24 December 2011

Book Review: Inferno, by James Nachtwey, *****


A document of war and strife during the 1990s, this volume of photographs by the photojournalist James Nachtwey includes dramatic and shocking images of human suffering in Rwanda, Somalia, Romania, Bosnia, Chechnya and India, a well as photographs of the conflict in Kosovo. An essay by the author Luc Sante is included. The book is published to coincide with an exhibition of Nachtwey's work at the International Centre of Photography, New York.


This book is a masterpiece of what I would call "political" photography. Nachtwey is a traveler, big time. He goes to war, or follows war's footsteps, and closes in on his subjects where most others would turn away. He prevails over his own emotions in order to show us the horrors of the world. He feels he has to do it, as he explains in interviews (see DVD below) because if he does not, who will? He is humble, understated and brilliant. The book contains only B&W pictures, is big and heavy and expensive, and it is probably the best photo reportage book you will ever buy. It certainly is for me.

You might want to buy this Oscar nominated DVD, made by Swiss director Christian Frei, who followed Jim Nachtwey and placed a micro cam on his film camera. He is also extensively interviewed and so are many who work with him. I have reviewed this DVD here on this blog.

Vous pouvez aussi acheter l'édition française de ce livre:

21 December 2011

Film Review: Pacific Battleship Yamato (2010), by Junya Sato, ****


World War II action film set aboard the Battleship Yamato, the most fearsome ship in the Pacific fleet and still to date the largest warship ever built. Based on a book by Jun Henmi with a framing story set in the present day and through the use of flashbacks, Yamato tells the story of the crew of a WWII battleship, concentrating on the ship's demise during Operation Ten-Go.

20 December 2011

Film Review: Assault on the Pacific - Kamikaze (2007), by Taku Shinjo, ****

World War II epic about a squadron of Japanese Kamikaze pilots and their journey through training and first missions toward the terrifying destiny of their battle with the US Navy over the Pacific Ocean. It is essentially a backstage shoot, very little in terms of war action.

13 December 2011

Book Review: The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang, ****

Japanese soldier beheading a Chinese man

In December 1937, in what was then the capital of China, one of the most brutal massacres in the long annals of wartime barbarity occurred. The Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking (Nanjing) and within weeks not only looted and burned the defenseless city but systematically raped, tortured, and murdered many thousands of Chinese civilians. The story of this atrocity continues to be denied or minimized by the Japanese government, though some in Japan do recognize it. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents in four different languages (many never before published), Iris Chang has written an emotional account of that disgraceful episode.

09 December 2011

Map Review: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Freytag & Berndt, ****

Explore Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with this Freytag&Berndt road map. The best way to plan your trip, prepare your itinerary, and to travel independently in this part of Southeast Asia.

07 December 2011

Film Review: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), by R Fleischer, T Masuda and K Fukusaku, *****


Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. That is one reason to review a forty years old movie. Another is the publication of a stunning new Blu-ray edition. A Japanese-American co-production, director Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green) and two Japanese directors put together this ultrarealistic account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor as presented from the perspectives of both nations, as diplomatic tensions rise between the two countries. While the Japanese military plans its attack on American military installations, the American forces nearly stumble into a much greater calamity due to a series of errors and mistakes. As the two sides plunge closer to war, the tension escalates until the final, spectacular air raid, arguably the most realistic ever filmed.