Vibranium v Unobtanium: A Slate Investigation

Most of Black Panther is set in the imaginary African nation of Wakanda, a technological utopia whose monarchs have for centuries observed a strict policy of isolationism, keeping would-be colonizers at bay by hiding their nation’s wealth and scientific advancement from the outside world. We’re told in the movie’s very first minute that Wakanda’s prosperity derives from its abundance of Vibranium, and that this bounty was delivered via meteorite long before humans walked the Earth.

And for a resource they’re trying to keep secret, the Wakandans sure talk about it a lot.

Even more than the characters in Avatar (Remember Avatar? Nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for my boy James Cameron? Still the highest-grossing movie in the history of movies?) speak the much-derided name of that movie’s extraterrestrial miracle metal, Unobtanium.

A lot more.

For this Slate piece, I did the transcription. And the math.

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Notes from the (Dupont) Underground: TBD Immersive’s Interactive Gamble

Core Cast PortraitMy feature on Cabaret Rising, the latest and most ambitious interactive theatre project from TBD Immersive, is in this week’s Washington City Paper. The show runs through March 4.
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Enhanced Interrogation: 4,380 Nights, reviewed.


Annalisa Dias’s world premiere Gitmo detainee drama 4,380 Nights is a strong offering in the Womens’ Voices Theatre Festival. My review is in this week’s Washington City Paper.

Ahmad Kamal and Lynette Rathnam (C Stanley Photography)

Dry Goods: Hamlet and Sovereignty, reviewed.

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I wish I could muster more enthusiasm for Michael Kahn’s final Hamlet, starring Michael Urie, or for Sovereignty, an Arena Stage World Premiere entry in the Women’s Voices Theater Festival written by Mary Kathryn Nagle, who knows whereof she speaks but not how to make it sing. Those reviews are in this week’s Washington City Paper.

Petty Larceny: Den of Thieves, reviewed.

Den of Thieves
Here’s something I mean with all the generosity of spirit that I hope I possess in my heart: Den of Thieves, a new—well, newly released—crime movie, is not as bad as one might expect the directorial debut from the screenwriter of A Man Apart and London Has Fallen to be. That’s because writer-director Christian Gudegast has taken the greatest Los Angeles cops-and-robbers movie ever made and replicated it as closely as one can while filming in Atlanta, with a growling Gerard Butler standing in for an ad-libbing Al Pacino.

My NPR review of Den of Thieves is here. I believe the phrase “coffee-table action flick” is a Klimek Original.

Pablo Schreiber and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson cover their tracks. (STX)

The January Man: The Commuter, reviewed.


Vera Farmiga makes Liam Neeson an indecent proposal in The Commuter, Neeson’s latest January-release throat-puncher. Here’s my NPR review.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Black Mirror Season 4, discussed.


I’m on today’s episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, weighing in on the new season of Netflix’s cautionary-tale tech anthology Black Mirror. One thing I should’ve said had there been time is just how much the open format of the show contributes to its ability to build tension. Two of my favorites among the six new episodes are “U.S.S. Callister,” which runs a nearly feature-length 76 minutes, and “Metalhead,” which clocks in at around 40 minutes—not even long enough to fill a network hour.

Anyway, I was happy as always to join Linda and Glen, and especially glad to get to speak with Brittany Luse, whom I had not met previously. You can hear the episode here, or on whatever smart device you’ve got. Or both. I mean, we’re all cuffed to our digital appendages now, despite the warnings of Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker. Continue reading