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August 5, 2005

More from Montreal

Right, so Montreal. I should note that I had returned from my trip before I started writing about it, in case there was any confusion. I woke up the next morning, too late to get my complimentary continental breakfast, so I wandered into a cafe to get a coffee and a croissant. And before you go thinking that I got a croissant just because I was in French Canada and telling me that just because something is French doesn't mean it's French Canadian, let me say that I like croissants and I eat them no matter what country I'm in. That croissant would end up being one of the only things I ate all day, and it wasn't even that good. I got so into watching movies, I didn't have time to get something to eat between shows, so I learned that man cannot live on movies alone, but he can come pretty close.

First up was an animated film called Corto Maltese: La Ballade de la mer salee. And I think it was good. The reason I'm not entirely sure is because it was in French with no subtitles. I took French in high school, and I did pretty well in it. I took the AP test and placed out of the language requirement at Vassar. I spent a few weeks in France in high school, and I got by well enough. But that was ten years ago. I hoped that it would be like a Shakespeare play, at first you find the language kind of off-putting and confusing, but after a few minutes, you just get in sync. Well, that didn't happen. I spent the movie trying to pick out the occasional word or phrase, and while I occasionally succeeded, what little I understood of what was going on was more from the images than from my high school level French.

So that was kind of a bust. But next was Stephen Bissette's lecture on old horror comics. I'll admit, I've never really been into horror in any medium, but I was curious to see what I had been missing out on, and I was a big fan of Bissette from his collaboration with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. His lecture was pretty exhaustive and in the first two hours, he only briefly touched on anything from the twentieth century, and spent most of his time showing us progenitors of horror comics, from Japanese scrolls, to medieval crime and punishment pamphlets handed out an hangings.

What I thought was most interesting was his idea of the core of horror comics, that if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you. A colleague commonly referred to it as, "You sharpen a pencil, the pencil sharpens your head." He related it to religion, and how both horror comics and religion give people a sense of justice where eventually bad people are punished (and in religion, the good are rewarded, although I imagine that's rarely touched upon in horror comics).

This is getting pretty long, so I guess I'll save the premiere of Robin's Big Date until next time, as well as my favorite movie from the festival, Kamikaze Girls.

Posted by Will at August 5, 2005 7:20 PM