Tom Basham

Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

The Other Woman

In This Just OUT on April 27, 2014 at 8:35 pm

The-Other-Woman-PosterI saw “The Other Woman,” and I have no reason to be ashamed. I enjoy a good dramatic treatment of marital fidelity against man’s programmed propensity to populate. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the cinematic madness.

Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from “Game of Thrones”) is your average, extraordinarily good looking, enterprising guy who seeks to develop new relationships with every woman he meets. While his wife, Kate (Leslie Mann from “This Is 40”), holds down the family fort in Connecticut, Mark advances into Carly’s (Cameron Diaz from “The Counselor“) territory in New York City. Carly does not know that Mark is married until she decides to surprise him at his Connecticut home.

Kate is crushed, and she finds it easier to confront Carly than her husband. The two become odd friends and bond further when they find out he is also seeing Amber (Kate Upton from “The Three Stooges”). The two bring Amber into their Mark King hater club and plot ways to get back at him.

You could see all this movie magic in the trailer, but what you could not see were the innovative ways the filmmaker dealt with this dilemma. Actually, all the fresh and evocative ways to look at this situation were also cut from the movie. All that was left were the cliché’ derivative elements and a telegraphed ending.

I walked out of the theater longing for the depth and character development of an Adam Sandler movie. At least there was a bit with a dog and some old-fashioned “Three’s Company” kind of misunderstandings. Cameron Diaz’s character did find true love in a beach house. She fell in love with the beach house, and the guy who lived there smiled at her, and that’s all it took.

This was supposed to be a comedy, and except for that dog thing, I never laughed. Director Nick Cassavetes has said he considers “The Notebook” to be his worst film. I think he needs to reconsider that statement.

There are pretty girls in this movie, but at my age that only keeps my attention for about five minutes. So for those first five minutes I have to give this movie 1 star out of 5. And by the way, I give those commercials that goof on “The Notebook” rain scene 4 stars out 5.

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

Transcendence

In This Just OUT on April 19, 2014 at 9:09 pm

transcendence-poster“Transcendence” and Good Friday seemed to go together in this biblical version of the birth, death and resurrection of artificial intelligence (AI).Even though I love science fiction, this may be one you want to pass over.

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp from “The Lone Ranger“) has studied AI for decades, because he thinks it’s interesting. His wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall from “Everything Must Go“), works in the same field, and she dreams that AI will save the world.

There is a resistance to this kind of thinking, and the resistance is led by Bree (Kate Mara from “Deadfall“) and her humanity-hugging friends. Her group sees the danger in letting machines take over so they bomb the research facility and shoot Will with a plutonium-laced bullet.

Evelyn does not want to lose him, so she and Max Waters (Paul Bettany from “Legion”) sneak off to an abandoned building and upload his brain to a computer. This is the only way they can “free Will.” Yeah, there was that kind of symbolism, along with helping the blind see and the lame walk. Just before Bree’s people can pull the plug, they upload Will to the Internet so he can live forever, just like that video of the kid coming home from the dentist.

The premise of the movie is great, though not very original. It’s a shame the rest of the plot points they had were not enough to hold our interest for two hours. Will could save the world, but not this movie. Halfway through, I wanted to surf away from Will and find some kitten videos or see how much cotton candy cost in China.

Depp was even more laid back than usual. Even when he was not in the computer he seemed to be in sleep mode. Of course, he grows stronger and smarter and so creepy that Evelyn becomes afraid of him, but it’s hard to break up with a dead husband who inhabits the Internet and watches you every waking moment. Trust me, I have been there.

They do try to make a love story between these two, and a parable about mankind, but it all comes out so slow it’s like we are on a dial-up modem. There is joke here about dating a computer, but I am too bored to make it.

The movie tries to win you over with special effects and the wonders of future technology, but all that felt more artificial than intelligent. For that I can only give this movie 2 ½ stars out of 5. You will be more entertained if you just watch a “Star Trek” episode and imagine Shatner is Johnny Depp.

