Fire Taming Business (Only The Brave review)

Tragedy and comedy are supposed to be the two major themes in theatre. This movies takes the former route, but somewhere inside of it’s themes, it finds an honest story that doesn’t suffer from ill-gotten sentiment.

 

Only The Brave (2017)

Cast: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly, Taylor Kitsch, Andie MacDowell
Director: Joseph Kosinski
released on blu-ray February 6, 2018
******** 8/10

IMDB: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Audience Score 92%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Joseph Kosinski is American television and film director who is known for his work with computer technology. His directorial debut came from the critically panned Disney sequel Tron: Legacy, which believe-it-or-not, I actually enjoyed. He also worked on the less intelligent copy-cat of Moon – Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise.

Thankfully for the majority of audiences, Kosinski brought it back to reality with his third film Only The Brave.

Taken from IMDB (credit: Kenneth Chisholm) and modified…

In 2007 Prescott, Arizona, Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) of the Prescott Fire Department is frustrated fighting forest fires when the Type 1 or “Hotshot” front line forest fire fighting crews from afar overrule his operational suggestions to his area’s sorrow. To change that, Marsh gets approval from the Mayor (Jeff Bridges) to attempt to organize an unprecedented certified municipal-based Hotshot crew for Prescott. To that end, Marsh needs new recruits, which includes the young wastrel, Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), to undergo the rigorous training and qualification testing for the most dangerous of fire fighting duty. Along the way, the new team meets the challenge and the hailed Granite Mountain Hotshots are born. In doing so, all the men, especially McDonough, are changed as new experience and maturity is achieved in fire-forged camaraderie. All this is put to the test in 2013 with the notorious Yarnell Hill Fire that will demand efforts and sacrifices no one can ignore.

A movie that demands respect and candor from it’s audience, but also stands up to the challenge of telling an authentic story, with useful subplots and lots of agressive action from Mother Nature. Never have I ever felt more responsible to prevent forest fires then after watching this film, and that’s no dig against Smokey The Bear, but Josh Brolin has a commanding and grizzled appearance that no one dares mess with.

I also really enjoyed the evolution of the team as they worked towards Hot Shots certification, and best exemplified by the friendship arc between MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch) and Brendan McDonough.

Pros: We get to see the bureaucracy of firefighting, how it’s employees personal lives are impacted, and emotional canvas of interactions. The bonds these men forged in those mountains are brought to life with sensibility and determination.

Cons: While the structure of the film is excellent, and the ending is just perfect, it gets to be tedious in the middle, and the supporting cast gets lost in the wilderness.

Runtime: 2 hours 14 minutes

Points of Interest:

Miles Teller is starting to come into his own as an actor, and being surrounded by veterans Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly, and Josh Brolin, you can really see how he is a much more convincing dramatic actor then say, Shia LaBeouf. Where the movie falls down is from a lack of real risk-taking with it’s characterizations, which is ironic, given the source material. This is a minor concern though, because of the amazing treatment of these real life heroes and their hometown.

theories Summarized

With all that said and done, I think Only The Brave is a worthy addition to any collection that wants and/or needs more biographies and natural disasters in the mix. Without spoiling the ending, it’s a powerful film and not one I will soon forget. And that’s no theory.

Speaking of unforgettable movies… Have you seen the original Oldboy from Park Chan-wook? This movies is seriously messed up, but it has such an original story, and is part of Chan-wooks vengeance trilogy. I’ll let Chris and Mike go over the details, because, whether you’ve seen it before and need a reminder, or it’s on your list, I’m thinking this recommendation will finally sway you to give it shot.

Yeah, the premise of being trapped in a hotel for fifteen years seems odd, but just wait for the twist – the violence will help you along the way. Check it out! And remember… Like! Comment! Subscribe!

Tim!

The Cure For Toxic Masculinity In Movies (Cross Talk EP 32)

Let’s talk about toxic masculinity and how it is still a dominant force in our art, and in our lives dear readers.

Whether you choose to believe me or not, I know that even within the past twenty years, there has been a very minimal shift in how we deal with the masculine identity. Negative stereotypes abound, comedies fall into the same patterns of sexualizing women and simplifying men, and most dramas won’t touch certain topics, unless it means showing a complete breakdown of man out of touch with his inner strength.

It’s impossible for a man to be vulnerable, soft, passive and equal to a woman. At least, thats what the patriarchal model would expect us to believe.

