Montreal, 2007

Cris's passport was ready to pick up in Montreal so we threw together a last minute roadtrip, with me heading up after him to get there in the evening, and with the prepurchase of tickets to movies at the Fantasia movie festival for the Friday and the Sunday. I'd just gone two weeks before and was excited that I finally got to go for two trips during the yearly festival.

Fri Jul 20, 2007

I decided to work from home while waiting for Tony and Hilary to pick me up. This time it worked a lot better, and I got a lot of work done between 8am and noon (along with some laundry while waiting for things to compile). I had a quick shower and was just ready when they pulled up at quarter after noon. There was a bit of traffic getting out of the city, but it kept moving. We pulled off at Burlington for Hilary to sort out her new job (she'd just flown in the night before to move here) at the Border's, filling out forms etc. while Tony and I browsed for books and I ordered a sandwich and a scone for lunch. Then we stopped for Tony to get a sandwich at a shop down the road, which took a bit longer than anticipated as there was a huge line. I finished my sandwich sitting in the car while Hilary talked to her sister. Then back on the road, with only one more stop at a gas station in NH that sells biodiesel. I slowed us down a bit, having to wait in line to pay for the gas and again to use the restroom, but we were back on the road and heading north soon enough. We hit a couple of quick rainstorms, but it was mostly blue skies, white clouds, and sun for the trip.

It took us a while to get through the line up at the border, but they waved us through once we got there. I got a text message from Cris that he'd picked up his passport and all was good. The Sunday showing of City of Violence was sold out, so we'd picked up tickets to the 7:15pm showing on Friday. We were on time for me to make it, until we hit a huge back up before the Champlaign bridge. Cris called and said that he'd left a key for me at the hotel (Cris and I were staying at the Maritime Plaza as it has proved so convenient last time), so Tony pulled up there after we got into the city proper, waited for me to run up and drop my things, and then gave me a lift up to de Mainsonneueve. It was 7:30 by now, but luckily, the festival was running late and I found Cris in line. I just had time to run across the street into a convenience store and grab two bottles of water before the line started to move and we headed in.

Wow, what a ride. City of Violence starts as a cop in Seoul gets word that a childhood friend was killed in the city where they all grew up, he goes back for the funeral and finds that things aren't as they seem. The group of friends pulls together and starts to fall apart as secrets are unveiled. Then the ass kicking begins. :) Strong flavours of spaghetti westerns, as well as modern day action movies (Kill Bill especially). The gangs of kids hired to terrorise the friends reminded me a lot of the rollerblading and biking teens attacking Tony Jaa. :) Unfortunately, the theatre had to be evacuated 10 minutes from the end, with the security guards slowly pushing us outside the building (and not making much of an attempt to clear the whole building or keep people from coming in again - the fire alarm wasn't even pulled). No word on why it happened, but they finally (after I went for a walk to get money and a drink from Liquid Nutrition) let us back in and rewound the movie a bit to get us back into the climactic fight scene. Oh, it rocked. Kitanas in scabards versus machetes, kitanas versus knives, kitanas versus kitana, then hand to hand with the muscle from Seoul (three guys and a woman, all perfect sinister grace). The best part was that we could tell it *hurt*, the guys are staggering, they've been hit countless times on injuries that are still bleeding, they're panting and bruised and look ready to fall down, but their rage at what's been happening in their city keeps them going. There's humour in there as well, hitting just the right notes to help the build up. Awesome movie, it played at a NYC film festival at the end of June, I'll keep my fingers crossed for a wide release.

With the delay going in and the evacuation, it was much later than we'd expected when we got out of the theatre. We went back to the hotel room to, at least in my case, clean up a bit from the trip, and decide if we felt up to going out to hear Tony spin at Saphire. I was short on sleep from the past week, and voted no, so we ended up making a somewhat early night of it.

