ll remember where we were, when Amanda Knox was acquitted. Maybe we’ll remember that though the law may have been upheld, in our media frenzied-world, justice probably wasn’t served. As in the recent cases of Knox and Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty on July 5 of this year of first-degree murder, in the death of her daughter Caylee Marie Anthony, justice is often denied.

The trial of the (past) Century, was a media circus of unparalleled proportion. There had never been coverage of this magnitude for a trial. The media fed an insatiable appetite for everything Simpson for the duration of the trial.

Whether in the U.S. or in Italy, it doesn’t seem to matter which justice system is involved but more the level of scrutiny by the media, that sends the halls of justice spinning into irrelevance. Outside forces make for great theatre but blur the awful realities of crime where victims are forgotten and culprits are celebrated.

Simpson the football hero, Knox and Anthony the vixen black widows, ultimately can profit from their crimes. It would seem that untold numbers of clear and precise proof of guilt can easily be derailed by one or two sloppy details made by investigators or prosecutors.

DNA and dirty leather gloves not being sufficient in the court of public and media opinion. Where the Italian courts negligent, and did they railroad a U.S. citizen using shoddy evidence? Or was Knox, too beautiful to be a murderer, lucky to get away with it because of sloppy work by Italian investigators?

The appeal of her 2009 conviction worked and she along with her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were acquitted. Rudy Guede, an Ivorian drifter who was found guilty and received a sentence of 16 years in a separate trial, is now the only person serving time for the murder of Kercher.

Should we indict the media for these sensational acquittals or should we just accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world, and that justice is but a fleeting principle that is blinded by our frailties.

Conservatism: U.S.-Canada

The arrival of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1981, heralded a coming renaissance of Conservatism with a big C in North America. Reagan strengthened conservative Republican power with a mixture of tax cuts, a march towards deregulation, an ever-expanding defense budget and military, and a return to conservative Christian family values.

His policies, from supply-side economics to his public description of the Soviet Union as an evil empire, brought on major changes in the U.S. and the world culminating with the fall of communism. This success planted the seeds of conservatism as an effective ideology, a success story that reverberates to this day. The prime examples being today’s Tea Party in the U.S. and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party in Canada.

Harper garnered 166 seats on May 2 of this year increasing his number of seats from 143. In securing a majority government he paved the way for his conservative agenda. Harper, with the unfortunate passing of opposition NDP leader Jack Layton, would appear to have carte blanche to implement his conservative program.

But Canada is a far different country than the U.S., and where an iconoclast Quebec resides and acts as a buffer to a descent into unabashed conservatism. In the U.S. it is the land of FOX TV, Rupert Murdoch’s network with a conservative slant, that is regularly the subject of controversy. Conservative talking heads rule like Rush Limbaugh, and the Twin Towers of political nuttiness, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham.

These gonzo voices espouse the conservative hardline 24/7 fuelling the Republican and Christian masses in their support for the Tea Party movement. In Canada Harper’s conservatives have no such background noise egging them on. Aside from Pierre Karl Péladeau’s Sun News Network, which has a Category B licence and is only available on a handful of cable and satellite systems in Canada, they are not that many ultra-conservative voices around.

Though Don Cherry on national hockey broadcasts gives Coulter and Ingraham a run for their money, his floral fashion sense makes it hard to take him seriously. Harper’s agenda is one that rises and falls from the bowels of his own party not from the ideological desires of the majority of Canadians. His rise to power arcs back to the Liberal’s sponsorship scandal and the segmentation of the electorate by the Bloc Québécois up until the last election.

These factors paved the way for Harper’s majority. A divided centre and left wing putting a minority of right-wingers in power. With the NDP and Liberals unable to challenge the Conservatives, will the huddled masses like their Canada being pulled to the hard right? Quebecers distate for the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime agenda, and apparent statistics showing a decrease in crime will fuel opposition.

The coming months should bring some answers, but with both the NDP and Liberals without an official and permanent leader, Harper will have a head start. How far he gets may change the landscape and political tone of our country.

