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Latest Work

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How Do You Talk to a Battle Angel: "ALITA," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Rosa Salazar is  Alita , an amnesiac cyborg super-soldier in the 26th century. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Rosa Salazar is Alita, an amnesiac cyborg super-soldier in the 26th century. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Panzer Kunist is, as I’m sure I need not tell a cinephile and aesthete as refined and discerning and educated as you are, an ancient cyborg martial art that has largely died out by the mid-26th century. More importantly, Panzer Kunst has the satisfying hard consonants of words that were forbidden on 20th century television. It seems like it could work as any part of speech, which makes it especially panzer to kunst as kunst as possible. Panzer Kunst!

On the new Alita: Battle Angel. My full review is here.

How Men Crumbled: Arena’s "Kleptocracy" and Ford’s "Twelve Angry Men," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Christopher Geary is Vladimir Putin in Kenneth Lin’s world-premiere at Arena Stage. (C. Stanley Photography)

Christopher Geary is Vladimir Putin in Kenneth Lin’s world-premiere at Arena Stage. (C. Stanley Photography)

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something... something. In this week's Washington City Paper, I review Kleptocracy, an imperfect but intriguing Vladimir Putin origin story by Kenneth Lin at Arena Stage, starring the guy in the cast who looks the second-most Putinlike as Putin. Plus a puzzling new production of Twelve Angry Men at Ford's.

Raging at the Sea: "Serenity," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

“Remember when we were in  Interstellar  together? That movie was underrated.”

“Remember when we were in Interstellar together? That movie was underrated.”

Serenity is a soapy, dopey thriller from Steven Knight, who's made some very good ones. Nolanesque ambition, Shyamalanesque skill. With Matthew McConaughey as Baker Dill, a fisherman/tour guide/gigolo who lives in a shipping container and dreams of tuna. Here’s my review.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: "Glass" and What's Making Us Happy

Chris Klimek

Not Acting Enough, Acting Too Much, and Acting Just Right (Universal)

Not Acting Enough, Acting Too Much, and Acting Just Right (Universal)

I am chuffed to be back on the iHeartRadio Podcast Award-nominated Pop Culture Happy Hour this week to discuss Glass, fallen auteur M. Night Shyamalan's joint sequel to 2000's Unbreakable and 2017's Split. It isn't very good, but the movie has an anachronistic quality that's sort of... sweet. While it's made explicitly clear—every damn thing in this movie is explained and re-re-re-explained—that Glass is set 19 years after Unbreakable, Shyamalan acts as though superhero comics haven't become Hollywood's No. 1 source of grist during the back half of that period. (In the years since Unbreakable, we've seen three different A-list actors play The Incredible Hulk, for chrissakes.)

A goodly portion of those films have featured Samuel L. Jackson, who, to be fair, looks like he's having at least as much fun sitting in a wheelchair staring into the middle distance in Glass as he does when he's cashing another check as Nick Fury. After his brief return to acting in both Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and Rian Johnson's Looper back in 2012, I'd hoped maybe Bruce Willis would deign to open his eyes again, but no such luck. And the movie's top-billed star continues to perform his solo show Scares Ahoy with James McAvoy.

The Great War: "They Shall Not Grow Old," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Peter Jackson oversaw the restoration and conversion to 3D of century-old footage from the Imperial War Museum. (Warner Bros.)

Peter Jackson oversaw the restoration and conversion to 3D of century-old footage from the Imperial War Museum. (Warner Bros.)

I was moved by Peter Jackson's World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which uses digital wizardry to conjure empathy, not spectacle. I didn't have space to go into it in my NPR review, but I wondered how J.R.R. Tolkien's experience of the war might've shaped Jackson's sense of it. Jackson did spend a sizable chunk of his career adapting Tolkien's novels, for better and for worse.

The Great Work Concludes: Side D of "Blue Wave Christmas" Hath Dropped

Chris Klimek

2018-Blue-Wave-Christmas-Superman.jpg

Here’s a rainy New Year’s Eve bonus for you, merrymakers: Side D of Blue Wave Christmas, the yule-mitzvah edition of my longstanding Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series, has arrived, marking the conclusion of the most ambitious mixtape I’ve yet made. It’s long on merriment, long on obscurity, and long on length. That’s why I had to serve it to you incrementally. With this vestigal-tail chapter, some of the familiar voices from prior iterations have returned after mostly keeping mum so far this year. There are by my reckoning at least seven days of Christmas remaining, so I’ll leave you to it. You can find all four sides on this page. I wish for all of us a better 2019.

Talking "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" on All Things Considered

Chris Klimek

Miles Morales, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker, and Peter Porker. (Sony)

Miles Morales, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker, and Peter Porker. (Sony)

Look, we didn’t think I’d actually get to interview everyone I had on my to-interview wish list. That never happens.

Only this time it did, which is how I came to have five different voices in my four-and-a-half-minute All Things Considered piece on the animation in Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, a movie I cannot wait to see again.

All of them—producer Chris Miller, producer/co-screenwriter Phil Lord, co-screenwriter/co-director Rodney Rothman, co-director Peter Ramsey, and finally, Eisner Award-winning comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, who (with artist Sara Pichelli), created Miles Morales, the primary hero of Spider-Verse—had smart, illuminating things to say. I spoke to Bendis solo and Lord & Miller and Rothman & Ramsey in pairs, and pretty soon I had something like 75 minutes of good tape for a story that could accommodate mmmmaybe two-and-a-half minutes of that.

It was an epic job of cutting, followed by more frantic cutting, and then more surgical cutting. My editor, Nina Gregory, and news assistant Milton Guevara, showed me how radio pros get things done on deadline. Bob Mondello, who’d suggested the piece in the first place, gave me some vocal coaching in the booth.

I wish we could’ve used more of what all those smart, imaginative people had to say. I wish we could’ve made the segment 15 minutes long. But I’m very happy with what we managed to pack into about 240 seconds.