Sat Jul 21, 2007

Woke up at around 9am or so, and we hit Ruben's on Ste. Catherine again, walking up from Rene Levesque. I wasn't as impressed with my omelette, the eggs were a bit overdone, but the huervos rancheros filling was good. I could feel the caffeine filtering into my brain from my cup of tea, and I slowly came fully awake. We walked back up to the theatre box office to grab our movie tickets for the day, enduring a brief but strong temptation to see the rescheduled The World Sinks Except Japan, but Cris voted for a less satirical choice. We ended up getting our dose of violence early in the weekend, and went with feel good fare for the rest of it. We were a bit early, before 11am, so we went back to the hotel, via Borders where I picked up a copy of the new JK Rowling book. I resisted the temptation to dive right into it, and we walked back up to find the box office open now. I got my prepaid Sunday tickets, and we paid cash for three movies that day. We still had some time before our first movie at 12:30, so I was going to find a tea house and sip some tea while reading, and Cris was going to try and make it over to Atom Heart to get some CDs. I failed at the cafe search, instead heading over to La Senza and getting a cap (my newly short hair wasn't protecting my scalp from burning in the sun, and I finally found a low profile cap at a decent price) and a new bra.

I didn't quite have time to head back to the hotel to drop off my purchases, so I went right to the J. A. de Seve theatre for our first movie of the day, and found that Cris had beat me there after he texted me his seat location. It's a smaller more intimate theatre, but it was mostly filled up for Always - Sunset on Third Street. I really liked this one, it covered the intertwined lives of people living on a small street in Tokyo, in the 1950's. A young girl comes in from the country to work at an auto repair shop, with the irascible father of the family a veteran of World War II. She bonds well with the sweet mother, and the innocent looking trouble maker of a little boy. Across the street is a candy store manned by a struggling writer, who also takes in a small boy, on the request of a cafe owner whose friend left her with the boy. The story (and the music) tugged so hard at my heart strings that I swore they were bruised by the time I left the theatre. At one point, the whole theatre broke into sniffles as one of the boys did something really sweet. Over it all, Tokyo tower rose up in stages as the post war rebuilding continued. It took me a while to figure it out, but the writer has a smile reminiscent of Gary Oldman at his wryest.

After the movie, we had a break before our next one, so we went back to the hotel and Cris drove us over to Sherbrooke and St. Denis to go to Atom Heart, as he hadn't made it over before having to turn back. We popped into Rio and X20, and I tried on some stuff while Cris went back to the car to double check the address of the restaurant we were thinking of having a meal in. It was five blocks away, so we walked up St. Denis to L'Express, at 3927. It was just before 5, and mostly empty, though it got crowded by the time we left. It was mentioned in an "Art of Eating" issue on Montreal as a place that locals loved, so we were happy to try it out. I was quite hungry by the time we arrived, as I'd managed to skip lunch, so I tore into the bread. We each had a glass of wine, probably not a good idea on my empty stomach, but it was relaxing and decadent. We started off with warm goat cheese on toast as a shared app, then I had the grilled salmon on a bed of spinach, topped with grey sea salt. It was perfect, the fish flesh just cooked enough, the sea salt enough to complement it, I'm salivating at the memory. :) I couldn't resist the sponge cake with rum and raisins, and it arrived in a deep moat of rum. Added to the wine, I was feeling great by the time we left. :) The room was light and airy, my only complaint was that the wooden chair's legs were slightly too long for me, so I had to prop my feet on the table's feet. We walked back to the car, and were running close enough to the next movie's start time to park it on Guy near the theatre and pop back into line at de Seve. We had a long wait this time, crowded into a corner by the door as the line didn't loop around the atrium as it usually did. I warded off an anxiety attack by waiting outside for a bit, craning to see through the windows if the line was moving finally. The blue fibre optic pen fairy came by and gave everyone swag again. Finally they let us in, I think they had a Q&A after the previous movie, as the patrons came out in two waves.

