Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New DVD Report: Best Foreign Films in DVD

Title: Letters from Iwo Jima (USA/Japan)

Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures present a Malpaso/Amblin Entertainment production ; produced by Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg ; story by Iris Yamashita & Paul Haggis ; screenplay by Iris Yamashita ; directed by Clint Eastwood.


Sixty-one years ago, the United States and Japanese armies met on Iwo Jima. Decades later, hundreds of letters are unearthed from that stark island's soil. The letters give faces and voices to the men who fought there, as well as the extraordinary general who led them. Leading the defense is Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi. With little defense other than sheer will and the volcanic rock of the island itself, Gen. Kuribayashi's unprecedented tactics transform what was predicted to be a quick and bloody defeat into nearly 40 days of heroic and resourceful combat.

Title: The sea inside ‪[‬Spain‪]‬

Producers, Alejandro Amenábar, Fernando Bovaira ; screenplay, Alejandro Amenábar and Mateo Gil ; director, Alejandro Amenábar.


Ramón Sampedro wants to end his life because a diving accident 28 years before that turned him into a quadriplegic. For most of those years he made the most of it: writing, developing a close relationships with his family, who all help to care for him. While grateful to his family and friends for their help, Ramón was always an active person. He has come to see his life as frustrating and pointless and wishes to die with what remains of his dignity. Gené is a friend who works with a ‪"‬Right to Die‪"‬ organization who introduces Ramón to Julia, a lawyer he hopes will help him persuade the courts to let him end his own life. As Ramón and Julia work together on his case, Ramón finds himself falling in love with his attorney, but Ramón remains convinced that the greatest gift to him would be an end to his life.

Title: No man's land ‪[‬Bosnia]

Producers, Marc Baschet, Frédérique Dumas-Zajdela, Cédomir Kolar ; writer, Danis Tanovic ; director, Danis Tanovic.


It is about the height of the Bosnian War in 1993, this film represents the grim futility of war. A group of Bosnian soldiers are advancing on Serb territory under the cover of a foggy night. At daybreak, the fog lifts, and the Serbs open fire. Soon Chiki is the only Bosnian survivor because he was able to dive into a trench in no man's land. Chiki then watches as two Serbian soldiers use the body of a fallen Bosnian to bait a land mine. He fires on them, killing one, and taking the second, Nino, hostage. Stalemate--both are alone and equally armed, so they are forced to share a wary trust as they try to attract help from either side.

Most popular Japanese Animated film DVD

Title: Bleach.02 video recording,

It is in Japanese or English dialogue, English subtitles. Published by San Francisco, 2007.


Rukia must assist Ichigo in learing to use his new powers to destroy soul-devouring Hollows. But more trouble arrives when a modified soul takes over Ichigo's body and runs amok all over town.

Title: Fullmetal alchemist 7, Reunion on Yock Island

English version by FUNimation Production, Ltd, 2006


Lieutenant colonel Hughes' investigation of Lab Five leads him to a starting discovery of military corruption and conspiracy that could topple the entire national government and put Hughes in considerable danger.

Title: Paradise kiss. 2

video recording, original Japanese version produced by Sky Perfect Well Think Co. Ltd. ; Fuji TV. English version produced by Geneon Entertainment (USA) in association with Bang Zoom! Entertainment ; producers, Swako Furuya, Eric P. Sherman, Kaeko Sakamoto.


Yukari takes the drastic step of running away, when her mother vehemently objects to her involvement with Paradise Kiss. Dropping out of school, Yukari pursues the only goal left to her; becoming a professional model. As her whirlwind romance with George passionately heats up, a worried classmate, Tokumori, shows up to warn her that she's in danger of being expelled from school and questions her relationship with George. Now Yukari faces her most difficult life-altering decision: giving up what her heart desires.

Book review: Dangerous Nation, by Robert Kagan

Dangerous Nation, by Robert Kagan


From the beginning, Americans liked to believe that they were free of Old-Worldly original sin, dwellers in a city on a hill who “cherished an image of themselves as by nature inward-looking and aloof.” And from the beginning, Kagan argues in “Dangerous Nation,” they were wrong. In this, the first of two volumes on the United States as an international power, he shows how America was always a player, and often a ruthless one, in the great game of nations.

