Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fantasia Day Five (11 juillet 2005)

Just saw one movie that day, which I didn't much like. So, rather than sit in the hotel room and write reviews, I played tourist, heading north to check out the Stade Olympique area - mainly the Biodome and Tower:

None of my pictures from the tropical area came out terribly well. For a zoo, the Biodome doesn't really let you see the animals in some parts very well. I got a picture that might have a croc in it, but since I was obeying the "no flash rules, it's hard to tell.

So, we've got some fish in the first picture. It was feeding time, so there were lots of little fish parts being tossed in. There were also puffins from a neighboring tank coming in to get themselves some snacks. A bunch of kids thought they were penguins (we'll get to those guys in a bit),

The next couple of pictures show a whole bunch of birds. This was in the "St. Lawrence Seaway" area, which was the most pleasant one to be carrying a backpack through while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It was also the most active, with birds flying over your heads from one section to another.

One thing I found really nifty, just from a taking pictures standpoint, is the barrier between the environment created for the animals and the obviously manmade structure. The ground-level animals won't really notice it, other than not being able to range as far as they might like, but the birds will, although it doesn't seem to phase them. They're gulls, so they'd encounter something similar in the wild.

Next up - penguins! Penguins are cool birds. They're easily anthropomorphised (I'm not sure why Pixar or one of the other CGI animation companies hasn't done a full-on penguin picture), and they do funny things, like these guys, just staring at the wall.

I suppose it's another case of animals wondering about being in a zoo. I also wondered, after seeing March of the Penguins, what penguins in a zoo do around mating season. The film shows this fascinatingly complex and involved ritual, involving crossing miles upon miles of glacier, then alternating care for the eggs and babies, but that's not an imperitive for these guys.

Right next to the penguins were areas with puffins and auks, and I figure they must get jealous of their southern cousins. Not that animals in zoos necessarily like being stared at, but after a while, they must think "c'mon, we're small, black, and flightless too! What makes us less adorable than them!"

Or not. And puffins can fly. So, back to the penguins.

This was probably one of the few parts of the Biodome where people would just sit and watch. Part of it is because the birds aren't camoflaged like so many of the other animals, and their black coats stick out from the snow-white environment, so it's not hard work for the kids to spot them. They also do fun things, walking, sliding on their bellies, and swimming.

It's also noteworthy that even in the rather limited space provided (although I imagine that there's a "back room" to which the penguins can retreat), birds of a feather really do tend to flock together - the emperor penguins hang with the other emperor penguins, the macaroni penguins with the other macaroni penguins, and so on. They're all in the same environment, so it's not as though there's a reason to separate; it's just instinct.

The next stop was the tower built for the Olympics. It's tall and inclined, and notable for being tall and inclined. It looks almost like part of a space settlement, a rail gun to shoot payloads into orbit.

The top does offer some impressive views of the city. Montreal seems to be spread out a little more than Boston proper (although if you include Cambridge, Brookline, and Quincy, Boston seems much larger). Most of the Fantasia stuff took place in the downtown area with the skyscrapers way off at the end.

The second picture points toward the St. Lawrence and catches a bit of the BioDome at the bottom of the frame. I felt a little nervous taking the funicular to the top, and then when I got up there, not much to do but look and take pictures.

One last shot, of the tower and its attendant domes - the Biodome and Olympic Stadium - before getting to the movie review. I must say, I know from watching ESPN that Stade Olympique was a pretty dire place for a baseball game, but it looks quite cool from the outside.

One Missed Call 2 (Chakushin Ari 2)

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 11 July 2005 in Théâtre Hall Concordia (Fantasia)

I suppose that when you go to into a movie whose name ends with "2" without having seen the movie that has the same name minus "2", you're sort of asking for trouble. No matter how much exposition you're fed at the beginning of the movie, you'll be starting from behind, and what series veterans will see as expanding the mythology can come across as an awful lot to swallow all at once. And you don't get everything, so there will be some nuances of the sequel that fly right past you. I'll probably see the original One Missed Call sometime (it's well-regarded, and Takashi Miike doing straight-up horror), but I don't hold out much hope of it making me realize that One Missed Call 2 is actually a good movie.

So, apparently, last year, there was this thing going on in Tokyo where people would get a call on their cell phone with (1) a ringtone they'd never downloaded, (2) a date/timestamp of three days in the future, and (3) the sound of the person answering it dying horribly. Then, at the appointed time, they'd die, and they'd be found with a red gumball in their mouth, and it was all somehow connected to some creepy, recently-deceased little girl. The last actually died on live TV. Now, it's all starting again, only without the candy, and with variable lengths on the timestamps. The main focus here seems to be Kyoko (Mimura), a day-care teacher who sees one friend and another friend's father killed off in rapid succession. With her own doom looming in three days, she teams up with her boyfriend Naoto (Yu Yoshizawa), the detective who investigated the original ringtone deaths (Renji Ishibashi), and Tenzoe (Asaka Seto), a reporter who has apparently also been following the case for a year despite apparently not being in the first movie; she appears to have some sort of psychic connection.

Read the rest at HBS.

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