France lost the World Cup to Italy yesterday in a penalty shoot out, a very disappointing outcome to a game I saw as mostly dominated by the French. But something most incredible happened towards the end and cursed their team: Zidane lost his cool and, for a reason so far unknown, head butted an Italian defender in the chest. He was red-carded and his exit from the field marked, in my opinion, the beginning of the end. Why he would do that remains a mystery. I understand the players are under tremendous pressure but his move looked calm and almost premeditated. Oh well, it’s just a game. However the worldwide Italian ego has just been inflated one notch. And as for the French ego, well, it’s always inflated. ;-)

Et puis I just finished reading Loin de quoi?, de Laurent Sagalovitsch. Disappointing. I had expected much more. Granted, his initial description of Vancouver is quite funny and dead on. But he runs out of things to say very early in the book and the end gets quite repetitive, especially considering his particular style where every single rule of classical grammar is broken.

The first chapter strikes you as innovative and daring, reminiscent of Vian and Barjavel with its long descriptions and endless collection of adjectives. But the lack of final punctuation (i.e. the mighty Period, which should act as the conductor of this opera of words) soon begins to be tiresome and what was daring becomes plain and simple boring. (Sadly, I no longer have the book in hand to actually count, but some sentences were longer than a page or two. Not my cup of tea.)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is out and I visited the Burrard Street Paramount last night for the 10:30 pm show. Another disappointment, somewhat expected this time. I’d figured it would be very hard to live up to the first jewel of a movie. In The Curse of the Black Pearl, Johnny Depp was sublime, having invented himself a character that was so unorthodox that only he could have pulled it off. In the sequel he merely tries to stay true to it, donning the Jack Sparrow role on like an old costume. Pardon me, Captain Jack Sparrow. He doesn’t even seem to believe in his old joke when he asks “But why is the rum always gone?”

The other characters are weaker too, or as Commodore Norrington would have put it, bleak. They used to be inspired, now they are just well paid. The new villains are even creepier, the special effects slimier and the story ends up in the air, not even pretending to hide the fact that we have to go see the third part. The only things worth mentioning in my humble opinion would be Bill Nighy (Underworld’s Viktor) as Davy Jones, still charismatic underneath his appendages and Keira Knightley, stealing the lead role with her sheer beauty, if nothing else.

Worth noting was the DVS (Descriptive Video System) system for the hearing impaired, which I saw in action for the first time. Paramount has equipped some of its theaters nationwide with a select number of translucent acrylic reflectors on a gooseneck stand that fits into the drink holder on the armrest. A light-emitting diode panel matted on the back wall of the theatre displays in mirror image the movie’s dialogue in clear words on the reflector, one or two sentences at a time. Very cool new gadget.

Another much less publicized movie has also caught my attention. Being released on July 14th, it is called Peaceful Warrior and is based on Dan Millman’s novel The way of the Peaceful Warrior, which I read – many times – back in the early eighties. It should be interesting to see how such a book will adapt into a non-blockbuster movie.

And after a second – and this time complete – viewing of Chocolat yesterday, I must admit that the movie, however predictable, touched and inspired me. Isn’t life just as predictable, when we look at the bigger picture? In fact I’d say predictability was Lasse Hallström’s goal, since he was dealing with common human issues and solutions that aren’t extraordinary but rather simple.

But still the clever north wind was not satisfied. It spoke of towns yet to be visited, friends in need yet to be discovered, battles yet to be fought.” How well I know that wind…