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Paul Sayles (Japan)

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Somewhere in Time
Somewhere in Time
Price: CDN$ 7.90
38 used & new from CDN$ 3.49

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable and moving film score, May 22 2004
This review is from: Somewhere in Time (Audio CD)
The score for Somewhere in Time is truely amazing. I think it is one of the best scores ever written. It stays with you long after you have seen the film. The music is perfect throughout the movie. Each scene has exactly the right musical background. The most moving, for me, is the short piece of music that is heard in the scene where an aged McKenna is returning to her hotel room having met Collier. I find it some of the most moving music I have ever heard in a film. For me, I can listen to the score and visualize the scene in my mind, remembering dialog and even remembering clothes that were worn at the time. I think it is partly due to the score that this film has remained so popular over the years since it was released. The score made the movie memorable. It should be in everyone's film soundtrack library.

One Wonderful Sunday
One Wonderful Sunday
VHS
4 used & new from CDN$ 46.07

5.0 out of 5 stars A view of Japan westerners rarely see., Sept. 20 2003
This review is from: One Wonderful Sunday (VHS Tape)
Kurosawa has taken a simple, common event that many have done and turns it into a physical and emotional adventure. A simple date between a man and a woman set in very early post war Japan and what it means to be building a life together at that time.
He is a returned soldier trying to deal with a new Japan. He has lost the dream of serving his emperor and is now living the nightmare of a defeated and destroyed Japan. It seems like he is a man with little hope of any sort of a future. Yet he is engaged.
His fiancee however is trying to build a life togeher for them. Not only does she have to care for herself but she is also trying to get her fiance to look ahead to a getter life together.
The detail that Kurosawa shows is sobering. He is wearing a threadbare suit. She is wearing shoes that are falling apart. There are ruins all around them - evidence of a destroyed Japan. But there are bright spots too. They meet some children and for a few minutes he is playing baseball with them and she is cheering them on. For a moment he is happy until a broken window ends the game. How many Americans can relate to this scene? I can - up to and including the broken window. The kids scatter and he pays for the window and the adventure continues.
They come across a model home. She wants to see it and he is not interested. Again, she gets him interested in what life can be like. The cost of the house is beyond them but it gives them a few moments to dream of a better future.
This movie has more events. They go to his miserable little apartment and have a fight. They look for another apartment to live together in without succcess. His meeting a friend in what is probably a black market club. The hurry through the rain to a concert to hear Schubert's Unfinished Symphony only to see the last few cheap seats bought up by a scalper. He tries to get tickets and in the ensuing fight with the scalper, looses. They end up in a small clearing where this time, he comes to life. He talks of his dreams, he gives an imaginary performance of Schubert's work. They are both laughting and having fun. The movie ends with them planning the next date.
This is a sobering movie. It is about a Japan that existed 58 years ago. It is a Japan those of us born after 1945 know nothing about. Kurosawa's charecters probably typify the young men and women of that time. He is trying to rebuild a life for himself and she is trying to build a future that is for both of them.
Given the post war time frame and it being the height of the US occupation of Japan, there are no Americans in the film - not even the jeeps of the occupation forces are seen. This is a film about Japanese lives only.
The movie is not a happy ending. They make palns for their date the following sunday but you come away wondering if they will be able to make it. Thre are many obstacles ahead of them - does he have the will to live to get over them? You don't really know.
This is an impressive film. It is a sobering film. It is a film worth watching. I recommend it to everyone with an interest in Japan and the occupation period of Japanese
history. I think it is one of Kurosawa's best films. It is unfortunate that it is not more widely known.

