Tom Basham

Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Enough Said

In This Just OUT on September 28, 2013 at 1:45 am

enough-said-posterI don’t quite know what to say after seeing “Enough Said.” It just sounds like the end of a conversation when there is so much to talk about.

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus from Veep) is divorced and spends her days massaging people and listening to them gripe about everything. She ignores most of it until she realizes her newest client is the ex-wife of the guy she is dating, Albert (James Gandolfini from The Sopranos).

Albert is “not attractive in a typical way,” as Eva puts it, but he makes her laugh and she really likes him. Albert and Eva are both at the same stage in life: sending their only daughters off to college and realizing there is nobody on Earth they want to date. She knows right off that he is not perfect, and she is okay with that, until she starts to hear the details from his ex. It’s so nice to watch two marvelous character actors at the height of their game, taking the lead. Like when Albert simply states, “I thought you liked me,” and puts the emphasis on “me.” Whether you are in third grade, college or a nursing home, that gets to you.

Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money) has crafted something special here that people deal with every day, and she did it without clichés and without judgment. That’s what the movie is about: how we judge each other until we look in the mirror. There is also the subtlety of how she shows the guarded nature of the tenderhearted. Just look at the poster where Albert and Eva are sitting on the front porch. This says he is interested, but not enough to let her into his house – or heart.

I admit that I got choked up a little, and I can’t blame it on the popcorn. And it was not because it was one of Gandolfini’s last movies. I got choked up watching a guy in his 50s, an imperfect guy just like me, take his last shot at love. It reminded me of when my ex-wife dated me, even though she knew all my flaws. When someone “gets you,” and accepts you, that’s when life begins.

At this point you have heard enough to know why I am giving it 4 ½ stars out of 5. So, “Enough Said” – what are you going to do? I wish Gandolfini were around to put the emphasis on “do.”

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:
https://bashmovies.wordpress.com/

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Thanks for Sharing

In This Just OUT on September 21, 2013 at 12:04 am

Thanks-For-Sharing-Poster“Thanks for Sharing” is in limited release today, so I went to the theatre in Fair Oaks and climbed the 12 steps to see it. That’s what the movie is about: those “steps” and the meetings and process of recovery for addicts – sex addicts.

Adam (Mark Ruffalo from Shutter Island) has been “sober” for five years. In this world that means no masturbation or sex outside of a committed relationship. The movie was billed as a comedy, but at that point I thought it moved over to horror. I agreed with Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow from The Avengers) when Adam told her about his addiction and she said, “Is that a real thing or just something guys say when they get caught cheating?”

Now, after seeing the movie, I understand why Neil (Josh Gad from Jobs) said, “Yeah, it’s not funny anymore.” So, it’s not really a comedy, although the rest of us can snicker until we come face to face with the addict we love and find out they do not have control over this thing – or their thing…

I get the filmmaker’s point; we all hide our drama with humor. And the movie does provide just enough sugar to make the medicine go down. For the characters, it means looking at themselves in the mirror and knowing they are not “master of their domain” (Seinfield, Season 4, Episode 11 – come on, I know you saw that one). The rest of us sat there in the dark theater knowing we harbor our own perverted secrets and compulsive behavior. I know I am addicted to semi-precious metaphors and “Benny and Joon” references.

I expected a rom com from Ruffalo and Paltrow, who are excellent here. And that’s what you get if you laugh about the great person you are dating when you find out they have a deviant sexual history and they are still battling those demons.

I give Writer/Director Stuart Blumberg credit for providing a nice portrait of this world and then showing enough for us to know this is not a nice place to be. The people and their stories got under my skin, but in a good way. If this were a Woody Allen movie, he would have stopped 20 minutes short of the end and just left these people with their pants down. Instead, Blumberg lets us know that we don’t go through this world alone, and no matter how twisted you get, there is somebody who has been where you are and that person will be there for you.

So if you think that addiction should not be laughed at, step up and see this movie that I am giving 3 ½ stars out of 5. If you want to snicker at sex addiction, then I guess you can see it as well. 

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:
https://bashmovies.wordpress.com/

The Family

In This Just OUT on September 14, 2013 at 12:46 am

the-family-poster“The Family” is not really a family movie, unless you are from certain parts of Italy.

