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The Boss-tic Gospels: "Blinded by the Light," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Nell Williams, Viveik Kalra, and Aaron Phagura go ballistic for The Boss.

Nell Williams, Viveik Kalra, and Aaron Phagura go ballistic for The Boss.

My abiding love and respect for the work of Bruce Springsteen is a matter of public record and of a couple dozen records. But I must report to you that Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s new movie Blinded by the Light, about how The Boss inspired Pakistani-British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor to pursue his dream of becoming a writer despite the poverty and racism that surrounded him in Margaret Thatcher’s England, is the jazz-handsy Springsteen jukebox musical that Springsteen on Broadway was supposed to protect us from. It boasts some wonderful performances, though, as well as a previously unreleased Springsteen song that at one point was going to appear on the soundtrack of… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Huh.

Anyway, my NPR review of Blinded by the Light is here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw"

Chris Klimek

Kirby, Statham, and Johnson are Shaw, Shaw, and Hobbs.

Kirby, Statham, and Johnson are Shaw, Shaw, and Hobbs.

Yesterday's exciting episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour featured Linda Holmes' triumphant return to the host chair after the triumphant publication of her debut novel. Hooray! In a deleted scene, I asked the panel—my forever Fast & Furious viewing-mate Linda, my sister-from-another-mother Daisy Rosario, and new friend Christina Tucker of the Unfriendly Black Hotties podcast—if I was the only one of use suffering from what I am loath to call "Johnson Fatigue."

Yes, came the three ladies' reply. It's just you. So be it! This was an especially fun episode. My review of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is right here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood"

Chris Klimek

Brad and Leo, movie stars (Sony)

Brad and Leo, movie stars (Sony)

Our Pop Culture Happy Hour dissection of Quentin Tarantino's ninth picture gave me the opportunity to be on a panel with Monica Castillo, a fellow Eugene O'Neill National Critics Institute fellow and someone with whom I'd not previously had the pleasure of speaking, though we have friends and colleagues in common. A fun episode. After some deliberation, we elected to avoid any in-depth discussion of the ending of the film.

The Ampersands of Time: "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Bald Is Beautiul: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. (Universal)

Bald Is Beautiul: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. (Universal)

Look, all of the Fast & Furious movies have stolen their best bits from better movies, but when the new double-ampersand sidebar flick Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw actually had its cyborg villain, Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba) get orders from an unseen superior to try to turn heroes Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) over to the Dark Side, I still managed to be surprised. My NPR review is here.

The Next-to-Last Picture Show: "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Brad Pitt is a stuntman-turned-gopher to a fading TV star in Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film. (Sony)

Brad Pitt is a stuntman-turned-gopher to a fading TV star in Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film. (Sony)

The Bruin—the Westwood cinema where Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate) goes to see herself in the Dean Martin-starring spy spoof The Wrecking Crew midway through Quentin Tarantino's new Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood—is where I saw Ocean's 11 (the Soderbergh-Clooney-Pitt one, not the the Dean Martin one) in 2001 and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. I must've seen at least a few other movies there, but those are the two I remember.

I like QT's new picture a whole lot. My NPR review awaits you.

Collateral Ham-age: "Stuber," reviewed.

Chris Klimek

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani are fun together, but  Stuber  is a misfire. (Mark Hill/Fox)

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani are fun together, but Stuber is a misfire. (Mark Hill/Fox)

Halfway through another summer packed with sequels and reboots and brand IP extensions, it give me no pleasure, none at all, to have to tell you that Stuber, an action comedy from an “original” screenplay and starring two very talented and appealing comic actors in Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani… is just Collateral, only not as good. My NPR review is here. Ugh! I feel terrible!

527 Dog Years: Mike Daisey Tells "A People's History"

Chris Klimek

Class is in session. (Darrow Montgomery for the Washington City Paper)

Class is in session. (Darrow Montgomery for the Washington City Paper)

Mike Daisey is an artist I've written about more often and in greater detail than only anyone else. He's certainly the artist with to whom I've spent the most time speaking directly. The reviews I've written of his monologues and the features I've reported about how he creates them and editorial I was once moved to write in his defense all reflect my great admiration for his work.

That has not prevented me from condemning him when I think he's deserved it, and he did do something that warranted condemnation, years ago. I will say that in the third year of a Donald J. Trump administration, it seems awfully quaint that so many journalists who had never publicly discussed theatre at all before they lined up to express their outrage at Daisey in the spring of 2012 got so steamed over a guy who tells stories in theaters for a living taking some liberties with one of them.

Anyway, Daisey's wildly ambitious current show A People's History—an 18 part retelling of American history circa 1492-to-now, based heavily on the work of Howard Zinn but also on Daisey's own life—is the subject of my second Washington City Paper cover story about him, available today wherever finer Washington, DC alt-weeklies are given away for free. My 2012 WCP story detailing the problems he created for himself with his show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and his effort to remedy them, is here. In fact, all of my writings about Daisey are mere clicks away! How much time do you have?

Pop Culture Happy Hour: "Spider-Man: Far From Home" and What's Making Us Happy

Chris Klimek

Tom Holland gets some enhanced security screening. (Sony)

Tom Holland gets some enhanced security screening. (Sony)

Host Linda Holmes is off promoting her already New York Times-bestselling debut novel Evvie Drake Starts Over this month, so Glen and Stephen handled the hosting chores on PCHH this episode, with Mallory Yu and me in chairs three and four to talk about Spider-Man: Far From Home, the eighth movie with the proper noun “Spider-Man” in the title since 2002. (For more important data analysis, see my NPR review of the movie.)

We recorded this episode first thing in the morning on one of the most heavily-scheduled days of my adult life. Fortunately, my energy peaked early that day, which is rare. I'm sure the wise and kind Jess Reedy was doing me a favor and protecting NPR when she sensibly excised my rant about how much money I lost on my first car, a Ford Taurus, when its engine exploded in the middle of the night and the beginning of a snowstorm as my brother and I were on our way to catch a plane to my grandpa's funeral. Attentive listeners will easily pick out where in the episode that would have gone were Jess not so good at her job.

I also shamelessly plugged my Washington Post piece from Tuesday about 1970’s Honor America Day and its soundtrack album, Proudly They Came… to Honor America.