It’s bad all around, because woman aren’t given equal footing, deal with a constant threat of rape, battery, and death, and to a much lesser extent men suffer from mental health issues, all stemming from millennia of oppression. And that’s an oversimplification. But we didn’t make this Cross Talk episode to do an after school special and wrap a nice bow on the issue – we wanted to open it up, and use specific films to identify how attitudes permeate, using film as case studies.

Which is why Chris, Mike, and I decided to do our part and talk about this issue, and how it has effected us personally. Full disclosure, we openly admit that we are imperfect, not experts, and guilty of ignorant behaviour. But by bringing up the issue of why toxic masculinity shows up in movies, and showing you specific instances of how it takes over, we’re hoping to become better advocates for obliterating objectification for women, for humanity and fostering a better sense of community.

Chasing Amy, (500) Days of Summer, Moonlight. These movies are prime examples of the dangers of continuing to assume gender roles, when more and more evidence that persistence (“it’s all in the chase”) is actually the worst. I sincerely hope you get riled up watching this episode, because I really want this generation to change our habits, and we need to stop glossing over major problems.

This is the thirty second episode of Cross Talk.

theories Summarized

In case you haven’t figured it out from that discussion, while I think the cure for toxic masculinity hasn’t been found yet, I’m confident that raising awareness about toxic behaviour is integral to solving the  global epidemic. We can’t progress in society if we aren’t challenging the status quo, and art is merely a tool to be used for the good or the bad. So let’s please promote good examples of masculine behaviour and make speak out against bad art.

One final theory – you should totally like the video if you enjoyed it, leave a comment if you have some thoughts, and subscribe if you want to see more from us! Your support let’s us know what we are doing right.

And tomorrow I’ll have an album review about sheep dogs.

Tim!

I Won’t Stop, I’m Gonna Work Harder (Stronger review)

I will never claim to be an expert on sociology, politics or any of the major social sciences, but I’m acutely aware of their importance, and I hope that by providing reviews on films like Stronger, my voice can contribute towards a positive world view, curbing hate and reducing ignorance about these kinds of social issues.

The movie does a pretty damn good job too though.

 

Stronger (2017)

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson
Director: David Gordon Green
released on blu-ray December 19, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 82%
The Guardian: ****/*****

David Gordon Green is an American filmmaker, best known for films like Joe, Prince Avalanche, George Washington, and All the Real Girls. He’s also done some pretty bad comedies – The Sitter, Your Highness, Pineapple Express. Thankfully, Stronger fits nicely into the biography drama camp, where Green can really shine and do his coming of age (enlightenment) thing well. That said, I just read that he is going to direct the next Halloween instalment with Danny McBride, so maybe he’s still figuring out his film identity.

He could take some notes from his characterization of Jeff Bauman…

Taken from Wikipedia and modified…

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a well-intentioned but underachieving Boston native who works at the deli counter of a Costco and lives in a small two-bedroom apartment with his alcoholic mother, Patty (Miranda Richardson). One day at the local bar, Jeff runs into his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany), who is attracted to his kindness and charm but finds herself constantly frustrated by his lack of commitment. After learning that Erin is running in the Boston Marathon to raise money for the hospital she works at, Jeff asks every patron in the bar to donate and then promises Erin he’ll wait at the finish line for her with a big sign.

The day of the Marathon, Jeff scrambles to make it to the finish line on time but reaches it just before Erin reaches the finish line. As she approaches a bomb goes off right where Jeff is standing. After being rushed to a hospital, both of Jeff’s legs are amputated above the knee. When he regains consciousness, Jeff tells his brother that he saw the bomber before the explosion. Patty calls the FBI, and Jeff is able to give them a description of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Local authorities capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev days later, and Jeff is hailed as a hero.

Jeff struggles to adjust to his condition as well as his newfound fame. Patty books several interviews and constantly surrounds Jeff with news reporters during his rehab sessions which Erin, who has since rekindled with Jeff, objects. Jeff and his family are invited to the Stanley Cup Finals by the Boston Bruins who ask Jeff to wave the flag during the game’s opening ceremony. The crowd triggers traumatic flashbacks from Jeff, and he breaks down in the elevator. Erin comforts him and insists he talk to his family about the fragility of his mental state and the impact his newfound exposure is having on it. Later that night they make love for the first time since his injury.