The Horizon
The Horizon
by Douglas Reeman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.20
20 used & new from CDN$ 18.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatment of little known aspect of World War One, Aug. 17 2003
This review is from: The Horizon (Paperback)
The Horizon is the third volume of the Blackwood series. In this book we meet Jonathan Blackwood as he and the Royal Marines learn to adapt themselves to the new ways of war in World War I. Jonathan is a Royal Marine from a long line of Royal Marines - two of whom have won the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for valor in combat in the British awards scheme. His family is known throughout the Royal Marines it is sometimes something of a disadvantage.
Jonathan has been an observor on the Western Front but his experiences are not always appreciated by Royal Marines senior to him and without his experience. 1915 finds Jonathan and his men are on the beach at Gallipoli fighting the Turks in a no quarter given or asked for war. The Royal Marines are clinging to scraps of ground, loosing men constantly to snipers, booby traps and fruitless battles. Jonathan is wounded as he tries to prevent his own ships from shelling is men and is returned to Great Britain.
He recuperates and meets a young woman as he does so. The wrinkle is that this woman loved his older brother who died early in World War I. Yet they both learn to love one another in a world that is turned upside down.
After he is recovered from his wounds, Jonathan is sent to a newly activated battalion of Royal Marines bound for the Western Front. Now it is 1917 and the vast majority of the British Army is located in France and Flanders. Here is the real war now that the running sore of Gallipoli has been ended. The Royal Marines are mixed in with the British Army and both need to adjust to the forced marriage. Here on the Western Front the same problems face Jonathan as at Gallipoli - the losses of men due to enemy snipers, raids and assaults that are expected to gain miles of ground and end up gaining only yards, if that. It is as if the generals have gotten to the point where all they can do is throw more men into battle - that is all they seem to know.
Reeman has captured the grinding despair of Gallipoli and France. You can almost feel the heat of Gallipoli and the smell of rotting corpses (British, ANZAC and Turk). You can hear the sound of sniper shot and flies. You can almost feel the penetrating cold of the mud of France as the men stand in it day after day. As they assault prepared positions with little hope of success.
Few probably know of the exploits of the Royal Marines in World War I - they have been overshadowed by the sheer weight of numbers of the British and Commonwealth Armies. Yet serve they did with great distinction.
I recommend this book as a must read for those involved in the story of the Blackwood family. It is also an excellent book on it's own as a book about World War I by a very special segment of the British forces. It is an excellent work giving great detail about the campaings in Gallipoli and France. It is well written with exceptional charecters - from generals down to newly recruited Royal Marines who have barely learned how to shave. It is a powerful book.

HMS Saracen
HMS Saracen
by Douglas Reeman
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two wars, March 6 2003
This review is from: HMS Saracen (Paperback)
In 1915 HMS Saracen was a new and untried weapon sent to attempt to change the tide in the Dardenalles, which was decidedly against the British. She was designed to fire battleship sized shells far inland to support the army ashore. Also, new and untried was Midshipman Chesney, son of a former Naval officer who had left the Royal Navy under a cloud. Young Chesney is viewed by some as a traditional son of the Royal Navy while to some he is seen as a different sort of future naval officer - a young man who cares about the men entrusted to his leadership. Both SARACEN and Chesney distinguish themselves at Gallipoli but to little avail. At the end of 1915, the British evacuate the peninsula. By this time, SARACEN and Chesney have both returned to the UK, wounded.
25 years later, ship and man are reuninted. In the interim, SARACEN had become outmoded and out dated. Chesney has been put on the beach in an economic retrenchment that saw hundreds of naval officers end their careers prematurely. Chesney had ended up in New Zealand selling farm implements until 1939 and the start of World War II, when he returned to the UK and rejoined the Royal Navy. After several assignments in the UK, Chesney was sent to the Mediterranean where he was to take command of SARACEN. By this time a ship with no real role except to do the odd jobs required in war, moving troops, cargo, fuels everything except shell the enemy far inland. The crew was demoralized and the officers were not much better. Most of the crew and officers were serving their time. If the were regulars, waiting until something better came along and if they were reservists, wondering what kind of navy they were in - serving in a large slow target that could not really fight and certainly couldn't run away from trouble if it were encountered.
Chesney undertook to change the ship and crew; with mixed results. A few officers backed his efforts while senior officials wondered if Chesney was not fit to command. He proved his fitness while escorting a convoy of ships from Alexandria to Malta.
The conclusion of the book is one that is quite a moving one in that it is delivered by a third person. The character involved at the conclusion is a surprise and yet, given the history of Chesney and the ship, not unsurprising. I think it works very well. It is sad but at the same time is another defining moment in the lives of the ship and the man.
Reeman draws on his naval experience in this theater of the war and uses it quite well. His characters are all very believeable and play their assigned roles well.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Royal Navy and the campaigns it waged in the Mediterranean in the 20th Century.

