Tom Basham

Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Maleficent

In This Just OUT on May 31, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Maleficent2014posterIf you put malicious and sycophant together, you just might get “Maleficent,” Disney’s newest old fairytale. The self proclaimed “mistress of all evil” from Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) gets her own back story when she should have been watching her back.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie from “The Tourist”) was once a sweet young fairy growing up in the magical forest. Everything was perfect until a young boy from the other side of the tracks, I mean, the never-to-be-visited kingdom of man, happens into her neck of the woods. Young Stefan (Sharlto Copely from “Oldboy”) is lured into her world in search of treasure, but they become friends.

Over the years these two fall in love, until Stefan betrays her. Here is one of the main themes of the movie: you can’t trust any guy and all men are greedy tyrants. I would refute that fact with real world examples if I could think of a single instance to prove otherwise.

These two each retreat to their realms and write bad things about each other on their Facebook timelines. Stefan marries a princess, becomes king and has beautiful baby girl. This really sets Maleficent off, and she curses the child.

I don’t know why I am spending so much time explaining all this, as the movie has a continual voiceover to let us know what is happening, what to believe and why this person has a beef with that one. This may be a staple for fairytales, but in the absence of on-screen character motivation it annoys me. I need to see what drives Stefan and not just be told he is the bad guy. The movie was only 97 minutes, so I have to think the stuff that held this story together wound up as pixy dust on the cutting room dungeon floor.

I am probably biased, as I think Disney is just trying to spin more gold out of their old stories. It is a pretty movie, with some cute moments and characters, but for me the magic was lacking.

I did see this movie with my lovely queen, and she really liked it, but since she married me twice you know she’s a sucker for a fairytale. I realize I am not the target audience, and everything I know about true love was sitting next to me at the theater. Therefore, in consideration of my three granddaughters and to keep peace in my kingdom, I will give this movie 3 stars out 5. I just hope the Fairy Godmother Union does not get their wings bent out of shape over this.

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

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Chef

In This Just OUT on May 23, 2014 at 9:36 pm

chef-posterWhat’s cooking at the box office right now is “Chef,” the latest movie from writer/director Jon Favreau (“Made”) and his saucy return to his independent roots.

Carl has been a hotshot chef at Riva’s for 10 years. Over this time he has become very successful, but also pretty comfortable, with the menu. He tried adding something new five years ago and nobody ordered it. His complacency is challenged when Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt from “Fargo” the TV series), one of the country’s biggest food critics, comes to dinner.

Carl wants to prepare some new and exciting dishes to impress Ramsey while Riva (Dustin Hoffman from “Meet the Fockers”) wants him to fix the same old grub. Like most guys, Carl has put everything into his career and it cost him his marriage to Inez (Sofia Vergara from “Modern Family“) and limited the time he can spend with his 10-year-old son, Percy (Emjay Anthony from “It’s Complicated”). This makes him a failure at everything, and thanks to the Internet, everybody knows it. When nobody will hire him, Carl reluctantly starts a food truck. He brings his son into the tiny metal kitchen that has become his refuge and the two finally get to know each other.

Favreau has all the right ingredients in this story. Inez is not your typical ex-wife and the usual sub-plots you find in a movie like this were trimmed away. This is a small story about two big things: the passions of one’s life and the product of two people’s passions. They both are vital, and this movie says that balance is not the answer. They must be mixed together in a bowl and consumed daily to be fully satisfying and allow one to grow into the kind of human being they were meant to be.

I am not sure why this movie is rated R, but it might have something to do with a scene involving cornstarch, though I had to look away at that part. I found the rest of the movie heartwarming and very tasty and I must give it 4 stars out of 5. Just put the comic book down and have something off the menu, like “Chef.”

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

Godzilla

In This Just OUT on May 16, 2014 at 8:46 pm

godzilla-posterThe biggest thing at the box office today is “Godzilla.” I had to see it in 3D, since the last big thing I saw at the movies was Kate Upton, and I saw that in double D.

Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad“) is the head engineer at a nuclear power plant in Tokyo. He is very worried about some underground tremors that everyone else thinks are normal. They should have listened to him, because these tremors were from a prehistoric creature that has been incubating for years. The thing wakes up and eats the nuclear plant along with Brody’s wife and a bunch of other people.

Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe from “Inception”) is left to pick up the pieces and try to figure out what happened. Joe spends the next 15 years doing his own research while his son, Ford, grows up and moves to San Francisco. Ford is called back to Japan to help out his raving lunatic of an old man just when those odd tremors start up again. It’s a good thing he is a bomb expert and can be our hero in the third act.

I will spoil the movie if I reveal anything more. You always want to be surprised at a monster movie. I can tell you they nailed the overall scope of the movie, with going from continent to continent and destroying every kind of structure and means of transportation possible.

