Warp Corps: On the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, for Air & Space / Smithsonian

STAR TREK BEYOND

John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Simon Pegg in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.” (Kimberly French / Paramount)

The September issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, featuring the cover story I desperately wanted to call Warp Corps — because it’s about a corps of people whom Star Trek has inspired and influenced, you see — is now on sale at the National Air and Space Museum (both locations, on the National Mall and at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia) as well as at Barnes & Noble stores and the digital retailer of your choice. You can read the feature here. Also, I’d love it if you would come buy a copy of the magazine from me for a paltry one-time fee $6.99 at the Museum during its three-day celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8 — the evening the Original Series episode “The Man Trap” was first broadcast on NBC. Continue reading

All that (Inventor of) Jazz: Jelly’s Last Jam and The Lonesome West, reviewed.

My reviews of Signature Theatre’s new production of George C. Wolfe and Susan Brikenhead’s early-90s Jelly Roll Morton bio-musical Jelly’s Last Jam, and Keegan Theatre’s production of Martin McDonagh’s late-90s black comedy The Lonesome West, are in today’s Washington City Paper.  Notice is served.

Everybody Ben-Hurts: Wherein I answer all your questions about the new (fourth) big-screen adaption of the 19th century novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ except “Why?”

Jack Huston, who is descended from showbiz royalty but in no way related to Keanu Reeves, and Toby Kebbell in the fourth movie version of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur.

Here’s is the sort of sterling-quality joke that got whittled from what started out as a straight-up review of the new, Timur Bekmambetov-directed adaptation of Ben-Hur, but quickly turned into this.

EDITOR: Agreed. So they got an actor of Middle Eastern descent?

KLIMEK: They got a guy from Memphis.

EDITOR: You mean Memphis, Egypt?

KLIMEK: I do not. His name is Morgan Freeman.

EDITOR: I have heard of him.

KLIMEK: He has been in some other movies.

You can’t blame me for digging in to the little differences between new and old, especially in light of the fact that Ben-Hur ’59 is a venerable classic that I first saw when I was whatever age I was last Saturday night.
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Be Brief, I See into Thy End: Fear, reviewed.

Jennifer J. Hopkins, Tom Carman, and Vince Eisenson in "Fear."

I had the good fortune to interview Star Trek’s resident alien linguist Marc Okrand this week, for a video that’ll posting next week as part of Air & Space / Smithsonian’s coverage of Trek’s 50th birthday. I met Marc through his involvement in DC theatre. After the shoot, we got some coffee and talked about—well, okay, yes, about his work on various Trek movies mostly, again, some more. But we also discussed how much we both enjoyed writer/director Kathleen Akerley’s ambitious new play FEAR, which I review in this week’s Washington City Paper.

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Texas Holds ‘Em: Hell or High Water, reviewed.

Ben Foster and Chris Pine (CBS Films).

After what feels like a streak of mediocre-to-awful summer blockbusters (Star Trek Beyond excepted), David Mackenzie’s thoughtful, attentive crime drama Hell or High Water is a relief. My NPR review is here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 307: Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad

SS Group-R

Beloved Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes is at the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles this week, so Tanya Ballard Brown and I joined regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon for an uncharacteristically reserved episode. By which I mean, neither of the big summer movies we autopsied, Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad, is very good, though the latter is much worse. I had hopes for both of them, because I admire their directors, Paul Greengrass and David Ayer, very much, and I’ve tended to like their work. You know what late-summer release was not a big letdown? Star Trek Beyond. I endorse it. Continue reading

Self-Inflicted Wounds: Suicide Squad, reviewed.

I was genuinely curious about Suicide Squad, because I admire many of writer-director David Ayer‘s films, and because I like the sturdy bad-guys-on-a-dangerous-mission premise in general. (I finally saw William Friedkin‘s 1977 thriller Sorcerer a few months ago, and I loved it.) But Suicide Squad is at least as awful as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and probably would’ve been lousy even if a panicked studio hadn’t commissioned an edit from a company that specializes in trailers. Anyway, I performed an autopsy for NPR. Continue reading