We Dive at Dawn
We Dive at Dawn
VHS
Offered by thomasvideo
Price: CDN$ 19.00
4 used & new from CDN$ 18.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Royal Navy film with excellent cast., Jan. 30 2003
This review is from: We Dive at Dawn (VHS Tape)
We Dive At Dawn is a standard issue, exceptionally well acted British war film about a submarine of the Royal Navy. It is a visual masterpiece of Navy detail. Sir John Mills et al, are well cast and extremely believable in their roles.
The filming was done on an actual submarine and depot ship. I know a sailor who was in the depot ship, HMS Maidstone in Holy Loch Scotland, at the time the movie was made. He advised me of a small detail that make the film much more interesting to watch. If you look closely in the control room scenes, there is a sailor in a white turtleneck sweater close to Mills. That sailor is the actual submarine CO keeping a close eye on things to make sure nothing awkward happens.
This film is a tale of submarine warfare in the Baltic Sea. It was not an easy area for submarines to operate in because it is relatively shallow and a submarine likes to have a lot of water between it and the enemy on the surface. This is not the case in the Baltic. There were heavy casualties amongst British submarines sent to this area.
I had an opportunity to live in the Holy Loch area in the mid-60s when HMS Maidstone was replaced by USS Hunley. As I look at the film, I see some of the same landmarks that were there in 1941-42 as in 1964 - absolutely unchanged.
What is a little bit different for this film is that we see a great deal of the life of the sailors of the Royal Navy. It readily shows the team concept that is life in submarines. Remember, there may only be 5-6 officers in addition to the captain. The crew was essentially masters of their own destiny in a very real sense since even junior sailors had tremendous responibility placed on them. And they excelled, uniformly. The ending is typically understated British and yet highly effective.
This is an exceptional movie and belongs in any navy history enthusiasts library.

Fanny
Fanny
VHS
2 used & new from CDN$ 21.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your normal love story., Jan. 16 2003
This review is from: Fanny (VHS Tape)
Fanny is the story of a young man and young woman, childhood friends who are probably destined to marry. Horst Buchholz and Leslie Caron portray these two young people, Marius and Fanny. However, choice intrudes into the otherwise smooth flow of events and unplanned consequences occur.
This is a complex story. Marius is the son of a tavern owner. Fanny is the daughter of a fish purveyor in Marsailles. You can see that their fate is pre-ordained.Early in the story Marius and Fanny become lovers. You would expect the two to marry. But there is a restlessness in Marius that is eating in him like acid. He does not want to be the next tavern owner. His horizons are those of the sea and when an oceanographic ship comes into port, he ships out as a member of the crew.
Events unfold quickly upon his departure. Fanny discovers she is pregnant. Her mother threatens to disown her. A ship chandler played by Maurice Chevalier steps in and offers to marry her and save her from the shame and ridicule that an out of wedlock birth would have produced. Marius father, played by Charles Boyer, at first is against the marriage but soon comes around to agreeing to it.
Marius is gone but he is always present - like a spectre. Fanny has never forgotten him, nor has his father and fanny's husband.
Briefly, Marius returns to Marsailles to pick up a part for the ship. He meets Fanny and learns he is a father but that his son is being raised by another man. This meeting is extremely moving as all the charecters come together for a moment of truth.
Yet the film continues on. Marius son grows older and through the intervention of a friend of Marius', he meets Marius but doesn't know he is his father. All he knows is that the man is a friend of his mother. He learns what Marius life has been like since he left Marsailles and it is far from what Marius had expected.
The climax of the film is wonderful and extremely moving.
This film combines a fine cast, both principles and supporting members, with marvelous locations and a compeling theme. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the Marsailles Trilogy. This is an extremely powerful and moving film. It should be a must have in everyone's video library.

