I learned of my former boss’s passing last Saturday via a text from my friend Brian just after midnight:
“My sincere condolences on your friend Ricky Jay.”
I worked for RJ for eight months, 13 years ago. He was kind to me, and I recall many moments of warmth between us, but it would be disingenuous for me to imply we were buddies. I was his employee. Then again, people who knew him for much longer than I did spoke of being very conscious of minding those kinds of boundaries with him, too.
I didn’t think I was going to write anything about him. I didn’t see how I could without also writing about me, and a rough patch in my life, which seemed perilously narcissistic/self-pitying/starfucking/all of the above.
Then old buddy Glen, who is also, happily, my editor, prodded me to start and I couldn’t stop.
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)
I’ve very proud to have contributed the concluding essay of The Dissolve’s Movie of the Week coverage of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, long one of my sentimental favorites. My piece examines how cowriter-director James Cameron’s decision to disguise the film’s mysterious villain, the advanced T-1000 Terminator played (mostly) by Robert Patrick, as a uniformed Los Angeles police officer anticipated our growing discomfort with police in general and the L.A.P.D. in particular at the start of the 90s. It also explores the film’s ironic connection to the tragic beating of Rodney King by four L.A.P.D. officers near one of T2‘s key locations while the movie was in production. Read the essay here.
It’s been six days since my NEA Fellowship wrapped up in Los Angeles with ace program director Sasha Anawalt dancing to U2’s “Beautiful Day” (twice) while making her closing remarks to me and my 22 new best friends from media outlets around the country. The program was a 11-day motion blur spent talking about the nature and purpose of Art, and criticism, with journalists and theatre artists; of sobering reports of arts journalists (including many of the ones in the room) losing their jobs; of experiencing theatre; of being schooled in writing, but also in dancing and acting; of critiquing each other’s written work; of being isolated in a fancy hotel together; eating together; being bussed everywhere together; and of drinking together every night, accumulated sleep-dep and looming deadlines be damned.