Tom Basham

Ricki and the Flash

In This Just OUT on August 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Ricki_PosterThis was not a double feature, but I did see “Ricki and the Flash.” I guess some wounds are so bad all you can do is sing a song about them.

Ricki (Meryl Streep from “Into The Woods”) and her band, The Flash, have been the house band at the Salt Well for years. It’s a small joint in Los Angeles, and they usually play to about 20 or 30 regulars. She almost makes enough to cover her bar tab, so she has to keep her day job as a cashier.

Ricki gets a call from her ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline from “Last Vegas”) saying their daughter’s marriage and life is falling apart and she needs to come to Indianapolis to help her. When Ricki gets there, Julie (Mamie Gummer from “Cake”) is a mess, and she unloads a truckload of baggage on her estranged mother. Ricki struggles to be the person her daughter needs, as she barely knows how be a rock star and maybe a hip mother, but not the nurturing kind Julie or her two grown sons wanted her to be.

I will admit that I got a real Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Maguire”) feeling watching this movie, and Ms. Streep, I must say, “You had me at ‘American Girl.’” This is Meryl Streep’s best musical since “Mamma Mia,” and that’s right, I am skipping over “Into The Woods.” Of course she is great in the movie, but I would like to have seen a lesser-known actress take on this role. We never forget we are watching a movie star, and the girl playing her daughter is her real life daughter.

You might think this would be a story about someone who held fast to her dream and finally made it. Sorry, but this is not about Ricki’s rise to stardom – it’s about her journey to accept the costs of her dream. To see and feel the pain she caused her family when she passed on being a wife and mother to be a rock star.

With a decent screenplay by Diablo Cody (“Paradise”), who has lived on the edge, the story unfolded in a raw and heartwarming way. Ricki is different, and she stands out in a crowd. She’s different, and she can’t help but be the person she is. She has one more shot at being loved by her boyfriend Greg (Rick Springfield from “True Detective“), who explains a parent’s love better than anyone I have ever heard.

I enjoyed watching a movie about people who had lived a life and not done everything right. People with pain that will not go away and they find out all they can do is start putting things on the other side of the scales. And for that I must give this movie 3 ½ stars out of 5. The moral of the story may be that time and classic rock music heals all wounds.

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


Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

In This Just OUT on August 1, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Mission Impossible-PosterI just saw “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and the movie is as long as the title. This is the one where Jeremy Renner “rides bitch” and Cruise shows him how it’s done.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise from “Edge of Tomorrow“) is on his own crusade against a mysterious terrorist organization known as The Syndicate. After an already leaked, harrowing plane sequence, Ethan goes to a record shop to get his next mission. This was just like an old episode of the TV show, as I recently watched the first two seasons from 1966. That’s the kind of dedication and research your humble reviewer goes through for you. The message is not from his MI superiors; it’s from the head of The Syndicate, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris from “Deliver Us From Evil“), announcing his plans to destroy all the MI agents.

The Syndicate captures Ethan and brings in Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson from “Hercules”) to interrogate. We are not shocked to find she is a double agent doing a triple play with some fantastic quads. At this moment, it felt like a James Bond move with the hot babe agent you don’t know if you can trust. From this point on it’s a two-person movie with the rest of the old MI gang just laterally along for the ride. When I saw that Alec Baldwin (“Aloha) was playing CIA Chief Hunley, I worried that I could only see him as a buffoon. Fortunately that’s just the role they wrote for him here.

This was an action-packed roller coaster with twists and turns and romps across the globe to exciting locations. Hunt defies all forms of transportation in the air and the water. There is the impenetrable place they have to get into and get out of with the McGuffin. It was all so frenetic and fantastic and forgettable the moment I walked out of the theater. A pure action movie that was more like a “Bond” or a “Bourne” movie than the old television series. This is not a bad thing, just a sign the studios think the only way to get you in the theater is under a proven brand name.

Director/writer Christopher McQuarrie (“Jack Reacher”) has had a hand in many of the Tom Cruise vehicles lately. He writes really good movies, but I want to see him get back to the unique and interesting kind of work he did in “The Usual Suspects.”

This was a good popcorn movie with some cool stunts and effects where we never forget we are watching a movie star who cannot lose or die. For that I must give this movie 3 ½ stars out of 5. I am sure the next installment will be Mission Impossible: This One Is Really Impossible – Really!

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


In This Just OUT on July 17, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Trainwreck_posterI just saw “Trainwreck,” and it is very touching and off the rails funny. So get your ticket, climb aboard and enjoy the ride of your life.

Amy (Amy Schumer from “Price Check“) learns at a young age that relationships don’t last. She does the “walk of shame” like she’s curing cancer and expects nothing more out of life than a good time and that a little penicillin will solve all her problems.

As a magazine writer, she is assigned to write a story about Aaron (Bill Hader from “The Skeleton Twins“) who is an ace sports medicine doctor. Amy plays her own game when Aaron asks her out on a date. The problem is he is a decent guy who likes her, and that’s just not in her playbook. This is a girl-meets-boy story where the traditional roles are reversed. Aaron is the one who has not dated much and Amy is the one that does not want to settle down. Aaron is all buttoned down and professional while Amy goes through life in a sorority girl/Holly Golightly kind of way.

Amy is uncomfortable with real intimacy where each person cares deeply about the other. She is always on the lookout for that first bump in the road, like an argument or complaint about her drinking or inappropriate comments. She knows it’s coming, as she knows she is not the kind of person who nice guys will put up with. She has stolen that move from guys where you don’t break up with someone, you just behave so horribly that they will break up with you.

What makes this movie so unique is that all the relationship dynamics are funny, and I mean slap-your-knee funny. It’s grounded so well in the characters that even when it is sad, it’s funny because it rings true.

This movie has everything, including Lebron James, who plays Aaron’s friend and confidant. Somehow James does not seem out of place as he steals every scene he’s in like it’s Game Seven. I will let you be surprised by all the cameos in the movie that add something to the piece without falling into cliché.

I can’t ignore that Judd Apatow (“This is 40”) is at the stick in this out-of-control locomotive of laughter. Like any great artist, he works with great subjects and his fingerprints are in the funny, shaded by the tender moments that make us care about what happens to these people. While I usually get a good chuckle at a comedy, I have to admit that I laughed so hard at this movie that I could not breathe. This has not happened in decades, and for that I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. Finally, a romantic comedy where the funniest moments are not in the trailer.

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


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