Montreal, 2006

A trip up to Montreal for this year's FantAsia Festival, and the bonus of having convinced Steph and Martin to join us at our BNB.

Fri Jul 21

I'd worked late a few nights this week, and so was able to take off from work at 2:45 to head home. A quick shower and throwing last minute stuff together and we were on the road by 4pm, as planned. Whereupon we ran right into horrible traffic, as unplanned. I think it took us about an hour and a half to get to the NH tolls on 93, 89 was pretty clear, but we hit a line at the border, though we got waved through once we made it up to the wicket. We'd stopped for a quick truck stop dinner before then. Then we hit construction on 35 in Quebec, and a large slow down getting over the Pont Champlain. We finally pulled up to the Petit Prince bed and breakfast at 12:20am or so, and our host Steve let us in. Steph and Martin had already arrived, but a soft knock on their door didn't elicit a response, so we unpacked, took advantage of the newly installed shower head above the 2 person jacuzzi, and settled in to sleep in the lovely sleigh bed.

Sat Jul 22

My phone beeped around 8:30 in the morning, as we were getting ready to head down for breakfast (the scents had been wafting up since 8am and woke us up). Steph and Martin were ready for breakfast too, so we all headed down together. Perfect blueberry pancakes with maple infused fresh whipped cream, scones, fresh orange juice, loose leaf earl grey tea and a good chat to catch up got our day started on the right foot.

We all headed out together to wander over to Atom Heart, taking lots of pictures along the way. The proprietor of Atom Heart let us all listen to our selections, and we got stuff. Steph and Martin split off to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art while Cris and I headed back to Concordia to catch our first movie at 1pm. We grabbed sandwiches on the way and munched while we walked.

We had to go over to the other building to get the tickets printed out, and just made it as the previews were starting. We had to split up as there were no seats left together. "The Five Venoms" was a classic Shaw Brothers movie, the ancient head of a kung fu school sending his last pupil out to keep an eye on his senior students who had fallen into evil ways. Each one had the style of a poisonous animal: centipede, scorpion, snake, toad, gecko. The subtitles were occasionally lacking, but it was an entertaining movie with a good amount of fighting and wire work. The costumes on Snake and Centipede were right out of the 80's - silver lame, and red pleather.

We went back to the other building to get the tickets on my credit card printed out, but Cris lost his phone somewhere. We tried calling it and looking for it in the theatre, but it was off. We headed back to the BNB to rest for a bit and then drove up north on St. Laurent to get coffee/tea/apple pie at Casa de Popolo, with lots of bike riders. We popped up to St. Viatur Bakery to get a couple dozen bagels and then back to the BNB.

We joined Steph and Martin for the walk up to Mad Hatters to meet Liz and Ray. It was raining a little bit, so we settled on the first floor inside and put in some orders while waiting for them. They showed up with their friend Simon, and we were having a good chat over pints and poutine when the power went out. The waitress brought over candles and we carried on by the light coming dimly in from the street window. Cris and I left them there at around 8:45 and went to stand in line for our next film, the Celluloid Experiments short collection. It was ... brain breaking. A remix of Day of the Dead, one about an eel turning into a human like monster and then something else that happened after I kept my eyes shut, an animated short about a guy with a pitchfork that really should have been longer. A neat one using footage from old movies projected on origami shapes (a train trip mostly). A funny one, "Le Baiser", where the film breaks and is put together upside down and the water and actors fall into the sky, and then fall back down again when it's fixed. The Chris Cunningham one, "Rubbery Johnny" was freakin' disturbing, but I kind of expected that from him. "11:59" did a pretty good job of misdirecting us about an intense young man who was determined to do ... something. "Before Dawn" was a detached look at a truck picking up people to smuggle them across a border. But there was a slew of shorts with no plot and odd images and good music (one by Aphex Twin) that kept flashing frames at us, and we left there worn out. Headed back to the BNB and crashed out after taking a bath with a "waving not drowning" bath bomb.

Sun Jul 23

Breakfast this morning was eggs benedict and eggs florentine (guys and girls) with a huge pile of fresh fruit. We talked about home decoration and the movies we'd seen, then headed upstairs to pack up for the 11am checkout time. We hugged them good bye and loaded up the car.

On our drive up to the Jean Talon market, we passed a store on St. Laurent that was something something de l'enfant jesus, though they didn't have a picture of the baby Jesus crying. The market was wonderful, we got cookbooks in the book store, browsed the kitchen stuff store, got fresh grapes and real maple syrup, saw piles of cherries and lychees and other fruit and veggies. It was mostly open air, with a covered more permanent section, and a pair of musicians were playing near the entrance we came in. Cris got a lamb sandwich and I got a berry smoothie for lunch. We drove back down to Concordia and found free street parking near the theatre.

The crowd was a lot smaller for "My Dead Girlfriend", not nearly sold out like the other two shows we caught. The director was there and took a few questions at the end. The short film before the main feature kinda sucked, so bad it wasn't even entertaining. "MDG", however, had us all laughing throughout - a wonderful black comedy. It was a little rough in spots, but the humour was right up our alley, and it was post modern enough to explicitly not venture a theory about why the zombies were created after the first one (raised by black magic) bit them, and to comment at one point when the lead was looking for the missing zombie "this is the point where a cat usually jumps out". The acting was natural and the soundtrack rocked, and the shots only rarely relied on the two talking heads approach. Not high cinema, but if you get a chance to watch it, go for it.

We hit the road right after, it was a little later than we thought since there was a delay in gettin the movie started. We hit the road at about 2:45, and had clear sailing all the way to the border, where we stopped at the duty free to get the GST rebate on the hotel room, and some wine with the refund. We stopped in Burlington VT for dinner in the pedestrian mall, sitting on a patio, and then grabbing tea and coffee for the road. I found a nice tea shop, but they were out of a lot of things, but I was able to get a minty concoction in a mason jar to go. It just filled my plastic travel mug, which was good, as the glass was bloody hot. I kept dozing off and gave up after it got dark, and Cris got us home through light traffic. It was about 10:30 when we got there, and I just had the energy to shower and read for a bit, so much for cleaning before my parent's visit on Tuesday...

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