Taken

Not without my needless exposition!


I was okay. I guess. The effect was largely educational.
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Reported on 14th of April, 2009

There’s nothing better than seeing a movie in another country. I’m sure someday, I will regale you, gentle reader, with the tale of the Cinema Les Halles, one of the only multiplexes in Paris that shows 1) crappy American films and 2) crappy American films in VO, (version originale), English with French subtitles. It’s a place where Date Movie is transformed into Sexy Movie, and where they don’t know that they shouldn’t show 16 Blocks for any reason. Nevertheless, I spent all morning practicing, and it’s really the only French I know: ‘says-ee-em bloc’. So, two years from now, when I’m in a post-apocalyptic Paris, fighting over the last can of saucisson, and the pretty girl in the yaourt aisle, asks, looking wistfully through her bangs, “Savez-vous ce qu’était la cause du fin de la civilisation?”, I can reply, correctly: “16ième blocs.”

Taken

30 January 2009 @ The Agoura Hills 8


$3.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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But only a few months ago, I was in England, which usually offers the odd opportunity to see movies that will either never come out here (Keeping Mum), should never come out here (Factotum), or, my favorite, movies that are coming out a few months later. There’s nothing more satisfying than coming back to America and seeing trailers for a film you’ve already seen. It’s the closest to time travel I’m ever going to get, and next time I’m going to tell future Scott not to get that oxblood turtleneck. It’s just not a good color for you.

Yeah. You thought I was making that up. But if you've traveled all the way to Dublin, only have a day to see anything, drink some Guinness and see this.

Yeah. You thought I was making that up. But if you’ve traveled all the way to Dublin, only have a day to see anything, drink some Guinness and see this.

I was still stuck back in September, I had already made the mistake of seeing the unfortunate RocknRolla. The effect was largely educational. I learned two things: misplaced self-confidence is not the same thing as wit, and thankfully for Guy Ritchie, who started out about a tenth as talented as Quentin Tarantino, is now his equal. Thankfully, because at least he didn’t have as far to fall. On the other hand, they have Ben and Jerry’s in their theaters. And sweet and salty popcorn. How disappointed could I be?

Actually, it was pretty terrible.

Arriving in Lewes a few days later, I was unsatisfied. I had seen plenty of churches and gardens and ruins and coastlines, but where was my mediocre film that I travelled 8000 miles to see, and which I could see back home in identical circumstances a few months later? Fortunately, I soon spotted a headline: Fatboy Invasion Fears:

Look out!

Look out!

No, under that one: an ad for Taken, which I knew had not come out in America yet. It was an unpretentiously violent remake of Not Without My Daughter! (emphasis added), starring an Irishmen in Paris beating up Albanians. How cosmopolitan!

Unfortunately for me, when I bought an all-day pass for the rail south of London, the ticket didn’t seem to realize that it either wasn’t all-day, or the definition of south, and the machine that lets you out of the station promptly ate it. You wouldn’t understand, it seemed to say. It’s a Southwest Rail thing.

For some reason, human beings like to be as inefficient as possible. It’s why we invented cars: to have traffic jams.

I made do with an excellent West Indian meal (in Lewes, can you believe it?), and went home the next day. Thank God Virgin Airlines had a fresh supply of Jumper, which I regret not seeing in the theater. It’s still goes in the book; I save the ticket stub from the airline ticket. Otherwise, how would I remember where I saw Undercover Blues?

I had to wait an agonizing four months, and I was desperate. Could I really wait even one second longer? I found the earliest showing and made an entire day of it. It was at the AMC Woodland Hills 16, where I had enjoyed the truly insane Kangaroo Jack (another January release), which I felt was a good omen. There was much planning and coordinating of errands, getting boxes at Office Depot at 10:05, finding the perfect parking place at the nearby Westfield Woodland Hills at 10:12 (not be confused with Woodland Hill Westfield), to get the chocolate for the showing at 10:22, and so on.

