Yes, it’s back! The Friday tradition that I’m sure, oh, one or two of you maybe might have possibly slightly missed. If not, well, tough, it’s an easy way to knock out a post one day a week.
Speaking of my hiatus, you’re telling me that I was gone for seven months and Liam Neeson only managed to get a third Taken movie made? Come on, man! You have a particular set of skills! One of those is making Taken movies! I figured you’d have gotten at least two more of these under your belt by now. Anyway, Taken 2 only did around $6 million less than the first film domestically, a respectable drop. But it beat the original by $150 million worldwide, where these type of films tend to shine. So while Taken 3 promises that “it ends here,” if it performs like its predecessor, I’m sure they’ll find a way to un-end it, unless they don’t like making money or something.
January is the time when us rubes not in New York or Los Angeles finally get to start seeing those year-end prestige films turning up on everyone’s top ten lists. Oscar eligibility rules require at the minimum a seven-day run in Los Angeles County by December 31st each year. Nobody wants to flood the market with movies right around the holidays, so a lot of award hopefuls opt for very limited runs in New York and LA to get some buzzy, glowing reviews under their belts, then go wide once the holidays calm down. It makes not being in those cities feel a little behind the curve, but better late than never. Selma, for instance, opened on Christmas Day — in all of 19 theaters — and is only now expanding to almost 3,000. It appears to be going the Lincoln route; not telling someone’s entire life story, but dialing in on one specific event in that life, in this case Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s voting rights marches in Selma, Alabama. Early word is that this works just as well as Lincoln did, and with an equally strong performance at its center. And, of course, it’ll be an easy way for a lot of privileged white people to act like they’re progressive for a few hours by seeing this. Sort of like Catholics who only go to church on Christmas Eve.
But Inherent Vice is the one prestige picture I’ve been repeatedly checking on opening here in Orlando. I have to admit, Paul Thomas Anderson has been a case of somewhat diminishing returns for me. I haven’t seen his first film Hard Eight, but I think Boogie Nights is an absolute classic, and Magnolia is pretty great too. But despite the considerable achievements of Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood and The Master — not the least of which is actually making Adam Sandler interesting — those films fill me with appreciation more than affection. But Vice looks like something more akin to Boogie Nights, a loose, wild reel through a very specific time and place. I’ve heard some wildly divergent opinions on it, but hey, two and half hours with Joaquin Phoenix doing his best Wolverine impression has to be at least a little bit of fun.
And Neeson, I fully expect another Taken movie by the time I finish writing this.