Patty books Jeff an interview with Oprah Winfrey without telling him causing Erin to speak up and tell her that the constant media attention is intensifying Jeff’s PTSD. After an argument between Patty and Erin, Jeff finally admits that he does not want to do any more interviews. Patty, disheartened, tells him that she only wishes for the world to see how amazing her son is. She soon begins enabling Jeff’s worst tendencies including his laziness and affinity for drinking. He begins missing physical therapy appointments due to long nights of drinking usually with Patty equally as drunk. Erin, who has since moved in, finds Patty blacked out on the couch and Jeff in a bathtub unconscious and covered in vomit. The next day she snaps at Patty for her selfishness and negligence before calling Jeff out for his self-pity and refusal to stand up to his mother. She storms off leaving Jeff and Patty to drive home alone.

That night, Jeff blows off Erin to drink with his brothers at a bar. Two patrons at the bar begin asking Jeff questions about the bombing insinuating that the event was a government conspiracy to start a war in Iran and Jeff was paid to look like a victim. Insulted Jeff and his brothers initiate a bar fight with the patrons. Erin picks him up later that night and tells him she’s pregnant. Jeff begins to panic and tells her he isn’t ready to be a father causing Erin to scold him for constantly running away from his problems. She leaves him in the car without removing his wheelchair from the trunk, enters their apartment, and packs her things. Jeff crawls to the apartment door and has a PTSD flashback of the bombing in its entirety.

Jeff meets with Carlos, a man who cared for him in the immediate aftermath of the bombing saving his life. Carlos tells him about his son, a marine who died in Iraq. After attempting suicide Carlos was forced to attend his son’s funeral in a stretcher. His younger son, unable to cope with the death of his older brother and the constant state of pain his father was in, killed himself. Carlos confides that saving Jeff helped him make peace with the death of his sons and the blame he placed upon himself because of them. Jeff begins to understand that his will to live in the face of adversity is what both comforts and inspires people. He stops drinking and begins to take his rehab more seriously. He leaves Erin a voicemail apologizing for his behavior finally taking full responsibility for his immaturity and fear of commitment. A few days later he and Carlos throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game where he meets Pedro Martinez. Erin watches at home and smiles. After the game dozens of people come up to Jeff and tell him how and why he has so heavily impacted their lives.

He and Erin meet at a diner where he walks with his prosthetics for the first time without assistance. He tells Erin he loves her, to which she replies “Good.” He grabs her hand and smiles.

It really does an excellent job of using a real story to showcase a survivor’s journey towards acceptance of his new life, and luckily for us, it hides very little of Bauman’s personal life. He has regular flashbacks of the bombing, his eyes hiding ghosts and his arms curled up in pain. His emotional voice often comes through girlfriend Erin, until the very end anyway.

Pros: It’s a series of moments but it never feels like a made for TV mini series, and Tatiana Maslany does an amazing job as the female lead. I hope to see more of her in the future.

Cons: I wish there weren’t patriotic shots of flags and orchestral music that hit your heart strings at key moments. A little obvious for my taste.

Runtime: 1 hour 59 minutes

Points of Interest:

Featuring some solid character actors performances on top of all the emotional core, Stronger is a film about a life examined, dissected, and reassembled, not whole, but as a sum of its parts. And it’s incredibly satisfying to watch a story about tragedy, without glossing over the ugly parts and managing to avoid cliche of overcoming adversity. Jeff Bauman is no hero, he only plays one on tv.

I only wish I had seen it in theatres, because I would have recommended the shit out of it way earlier on then I am now. So many bio pics attempt the impossible, being dramatic without overexerting themselves, and this story about an amputee does it one better. He’s a slob, self-destructive, and not morally sound either, but Bauman is surrounded by so many people just as flawed as him, you can’t help but root for a change in his heart.

theories Summarized

Overall this is a film that works incredibly hard at avoiding all the well known cliches, and it’s a cinematic treat to watch. I highly recommend you give it a shot, and set aside any preconceived notions you might have about triumph films, bio pics or Jake Gyllenhaal. This is a seriously good movie. And that’s not a theory.

Speaking of visual treats, have you seen The Grand Budapest Hotel? No, well check out this Watch Culture video in that case. And even if you have seen it, Mike and I have some great reminders of why this needs another viewing. I personally consider it to be Wes Anderson’s best. But tell us what you think! Leave a comment, share the video, and don’t forget to subscribe, for more great reviews.

Tim!

Film Franchises Are Great, But Can We Please Stop The Fanboy Fights? (Cross Talk Ep. 29)

I just came back from a fantastic date at the theatre – Star Wars Episode VIII was on the menu today; it was an early Christmas gift from my fiancee. Sweet deal right?

