30 September 2012

La Sylphide by Bolshoi

La Sylphide


chor. August Bournonville  (1836)
recension  Johan Kobborg (2005)
Bolshoi Ballet
simulcast 30 September 2012 from Moscow
with  Vyacheslav Lopatin (James) and Ekaterina Krysanova (Sylph)

Johan Kobborg has added some imaginative touches to the great classic, and Vyacheslav Lopatin was beautiful and exciting in virtuoso Bournonville style. This was the first broadcast of the season and  quite wonderful.

29 September 2012

Pedro Almodóvar compels and disturbs

Los abrazos rotos  (Spain, 2009)

Broken Caresses

dir. Pedro Almodóvar

rating: ✭✭✭✭

A film noir with considerable suspense and delayed explanations with flashbacks, its characters are for the most part obsessed. Moments of happiness are short, but there is a realistic resolution.  It is not the director’s best, but certainly compelling for the viewer.

20 September 2012

A péquiste swearing-in

Hon. Pierre Duchesne
Lieutenant Governor of Quebec

The swearing-in of the péquiste government took place in the afternoon of 19 September 2012 behind closed doors in the presence of the Honourable Lieutenant Governor, representative in Quebec of H.M. the Queen. The Canadian flag had symbolically been removed from the ornate Red Room of the legislature where the ceremony took place.

Premier Marois lost no time reaffirming the separatist aspirations of the government. One minister was designated to a post for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Sovereignist Governance. Léo Blouin-Bureau (Laval-des-Rapides), while not in cabinet, was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Youth.

coat of arms of the 28th lieutenant governor

Premier and Parliamentary Secretary for Youth

Vive le Canada!

19 September 2012

Dog in the Night

Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
(London, 2003)

The unconventional novel that starts as a mystery narrated by a bright but autistic teenager turns into something else — in retrospect I think I might prefer the more dramatic stage version (recently simulcast from National Theatre, London).

A runaway best seller, in both an adult and children's version, the conventional ending left me disappointed. 

15 September 2012

Outrages of age

Old age — a time to enjoy in tranquillity the fruits of one's labours in the sunset of life, or is it?

La vieillesse est un naufrage.
Old age is a shipwreck.
Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970)

Ô rage! Ô désespoir! Ô vieillesse ennemie...
Oh rage! Oh despair! Oh enemy old age...
Pierre Corneille (1606-1684)

Woody Allen, neurotically still creating a movie a year despite advancing years, has been obsessed by the horror of mortality since his youth. Now he finds has has been right all along:

It's a bad business. It's a confirmation that the anxieties and terrors I've had all my life were accurate. There's no advantage to aging. You don't get wiser, you don't get more mellow, you don't see life in a more glowing way. You have to fight your body decaying, and you have less options...The only thing you can do is what you did when you were 20 — because you're always walking with an abyss right under your feet...
[The Guardian, 13 September 2012]

06 September 2012

Quebec divided, stumbles again

By a small percentage Quebec voters chose a minority government for the province that is dedicated to the creation of a nation, that is, independent of Canada.  A referendum could be called at any time the Parti Québécois chooses, if it can be shown that 15% of the population is in favour. 

Premier-designate Pauline Marois (PQ, Charlevoix - Côte de Beaupré) has not suggested she wants a referendum in the near future, but the blackmail game against Ottawa is about to start.

Now 63, Mme Marois has been in public life for over 30 years, and held more than a dozen cabinet posts including finance, health, and deputy premier. Formerly resident of a multi-million dollar sixteen hectare estate at Île Bizard, she and financier land developer husband now live more modestly in Old Montreal.

Liberals were less than 1% behind PQ in popular vote, with 50 seats in the next legislature, compared to 54 for PQ and 19 for CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec). It has been announced that the new government will annul the contested increases in student tuition (to be replaced by another scheme geared to inflation), and repeal Law 12 of 18 May 2012. University budgets, already in deficit, have been thrown into disarray.

The new government is be sworn in on 19 September 2012.

                           Léo Bureau-Blouin (PQ, Laval des Rapides)

20 yo, former junior college student and  activist; he uses all  the separatist rhetoric and  photographs well

The Economist

Rex Murphy wrote [National Post, 8 September 2012]:

It’s the same thing every time. In our benignly patriotic fantasies, we see Quebec separatism off to the churchyard, attend the lowering of the flower-spotted casket and picture the priest murmuring the lovely farewell prayers for the departed — then the reverie suddenly collapses. The bubble bursts, and this comforting tableau over a finally finished separatist movement is revealed to be all wish, no reality.
We realize that Quebec separatism is a durable entity — has a new guise every time it comes back — and that our fantasies about its vanishing are but self-comforting deceptions practised on ourselves.
Quebec separatism, like its odd twin the neverendum-referendum, has more lives than a sack of cats. This week, as if to illustrate the point, we saw yet another return of the lumbering beast, the victory of a Quebec minority government for the latest separatist avatar Pauline Marois. Naturally the victory, even though premised on a rather thin and meagre 30-plus percent of the popular vote, started the whole conversation around separatism and Quebec independence all over again. The dragon returns.
But I also sense something important and quite different from our last encounters with the beast. For the first time since Quebec separation became a real issue for all Canadians — which was, I suggest, as long ago as the turbulent ’60s, and the launch of the (then famous) Bi and Bi Commission — the threat of Quebec walking out of the federation does not send chills up the spines of people outside Quebec.
I cannot speak for the dynamics within Quebec, but outside, the feeling is more and more clear. The game of threat, campaign and referendum is worn out. The emotions stirred in so many Canadians early on in this process — the strong, reflexive urge to prevent something as horrible as the breakup of the country — have greatly decayed. Separatism is no longer seen as a legitimate yearning for recognition or respect. People believe Quebec has received both in good measure.
Separatism is more often seen now as a tactical way to lever goodies from weak federal governments, or to claim special privileges within Quebec. A tool in the political box, not a cry from the heart.
Outside Quebec, the mood on Quebec separatism is not so much indifference, as low-boil annoyance. If Ms. Marois were to reach a level of popular support within her minority that enabled her to try once more for a Yes in a referendum, I very much suspect the general citizenry outside Quebec would stifle a yawn, profess annoyance and urge them to “get on with it.” The endless ping-pong of “we’re going, no, we’re staying” has become very flat, weary and stale. No Quebec separatist politician can count on some huge rally of non-Canadians to raise a storm of “don’t go” should there be a next time.
Call it what you will. After a generation of separatist politics, after enduring the presence of a separatist party (the Bloc Québécois) in the House of Commons, after all the strains and emotions of fighting referendum campaigns, most people are quite tired of it all. And the federalist elements within Quebec — particularly those great long-sufferers, Quebec anglos — must surely by now have come to a point of utter, frustrated exhaustion.
So if Ms. Marois’ new government intends to pick up the old game of “demanding” everything from Ottawa, as she simultaneously denounces the federalism that has routinely given Quebec’s demands so high a priority, the current Prime Minister will not jump to deliver. Her game will be seen as the feeble, out-of-date act it is. Harper may even, with justice, turn the request around and ask her what Quebec is bringing to the federation in exchange.
Ms. Marois’ government might contemplate the following as an axiom: A separatist provincial government should never demand more than what is requested by the provincial governments that actually support, believe in and want to remain in Canada.