Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In 1956, brave students in Hungary embarked on an unplanned march in Budapest. The Russians brought in tanks. Sometimes students found reprieve as guns were handed out by resistance fighters to civilians on the street to fight the Russians. Told through the narration of former author Anna Porter who witnessed much of this as a 12-year-old girl, she escaped  with her mother after a close call at Shopron border crossing of being turned back by Russians to New Zealand, and finally after much traveling around the world, she settled in Toronto.

Canada, through the amazing leadership of Jack Pickersgill who was immigration minister in Canada, he arranged for free transportation and settlement at Powell River in Vancouver. The entire forestry school of Shopron was adopted by Simon Fraser University. Most became great professors. This is a story about student resilience, and Canada taking 37,000 refugees like guests.  There are three parts to this film: the student massacre by the Russians and on and off again occurrence in 1956. The forestry students who escaped to Shopron and fled to the Austrian border were the lucky ones. The settlement in camps at Powell River and the return to visit the country they in the film left behind. Anna porter has written several books about the entire lost generation of bright young people and those that ended up in Canada. A pivotal, important film that shows how Canada rallied when the rest of the world didn't. Canada's generosity to these Hungarian refugees paid off.. It became one of the best success stories regarding the plight of refugees. Canada was their saviour. Archival clips, past and present testimonies make this film truly riveting. Many personal touches recreate the entire period of danger and safety. A CBC documentary. This film was shown at the Hungarian Film Festival, titled “Freedom First” in Toronto.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016



Gourmet Arts Gala – a sensory showstopper in la belle ville

Lyon is set to lionize Montréal en Lumière (MEL). Over a dozen stellar chefs from the city are teaming up with some 40 chefs in Montreal’s landmark kitchens. The grand affair is guaranteed to dazzle the palette of diners, wine lovers, cider fiends, cheese and bread addicts, vegan and health conscious  chia and quinoa fans.

The legendary city - France's  capital of gastronomy - has been a longtime  joie de vivre twin-city fit. Lyon boasts over 4,200 restaurants with over 20 Michelin-star awards. Montreal is opening its kitchens to over 40 overseas’ chefs which includes a parade of 15 chefs from the delectable Délices network – a 4-continent global union of 22 cities of gastronomical repute.

MEL is partnering with Beaujolais wines.



Jérôme Bocuse

Friday, November 25, 2016

THE EXAM (directed by Peter Bergendy) **

In 1957 a clandestine group of intelligence Hungarian spies are charged with secretly testing  to find out who is counter-revolutionary. Andras, under his friend and boss, Pali ensures he conducts fair and square his own test, but Andras himself is being spied on and tested. 

When he falls in love with Eva, the table turns on him and prior to that, his won friend Pali, Eva herself is part of the spy scheme. She is the ultimate test for Andras to prove where his loyalty lies. She’s really a plant with that purpose in mind. The ending is good. (Screened at Hungarian Film Festival in Toronto).


                                                         MissedManners: My litany of  complaints
It’s a sign of our selfish times that people simply ignore the niceties of politeness and consideration; and it starts right before you leave your personal dwelling. Please ladies, stop wearing perfume that overcomes anyone sitting in the movie theatre. Have you ever noticed how  many women think it wise to douse themselves with strong and outdated perfume? It's a stale stench that seems to waft over the entire seating area. Bad enough you have to deal with noisy popcorn eaters and candyphiles with their annoying wrappers. Why do they think, the slower they open the package the quieter it will be? In fact, it just prolongs the earshot agony.

Latecomers to movie theatres think nothing about trampling over you once the movie has started. Even people that arrive on time find it beneath them to say "excuse me" as they step on your feet, passing in front of you to get a seat.

Bus passengers are another bone of contention for me. How about applying some common courtesy – in the form of deodorant?!  It's simply disgusting to sit near a person radiating B.O. instead of a smile. 

Speaking of foul smelling people, smokers reek of stale smoke. I think they should relegate a section in the bus for smokers, so us non-smokers can breathe in ease.

As for sidewalk behaviour, please stop riding your bike on sidewalks that are meant for walking. Even the handicapped speed along  in their nifty vehicles on the sidewalk thinking it's their right to run you over. True, they've been dealt a bad deal, but making me lose a leg out of their anger, is not kindly justice. Sometimes, they come up from behind; there is no bell - nothing to warn you of their speedy approach.

I know everything I say is politically incorrect, or risky, but the truth is, I'm not alone in these complaints. My close friends often greet me with  ominous announcements about the perils they encountered in traveling to my place by public transport.

Courtesy shows class, and class shows consideration, and consideration shows civility – the very foundation upon which we all rely to move without incidence from one place to another on a daily basis.