As you may know by now, I love movies, and this was an ideal way for Mysticque and I to spend some time together, with one of my favourite activities, and then bask in some post-film analysis. She SO gets me on a personal level, and I’m super excited to share this passion with her and our family, especially as Miguel grows up, and as we add onto our little tribe – family time is important to me.

This is why of the many reasons why The Fast and the Furious franchise stands out in my mind as an excellent piece of film, worthy of your attention, admiration, and love. But this is not a post or a video about that love, rather it’s a plea to the general populous. Please stop hating on other peoples spirit movies.

Chris channels Star Trek and Friday The 13th on a regular basis, Mike loves him some John Wick (more than anyone I’ve ever met), and I can’t help but carry the torch for Star Wars, Marvel, and my BFF – The Fast and the Furious franchise. Chris also wanted to let me know that he loves Star Wars, much to the chagrin of Fanboys out there – contrarian to what pop culture and water cooler etiquette teaches us.

But didn’t Yoda teach us why fear is such a bad thing already? We fear what we don’t understand, but if we could have a little empathy for The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and Harry Potter, maybe we’d all be a little bit more settled… Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Yeah I have Star Wars on the brain, and no, I’m not going to spoil The Last Jedi for you. We should have all learned that lesson from episode 28 of Cross Talk.

Franchise wars are a very real thing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold hands and try to love one another better. This episode of Cross Talk is a thorough discussion on the matter and all three of us gents have some excellent points to make on the topic.

And yeah… I totally flubbed on the title shown in the video, but I’ll correct it soon. I promise – I’m not at my house this evening, where all of the files are stored on my computer. Please just enjoy that small error, knowing I’m human too, and consider that I was so excited to get this video out to you, that I decided to bite the bullet and edit as soon as possible.

With all of that shared… tell us what your opinions are on the ongoing challenges of film franchise wars! We love comments. And shares! And subscribers! No more theories for today friends, but come back y’all and we’ll give you something in the way of an album review tomorrow.

Tim!

The Movies You Absolutely HAVE To Go Into Spoiler-free (Cross Talk Ep. 28)

There are so many ways in which movies can be spoiled for us in this day in age – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, and on, and on, and on… Not to mention humans. Humans still are incredibly good at ruining the best of cinema within a matter of sentences. It doesn’t matter if you are watching The Walking Dead or just saw Thor: Ragnarok, it’s a minefield out there creative cuties.

Some people think that etiquette for spoilers lasts within the first hours of a release, others think it is primarily subject to the timeline of digital download and home release, while others come up with deadlines of years and even more arbitrary considerations like when a franchise final closes up.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong here, but Shirley you cannot think that spoiling a movie for someone is going to work out and not expect some hurt feelings and consequences?

And dammit I will call you Shirley if you spoil The Last Jedi for me!

Threads and forums usually make it easy, the subject line will usually exclaim – SPOILERS AHEAD. And still others have rules about what can be said within hallowed digital halls. The challenge really comes from social media, because we can’t draw a policy down for an individual.

People are going to post and share whatever they feel like, as long as it isn’t immoral and illegal, that is.

But with any luck, your humble hosts on Cross Talk are going to give some examples of films that should never be spoiled, films that often are spoiled to this day, and the major repercussions of doing that to your brethren. Hint: it’s nothing good. Because the thing is, dear readers, there are schedules out there, and you can rest assured in the knowledge that you are beholden to the same social etiquette as others are.

If you spoil something, be prepared to have the same happen to you in kind. And I do not write this with malice in my heart, in fact, I wouldn’t wish a spoiler upon my worst enemy. Some movies deserve to be spoiler-free. And yes, I know I’ve mentioned that twice now…

You should just watch the video and see what I mean for yourself. Caution though, there aren’t any spoilers ahead!

All said-and-done, that was episode twenty-eight of Cross Talk! I can now admit that we will probably never be rid of spoilers on the internet. But thankfully, with some consideration, and an evolution of social intelligence, there will become a proper statue of limitations on information sharing – when it comes to pop culture, that is.

And the fact remains, while I haven’t explicitly pointed it out above, film criticism really is a dish best served as a dessert after a meal. You can’t expect to eat your dessert first, now can you? A teenager might defy the odds and have pumpkin pie for dinner, but we all know that they either come around or face dietary issues as they age. And that’s just dark.

Now we want to know what you think! And if you liked this video, please share, comment, and subscribe! I’m out of theories for the day, but this has been Cross Talk and timotheories will be back tomorrow with something melodic.

Tim!