Monday, December 19, 2011

Two presidents die, Two reactions around the World

Vaclav Havel (Oct. 1999)
On Sunday, all news outlets in the World reported the death of Václav Havel, the former Czech president and long time human rights activist at the age of 75. He took part from the beginning in the 1960s in the struggle against soviet occupation of his country and the communist military dictatorship it imposed in Prague. After he left office, he continued his activism by supporting  minorities in the World for their freedom rights. Mr. Havel died of complications he's been having after his lung cancer few years ago. May he rest in peace with other men of good will.

The reactions around the World were unanimous in paying tribute to his legacy, rightfully so in my opinion, and citing him as an example for courage and determination to fight (peacefully) for freedom and democracy.

Kim Jong Il (September 2011)
On the other end of the spectrum, completely by surprise, Sunday night, news agencies announced (relaying the official state news from Pyang Yang) the death of Kim Jong-Il, the (crazy) dictator who ruled North Korea since 1994 following the 17 years dictatorship of his father Kim Il-Sung. We will have to see the consequences on the Korean peninsula and balance of power in the region. Let's hope this is good news for the poor people of North Korea.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Shame on Canada and Obama

From CBC.ca:  Delegates cheer after approving Palestinian membership in a 107-14 vote with 52 abstentions during UNESCO's 36th General Conference in Paris on Monday. (Thibault Camus/Associated Press)

Today, the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) voted with a majority over the required two thirds (107 Yes, 14 No) to grant full state membership to Palestine in UNESCO, despite the threat from the United States to withdraw its financing from the organization, estimated to $60 million a year, 20% of the UNESCO budget.

Whether one is for or against the Palestinian approach, it is still shameful that the Canadian government (elected with only 40% of votes) continues its right wing (evangelical?) approach to foreign policy with a blind support to Israel, with an aggressive lobbying prior to the vote, and now considering withdrawing its $10 million yearly contribution to UNESCO.

We're talking about punishing an organization that helps promoting education, literacy, protecting Human heritage around the World, including supporting U.S. and NATO in rebuilding Afghanistan! Just because of a political vote!

What a "great" president you are Mr. Obama, a hypocrite that continues  to do the opposite of all the things he promised during his 2008 campaign, including a balanced foreign policy and support for development around the World. How does cutting %20 of UNESCO budget helps? So much for "A change we can believe in".

Do Canada and the U.S. prefer that Palestinians go back to violent conflict?

God, I'm ashamed to be Canadian today!

Personal note:
I find talking about this conflict exhausting to be honest, sometimes I just wish a coalition of fed up Jews, Muslims and Christians destroys (after evacuation) all the Holy places over there so that nothing is left to fight about, maybe (just maybe) all the religious morons will understand that Human Life is the holiest thing they should care about.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Film: The "Ghost" of Polanski

Opinion ★★★★
The Ghost Writer is the last movie by Polanski before he was arrested in Switzerland in September 2009, in relation with his rape crime on a minor in 1977 in California; crime to which he pleaded guilty. He fled the U.S. in 1978 before he was sentenced for his crime, which left his case pending trial. He has been wanted by the american justice since then. There's an interesting documentary on the topic, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
Roman Polanski on the set of The Ghost Writer
But let's get back to the movie, it's more interesting (at least it was to me).

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, a "ghost" is a writer who lends his/her writing services (some may say talent) to another person, usually a public figure or celebrity, to write in a better style, the memoirs or biography of that person.

Ewan McGregor is "The Ghost" in this story, and his character is never named during the movie, like "Ghosts" are never named in the books they literally write. The story starts in London, UK, where the agent of the "Ghost" gets him a deal to write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan. In fact, McGregor is playing a "Ghost" replacing another "Ghost" who died few weeks earlier from a suspicious drowning accident not far from Lang's residence on an Island in what seems to be New England.
Pierce Brosnan & Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer
The movie is about the discoveries that McGregor's character will make throughout the process and his improvised investigation of the death of his predecessor, that bring into the light very complex links between Lang, his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams), and Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson). All of this happening under the shadow of a potential indictment for war crimes of Lang, for allowing torture in Afghanistan.
Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer
Olivia Williams & Tom Wilkinson in The Ghost Writer
From a cinematic perspective, Polanski succeeds into building an amazing thriller atmosphere, with the perfect winter in Northern Sea visual, a slow pace allowing the story and mystery to build-up.

As equally interesting is the political dimension (intentional or not) that the movie has. One can't help but think of Tony Blair in this story, but I leave it up to you to discover the story when you watch the movie.

The cast is amazing, art direction serving the story, and a great story, what else to ask for? I highly recommend it.

The Trailer