Its foreign and domestic politics were continually intertwined, from the first conflict between Jeffersonian Republicans and Hamiltonian Federalists. The great overarching question of slavery also had large international implications. The British campaign against the slave trade enraged Southern slaveholders, while British sympathy for the South in turn enraged the North, as personified by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. But even his anger was far from disinterested, since he spent most of his career “eyeing Canada as a great prize to be annexed to the United States as soon as circumstances permitted.” The American self-image of immaculate conception was indeed absurd in the light of slavery, of expansion across Indian lands and of territorial ambitions.

And it was far from shared by Europeans, who viewed the infant republic as a threat from its earliest days. When John Quincy Adams was American minister in London in 1817 he reported home (in words that give Kagan his title) the universal European feeling that the United States would become “a very dangerous member of the society of nations.” As well as apprehension there was understandable disdain in Europe for American hypocrisy, and here Kagan seems a little perverse.

He plays a lengthy riff on the term “liberal,” as in the “liberal view,” or the liberalism that, for “200 years, was the main engine of American expansion.” This obviously isn’t using the word as Republicans do in denouncing “liberal Democrats” (or the way neoconservatives sometimes use it pejoratively), but in the way some historians would say “bourgeois.” “Liberal” here refers to the modern commercial society that emerged in England and then America in the 18th century, and whose theorists were John Locke and Adam Smith.

Although Kagan’s larger point is valid, it is incongruous to categorize as liberal the early American belief that one day “the United States would stretch across the entire expanse of the continent,” or to describe the brutal expropriation of the indigenous inhabitants as “liberal expansion.” When some piece of public skulduggery was once described as “a pious fraud,” that cynical 18th-century pol Lord Holland replied, “I can see the fraud, but where is the piety?” Contemplating the fate of the Cherokees, one can likewise see the expansion more clearly than the liberalism.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book review: Made to Stick: Why some ideas stick and others don't, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Reviewed by Michael S. Hopkins, a contributing editor of Inc. magazine

On April 29, 1999, an article appeared in the Indiana Daily Student headlined "Indiana U. Senior Gains New Perspective on Life." You'll recognize the story. It profiled a 425-pound college kid who cut his weight in half by eating fast food. His name was Jared.

Part of the reason you know the story is that Subway – the place Jared got his veggie and turkey subs every day – turned it into an ad campaign that transformed Jared into an unlikely celebrity. (Possibly you can still picture him in his "after" version, stretching the 60-inch waist of his "before" pants between two widespread hands.)

But the Subway campaign alone doesn't explain the nearly viral phenomenon it triggered. There have been countless other ad campaigns since Jared's debuted, and none of them imprinted an unknown college student on the nation's memory the way Subway's did. Nor did many of them so swiftly and lastingly get their message across. ("Our food, though fast, is actually so healthy it can help you lose weight.")

Why not? What was it about Jared's message that made it – and him – stick?

Now, thanks to Made to Stick, we know. Coauthors (and brothers) Chip and Dan Heath – a Stanford Business School professor and an education entrepreneur respectively – spent a decade disassembling and trying to understand the inner workings of memorable, persuasive ideas, no matter what kind of packages they came in.

They studied political speeches, urban legends, news reports, management directives, and marketing messages like Subway's – not to mention culture-crossing proverbs, the various fables of Aesop, and the many soups of chicken (for the soul).

It didn't matter whether the ideas themselves were good or bad, just that they'd "stuck." (Not only is the Great Wall of China not the sole man-made structure visible from space; it isn't visible from space at all. And still...)

What the Heaths discovered was that the stickiest ideas, regardless of intrinsic merit, had a lot in common. Or, more accurately, the ways they were presented had a lot in common.

For a full text, go to http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0123/p15s02-bogn.html

Irma Rombauer: "The Joy of Cooking"

Irma Rombauer, the author of self-published book "The Joy of Cooking".

Seventy-five years ago, a St. Louis widow named Irma Rombauer took her life savings and self-published a book called The Joy of Cooking. Her daughter Marion tested recipes and made the illustrations, and they sold their mother-daughter project from Irma's apartment. Today, nine revisions later, the Joy of Cooking -- selected by The New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important and influential books of the twentieth century -- has taught tens of millions of people to cook, helped feed and delight millions beyond that, answered countless kitchen and food questions, and averted many a cooking crisis.

New Book Report: Power, Faith, and Fantasy/ America in the Middle East, 1776 to the presen, by Michael, B. Oren

Power, Faith ,and Fantasy: American in the middle East, 1776 to present, written by Michael B. Oren, is a good book to read if you want to know the epic of the Middle East relation to the United States. Around the time of the War of Independence, America’s main contact with the Middle East consisted in trading Caribbean rum for Turkish opium.