CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 6, 2011 |
Defusing land mines is dangerous under the best of circumstances; darkness only ups the ante. Such were the conditions in mid-December when, after a battle in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a group of Marines was trying to get back to base overnight to avoid an ambush that was anticipated at daylight. The job of clearing the path belonged to Staff Sgt. Justin E. Schmalstieg 28, an experienced bomb disposal technician from Camp Pendleton who was on his fourth tour of duty.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 27, 2010 |
He was only two days away from being reassigned to a base camp administrative job after spending six months in Afghanistan disarming roadside bombs. "Wouldn't it suck if something happens in the next few days?" Marine Corps Reserve Staff Sgt. Joshua Cullins e-mailed his 16-year-old brother, Donovan, two weekends ago. Cullins, a 28-year-old officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, was killed Oct. 18 when a secondary bomb exploded while he was investigating an earlier blast near Marja, in Afghanistan's dangerous Helmand province.
March 3, 2010 |
Is there anything more irresistible and more frustrating than seeing your job portrayed on screen? Whether a ruthless lawyer, saintly schoolteacher or cantankerous cop, most fictional working stiffs have one thing in common: They kind of stink at their jobs. At least according to the real-life practitioners watching them. Such appears to be the case with "The Hurt Locker," the movie about bomb-disposal technicians in the Iraq war, which is up for several Oscars including best picture and best director.
February 11, 2010 |
In 2004, investigative journalist Mark Boal persuaded Playboy magazine to send him to Iraq for a story about the "practical reality" of the war. He was embedded with a unit of U.S. soldiers who have the most dangerous job in the military -- disarming deadly bombs. The members of the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad provided the human-interest angle to the story that Boal wanted to tell about the horrors of the occupation and futility of the war. Over the course of his three-week assignment, Boal realized that the harrowing daily accounts of those who risked their lives to save others would also make for a riveting movie with far greater reach.
July 27, 2009 |
I first got to know Robert Bucksbaum when I discovered that my favorite neighborhood theater, the Majestic Crest in Westwood, wasn't owned by a corporate theater chain but by one man who was so crazy about movies that he'd bought his own movie theater, making him one of the few individual theater owners in America. Our paths have continued to cross, since Bucksbaum -- who's something of a baseball fanatic as well -- manages our local Little League's summer All-Star team, which, thanks to some stellar play from a great bunch of kids, including his twin boys and my son, ended up winning the District 25 championship.
September 8, 2008 |
Much has been made of the lack of success -- both at the box office and artistically -- of the topical movies that have come out since the American invasion of Iraq. "The Hurt Locker," a full-tilt action picture directed by Kathryn Bigelow that also ruminates on the psychology of combat, is looking to buck that trend. The people behind the film, which screens today at the Toronto International Film Festival, feel that their picture has some major differences. "The most important distinction that was in our minds is that none of the movies that have come out so far, or were in development when we were in development, were combat movies," said writer Mark Boal.