Tom Basham

Posts Tagged ‘Best Picture’

The Imitation Game

In This Just OUT on February 1, 2015 at 9:04 pm

imitation-game-posterI just saw “The Imitation Game,” and I still don’t know all the rules. It’s an old game devised up by a different kind of person who thinks differently.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch from “August: Osage County“) is a mathematical prodigy from Cambridge when he shows up to help England and the Allies win World War II. A team of geniuses is being put together in Hut 8 to break the Germans’ unbreakable code. The Krauts have developed a machine called Enigma that invents a new code every day to send encrypted messages to the German Army command.

Turing is an odd duck, as his mother told him, before they knew people could be on the spectrum. He does not mix well with the rest of the team and prefers to work on his own. While the others try to figure out the Enigma machine code, Turing invents a machine to figure out the German machine.

This is a great story about the role of the original geek squad during the second war to end all wars. While everyone else was figuring out better ways to kill each other, these people were just trying to solve a word problem. Every day hundreds of coded messages went out over the radio, and each day the unknown code cypher was reset. Turing saw this as the daily crossword puzzle: solve it and save lives. While Turing is brilliant, his arrogance and lack of humility make him difficult to follow. The only thing that keeps the team together is the notion it takes an impossible person to solve an impossible problem.

Benedict Cumberbatch is so good he makes it look easy. He does it all with a quiet quirkiness and his diabolical deadpan intensity without a hint of British charm. Norwegian Director Morten Tyldum (“Headhunters”) keeps the tone of the film in sync with the battle going on in Hut 8, and the war going on everywhere else.

The theme of the movie is that people who are different think differently, and sometimes you need something different. A guy can be just as different as he has to be to win the war, but if a guy loved another guy 60 years ago they arrested you. In Turing’s case, what he did during the war was a secret and what he did in his home was secret too, but England did not get the irony back then.

The moral of this story is to make a little room in your life for those who choose a different way of life. If only Bill Murray could have been there and delivered that speech he gave in “Stripes”: “We’re all very different people…” Alan Turing earned his stripes with math and his ability to imagine the computer, and this movie is a beautiful testament to his character and his vision. For that, I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. The next time I come across a different kind of person, I am going to think about Alan Turing.

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


American Sniper

In This Just OUT on January 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm

American_sniper-posterI saw “American Sniper” today, but I don’t think he saw me. It’s only right for this movie to be directed by The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood from “Gran Torino“), another guy who just wanted to be a cowboy.

Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper from “American Hustle“) liked horses and girls and belt buckles so big that a girl would like him. They grow ’em like that in Texas. When terrorists hit our embassies, he enlisted in the Marines. He became a Navy Seal and, yeah, a sniper. Just before he ships out, he marries the love of his life, Taya (Sienna Miller from “Foxcatcher“). She is an amazing reason for him to come home, but he almost never comes home.

This didn’t feel like a movie with a plot and a protagonist trying to win the day. We had an observation post that let us witness a little piece of the life of a sniper, this American Sniper. There were no winners here. The movie could be called Tour of Duty because he has four tours and his duty to his country and his men come first. A life with his family will have to wait, because the men who count on him cannot. “There’s a war going on and I am going to the mall,” he tells Taya when she doesn’t understand his inability to engage her at home.

I didn’t see any politics in the movie, or anything that glorified the process or the practice of this country sending our men and women to war. I saw men taking orders and dying in the process. The ones who came home breathing lost parts of their bodies and minds over there and will never be the people they were before

We see how Chris Kyle was the Tom Brady of snipers. The guy every soldier wanted on his team watching his back. What Eastwood and Cooper also show us is how Kyle carried this burden on his broad shoulders as his tough guy façade took so many shots it started to crack.

Everything about this movie rings true, and I saw nothing that was pumped up by a pounding score to create tension or shaky cameras to convey shaky situations. Where a Spielberg may try to create an epic, Eastwood focuses his lens on the man, the legend, Chris Kyle. In him, we see the essence of man and his allegiance to God, Corps, Country and family, and watch him figure out what order these things should be in. It’s an incredible story, and Eastwood does not try to explain it or tell us what to think about it. I would say unflinching, but I flinched about 50 times.

This movie will get to you, and stay with you. It’s not a feel good movie, or a “rah–rah to victory” movie. It’s a movie that will bother you. Nothing that Chris Kyle ever did bothered me. He did it because that was his job and his calling and the way he was made. What happened after that bothers me, the way it bothered Josey Wales. For that reason I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. When they make my life story, I want Bradley Cooper to play me, but they will probably cast Larry David.

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