Tom Basham


In This Just OUT on November 26, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Creed-movie-posterI just went 12 rounds with the new movie “Creed,” and boy, are my eyes tired. If you can go the distance with this collage of cinematic nostalgia, then you just might be a contender.

Donnie Johnson (Michael B. Jordon from “Fruitvale Station“) didn’t know he was a Creed until Apollo Creed’s wife, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad from “Good Deeds”) picks the thirteen year-old up from Juvenile Detention. He’s always been a fighter, and that’s all he’s ever known. His father died before he was born. His mother died when he was young and he went into the system.

Mary Anne takes her husband’s indiscretion into her home and makes a proper young man out of him. But at 30, Donnie sneaks off to Tijuana most weekends to box and battle against his past. When he gets a big promotion at his cushy office job, he sees a path he has to step away from. Since nobody in Los Angeles will train him, Donnie goes to Philadelphia and looks up Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone from “Balboa”), who runs Adrian’s Restaurant.

The movie pretty much telegraphs its punches from there. Director/Writer Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station“) does a fine job navigating this iconic landscape. He should be commended for dovetailing his story into a world with other characters whose backstories are already legendary lore. I was ready for the chicken chasing and roadway racing, along with those musical cues that hit a familiar chord.

There is talk of Stallone getting an Oscar nod for his performance, but I think most of that is coming out of his camp. He is good and does great work in the kid’s corner, but the range of the character and the actor both come up short. Rocky goes through some traumatic things in this movie and he still shrugs them off. I saw a man in pain; however, I did not feel his pain or see it in his performance. I expected to see Rocky knocked down by life and to be afraid he was down for the count. Maybe like most fights, this one can’t live up to the hype.

I liked this movie. Coogler and Jordan both belong in the ring, but at this level you have to bring it. You have to bring something special and not just rely on sentiment or old plot devices to be the champ. For that reason, I must give this movie 3 ½ stars out of 5. Now, I have to get back to my new screenplay about Dorothy’s granddaughter who tracks down the Tin Man and stands over him with a blow torch and says, “Who’s at the end of their rope now, you old rust bucket?”

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

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:



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