Like a Virgin was another Korean offering, this time about a sophomore who was working part time to try and pay for gender reassignment surgery, male to female. He had to spend most of his savings to bail out his alcoholic dad and was close to despair until his best friend, in a never ending quest for fame, hit on wrestling and our hero was mistaken for the new candidate. The wrestling coach was a cryptic older man, letting the star senior really lead the team's training, and not intervening as the newest member was tormented. But the lure of the wrestling competition prize kept Oh Dong-gu trying his best. The audience reaction turned from laughing at him to cheering him on as he weathered the storms with dignity. The family drama muddled the story arc a bit, but the scenes with his mother were well done. The father's reaction to finding him putting on lipstick was... severe, and hard to watch. The final scenes were almost all I could wish for though. Some things could have been done a bit better, but overall a good movie.

We came out fairly late from this film, and just had time to pop into a bath stuff store (got a sandlewood bath bomb), return the car to the hotel garage and walk back to get in line for Dance Machine, back in the Hall theatre. Again, technical difficulties plagued us, with the film breaking at one point and a five minute delay as they fixed it. In this movie, a pair of guys need to earn money fast because they killed a security guard's rare snake while taking care of it as he was off learning to be a more efficient fighter. His friends threatened them, they found a seller, but they had to raise money to buy the new snake. Enter the DDR competition. But they needed a team of four, so they sent out a casting call, answered by a blonde rich girl and an effeminate guy prone to wearing pink sweats and tight tops (much to the appreciation of a leering arcade worker). The arcade owner, a former dancing wunderkind, trains them and inspires them with tall tales of his life. There's a lot going on in the movie, culminating with the big dance off against Konami's champion (and a huge plot hole regarding the other team), and revelations about what the arcade owner's cousin was really up to. Lots of gross stuff, too, like they were playing to the teen market a bit too heavily. Add in some romance, a friendship strained, and a nervous young man facing the biggest challenge of his store clerk life, and the all or nothing life or death competition at the end, and it was a fun ride. It just suffered from being in such good company, the plot holes were glaring, and having watched some of my friends who are amazing at DDR, even I could tell that they were faking the dance scenes. :) The kids themselves were iconic, I was sure that I'd seen them all before somewhere, but this was the first fully Spanish film I've seen I think.

With the delay, we got out at around midnight, and walked back to the hotel. I cleaned up a bit, and we had a brief debate about going to a party that Tony'd told me about. I'd texted him and he'd sent me the address, but Cris's eyes were troubling him (he'd forgotten both his glasses and contacts, and was reusing his daily wear ones after finding some solution and a contact lens case but had to take them out now) and he was now blind beyond 5 inches from his nose, so I'd have to drive. I'd had a cup of tea before the last movie, and was just awake enough to do it, as it turned out that I could get us there w/o a map. Though that said, I sailed past the address, since it was hard for me to scan for street numbers and negotiate the traffic at the same time. I looped back around and parked on the next street down, and we walked back up. The window was open at the address I had, but no sound came out. I knocked quietly, and saw the window close. Knocked again, and the door opened. Turned out the party had just ended, the hosts were going to bed, Tony hadn't shown up yet. I tendered my apologies for disturbing them, and we headed back to the hotel. I texted Tony to let him know not to go, but not sure if he got it (no confirmation on texts to his phone). I tried out the bath bomb I'd bought earlier in an attempt to loosen up the knots that driving and sitting in movie theatres had put in my back, and the hot bath helped. Read for a bit before nodding off near 2am.

