Tom Basham

Inside Out

In This Just OUT on June 20, 2015 at 1:24 pm

inside-out-poster-2I just saw “Inside Out” and it turned me… into a kid again. A happy kid, so see if you can catch my choo-choo train of thought.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias from “The Shifting”) is 11 years old and has led a great life in Minneapolis. When her parents move to San Francisco, she has to leave her friends and cope with a new house, school and city. Fortunately, Riley’s command center of five emotions is usually run by Joy (Amy Poehler from “They Came Together“), who keeps her smiling and able to deal with just about anything. Still, this move has the other emotions on alert, and Sadness (Phyllis Smith from “Bad Teacher“) is acting very strange. Nobody likes Sadness, as she always brings everyone down, and this just makes Sadness, well, sad.

When Joy and Sadness are mistakenly thrown out of the command center, Riley has only Fear (Bill Hader from “The Skeleton Twins“), Anger (Lewis Black from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling from “This Is the End“) to rely upon. This is much easier to follow in the movie, unless Disgust is at your controls. The movie does such a clever job of showing what makes a child stable. How a personality is formed and the pillars that hold a person together are explained so well we all can see the blueprint of ourselves.

This overall concept has been done before, but never like this. To show what is going on in a child’s mind is a clinical and cinematic feat for a feature film. Kids will enjoy the comical calamity of Joy being lost and Sadness feeling like she doesn’t belong. Adults will know what the loss of Joy in our life means, and when we express ourselves with Anger, Disgust and Fear instead of Sadness. We are all like Riley, going through life with this mix of emotions who don’t always play well together.

Writer/Director Pete Docter (“Up”) pulled at our heartstrings with balloons in the past, and I was worried the concept of a depressed child would be too harsh for the animated screen. After seeing it in a theater packed with a lot of laughing little rug rats, I can see the magic in his medicine. For a medium like this to provide a means of communication between kids and their parents is a marvel – and a marvelous thing. For that reason I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. And by the way, it is laugh out loud hilarious.

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

Spy

In This Just OUT on June 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

spy_POSTERI had to see “Spy” because I had to know the truth: Could Paul Feig (“The Heat”) be the new comic genius he seems to be?

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy from “St. Vincent”) has been at the CIA for 10 years. She’s one of the behind-the-scenes people who coordinate the activities of her favorite agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law from “The Grand Budapest Hotel“). When Fine gets killed and loses track of a suitcase nuclear bomb, the CIA finds out that the bad guys know the identities of all their undercover agents.

The next best agent, Rick Ford (Jason Statham from “Wild Card“), wants to go after them, but his cover is blown. Susan volunteers for field duty to get vengeance against those who killed Fine. Her experience with the case and anonymity trump her lack of field experience. While Susan goes off on her first field assignment, Ford goes rogue to break the case on his own. Of course he and Susan keep running into each other and the clash of class and styles is comical.

McCarthy is at her best when she is being underestimated. This genre and this character are a good fit for her. Her training helps her solve the case. However, her instinct is to overcome her insecurities with sarcasm and smart-ass remarks. It works for the character, and it works for the humor, and it’s just unconventional enough to solve the case and save the world.

Feig has struck the right tone here, where the bullets are real and nobody is going for the joke. The funny falls out of the farce created by McCarthy bringing her special skills to the spy scene. She has a fight scene in a kitchen that is as good as any I have seen. The fact that it’s in a kitchen just plays off the gender stereotype that takes a beating here too.

I really enjoyed this movie. They didn’t try too hard or make everything into some kind of hack joke. I was surprised and pleased with each plot twist and impressed by how they made a good movie first and a funny movie just seemed to happen organically out of the characters and the situation. For that reason, I must give this movie 4 stars out of 5. This answered my age-old question; when you need a great comedy, who are you gonna call? Feig and McCarthy start shooting “Ghostbusters” in two weeks.

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

Aloha

In This Just OUT on May 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Aloha-POSTER“Aloha” means hello and goodbye, and that it’s time to see the new Cameron Crowe (“We Bought a Zoo”) movie. I love this guy, but his movies lately are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get.

Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper from “American Sniper“) is heading back to Hawaii. He was a big man before he left 12 years ago and then flamed out in the Air Force. He now works for a private firm that is putting a rocket into space. Gilcrest has plenty of old friends in Hawaii, including his ex-girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams from “About Time”), who is married with two kids now.

The Air Force assigns Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone from “Magic in the Moonlight”) to be his liaison and make sure he doesn’t get into trouble. She is such a cute captain, and you can see the triangle forming. In fact, you can see all kinds of plot lines forming as Crowe works a little too hard to set up the angles and the angst of every character.

The Gilcrest character is a familiar Crowe prototype. A former golden boy with battle scars in search of redemption. Cooper fills these shoes well as he battles the loyalty between his women and his obligations to his company and his country. While Emma Stone plays the Renee Zellweger (“Jerry McGuire”) part well, she’s more misty-eyed than militarized.

The plot of the movie comes off like a James Bond spoof and provides more of a distraction than interesting action. This is all pumped up by some great character actor cameos, but this is not Crowe’s strength. That he thinks he needs these kinds of over the top elements in his movies, like the shoe thing in “Elizabethtown,” makes me worry about his confidence or willingness to bend to studio influence. His earlier movies were just about people, or a guy who wanted to spend the summer with a girl. These small movies were about big things, and the fate of the world was not at stake.

I liked this movie, and I cared about the leads and their story at the core of this film. I just wish he had more faith in that story and spent less time on quirky character types and colossal catastrophes. I still like seeing an adult drama without superheroes that gives me a warm feeling in the end. For that I will give this movie 3 1/2 stars out of 5. There’s always a chance the next time there will be something more to Crowe about.

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

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