I arrived at the theater and the line was huge. Fortunately, I am not afraid of machines; in fact, I prefer them to human beings. The list, incidentally, in order of preference, would be dogs, food, dogfood, simulations of human beings, machines, machines that talk, human beings, and at the bottom, that extremely weird Wescom ATM that has a video of a creepy lady with giant $20 bills which she ‘puts’ into the slot where you get your money and then walks away with a smug expression on her face, and last, and worst, the committee that approved that extremely weird Wescom ATM that has a video of a creepy lady with giant $20 bills which she ‘puts’ into the slot where you get your money and then walks away with a smug expression on her face.

In any case, there’s generally a credit card ticketer in front of every theater, which will save you about ten minutes of time, time which you would apparently prefer spending in a line of other like minded people. For some reason, human beings like to be as inefficient as possible. It’s why we invented cars: to have traffic jams.

In any case, thank goodness it was a machine, because I only had to wait a minute to discover that the 10:30 am, that’s right am, was sold out. I was disappointed, until I quickly realized that I would now have two opportunities to eat chocolate in a day without really noticing that I was doing it.

Now I had to strategize. Surely a sold out show at 10:30 meant the only place that I could get in was the Regency Agoura Hills 8. So I went home, consoled myself with an almond praliné, and went out again for a ridiculously late 12:30 showing, this time consoling myself with a nice single origin truffle.

The film begins and there’s a lot of chatting, which was disappointing after having seen My Bloody Valentine 3D, but at some point, the daughter gets kidnapped and Liam Neeson, giving his best Darkman impression, gets ready to kick some Eastern European ass. Then, suddenly, the film goes experimental on my ass. The sound gets all Lynchian, and things jump about. It’s a comment on the sad state of American filmmaking that it took me 10 seconds to realize that it wasn’t a technique to cover up a lack of story or character, but that reel four was on backwards.

Having actually worked in a movie theater, I was the first to get up and inform the management. I was also the first to leave; movies these days, despite what Fight Club will tell you, run on giant platters. They splice the whole thing together and it runs through the projector, platter to platter, so that at the end of the film, you don’t even have to rewind it. The simplicity of the system means that you can pay projectionists $6.00 an hour, and furthermore, that you get the kind of projectionist that might, say, splice in reel four backwards.

Leaving the poor saps in theater behind, no doubt saying to their respective spouses, “Don’t worry, Chelsea/Brandon, I’m sure they’ll just press the ‘fix film’ button (it’s next to the ‘fix the environment’ and ‘fix the economy’ buttons people are always forgetting to push) and we’ll be on our way again.” (see above, p. 453, King, hatred of humans re: their enjoyment of waiting in line to be frustrated). Driving home I realized that the universe’s efforts to prevent me from seeing Taken must mean it, or at least the last 60 minutes of it, would the greatest, or worst, movie of all time.

Either way.

Fourth time's the lack of the charm.

Fourth time’s the lack of the charm.

Not wanting to sit through all the talkie-talkie bits again, I arrived the next day, exactly forty minutes late (adding the ten minutes for trailer time), badged my way in with the ticket from the previous day, and settled down, prepared to see a sixty minute film as it was meant to be seen: without all the exposition. Daughter kidnapped, father beat up bad men, no characters. I knew, knew, it would be an experience I would never forget.

It was okay.

I guess.

I learned one thing. Everyone knows if you have either Xander Berkeley or Leland Orser in a movie, he will ‘turn out’ to be the bad guy that he couldn’t possibly be. What everyone may not know is that if they are both in the same movie, they cancel each other out, and they both ‘turn out’ to be the good guys.

The effect was largely educational.

The Take

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Profits!
Look, I’m adding these in 2013, and this was the movie that made The Grey possible. Thanks!
$5.00
Using Mr. Berkeley and Mr. Orser as good guys was my idea!
$1.00
Total Profits
$6.00
Losses!
Can we please start showing what the hell is going on in the action scenes? Thank you.
$2.00
Let’s just say that having to go to the theater three times does not build a sense of trust.
$1.00
Total Losses
$3.00

$3.00

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