Director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) is at home in this genre. I expected a very effects-laden movie, and I guess it is, but I also got a good story and some nice character moments. He took the time to root the story in these people and that made us root for them in the end. Even Godzilla came off as more than a green-eyed monster. It’s not like we saw how he grew up at a small power plant in Okinawa, but I think the big guy might be up for some major awards. I am not saying he can do Shakespeare, but if they sit him next to Scarjo at the Oscars that will get a buzz going about Beauty and the Beast.

I did like this movie, as it delivered the kind of punch I expected in an unexpected way. Don’t forget that you are going to see a Godzilla movie and you will not be disappointed, because this one is good enough to get 3 ½ stars out of 5. Just don’t laugh when Godzilla sings “It Ain’t Easy Being Green,” because he sings from his radioactive heart.

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

Neighbors

In This Just OUT on May 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm

NeighborsI really wanted to laugh at “Neighbors,” like I do in my own back yard. When I get home I am going to gaze up at my neighbor’s balcony and say, “Oh Belushi, where art thou?”

Mac Radner (Seth Rogen from “This is the End”) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne from The Internship”) are so happy with their new baby and their new home they think it’s cool when a fraternity moves in next door. They make friends with fraternity president Teddy (Zac Efron from “The Lucky One”) and merely ask him to keep it down a little.

I was not shocked to find out this fraternity is already on probation, with one strike against them. Soon, with Mac and Kelly’s help, they get two strikes. If Mac and Kelly can figure out how to get them one more strike, Dean Gladstone (Lisa Kudrow from “The Comeback”) will yank their charter. Now don’t go looking for parallels with Animal House (1978) because that movie was a hilarious comedy about a rogue fraternity.

I can tell they tried to make a funny movie. They strung together a handful of bits that made you smile, even if we have seen them all before. This seemed like the kind of Hollywood concoction we get these days, completely assembled by the marketing department with all the right ingredients: a funny premise, ripe with conflict, and a heavy dose of Seth Rogen. Stir it all up and you will get $100 million at the box office. All that might be true, but that is not how you make a good movie.

The biggest fault I find with this effort is the script. The pair of novice writers, Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, show they do not know what they are doing. Sure, they can write a few gags, and Rogen can make anything funny, but you have to pull it all together. You have to have real and interesting characters and not make everyone in the fraternity seem interchangeable. They also need to find out how to write an ending.

At least Harold Ramis (“Animal House” screenwriter) was not around to see what they must have thought was an homage to him. The difference here is that everyone in “Animal House” was playing it straight and we couldn’t stop laughing. With “Neighbors,” you can see them playing for the joke every time.

The good parts of this movie seemed like a bad “Saturday Night Live” skit, and for that reason I can only give this movie 1 star out of 5. Don’t be fooled by the “graphic nudity” label either, you will be further disappointed.

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

The Quiet Ones

In This Just OUT on May 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

The Quiet Ones PosterMy mother told me to watch out for “The Quiet Ones,” so I figured I should see the movie. Now I am scared to turn out the lights. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke from the “Bates Motel” TV series) has been troubled since she was a small child. She was moved through many foster homes because “something happened” that could not be explained. Eventually she ended up in an asylum until 1974 when Professor Coupland (Jared Harris from “Lincoln”) took custody of the young woman.

Coupland thinks he can save her and prove her condition is more than abnormal psychology. He begins “the experiment” to prove there is a link between mental illness and supernatural phenomena. He suckers – I mean – hires young camera geek Brian (Sam Claflin from “Snow White and the Huntsman”) to document the process so there is proof of what is happening. There are two other students helping the professor, but it is Brian who is quite taken with Jane. He does not listen when the professor tells him, for his own safety, “do not look in her eyes.” I made the same mistake when I was his age, and now we have two kids and three grandchildren.

The movie had a slow build that allowed you to get to know the players and the game. Director John Pogue (“Quarantine 2: The Terminal”) excels at the art of filming a guy who is filming something. They use most of the old scare tactics, but there is a nice mix of character and story that sustains the drama. This is loosely based on a true events, but then aren’t most horror movies? My third grade teacher was a Gargoyle Queen.

The performance of the leads made this movie bearable. Olivia Cooke managed to be crazy and scary and dangerous and sympathetic all at the same time. I also enjoyed seeing the usually smug Brit Jared Harris come unglued. The ending surprised me, which it is supposed to do. I just hope they don’t do a squeakquel.

This was more like a scary drama than a horror movie, and that is a good thing. So, I give “The Quiet Ones” 3 stars out of 5, and I am glad that I always listened to my mother.

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