Will we see the rise of a mainstream matter-of-fact right that pushes the bounds of civility à la Tea Party? Or will we recoil at the thought of becoming a society that implements laws like the one in Alabama, that requires state and local law enforcement officials to try to verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops or arrests.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

With the passing of iconic entrepreneur and visionary, Steve Jobs, it seems the whole world has been affected in some way. But still, this morning was a typical Steve Jobs morning.

I hopped onto the metro and sat next to a woman listening to her iPod Touch. Changed metro line to stand next to someone fiddling with his iPhone, and this morning when I sat down at my workstation, I was starring enviously at my coworker’s new 27 inch iMac. I guess good old Steve Jobs will actually be around for quite some time.

Merci Steve.

Fall Books

The Fall is prime time for book lovers.

Coming up:

Guillermo Del Toro’s The Night Eternal: Book Three Of The Strain Trilogy  (Oct. 25) Vampires Galore!

Thomas Mullen’s The Revisionists (Out now) Changing events through time

And for adepts of the langue of Moliere:

Jean-Cristophe Grange’s Le Passager (Out now). Gonzo French writer rides again.

Good reading, and more about books coming up.

Hannibal comes to TV

In 1988 novelist Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs was published. The world of thrillers, whether in print or in cinéma, would never be the same again. Harris’s Hannibal Lecter who would go on to be immortalized by Anthony Hopkins in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 movie. Lecter has become an archetype. One that every writer and screenwriter has battled with.

Lecter is the gold standard. And untold numbers of books and movies have laboured to imitate him or at least channel him. Whether fiction or non-fiction, crime novelists have struggled to reproduce the elegant prose of Harris, while trying to find humanity in the worst of offenders. No wonder that today serial killers seem to populate the zeitgeist of early 21st century. Shows like Criminal Minds and Showtime’s Dexter have strong viewership.

In terms of “beloved” monsters Dexter seems to have taken up the torch from the failing hands of Lecter. Dexter, now in its 6th season, is still going strong. Dexter is the creation of writer Jeff Lindsay. The Dexter series of books tallies in at six with the release on Oct. 18 of Double Dexter.

Dexter Morgan is not the erudite or renaissance man that Lecter is. But he is born “in blood” the same way that Hannibal was. Dexter witnessing the brutal murder of his mother, a young Lecter witnessing the cannibalistic end of his sister, Mischa. Dexter’s voiceover in the series is a compelling voyeuristic device that enables the viewer to empathise with, of all people, a serial killer. Dexter is a serial killer of serial killers. The viewer’s suspension of disbelief is stretched to the limit. Only fine writing can make this premise palatable to the hordes of thriller lovers.

This improbable scenario could only have been made possible with the arrival of Hannibal Lecter. Harris’s novel transcended the genre of thrillers adding aspects of horror in large scoops, that make the Dexters of today possible. Before The Silence of the Lambs, horror was a niche in itself. H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker and Stephen King being the grand masters of terror.

But now horror permeates books and movies. Scenes and images who would have been relegated to the horror side of the cineplex find themselves in small and large doses of mainstream movies. In Steven Soderbergh’s new cinéma-vérité thriller Contagion, an autopsy scene of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character shows a doctor opening up her skull and pulling a skin flap over her brow. Definetly horrific, but now just another gonzo scene for us to stomach.

It seems that this melding of thriller and horror is not going away soon. French film studio Gaumont has just launched a U.S. television branch, Gaumont International Television. Gaumont will debut two new shows, one of them titled Hannibal. So Harris’s creation will come to TV in a series about the early relationship between Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham. The series will be helmed by Pushing Daisies creator, Bryan Fuller.

Now we come full circle and Hannibal is back. But he’s not the only sheriff in town. Maybe they’ll be a crossover show à la Alien vs. Predator. Hannibal vs. Dexter, now one could really wrap himself into this one, saran wrap that is.