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776: Streep talk
775: World of difference
774: Shocks and Bonds
773: Viva La Revolución
772: Jacqui Bayne
768: Beyond the universe
767: Yasuhito Endo
766: Aroon Mahtani
765: Dr. Hidemi Akai
764: Badr Hari
763: Mizuki Kubodera
761: Patrick W. Galbraith
760: Jean-Pierre Felix
759: Philippe Grau
758: Emi Kashiwara & Elekiteru
757: Aura Virginia Chirculescu
756: Aaron Davis
755: Happy days
754: Bryan Au
753: Martin van der Linden
752: Qinggelete
751: Chuck Johnson
750: Mike Applegate (aka Magic Mike)
749: Yukie Kito
748: Steve Kaufmann
746: Samira Zarghami
745: Raising the Bar
744: Pierre-Gilles Delorme
743: David F. Hoenigman
742: Miwa Gardner
741: Kevin Cooney
740: Kyle Cleveland
739: JJ
738: Bruce Stronach
737: Yoichiro Dennis Ide
736: Mike Garrett
735: Hiroki Suehara
734: Rise and Shrine
733: Patrik Washburn
732: Michael Bumgardner
731: Patricia Bader-Johnston
730: Darin Maki
729: Hiroshi Fujimaki
728: Misha Janette
727: Jon Mitchell
725: Hokuto Konishi
724: Rita Lamah Hankach
723: Kisui Nakazawa
722: Angela Jeffs
721: Simon Wood
720: Yasuko Yokoyama
715: Jason Kelly
714: Dominica Serigano
713: Erik Gain
712: Genevieve Maylam
711: Masahiro Gono
710: Eikou Sumura
709: Eikou Sumura
708: Malcolm Thompson
707: Makiko Tsuji
706: Dominic Allen
705: Maria Heitanen
704: Beckie Cassidy
703: Jett Edwards
702: Yoshinobu Furuichi
701: Silvestre Jacobi
700: Jah-Light Sound System
699: Daniel Velazques
698: Lynne Charles
697: Eric Bragg
695: Susan Nichols
694: Anna Kunnecke
693: Kenneth Pechter
692: Kazu Wakui
691: Antonio Inoki
690: Hiroko Noguchi
689: Richard Bysouth
688: Eric Bjorndahl
687: Andrew Shuttleworth
686: Sayuri Suzuki
685: Yurie Hatanaka
684: Miogi Takii
683: Thierry Cohen
682: Ahmed M. Elmardi
681: Aya Kitagawa
680: Suzanne Ng and Yoriko Soma
679: Ricco DeBlank
677: Takenari Shibata
676: Kirk R. Patterson
675: Satoko Yahata
674: Flavia Nishimura
673: Ryo Shoji
672: Chip Eckton
671: Yuko Ito
670: Marja Kullberg
669: Laur Meyrieux
668: Slavomir Stanislaw Kowalewski
667: Ryan McGuire
664: Life force
663: Steve Marshall
662: Jeff Klein
661: Ahn Soon Han
660: Straight shooter
659: Marcello Pietrantonio
658: Glitterball 2006
657: Alison Roberts-Brown
656: Girl on the go
655: Rob Hoey
654: Kahori Ochi
653: Ed Wells
652: Haruka Orth
651: Laura Cook
650: Uleshka Asher
649: Full speed ahead
648: Katsumi Namekata
647: Top talent
646: No heels, no life
645: Joanna Roper
644: Lu Nagata
643: Kirill Konin
642: Gabriele Roberto
641: Carlos Gibbs
640: Blair Falahey
639: The Three Waiters
638: Simon Woodroffe
637: Tony Virili
636: Paul W. Creager
635: Randy Channell
634: Mari Takeuchi
633: Stephanie Schueller
632: Tara Tan Kitaoka
631: Katherine Mok
630: Bob Tobin and Hitoshi Ohashi
629: Tommy Kullberg
628: Toshio Nagashima
627: Eiko Kondo
626: Embrey Ramon Williams
625: Neil Day
624: Mong-Lan
623: Tor Hideki Kashio
622: Elizabeth Heilman Brooke
621: Louis Carlet
620: Theo Panagiotoulias
619: Lionel Gougne
618: Sarajean Rossitto
617: Christian Hassing
616: Kiho Takashima
614-615: David Wagner
613: Heather Stuart
612: Erica Angyal
611: Jack McLean
610: Fumine Yakumo
609: Yasutoshi Hirabayashi
608: Yoko Hijikata
607: Jim Frederick
605: Yuka Murakami
604: Chayne Ellis
603: Marco Antonio Nakata
602: Kicking Back
601: Stand by your man
600: Hero worship
599: The Candy man
598: Heart strings
597: Sweet and sour
596: Subtitle subtleties
595: The right moves
594: Mother’s day
593: The clone ranger
592: A career kicks off
591: Woman of substance
590: Final conflict
589: World Ready for ‘War’
588: Fun in the sun
587: New life for an old hero
586: Fun and games
585: Knockout punch
584: Patrick’s day
583: Marcia marches on
582: Brunch break
581: Kingdom come
580: Gentle as a beast
579: Prime time
578: Devil of a time
577: In first Gere
576: Bright spark
575: Rei of sunshine
574: A star is reborn
573: In search of geisha
572: Marshall law
571: In the Nic of time
570: Holding a grudge
569: Bourne again
568: Soap opera
567: Alexander and friends
566: Oceans apart
565: A night at the opera
564: Just joshing
563: McPain in the neck
561-562: Hanks for everything
560: Reading between the Klines
559: Risqué business
558: Sky highs
557: Korean boom
556: Queen Victoria
555: Glitter Ball
554: Peter Miller
553: Ralph Frehner
552: Dimension K
551: Tokyo Game Show
550: US Embassy
549: I, Robot Premiere
548: Mauve
547: Xterra Japan
546: Earth Celebration
545: Idée R-bar
544: Laforet Museum
543: Hara Museum
542: Fuji Rock Festival’04
541: Bunkamura Museum of Art

star struck

New life for an old hero
An all-star cast re-invents the story of the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins
By Chris Betros

Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan (left) stands with cast members Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe and Katie Holmes in Tokyo
courtesy of Warner Bros

You can’t keep a good comic book hero down—especially at the box office. Spider-Man and X-Men have been big hits, Superman returns next year and now we see the origins of the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Linus Roache, Tom Wilkinson and Katie Holmes.

Batman—or rather The Batman, we should say—first appeared in Detective Comics as Birdman in 1939, the creation of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. A camp TV series in the 1960s and four movies in the late 1980s and ’90s have kept Batman firmly entrenched in pop culture, even for those who don’t read the comics. Nolan, best known for Memento and Insomnia, acknowledged the task of re-inventing Batman, especially after Tim Burton’s first two films. “What Tim did was very visionary, but it was an idiosyncratic version and not the story of the comic books that I saw,” he said. “If I hadn’t seen the character in a different light, I wouldn’t have taken on this project.”

Similarly, Bale, the 31-year-old star best known for American Psycho, felt that his predecessors—Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney—had not made Batman as interesting as the comic book character. “The graphic novels of the Dark Knight were my reference,” he said. “The image of Batman was far more threatening. His motivations are questionable. For me, this is a genesis story. I just pushed the other films out of my mind.”

Batman Begins explores how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, a grim character driven by vengeance after witnessing the murder of his parents. As a disillusioned young man, Wayne travels to Asia seeking the means to fight injustice. In the Himalayas, he meets the League of Shadows, a ninja cult whose leaders (Watanabe and Neeson) instruct him in all he needs to know to fight injustice and conquer his fear.

Most of the cast—except Watanabe, naturally—said Batman left an impression on them in their youth. “Growing up in Ireland, Batman was a little bit scary to me,” said Neeson. “I didn’t really see him as a hero because he didn’t have superpowers like Superman.” Nolan thinks Batman is popular precisely because he doesn’t have superpowers. “He is human and driven by complex, negative impulses, but he manages to channel that rage and anger into something positive. Anyway, I liked all those heroes when I was growing up: Batman—even the TV one—Superman and James Bond.”

For Freeman, who is having a busy summer with Million Dollar Baby and Danny the Dog, Batman’s biggest appeal is that he is a disciplined crime fighter who survives by training all the time. Another appeal is the big paycheck he got. “I’ve never been asked to be in a blockbuster like Spider-Man, Superman or Star Wars,” he said. “I remember Alec Guinness telling me once that he got paid more money for being in Star Wars than he did for all the other movies he did combined. So I thought, it’s my turn.”



Jean Snow
Design blog guru says Tokyo is the only place to be

Webmaster of two of Tokyo’s hottest design sites and contributor to many others, 31-year-old Canadian Jean Snow has an eye for style and a passion to share.

What brought you to Tokyo?

I was in China studying the language where I met my wife, who is Japanese. She needed to come back to Tokyo to finish her degree, and we’ve been here ever since.

What keeps you here?

I am absolutely in love with this city. A quick scan of my websites will show you why.

Tell us about the sites?

My personal site (http://jeansnow.net) is a blog I’ve been running for more than three years. It’s a guide to design and pop culture in Tokyo. I’m also editor of MoCo Tokyo (http://mocoloco.com/tokyo), a directory of contemporary design, and I contribute to Gizmodo, Superfuture and Tokyo Q.

What pays the bills?
Teaching English to children, freelance writing, and (believe it or not) Google ads.

What are your Tokyo design recommendations?
I am a slave to Muji’s flagship in Yurakucho, and down the street in Ginza check out Ginza Graphic Gallery, Creation Gallery G8, and Matsuya’s Design Gallery. My favorite area is Aoyama for the cafés, exhibitions and shops. Office in Gaienmae is a favorite drinking stop.

Where do you live?
Ikebukuro. If not hip, it’s incredibly convenient—the two biggest department stores in the world, several Bic Cameras, the nine-floor Junkudo bookstore, cheap restaurants aplenty, and some of the tastiest ramen in Japan.

What is your favorite possession?
I have two: my iMac and my iBook. My whole world revolves around them. What are you reading this week? Time, Metropolis, Wallpaper, +81, ART iT, Pen, Casa Brutus. Reading is an unhealthy obsession of mine.

Listening to?
Live Pixies recordings and some Fantastic Plastic Machine.

A lot of anime, The Daily Show, and my favorite weekly comedy shows like Mecha Mecha Iketeru. Yesterday I watched a terrific film, The Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji), featuring my favorite actor, Tadanobu Asano.

Where’s your favorite place in the world and why?
That would be Tokyo—it’s such a rich and exciting city to live in with a curatorial spirit that can’t be beat.

What’s the strangest thing you ever saw here?
While I was looking for a bar in Shibuya, I turned into a dirty, narrow backstreet to be confronted by two sailor-uniform wearing girls in their 20s playing badminton. AV

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.