The Giver

In This Just OUT on August 16, 2014 at 8:19 pm

The Giver PosterI saw “The Giver” today, and I got plenty out of it. Now I feel I need to give a little back.

In this perfect world where everything is the same and there is no pain or suffering or war, people graduate from school and accept their appointed jobs in society. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites from “The Signal”) is nervous because he does not know what he wants, but he knows he is different. His best friend Fiona (Odeya Rush from “When the Devil Comes”) is selected for Nurturing and everyone else in the community gets a normal job except for Jonas. He is chosen to be the receiver of all the past memories.

Jonas reports to the Giver (Jeff Bridges from “Crazy Heart“) who spends every day giving him all the memories of the past civilizations – before the sameness. He learns all the secrets of the world and the great highs and lows that mankind is capable of. Everyone else in the community gets an injection every morning that suppresses their emotions so they can’t feel anything. Personally, I take my injections at night.

It’s tough for Jonas to find out his world is not perfect, and painful to know just how imperfect humans were in the past. When he skips his injections, he starts having feelings but there is nobody to share them with. Reminds me of when I was in fourth grade, but that’s another story.

Jeff Bridges is a good choice to play the Giver, since he’s never been one to follow the rules. The weight of the wisdom has made him weary. It pains him to carry the burden of this knowledge, and he gives Jonas more than memories. He gives him the hope that he can change things.

I hear this was first a young adult book, and it does make a grim fairy tale. The great solution to cure all the problems in the world is to make everyone willing zombies to the rule of law and order. It’s not what these people are taught, it’s what they are not told or allowed to become: human.

This movie fits in the same basket as “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and even “The Village,” although less effort has gone into making this an action movie. Though I applaud the character conflict and the bizarre world, the movie felt light at 90 minutes. Jonas is left to carry the memories and the plot for everyone else. By design, the rest of the cast had nothing much to give.

While it was nice sci-fi tale, it lacked the power this kind of thematic treatment of the flaws of humanity demands. For that reason, I have to give this movie 3 stars out of 5. They should have kept giving when the giving got good.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:

The Hundred-Foot Journey

In This Just OUT on August 11, 2014 at 7:27 am

hundredfoot_journey-Poster“The Hundred-Foot Journey” does not sound like a big deal but it can take a lifetime to make the trip. Especially if someone else’s comfort food makes you uncomfortable.

Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal from “California Scheming”) grew up in Mumbai, India, cooking in his family’s restaurant. When the revolution comes, they lose everything and flee to Europe. When their truck breaks down in a little French village, they decide to settle there. His Papa (Om Puri from “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”) buys a rundown restaurant and is bent on bringing Indian cuisine to the French countryside. Unfortunately, just across the street, like 100 feet away, is a famous French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren from “Hitchcock”). She ran the last guy out of business a decade ago and she decides this novelty act of Papa’s has to go.

While Papa and Madame Mallory go to war, young Hassan has something cooking with one her chefs, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon from “Mood Indigo”). I should have known the way to a woman’s heart was not the drive-thru window.

The clash of culture and cuisine and competition make for good courting, but it’s an acquired taste. You have to get past your pre-conceived notions and just put it in your mouth and “let your tongue decide.”

There is a good parable here about conflict. The things that divide these people – their races and their food – soon draw them together. It seems the spice of life is a little tastier when some new ingredients are added in. We fear what we don’t know and have never tried. It takes courage to experiment when the last time out it was brussel sprouts.

The mix of off-beat characters coming out their shell is handled well by Director Lasse Hallstrom (“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”). I found the old-style pace to be soothing, but then I like to enjoy a good meal. Sure, they could have cut 20 minutes out, but this kind of movie is meant to be savored.

So it’s a little sentimental, and you can see it all coming after the first act, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy it. For that reason, I give this movie 3 ½ stars out of 5. It’s time to put down the cheeseburger and order something you can’t pronounce.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:

Guardians of the Galaxy

In This Just OUT on August 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Guardians-posterI am feeling better the state of the world now that I have seen “Guardians of the Galaxy.” We are in good paws.

Young Peter Quill (Chris Pratt from “The Lego Movie”) is having a rough day. His mother dies of cancer, and he runs outside the hospital seeking answers from the heavens. At that moment a light appears in the sky. Turns out it’s a spaceship that snatches him up and takes him away.

Jump 26 years later to a barren planet where Peter has become a Ravager, which is a cross between Indiana Jones and Boba Fett. He’s looking for this magical Orb that everybody wants and other alien folks will pay him handsomely for. He finds the Orb, others find him and we are off to the space races.

Some of the “things” that want the Orb and/or want to kill Peter become allies, starting with Gamora (Zoe Saldana from “Avatar”) whose “father” wants to destroy a bunch of other planets. Just out for the money is Rocket (Bradley Cooper from “The Hangover“), who is mostly a raccoon but you can’t say that to his snout, I mean face. His companion is, naturally, a tree called Groot (Vin Diesel from “Riddick”), who lumbers through the movie until his woodworking skills are required. The muscle is Drax (Dave Bautista from “Riddick”), who surprisingly had some of the most tender character moments. There is a whole intra-galactic Israeli-Palestinian thing going on here that Peter’s team gets dragged into.

There is a lot going on in the movie, but the chase for the Orb keeps everything on track. Since Peter was taken from Earth in 1988 Earth, the futuristic sci-fi adventure is allowed to pull from our nostalgic ‘70s and ‘80s music and references. I have to admit that after seeing the trailer I wondered how all this was going to work. Now that I have seen it, I know that it all works, and I still don’t know how. The mood is dark and the tone is light. Most of the characters are not real, but you care about what happens to them.

I could say that it was all derivative, but none of that mattered. The dang thing is just so entertaining, and for that I must give it 4 stars out 5. These guys can guard my galaxy anytime.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:


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