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

Oculus

In This Just OUT on April 16, 2014 at 8:06 am

oculus-poster“Oculus” sounds like something you might pick up at a Turkish bath house, but it’s actually the new feature film by writer/director Mike Flanagan (“Absentia”). He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, so you can just imagine what his bedtime stories were like.

It’s a big day for Kaylie, (Karen Gillan from “Not Another Happy Ending”) as she has finally found the old mirror her father had used to have in his office. She also gets to pick up her brother, Tim (Brenton Thwaites from “Knocked for Six”), from his 10-year stay at a mental institution for killing their father when he was 13. The old man had it coming, if you ask me, after he tortured and killed their mother.

So on their first night of this family reunion, Kaylie and Tim join together to kill the evil presence in that old mirror to prove that Tim is innocent and neither of them are crazy. I would have demanded a night at TGI Friday’s, but these kids had a different kind of childhood.

The years in “therapy” had convinced the younger Tim that he imagined most of what happened that night as a way to cope with what he had done. We spend most of the movie trying to decide whose version is correct, his or Kaylie’s.

Virtually the entire movie takes place in the old family home with just a few characters, which is a good prescription for an indie horror flick. The rope was kept taut, and by that I mean the thematic tension and the hoist to the swinging anchor battering ram.

It’s nice to see a scary movie that works without lots of blood and guts, although there is a little blood and a poor display of dental hygiene. The lead actors are not well known, but they performed extremely well. It is easier to suspend disbelief when you have no connection to the people on the screen. They could have called this movie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and brought back the chunky Streisand, but then I would have rooted for the mirror.

Flanagan has developed a nice movie here and used the mirror in some innovative ways. You are supposed to recognize what you see when you look in a mirror, but this one makes you do things you can’t remember. When I was a kid we called that alcohol.

I was pleasantly scared and surprised by this movie, and that should be reflected in my giving it 4 stars out 5. If a movie could explain my childhood trauma it would be called “Big Brother.” Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
https://bashmovies.wordpress.com/

Muppets Most Wanted

In This Just OUT on April 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Muppets-Most-WantedSo what if I saw “Muppets Most Wanted”? I will admit that Fozzy Bear is a friend of mine and he had nothing to do with the Goldilocks incident. I was afraid this movie was about that case, or worse they dug up more evidence from when the Muppets took Manhattan in 1984, but no, this is an all-new, exciting motion picture.

Kermit T. Frog and the gang are just coming off their recent Broadway success when they are approached by Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais from “The Invention of Lying”), who wants to book them on a world tour. He seems so nice, there is just no way to tell that Badguy is a bad guy and he is scheming with the notorious Constantine to rob the Crown Jewels. I forgot to mention that Constantine is a dead ringer for Kermit, except for a mole on his lip. He breaks out of jail, frames Kermit and takes his place.

Badguy and Constantine, posing as Kermit, begin the crime spree necessary to obtain their prize. Hot on their trail are world-class detectives Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burell from “Modern Family”) and Sam Eagle. All while the real Kermit is stuck in a gulag guarded by Nadya (Tina Fey from “Admissions”).

To complicate things further, Constantine proposes to Miss Piggy, and now Kermit not only has to save the Muppets and the Crown Jewels, he must save his beloved from a matrimonial Muppet mistake. I was on the edge of my seat.

It was great to see Kermit play this dual role so we could finally see the range he has and his ability to jump from one character to the other. He is a long way from the lilly pad, playing against great cameos from the likes of Ray Liotta and Frank Langella. From my viewpoint, Kermit went toe to webbed foot with those two men and now they are now green with envy.

The unsung hero of this movie is little Walter, who made his debut in the last movie. He represents the courage it takes to be that lone voice in the crowd who stands up and says, “I think something is wrong with Kermit.” He teams up with Fozzy, who has not “waka’d his last waka.”

If I am forced to rank this edition along all the other Muppet movies, I have to say this is the latest one. While this movie did not have the heart and soul and charm of the last movie, this feature brought back many of the favorite site gags and puns. For that, I must give this movie 3 ½ stars out of 5. If they make another one, I will make that rainbow connection: the lover, dreamer and me.

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