I just got the sad news that a reader I had been corresponding with for many years passed away earlier this month. Jan first wrote to me in 2009 to correct me for using the term “Helsinki Syndrome” instead of “Stockholm Syndrome.” It was a genuine mistake and not an intentional DIE HARD reference. I’m glad I did it, or maybe I never would’ve heard from him. Or maybe I would’ve, because the next time was to correct an error about Sven-Ole Thorsen.
He introduced himself as an MD and “a Swede currently residing in Denmark.” Over the years the corrections turned into updates about movies he had seen, what he was planning to see, what he was not planning to see, things he had read about Seattle or the American political situation. He worried about the encroaching fascism he saw here. And he was full of movie and TV recommendations, tidbits from Q&As, links to interviews.
I got to know him as very cantankerous and opinionated, sometimes in a hilarious way. He had numerous actors he mysteriously hated and refused to see the films of. One of them was Charlize Theron(!), so I could not get him to watch FURY ROAD (!!), which I often teased him about.
I sometimes wondered why he liked me so much, because he seemed to disagree with me more often than not. He seemed more excited when I wrote about movies from the ’50s or ’60s, but he couldn’t have been a traditional snob – he knew me from Ain’t It Cool and Seagalogy. He was very generous, making surprisingly large donations to my Paypal account, sending me his Christmas mix CDs every year (he made covers for them and everything), sending me a copy of WILD BILL to force me to watch it. Which I then somehow lost. But I did watch it and let him know my thoughts.
I feel terrible that I hadn’t gotten back to him in a while. The last thing he wrote to me was that he had seen all of Michael Bay’s films theatrically except for THE ISLAND (because he hated Ewan McGregor), and he was not going to watch 6 UNDERGROUND (because he hated Ryan Reynolds). “But during the last two Transformers films I sat in the theater and asked myself: What the fuck am I doing here…”
Knowing now that he was going through some shit at that time I appreciate even more that he had a light moment to tell me that. At least once he said he would visit Seattle some day and give me a call. Wish that would’ve happened. I bet getting a drink with him would’ve been awkward and funny and great.
He was a good guy. I’m really gonna miss him. So long, buddy. The only way I know how to pay tribute is to point everyone to what I wrote about FORTY GUNS after Jan’s repeated pleading. It was a great recommendation and I’m so glad he liked the review (despite several corrections).