Tom Basham

Archive for June, 2014|Monthly archive page

22 Jump Street

In This Just OUT on June 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm

22jumpstreet-posterI took a wrong turn today and wound up at “22 Jump Street.” As Yogi Berra said, “It’s Déjà Vu all over again.”

Young officers Jenko (Channing Tatum from “White House Down“) and Schmidt  (Jonah Hill from “Money Ball”) did so well in their first movie, I mean, case, they got moved across the street from 21 Jump Street to 22 Jump Street. You see, odd numbers indicate one side of the street and even numbers are the other side. If you don’t find that clever, you might as well stop reading and buy a ticket to “Transformers.”

The boys are moved up to college by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube from “Ride Along“), who has taken over the operation. There is a new drug on the campus, so they must go under cover, again, to catch the dealer, again. If you think it’s annoying that I keep referencing the first movie, do not go to this movie. They continually mention the first movie, the plot, the similarities and the budget increase for this movie. A single nod may be warranted and even accepted as fun, but they went to it more times than Tarantino uses the “F” word.

Aside from the whole police investigation, they attempt to explore the relationship between these two buddies. This might have been interesting, but it was overshadowed by the homoerotic, homophobic and homo-stupid portrayal of their affection for each other. Again, a tired bit that was run into the ground, again and again.

I am still waiting on a ruling to find out if I can be offended by the racial stereotypes in this movie. All the white people are silly and stupid and all the black people are smart and cool. Actually, I think I just answered my own question by using the word “cool.”

The novelty and the nostalgia of the first movie made it worthy of watching. The uncomfortable clichés of the sequel just sucked.

I really wanted to laugh today. I needed to laugh, or at least be amused. By they time the characters said, “I’m getting too old for this shit,” I was thinking the same thing. All the humor was “on the nose,” starting with the octopus on Schmidt’s face five minutes in. For that reason, I can only give this movie 1 star out of 5. The cancer movie was funnier than this.

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


The Signal

In This Just OUT on June 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

THE-SIGNAL-posterI tracked down “The Signal” today at a movie theater and you may not believe what I saw. Even if you believe, you may not understand, but at least you will care.

Nic (Brenton Thwaites from “Maleficent”) and his buddy Jonah (Beau Knapp from “Super 8“) are on a road trip across the country to see Nic’s girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cooke from “The Quiet Ones”) to California. The boys were kicked out of MIT because some cat hacked the MIT server and messed up their records. On top of that, this computer wizard has been messing with them on the road.

They find the source of the signal, and take a small detour to rural Nevada to face this Internet agitator. This is when I stood up and yelled at the screen, “There are better ways to break up with your girlfriend than leaving her in the car while you go in the basement of a deserted house at the end of dirt road in the middle of the night.”

About then, this road trip takes weird left turn. They seem to be held captive and the only person who will talk to them is Morpheus, I mean Damon (Laurence Fishburne from “The Matrix”), who has more questions than answers.

I did like the whole journey of this movie, from road trip to horror moments to Kafkaesque sci-fi. I just wanted more of a payoff at the end, but I usually do. Perhaps that is when the tiny budget for this indie ran out, and I had more questions than answers. We seldom walk out of the theater today wondering what we saw and what it means.

There are some beautiful images in this movie and metaphors expressed in three dimensions and revealed with subtle plot points. Young writer/director William Eubank (“Love”) has something to say and a unique way to say it. He has earned a place on my watch list. That means I will look for his next movie, and he better watch out for me because if I meet him I am going to pin him in a corner and get some information out of him.

Don’t go to this movie expecting a non-stop thriller, but do go expecting to be confused and intrigued. I was, and for that I must give this movie 3 ½ stars out of 5. If you see William Eubank let him know that I am coming for him.

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

The Fault in Our Stars

In This Just OUT on June 14, 2014 at 9:29 pm

fault-our-stars-movie-posterYou would have to know Shakespeare to understand “The Fault in Our Stars.” Since he and I are fraternity brothers, I can explain it to you.

Hazel’s (Shailene Woodley from “Divergent”) cancer arrived in elementary school so she’s been fighting it for a decade. Still, she is dying, and her parents force her to go to a support group, as if being around other terminal adolescents will cheer her up. She meets Gus (Ansel Elgort from “Divergent”) and he falls in love with her across the serenity circle. Cancer took most of his leg but none of his spirit or his quest to do something amazing with his shortened life.

Hazel’s favorite book ends in mid sentence, and she makes Gus read it as a test of his character. More than anything Hazel wants to know what happens to the people in the book. Gus just wants to know Hazel and make her smile.

A ticking clock is a clever story telling device to create tension, but here it’s their actual heartbeats that we hear getting weaker and weaker. The critically crushed on novel by John Green did not make my reading and weeping list, but young director, Josh Boone (“Stuck in Love”) has made it into a fine movie. It’s not about death or cancer. It’s about these kids and how they write their own life story.

Like my fellow writer Shakespeare said, “The play is the thing,” and for him it was a device to reveal the truth. This movie shows us what these kids and their parents face and how they live with it. That is the point – that they live, and they love and they throw eggs at a girls car that jilted their friend.

I did not want to see this movie. Watching kids with cancer did not sound like a good way to spend two hours, but this movie sucked me in. A little subtlety, some raw moments and the complete avoidance of anything cliché’ kept me intrigued and entertained. Like Hazel, I wanted to see how the story ended, and I started to believe that Gus was going to do something awe inspiring.

I admit I thought this was going to be like an “after school special” but it wound up being closer to “Terms of Endearment.” For that reason, I must give this movie 4 out 5 stars, and it’s not my fault if you wind up crying your eyes out at the end. I think I must be coming down with a sinus infection.

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

Edge of Tomorrow

In This Just OUT on June 7, 2014 at 7:18 am

Edge_of_Tomorrow_PosterThe “Edge of Tomorrow” is here and you should see it today at the movies. Wait a minute – how many times have I said that?

Major Cage (Tom Cruise from “Oblivion”) is not a soldier, he’s a salesman.  He has done such a good job selling the war against the alien invasion General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson from “The Raven“) wants him on the front lines for the major offensive to film the glory and celebrate the General’s success.

I forgot to mention we are five years in fighting the Mimics, which arrived in a meteor storm. They appear as wicked mechanical spiders that always seem to be two steps ahead in every battle. I wish the aliens were more humanoid, like the kind Shatner always faced in Star Trek, but this is not a movie about aliens.

Our reluctant hero lands on the beach, Normandy style, and gets killed in the first five minutes.  At least he went out killing one of the special Mimics. But, he wakes up and it’s the beginning of the same day and he lives it all over again. If there were a groundhog in the movie I could probably explain it better.

Cage learns he must connect with the notorious Angel of Verdun, Rita (Emily Blunt from “Looper”) to defeat the aliens and save the world. She’s twice the soldier he will ever be, and she has to turn him into a one-man, alien-killing machine. It reminded me of when my wife tried to teach me how to use the vacuum cleaner and I could never get the hang of it.

Director Doug Liman (“Looper”) gives us a good mix of special effects and special moments between our characters. Cage and Rita spend hundreds of days together – the same day hundreds of times – but never have time for a relationship. Their human struggle came through the sci-fi apocalyptic madness, and in 3-D.

Cruise is at home in this alien-infested nightmare, though I am not legally permitted to say why. He is able to communicate with aliens and I think they follow him on Pinterest.

This movie has all the elements of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” There are lessons in this paradoxical parable, and it’s still a pretty cool movie. For that reason I must give it 4 stars out of 5, and if we’ve had this conversation before then you know what I mean.

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