Sun Jul 22, 2007

Woke up at just before 10am, packed up, and had to get the manager in to open the room safe (she'd had to open it to get our stuff in, it was closed when we got there) as it wasn't responding to the code. Cris checked us out, and we packed our stuff into the trunk of the car and took off in search of breakfast. Mad Hatter's wasn't open yet, so we ended up back at Ruben's yet again. I went with a skillet this morning, filling up on eggs, veggies and home fries. The waiter remembered our drink orders from the day before, but I used my own tea bag this time. Our film this morning was back in the Hall theatre, we parked around the corner, feeding the meter, and joined the growing line. Yobi the five tailed fox was another Korean film, animated this time. It didn't start off promising, prompting the audience to laughter as it set the scene by mentioning that aliens crash landed on a mountain and Yobi discovered them. She lived with the aliens as they tried to fix their ship to go home, but one of the fur covered aliens wanders off in a huff when he's blamed for messing up the test flight. He gets picked up by a silent young girl at a camp for troubled kids, as a replacement for her teddy bear. Yobi turns into a girl and infiltrates the school, trying to convince him to return, but in the process gets infatuated with one of the boys. Then a nine tailed fox hunter shows up and tries to kill her, and a shadow gives her a box with which to capture someone's soul so she can be a real human, and it gets complicated. The plot's a bit disjointed, but the animation is gorgeous and the story is sweet. The showing also had some technical difficulties, wouldn't be a show in the Hall theatre without them, but they were fixed quickly and didn't delay the film too much.

Last movie, time to get bagels. :) We went back to the car and I was able to navigate us up Parc and onto St. Viatur. We walked past one bagel shop to the one closer to St. Laurent, but were told, when they didn't have plain bagels, that the other one was the original. I got my dozen sesame, and we doubled back to get Cris a dozen mixed of plain and cinnamon-raisin at the other store. We headed back downtown, but stopped first to get lunch at a Peruvian fair that had taken over Parc Jeanne-Mance. We paid our loonie to get in and scoped out the food offerings. I was drawn in to a stand selling tacos and empanadas, getting a chicken pocket. I think the transaction ended up being held in three languages, Spanish, French and English, but I got my food and a mango drink and she got her money so it was all good. :) A guy was up on the stage in the corner of the park, I think trying to pump up the crowd, but he was far away and not much was happening other than him shouting and singing, so we ignored him. We settled in some shade behind another stand, and Cris got some grilled corn and beef hearts. We at there on the grass, watching families try to keep track of their kids and enjoying the beautiful day. But, it was time to move on, and back to the car it was. We were able to take Parc down to Notre Dame, and from there get onto 10, and across the Champlain Bridge with no problems. All was easy going until we got close to the border, and at that point we lost an hour. They'd closed off one lane for firemen to soak up a spill of some sort, and they stopped letting people through the lane next to it for some unknown reason. We moved one more over, and as we got up to the front, the border guard left the booth. Luckily, another one came out in a minute, and waved us forward. Some confusion (and condescension on the part of the guard) later, and they waved us to a parking space and Cris ran in to get his I94 card to go with his H1B visa. I used the rest room and read for a bit more while waiting (I'd read over a hundred pages in my novel while waiting in the border line).

Cris drove us into downtown Burlington, VT, and we parked in a lot and went hunting a restaurant in which to eat. We settled on a cheapish one, with ended up being a bad idea as my Asian chicken salad came out with the chicken breast encrusted with corn flakes, not the almonds that were advertised. I complained to the waitress a little, and she offered to bring me some plain grilled chicken, which I agreed to. The rest of the salad, with baby spinach, soba noodles, a sesame-ginger dressing (scant) and red peppers was okay, but they did give me a free refill of the tea I'd ordered. We walked a block or two further on and found the Dobra tea house, and I got an oolong tea in a mason jar to go. I carried it back to the car, passing it from hand to hand as the heat came through the napkin around the glass jar, and set it in the centre console to cool a bit more as I started driving. I realised as we came up on the next rest area that I could put it into my travel mug and would be able to drink it much more easily as it would fit into the cup holder that way. So, stopped, transferred the liquid, filled up my water bottle at the fountain, used the facilities and really started driving. I got us to just before the tolls in NH, with a stop to get gas just before Lebanon. As I started from there, just after dark, I noticed a lot of blood on the road, and then quickly saw a bloody mass in the left lane - it looked like someone killed a deer and then it was hit a few more times. :/ Other than that the road was clear and traffic was moving fast. As soon as we pulled over to switch, I felt all the tea give up on keeping me awake, and I napped most of the way home. We pulled up at just past 11:30pm, I quickly unpacked and then read for a bit before dropping off to sleep.

5 movies in 3 days, with not a dud among them, it was another good trip . :)

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