Four Feathers, the 78
Four Feathers, the 78
VHS

3.0 out of 5 stars Good treatment of the AEW Mason book, Dec 30 2002
This review is from: Four Feathers, the 78 (VHS Tape)
This remake of the 1930s version of The Four Feathers remedies some of the deficiencies of the first film.
Harry Faversham is a young officer tired of the military, having grown up in the army - his father is a general. He is engaged to a woman who is also of the army, but more inclined to accept it. This then is the basis of the story. Two people, similar backgrounds, different goals. He wants his children to grow up without the Army, she is impressed with a regimental wedding.
War breaks out again in the Sudan and Harry is put to the test - does he stay with the Army. However, before he can have his resignation accepted, a recall of officers occurrs and telegrams arrive at his engagement party demanding the return of Harry and his officer guests to the regiment. Harry burns the telegrams and is seen by one officer.
When the officers discover what he has done, each of the three send him a white feather, a sign of cowardice. His fiancee, when she sees this is at first outraged that they would do this, but when Harry tells her what he did, she adds her feather to the other three - making a total of four feathers. The movie is the story of how Harry redeems his honor by giving the four feathers back to their senders, after an act of courage in each case.
This movie has better role definition for some charecters that is missing in the '30s version. The general, played by Harry Andrews is exceptional. Jane Seymour as Ethney is also excellent as the woman who scorns a man for a percieved act of cowardice but doesn't see the inner turmoil he is suffering. The three officers do well. They give off the feeling of priviledge leaders common to the British Army of the time.
Corners were cut by slicing footage from the 30s edition into the current film. It is grossly apparent and detracts from the current film. It is clumsy and takes away from the quality of the film.
Beau Bridges as Harry seems an odd choice. Trying to be British, he doesn't come off as very convincing. His acting is good but I think he is rather miscast in this film.
This is a fairly good film. The acting is adequate and the film score is quite good. If you've never seen the 30s version, this is a good start. If you have seen the earlier work, this will be a bit of a disappointment over all.

The Sand Pebbles
The Sand Pebbles
by Richard McKenna
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.62
32 used & new from CDN$ 4.91

5.0 out of 5 stars An unknown facet of the US Navy comes to light and life., Aug. 1 2002
This review is from: The Sand Pebbles (Paperback)
The Sand Pebbles is the story of a small ship, on a small river deep in the heart of China. Unknown by most of the rest of the world but home to the crew of the ship. McKenna, a former Asiatic Fleet Sailor, describes life in the river gunboats of the 1920s with an accuracy and authenticity that is amazing. I could almost feel the heat of the engines and the aromas from the galley.
The book is a study of men in the Navy. They are far from the public eye, doing a job deemed essential by someone in Washington. They are essentially feared by the Chinese and despised by the American missionaries they come into contact with. It must have been a brutal emotional duty to carry out. Yet many men loved it. They spent their careers on the rivers and retired there when their time was up in the Navy.
Jake Holman, the central figure, is not better or worse than most other Sailors of that time. His motivation for joining the Navy were "...Army, Navy or reform school..." and so into the Navy he went. He is a competent machinest mate but has few real people skills. He is a loner on the outskirts of the Navy world. He has bounced from ship to ship and has now reached the end of the line. But even Holman makes friends in the ship as he tries to adapt to his surroundings.
It is an interesting look at the gunboat navy. The crew did military duties and drills but the day to day ship's husbandry were done by Chinese men. Is it any wonder the crew loved China duty once they got there.
One might say that the conclusion of the book is confusing and leaves you feeling troubled. Well it fits with the mission of the gunboat sailors and I think is perfect. Antiimperialists may condem the book and the subject but it was a real part of the American Navy and deserves to be remembered and respected.

