Listen Up Philip I spent a lot of time in Barnes and Noble over the holidays, and lemme tell ya, that is one great place to stock up on vinyl toys and Lego sets before you head home and order your books on Amazon. Which brings me to Listen Up Philip, in which a novelist played by Jason Schwartzman seeks an oasis of calm amidst the chaos of his own celebrity. That setup raises a whole host of challenging questions – like "What's a novelist?" Yes, this is one of those pictures that really have their finger on the pulse, daring to expose the crippling loss of privacy that was part and parcel of one of America's most sought-after professions circa 1954. Jason Schwartzman's lead performance is just one ingredient in a brew sweetened further by the presence of Elizabeth Moss in the role of our harried writer's girlfriend. Which raises another question: "Who's Elizabeth Moss?" Okay, now I'm just being mean. I'm pretty sure she was in that TV show that aired for six weeks last year. I know because I saw its bar guide at Barnes and Noble. (NR)
Taken 3 Every time I remark on how ludicrous it is that Liam Neeson has found a second career as the king of revenge thrillers, he makes yet another one of them. So for once, I'm just gonna skip the WTF pop-cultural analysis and evaluate Taken 3 on its own terms. This time, retired killing machine Bryan Mills isn't out to rescue any kidnapped relatives, that premise having been rightfully discarded as old hat. Instead, he's faced with an entirely new and novel dilemma: being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Crikey, Luc Besson had to dig at least three pages into Roger Ebert's Movie Guide to come up with that one. And the antagonists have changed too, with former franchise heavies the Albanians getting the heave-ho in favor of the Russian mob. In other words, look for the picture's wide release to go download-only at the 11th hour, when the Kremlin figures out how to hack Neeson's Instagram account. (PG-13)
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