Friday: 17.June.2005

Batman Begins: Film / Movie Review

Saw Batman Begins last night. Very different from all other Batmans. I liked this one best. Enough to put it on my official Recommended list. The others seemed more playful & fun compared to this one, which explores the dark side of Batman's past.

FEAR plays a major role in this Batman. Or more importantly, *facing* your fears: turning toward them, instead of away from. Confronting & embracing the discomfort this typically brings. Of course, the concept now forms the basis for a popular TV show.

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I went thru a phase (years ago) where I determined to do anything & everything that frightened me. Just for the thrill of it. It certainly makes life interesting. Exhausting, but interesting. So I could relate to this Batman more than the previous releases. It made me miss that exhilarating stage of my life.

If I had to mention something I didn't like, I'd say the actor they picked to play Batman wasn't my favorite. But he grows on you as the movie progresses. I've heard others say it's "too perfect". I disagree, but know what they mean.

Well thought out story. Psychologically complex. Lots of actors you will recognize. Thought-provoking philosophies. I enjoy anything that engages my brain and makes me think. Interesting plot-twists at the end. Reviews posted here. Trailers here.

Saw it up the road at the Big Newport, on the giant screen there. The audience was hootin' & hollerin' as the curtain parted and the show began. Fun crowd. They applauded at the end.

So after all these years, we finally learn how Batman became Batman. How & (more importantly) why. RAD rating: 5 tri-blades: Radiation tri-blade Radiation tri-blade Radiation tri-blade Radiation tri-blade Radiation tri-blade

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query-string: batman begins film movie review

Posted by Rad at Friday: 17June2005

Tuesday: 07.June.2005

Cinderella Man: Rad film / movie review

Saw Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe & Renee Zellweger. A Ron Howard film. While waiting for the show to start, I overheard a guy across the aisle say, "Ron Howard has never directed a bad film."

Not sure if that's true, but he's one of the few directors whose every film I see. He spoke at the USC Film school graduation a few years back. Surprisingly humble for a guy who won the Oscar for Best Director (2001, A Beautiful Mind), noting how he *still* has to fight executives for creative control of his films.

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Strong reviews. Rotten Tomatoes rated it "Certified Fresh". Based on a true story about a gutsy Irish boxer from Jersey named James Braddock, who became a hero to the downtrodden during the Great Depression (not the most romantic period in our nation's history). Much of the story is heartbreaking, yet inspiring nonetheless. The word determination comes to mind.

The audience applauded at the end. Hadn't seen that in a while. Except for a few clever transitions, the movie doesn't try anything fancy. Like the fighter himself, it's just a solid film that tells an inspiring story.

Like most Ron Howard films, attention is paid to the details, which makes it seem real. A few ladies in the audience *gasped* in parts, which means they were emotionally immersed.

You're not sure how it will end until the very end. And also like the fighter, the film finishes strong. Easy to recommend. If I had to say something bad, I'd say some parts were slow. Trailers here. More info about the fighter James Braddock posted here.

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query terms: cinderella man film movie review

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 07June2005

Wednesday: 01.June.2005

Landslide destroys million-dollar homes in Bluebird Canyon, Laguna Beach

Breaking news: Here in Laguna Beach, Maria just called and said the city is evacuating her and everyone else who lives in Bluebird Canyon, because houses are sliding down the hill.

Over a dozen homes have slid down the hill so far and are completely destroyed. 20 other homes have been damaged. The land continues to slide. So she's afraid the houses above her will land on top of hers.

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This is surprising, because it's not raining right now, nor has it rained for weeks, altho this was one of the wettest winters on record. These problems usually only occur during heavy rains. Seems the homes there are built on loose dirt, not solid rock.

It's all over the news here, on every channel. I hear a bunch of news choppers circling overhead. I'm afraid all these choppers are going to wake the bug. We live a mile or two from Bluebird Canyon. Looks like it's making national news, cuz the relatives are starting to call from around the country. The Dog just called, to make sure we're still alive.

Residents were instructed to take only esential items. So what do you think these residents took? I saw footage of kids carrying surfbaords down the streeet. Moms was carrying his skateboard. Only in Laguna. I bet they left poor muffy the cat in the house with an open bag of cat food.

All multi-million-dollar homes. (In Laguna Beach, doghouses cost a million dollars.) On the news, they said, the *cheapest* home in Bluebird Canyon is valued at $1.5-mil. If that's the cheapest...

Maria is glad I have her BMW, which she's letting me use while the Rad-mobile is in the shop (new clutch). Otherwise she wouldn't be able to get it out of there.

Bluebird canyon is beautiful. Lots of green, jungle-like plants, windy curvy roads. Quiet, away from the hustle & bustle of town. It feels like you're stepping back in time 20 years. The Red Cross has set up a receiving station at Bluebird park to tend to the injured. (That's where the city hosts Music in the Park every Sunday afternoon during the summer months.)

So far, 500 homes have been evacuated (over 1,000 people). 75 homes are red-tagged off-limits. Local hotels are offering free & discounted rooms. The entire Bluebird Canyon area is blocked off. The police & fire departments aren't letting anyone in.

Rumbling began ~5 o'clock this morning. It all started sliding slightly between 6 & 7AM. Shortly thereafter, Maria said, the police were banging on her door shouting, "Evacuate now! Your lives are in danger!"

We are friends with the city manager (his wife is our son's godmother). I heard people on TV trying to blame this on him, saying he approved the building of too many homes. He's on vacation now (Fiji). He'll need that time off to deal with this fiasco when he returns.

Oh, I just saw him on TV. They must've come back early. He says, "If people hire a private geologist who says it's safe to build, we're obligated, by law, to let them build."

UPDATE: A reader sent in this verse of scripture, taken from Matthew 7:24, saying that landslides like this are nothing new, but rather have been destroying homes for thousands of years.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Few people have the kind of insurance that covers this type of disaster. Choppers continue to buzz overhead. More coverage at the New York Times, ABCNews, Reuters, China Daily, Guardian, Fox News, BBC.

UPDATE: 02.june.2005 - I counted *six* choppers hovering in the skies over Bluebird Canyon today. The constant noise must get annoying after a while. The choppers don't move; they just sit there in one place, hovering motionless. They leave no doubt about exactly where Bluebird Canyon is located.

I saw the letters "Fox News 11" on the side of one chopper. Some are the big, fancy "corporate" choppers .. the kind that scream by with a high-pitched whine. They fly overhead on their way to & from Bluebird canyon, which is a mile or two from here. Even *that* is starting to get annoying.

UPDATE: 04.june.2005 - Posted photos of the restricted area of Bluebird Canyon, where a landslide destoyed million-dollar homes 3 days ago. See here: Photos of Bluebird Canyon: landslide destoys million-dollar homes.

A map of the affected area is here:

Map of Bluebird Canyon, Laguna Beach, including landslide area

Google search pre-configured for query: laguna beach bluebird canyon landslide

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 01June2005