Tom Basham

The Age of Adaline

In This Just OUT on April 25, 2015 at 8:35 am

Adaline-Poster“The Age of Adaline” is interesting, but then age is just a number.  It doesn’t matter how old you are if you haven’t lived or loved, even if you are a looker.

Adaline (Blake Lively from “Savages”) is a normal gal born in 1908 San Francisco. She falls in love, gets married, has a daughter, and then falls in a river at 29 and stops aging. This is not like Cher, as Adaline’s body undergoes some kind of transformation the movie wastes 15 minutes on.  By the time Adaline’s driver’s license says she is 45 and she looks younger than her 29, the wrong people start to take interest.

To avoid being dissected or labeled a circus freak, she says goodbye to her daughter and changes her name and moves into obscurity. She stays on the move for decades and dodges attachments, including love and anything resembling a normal life.

Adaline seems way too sad for someone who is over 100 and still looks like a million bucks. The only thing sadder is the narrator, who chimes in every 20 minutes to state the obvious and let us know why we should care. This kind of thing bothers me whether it comes from the screen or the schmuck in the row behind me.

She is about to move again when she meets Elis (Michiel Huisman from “World War Z”), who loves all things historical, including her. He recites poetry and makes her laugh, which worked for me when I met my wife 34 years ago. He thinks she is hiding something, since most women are. She is also hiding how much she loves him along being around the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

So many things fit so perfectly together here that you could see the design of the story way out in front of the character-driven experience. When I see the pitter-patter of things looking too pat, I feel pitiful. This is the Lifetime-style movie it seems it would be. Nothing in the story or direction elevates the piece to the promise of magic the movie promotes.

The leads are amazing, and they kept me looking at the screen instead of my watch, and for that reason I will give this movie 3 stars out 5. Next time when someone is stuck in time, just show it on Lifetime.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

Unfriended

In This Just OUT on April 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm

unfriended-posterThere are worse things than being “Unfriended” – like seeing the movie named for the same Facebook-coined term. Not everything online is as much fun as a Minion Meme.

Blaire (Shelley Hennig from “Ouija“) loves to Skype with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm in his feature film debut). They get a little playful until three of their friends show up in the same Skype session. It’s all fun and games until they notice someone else is in on the group chat. The mystery messenger is using the profile of Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman from “Remembering Phil”), a girl who committed suicide a year ago after a nasty round of trashing by cyber-bullies. Laura only communicates by instant message, while the others are on camera with mics. She threatens to kill anybody who tries to leave the session, which at first they think is a joke.

The movie started with Blaire’s laptop screen covering the entire movie screen. After about five minutes in, I remembered how boring it is watching someone’s computer screen, and I wondered how long this could go on. Eventually I succumbed to the horror in knowing we were never going to see anything but Blaire’s computer screen.  Sure there were others coming and going in their little Skype boxes – but we didn’t even cut to their screens – we stayed on her screen for the entire movie.

I know lots of people watch a movie on their computer, and I have done it a few times, but I have never gone to a theater and watched a whole movie on the big screen on a computer screen. At 30 minutes in I almost walked out. Then I realized I might just be old and not able to see this gimmick as a nouveau-web-world-cinema-masterpiece. So I hung on to the end, if for no other reason than to let my friends know if this was something they should “like.”

Director Levan Gabriadze (“Lucky Trouble”) deserves some credit for only using Skype to expose the modern internet experience of today’s virtual relationships and how they creep into the real world. Watching these kids try to defy the digital demon of death in a web world of their own lies was a little bit interesting.

Being boxed into the little screen on the big screen, you sensed how they were trapped in their typing teasing temples of temptation. For that reason, I must give this movie 2 1/2 stars out of 5. Just see it on the little screen, and don’t go to a theater to watch a movie on a computer.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

While We’re Young

In This Just OUT on April 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm

while-posterI saw “While We’re Young” today, but I may have been too late. I mean, I almost fell asleep on my walker.

Josh (Ben Stiller from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) is in his mid 40s and used to make documentary films. He still thinks he does, but really, he just talks about it. He has a nice boring life with his lovely wife, Cornelia (Naomi Watts from “Saint Vincent”), at least they have convinced themselves of that. With no kids, they can do all kinds of things at the spur of the moment, but they never do. They are a sad portrait of what yuppies become.

When these two meet a young couple, they become energized by their youth and enthusiasm. Jamie (Adam Driver from “Frances Ha“) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried from “A Million Ways to Die in the West“) are the people Josh and Cornelia always thought they were: young, brave, wildly creative and full of promise. Jamie is a budding filmmaker, too, and shines up to Josh while co-opting his connections. Darby is young and beautiful in that wild, earth-child kind of way.

I like Ben Stiller, and I love Naomi Watts, but they seemed to have no chemistry here. That may have been on purpose to show these characters as tired and disconnected when compared to the kids who live in a loft and have a pet chicken for the eggs.

Writer/Director Noah Baumbach (“Frances Ha”) has done a great job of holding a mirror up to a middle-aged couple to show them their past. At first they can only see what they have lost and how they squandered their youth. It takes a while before they can see they like the people they have become.

Baumbach is still trying to evolve into a better Woody Allen and so far I am enjoying the ride. Here he tries to show hipsters for the shallow narcissistic brats they are while not giving those a decade or two farther down the line much to live for. The result here is not a perfect film, but thankfully it’s not just another hack romantic comedy.  And for that, I must give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5. Does anyone know where I can buy a chicken?

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

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