The Blake family moves around a lot. Ever since Giovanni – I mean Fred (Robert De Niro from Being Flynn) – ratted out his mafia buddies, the witness protection program has been trying to get him and his family to blend in. They land in Normandy, France, under the watchful eyes of Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones from Lincoln) who has held his leash for the past 12 years. The scenes with these two are about the only decent meatballs in this dish; that, and Michelle Pfeifer (I Could Never Be Your Woman), who plays Fred’s wife Maggie.

These fish-out-of-water are welcomed about as much as the one delivered for Luca Brasi. The kids are cut from the same cheesecloth, although daughter Belle (Diana Argon from Glee) has a character arc that looks like a pretzel. The writing for the rest of the characters seemed as tired as De Niro looked.

This story has been overplayed for years, but I was hopeful that in the hands of Writer/Director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) something astounding would happen. Since it is listed as a comedy, I was prepared to laugh. The studio synopsis stated, “the chaos ensues,” but what “ensued” was an amusing cliché of what French people must think of Americans and our gangsters.

By the time we get to the third act, we all know what’s coming, including the characters, and the ending is not a surprise. With a Besson movie, it’s all about tone. He seemed to want to pay homage to his producer Martin Scorsese (The Departed) with a tongue-in-cheek farce. When you can’t top Scorsese’s work, maybe you can make him laugh. Well, he didn’t make me laugh, or anyone else in the theater. Such a great cast and a great opportunity to show the real dynamics of a family like this, and Besson barely skimmed the surface.

I must be getting old when it is not enough to just look at Michelle Pfeiffer. At least they didn’t say “nobody goes against the family,” and I suggest that nobody go see “The Family,” as all I can give it is 1 star out of 5. I do this for you, and one day you can do me a solid.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:
https://bashmovies.wordpress.com/

Blue Jasmine

In This Just OUT on September 7, 2013 at 12:50 am

blue_jasmine“Blue Jasmine” is not my favorite color jasmine, but Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) made it into a nice little Woody Allen movie… but then, that’s what he does.

I have tried to warm up to Woody Allen, and he is trying…my patience. His recent movies have actually been entertaining and not just another stuttering, insecure, self-loathing monologue delivered by his latest surrogate. I understand this can be an art form layered in nuance, and then it can also just lie there.

The movie opens with Jasmine (Cate Blanchett from Hanna) flying from New York to San Francisco to stay with her sister and get over her crooked ex-husband. Seems she’s had a nervous breakdown and spends too much time talking to herself. This works for Allen, as it allows him to get in twice the muttering – I mean dialogue. We don’t have to wonder what happened to her because we get a flashback scene every seven minutes to explain – in pieces – why her life is in pieces. I am sure this is some kind of French stylistic storytelling device, but I just found it annoying. I can handle the non-linear thing, when it’s done right. In this movie it was like Ping-Pong. The only joy in this is seeing her ex, Hal, played by Alec Baldwin (Rock of Ages).

Blanchett gives an amazing performance of a life unraveling, and the supporting cast of cameos is also stellar. Bobby Cannavale (from Roadie) is a standout as her sister’s boyfriend. There are plenty of wonderful vignettes and endearing moments and lines like, “Having wealth is nothing to be ashamed of.” Allen seems to have the same disdain for the super rich as F. Scott Fitzgerald, but can only whine and obsess about it without making a real point. I should be amused that Hal’s undoing comes when he wants to run off with the teenage babysitter. Seems like Allen is trying to admit something there.

I think this movie is a step back for Allen. I loved “Midnight in Paris” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” as those movies had a powerful story that kept you connected to the drama. With this movie, I felt as depressed as Jasmine and was left with no way to crawl out of the well. Some may say that is master storytelling, but I say he owes me a third act. We all suffer and get down on our luck and do desperate things. When you leave us there, we feel cheated. We don’t need a Disney happy ending, but we do need hope. And I hope Allen gets off this track and brings us a better story next time. Even with the incredible performances, I can only give this movie 2 stars out of 5. That is grading on the Woody Allen scale, and I expected a Woody Allen movie, I just did not get a good one.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:
https://bashmovies.wordpress.com/