Thirteen Days (Widescreen)
Thirteen Days (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Kevin Costner
Offered by OptiShopper Canada
Price: CDN$ 8.99
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A good effort, July 26 2002
This review is from: Thirteen Days (Widescreen) (DVD)
13 Days is an attempt to shed daylight on the many behind the scenes events that took place during October 1962 when the US and USSR were eyeball to eyeball over Soviet missiles being based in Cuba. Yet I felt dissatisfied with the effort. I feel like it was more of a Kennedy's vs The Department of Defense than the US vs USSR. The senior uniformed leaders are depicted as a group of neanderthals out to start World War III. According to the film, it was only by the constant pressure of the Kennedy's and MacNamara that this event did not come to pass.
One of the most telling events that took place during the 13 day period is totally overlooked by the makers of the film. I refer to the brief presentation that Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Shoup, made. He took a scale image of Cuba, placed it on a map of the US to show the size of the island, and then placed a dot on Cuba to represent Tarawa and told the assembled leaders the casualty cost in Marines and Navy corpsmen to take that island. That was probably the most important reason for not invading Cuba and the film never mentions it. Maybe because it was a member of the JCS not fitting the sterotype of the film.
This did bring back memories of the event for me. I remember sitting in the living room watching Stevenson and Zoran going at each other in the court of world opinion. I also remember watching from my classroom in Groton Connecticut as all the submarines that could sail, left the submarine base and headed out to sea. It certainly brought the issue home to me. Also during that period my father, on the submarine force staff, would come home for a few hours of sleep and head back to the office. I never really saw him for that entire period. I would only know he'd been home by the cigarette buts in a previously empty ash tray.
This is a tolerable film if one views it as only one interpretation of what happened during those days. I would recommend it but only after the viewer were to read Tuchman's Guns of August.

The Bride's Kimono
The Bride's Kimono
by Sujata Massey
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine story by Sujata Massey, April 3 2002
This review is from: The Bride's Kimono (Hardcover)
This is the latest of Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura adventures. This time, Mrs. Massey takes Rei from Tokyo to Washington DC and it is a winning move.
Nothing is really simple for Rei as she is asked to be a courier of priceless antique kimono from a Japanese museum to one in Washington, DC. She has to get the kimono to their desitination intact and ready for exhibition and this is no easy task. It doesn't get any easier when the receiving museum causes additional stresses by refusing to accept one kimono and this forces Rei to become it's minder and then when it disappears, it becomes her task to recover it. Along the way, Rei meets an old boy friend, discovers she has been robbed of passport and return ticket to Japan and must contend with the death of one of her traveling companions - in fact the woman she had as a seat mate from Japan to DC.
This is a great tale that includes the background workings of museums in both Japan and America. It is also another revealing study of Japanese customs and traditions.
We are given a chance to meet Rei's parents, and I for one, was quite impressed by both of them. Rei's mother reminds me of my own mother-in-law in some ways. So on this level I was able to get a little more enmeshed in the book. We also learn more about Rei only from her parent's perspective and that is helpful in rounding out the charecter. Mrs. Massey does a fine job in this respect.
Mrs. Massey's excellent descriptions of Washington are a big plus in this book. You get the feeling that you are walking along the streets in Georgetown or Adams Morgan along with Rei.
This book, like all the others, doesn't telegraph the criminal elements. There are a couple of decoys that you meet and wonder, what evil deed are they up to, but you discover you're wrong and this are just passing unpleasant charecters that add to the overall tone of the book. Mrs. Massey's books are ones that I don't automatically read the last chapter first. I start from page one and work my way through it, like Rei and everyone else. It was one that once I started, I was reluctant to put it down.
I recommend this book to all of Mrs. Massey's fans and to those who may just be discovering her writing. This is another excellent book by an exceptionally talented mystery writer. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

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