Tom Basham

The Martian

In This Just OUT on October 3, 2015 at 7:30 am

the-martian-POSTER“The Martian” is real, and I know because I saw it in 3D today. Someone call David Bowie and tell him there is “Life on Mars.” I also have to say this is my new “Favorite Martian.”

Mark Watney (Matt Damon from “Interstellar”) is part of a Mars mission with his five other astronaut buddies when a storm blows across the big red planet. He thinks they should wait it out, but Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain from ”Interstellar “) doesn’t want to take the chance and decides to blast off early. Mark was planning to go with them, really he was, but a big piece of debris hits him and blows him into the dust storm just before the ship is about to blow over.

It was impossible to find him, and impossible to stay and impossible for him to live. Well, two out of three of those things were actually impossible. Mark lives and makes his way back to the science station.

The first thing he decides is that he is not going to die. The next thing he has to do is see if he can stay alive until the next scheduled bus comes through in about four years. At that moment, a new super hero is created: “The Botanist.” That’s right, Mark has a certain set of skills that allow him to grow plants on a planet without life while I can’t grow a tomato plant in my back yard.

While the crew mourns his loss and NASA holds his memorial, a blonde-haired girl named Mindy (Mackenzie Davis from “That Awkward Moment”) notices something odd on the satellite photos. The Rover keeps moving around from day to day, and that can only mean one thing: somebody left the keys in it, and Watney is cruising the planet looking for those Amazon women he heard about.

Much like “Gravity,” we have a single person, lost in space, seeking only to survive. While me and everybody else on the Earth rooted for him to survive, we learn about the human spirit, and what one man can do with a blonde girl looking out for him. I have my own blonde who’s looked out for me since 1981, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Director Ridley Scott (“Prometheus”) strikes a good tone of hope and positive thinking that is almost akin to a Disney movie, like when Mark is about to run out of food and they call the Chinese for takeout. The only dark moment that I identified with was when Mark ran out of catsup.

Based on the Andrew Weir novel, this is not an epic motion picture or a riveting as “Gravity,” but it I really liked it. This this is a good story, well told, that kept me engaged and wanting to see if he was going to make it home. For that, I must give this movie 4 stars out of 5. Believe in the impossible and you just might find a blonde to look after you.

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

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:


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