I wish

From  Ellen  Druda
Author:  Kore-Eda   Hirokazu
Title:   I wish [videorecording DVD]
Think back to those great family movies starring plucky kids, like Escape to Witch Mountain, or Flipper, or even The Parent Trap, and you’ll get the same feeling watching I Wish. Set in Japan, this is the story of two brothers separated by divorce, who plan to reunite with the help of their pals.  The new bullet train service is coming, and brothers Koichi and Ryunosuk believe your wish will come true if you shout it when the first trains pass each other at top speed.  The kids spend time planning exactly where this will occur and how they will get there.  They also share their wishes.  The performances by Kouki Maeda and Oushiro Maeda, brothers in real life, bring tons of charm to this movie, which was originally conceived as a promotional film for Japan Railways. VERDICT: A heart-warming Japanese language film that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Midnight and the Meaning of Love

From Andrea Payne
author: Souljah, Sistah
Midnight and the Meaning of Love
I am a fan of “The Coldest Winter Ever,” but was deeply disappointed by this book.  This is not a sequel to that book and has nothing to do with “Coldest Winter Ever.”  I’m not intimidated by 500+ page books, but was really annoyed that the story didn?t even BEGIN until about page 200.  It was very slow in the beginning and many of the characters that she describes in the first 200 pages are never mentioned again in this story.  She overdid it with explaining all the nuances of Muslim faith and Japanese culture.  It was so bogged down in Religion, Anthropology &  Sociology that it subtracts from the story. 
Some of the story is all over the place and doesn’t make much sense; it also seems a little farfetched at times. At lot of events are just long and  drawn out.  Certain things that happen in this story where you would expect an explanation of why it happened- never appear.  I’m glad I borrowed this from the library because I would have been annoyed if I wasted money on this long book that was boring at times to the point where I fell asleep reading it.  The ending was also too vague and open and I seriously hope she is not planning another follow-up book to this  one.   This was an extremely substandard and horrible read.

Imperial Cruise

From Chris Garland
author: Bradley, James
Imperial Cruise 
In 1905, to further the economic and strategic interests of the United
States, President Theodore Roosevelt green lit Japanese expansion in Asia
without Constitutional or Congressional oversight. In “The Imperial
Cruise”, the author asserts that this policy lit the fuse for the
Asia/Pacific wars that followed later in the 20th century.  The book also
examines the role of Anglo-Saxon views on race and territorial expansion
and how those ideas impacted Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

From Rita Gross
author: Mitchell, David
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet 
Jacob De Zoet, to prove himself worthy of his wealthy fiancé, travels to Japan to make his fortune.  In the final years of the 18th century Japanese trade is closed to all but the Dutch East India Company.  To complicate matters, Jacob falls in love with the daughter of a Samurai, and the British want to open Japan for trade.  Wonderful writing and rich historic detail make this a very satisfying read.

The Cove

From Chris Garland
The Cove (DVD)
Part espionage, part environmental thriller, The Cove is the
documentary record of   Ric O’Barry’s quest to stop the slaughter of
dolphins in a remote cove in Japan.  O’Barry (a former dolphin trainer on
the show Flipper) is seeking redemption for his part in creating the
concept of captive dolphins as entertainment in aquariums around the
world.  Through his work with dolphins, he realized that these deeply
sensitive, highly intelligent and self aware creatures must not be
subjected to captivity, nor be slaughtered for school lunch programs.

Aside from the obvious humanitarian reasons, dolphin meat is high in
mercury and detrimental to the health of young school children.  He has
made it his life’s work to stop this practice.  O’Barry is joined by
filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society in a
clandestine mission to expose the truth about the secret doings at the
remote hidden cove.

Departures

from Chris Garland
Departures, Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film 2008
‘Departures’ is a deeply moving film about death, a subject we don’t
like to confront,  but this film does it with grace, dignity, humility and
beauty.  It is about saying goodbye to loved ones for the last time and
thereby evoking the value of life.  How do we honor those who have passed?
How do we confront our own lives and the act of living?  ‘Departures ‘ is
the story of a young man’s spiritual journey as he is faces death every
day in his work.  It is through this that that he begins to understand the
joy and value of life.  All of us have been touched by the loss of someone
we love and this film honors and celebrates those feelings.