Now don’t get me started on drivers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016




Bucolic Beauty in November

                                                                         photos by Cindy Thomas

The Saint Lawrence River has gifted us a treasure where water and land intercept, forming a natural island basin for accessible terrain and aquatic enjoyment. Welcome to Iles-de-Boucherville National Park! A much beloved Sépaq park, it prominently nests in the middle of this great river – which together with the Great Lakes – forms a hydrographic system that penetrates 3,058 km into North America! Running northeast from Lake Ontario towards the Atlantic, where it forms the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the waterway is 10,000 years old; it formed when the glaciers began retreating, exposing a giant gash in the Earth’s crust. This geological transformation brought about its own upheaval, and today, one of its phenomena’s is this superb park of many splendors. This is the place I chose to explore on a November day.

Founded in 1984 and only a few kilometres – south of downtown Montreal, Îles-des-Boucherville is wild in feel. In fact, it is home to a great number of mammals, including  an exorbitant number of colourful birds - partridges, hawks, herons on that list - along with an awesome variety of amphibians, reptiles and fauna. The season you go, tells its own animal story.  So, I asked my talented  photographer friend, Cindy Thomas to accompany me. As I discovered, her eagle eye and camera knowledge enabled her to capture the myriad of nuances and vistas that were vividly revealed to us as we explored the variety of paths traveling some 25 kilometres amidst the park’s five islands.

November in this park proved to be a surprise for us, for despite the loss of leaves and the absence of a shining sun, the gentle blend of end-of-fall colours, the dramatic vegetation contrasts – no longer hidden by summer’s overgrowth, revealed pathways of subtle secretive nooks and groves.  

Indeed, it was a tapestry of subtle seduction unique to November – a poignant palette pleasingly positioned for photographer, cyclist and walker alike.

At the reception centre, we met Robert Renaud (AKA “Bob the fox” – just change the ‘u’ in his last name to ‘r’, and ‘fox” is what you get). 

Robert Renaud

 He was incredibly friendly, and helpful. He advised us to walk eastward on Île Sainte-Marguerite (it actually opened in 1982) to begin our 7-kilometre tour of this island. 

November’s muted hues and the silence of nature had its calming effect. We came to a birch grove and a bench that seemed to beckon us.
To our delight, we were greeted by a family of  black-capped chickadees. 

We stayed for a while to enjoy their company. 

Note that at this time of year, people are scarce, though we came across some stray fishermen and the odd cyclist. My senses were overcome with the simplicity of nature unencumbered by human traffic. 

November’s magic meant peace and silence – a rarefied sensatory epiphany that I found inspiring.

However, we did meet up on two occasions with jovial Pierre Bureau – a Sépaq man who travels on his bike to assist and guide. He also makes the cross-country ski trails in nearby Mont Saint Bruno. 

Pierre Bureau

Pierre suggested Cindy and I explore the western side of the island. It was wonderful to simply stumble upon him, for we ended up traveling parts of the walking path of La Grande Riviere, La Petite Rivière with its grassy path, and a few side benders that border channels, wondering where exactly we were.  A ferry appeared, but no one was using it today.

Lost in this network of paths with map in hand, we realized the sign could have been more specific, but part of the fun was simply the nearby surprise. On land or near the water, discoveries abound.

Best of all, the park is flat, so one can see it all with eyes looking outward rather than watching one’s feet for tricky inclines. I loved our day here – the Sépaq warmth, trees, flowing water, the casts of light and shadow scenically brought to further life with occasional birdsong. I could  gaze , sit and stroll here forever!

Projected for the end of 2017, is the erection of three bridges to connect visitors year-round between the islands of Sainte-Marguerite to Île à Pinard, and to Île la Commune to Île Grosbois (the latter two offering 7km.of trails).

Call: (450) 928-5088
The website is:

Monday, November 21, 2016

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Directed by Kenneth Lonergan) ****

No doubt about it, the superb acting in this realistic film is second to none. Casey Affleck in the role of Lee Chandler cleverly manages to make major depression no yawn for the viewer. Lee is going through permanent shock, depression and PTSD after not only losing his older brother, but his own children in a tragic accident for which he was at fault.                     

He’s a loner janitor in a Boston apartment complex, but his life is put on hold there when he finds out that he has been charged with acting as the guardian to his brother’s 16-year-old son, Patrick – perfectly  played by Lucas Hedges. 

It is a responsibility Lee does not want. It would seem that Lee’s time with happiness is over, and he just can’t recover. The back story is told in episodic flashbacks in a sophisticated manner that keep the viewer intensely interested in the journey Lee is embarking on both mentally, emotionally and physically. I am not sure what the point of this film is, but it is an excellent piece of drama.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

MADAME B, STORY OF A NORTH KOREAN (Directed by Jero Yun) **

Despite the incredible fortitude of this North Korean woman who the smuggles people out of North Korea, and ends up with two husbands – one in China to whom she is sold when she first left North Korea in furtive circumstances; the other her first husband with whom she has two sons, and for whom she gives up her Chinese husband to live with her now being estranged husband in South Korea, this messy documentary is so badly edited and utterly confusing in following her movements from Korea and China. 

The viewer is left in longing to figure out the labyrinth in which Madame B lived as she juggled so many twists in her peripatetic life. What an amazing experience in one life plagued with an obsession to be with her sons and reunite with her Chinese husband. This unique film was screened at RIDM.