‘Only The Brave’ Is A Touching, Respectful Tribute To Fallen Heroes [Review]

Joseph Kosinski is a promising director in search of a good script. Or, perhaps, the right script. His starkly beautiful visuals for “TRON: Legacy” and “Oblivion,” his first two films, prove the special effects-friendly filmmaker knows how to make his movies gorgeous on the surface, yet they were both emotionally distant to a fault. Kosinski made them dazzle from an aesthetic perspective, no doubt, but if you had any connection to the characters and their arcs, that seemed almost incidental. But with “Only the Brave,” his third feature film, Kosinski proves himself ready and committed to adapt.

Moving away from sci-fi and genre filmmaking, Kosinski approaches the tragic true-life story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots with clear respect, dedication, and admiration for these lost souls, always appreciating the humble efforts of these elite firemen and hoping to give them the cinematic justice they’re owed. The results are expectedly emotional, melodramatic and heavy-handed, especially for a Hollywood biopic such as this one, but Kosinski also brings a palpable, wholehearted sincerity to the mix, proving himself willing to move towards more dramatically-fulfilling storytelling. It’s not a great film, but it’s an admirable one, and that’s what counts.

Based on Sean Flynn‘s 2013 GQ article “No Exit,” “Only the Brave” gives us the perspective of the Prescott, Ariz., municipal firefighting squad from a decidedly person angle. Ken Nolan (“Black Hawk Down“) and Eric Warren Singer‘s (“American Hustle“) screenplay focuses on Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), the supervisor (i.e. “supes”) of the squad with a difficult past and a troubled home dynamic with his wife, Amanda (Jennifer Connelly), and Brendan “Donut” McDonough (Miles Teller), a recovering drug addict with a newborn baby at home. In Kosinski’s film, the Granite Mountain Hotshots is a means towards nobility. It’s a chance for these men with paralleled pasts to find their way to do right by themselves, their community and their fellow man, even if it ultimately comes at the sacrifice of a stable, reliable household. And they will test their mettle when their small community faces danger from raging wildfire.

While it unfortunately lacks many well-developed female characters, the family dynamic shared between these men is likable and generally relatable. Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, Geoff Stults, Alex Russell, Ben Hardy, Scott Haze and more round out the supporting cast, and they’re sadly not given anywhere near the same level of attention as Marsh or Donut — which is a shame, since that would’ve only helped to build the brotherhood of these fallen men and, therefore, give the climax even more dramatic buoyancy.

Kosinski puts considerable care into building the relationships between the Hotshots with gentle honesty. He wants you to believe they’re a team, and in that respect, he does succeed. He does the legwork to show how they grow and build as people, and when it comes time for them to step up and be heroic, you believe it. Which is what makes their sacrifices all the more tender, genuinely resonant, and deeply felt. And as he did with “Oblivion” and “TRON: Legacy,” Kosinski also brings his fine sense of scenic perspective to “Only the Brave,” which ultimately lets you appreciate the scale and majesty of the mountain landscape, as well the intimacy of the quaint, nearby town.

It’s that fine attention to detail and perspective that proves Kosinski has the potential for better things with his future films. Whether or not it’ll be achieved is left for the future to write, but “Only the Brave” is nevertheless a tender, estimable achievement, one that gives the filmmaker a better chance to prove his previously unearned potential. Through its fine performances, considerate direction and character-focused writing, “Only the Brave” goes above your average biopic to present something that’s poignant and endearingly familiar, letting Kosinski provide that hard-wrought emotional impact lost in his previous films, while still allowing him to showcase his talents for visuals and location. It looks like the third time was the charm for Kosinski. [B-]

Brett Morgen’s ‘Jane’ Is One Of 2017’s Best Documentaries [Review]

Like director Brett Morgen‘s “The Kids Stays in the Picture” with Robert Evans and “Cobain: Montage of Heck” with Kurt Cobain, “Jane” is a portrait of a single, singular figure who had an enormous impact on culture: Jane Goodall. This wildly entertaining documentary combines over 100 hours of unearthed footage from the 1960s with current interviews and voiceover from the primatologist to create a film that is simultaneously full of both emotion and intelligence.

In 1957, the paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey invited his 26-year-old secretary Goodall to study chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. Though her lack of formal education may have previously kept her from a career working with animals, Leakey specifically wanted her for that reason. She wouldn’t be biased by the reigning theories taught in universities. Goodall spent years with a primate community there, building relationships with them and making discoveries that surprised others in the field. She recognized the individual personalities of each chimp, giving them names like “David Greybeard,” “Mr. McGregor” and “Fifi.” Though she fought reluctant bureaucrats, a sexist system, and rigid scientists, her research ultimately became the first look we had at the animal in its natural habitat.

“Jane” is true to its title; it isn’t just an exploration of her research at Gombe. It’s surprisingly frank about her feelings, her struggles and her relationships, offering the primatologist herself as its research subject. Revelations about her personal life feel revolutionary: there’s no apology when Jane states that she’ll be sending her son to boarding school in England while she stays in Africa to continue her work. She clearly loves him and wants the best for him, though she also recognizes the importance of her career to herself and to science as a whole.

While Ellen Kuras shot the recent interviews with Goodall, Morgen is highly indebted to the hours of 16mm film shot by Hugo van Lawick. In the recovered footage, the noted nature cinematographer captured Goodall with intimacy, watching her as she watched – and then ultimately interacted with – the chimps. She’s unguarded and becomes ever more so as the two become more familiar. But beyond the images of Goodall, van Lawick’s cinemagraphy is heart-stopping. His films of the Serengeti, where he and Goodall also worked, are particularly striking in terms of both their beauty and the moments he captures. Along with Morgen, editor Joe Beshenkovsky deserves attention for turning the 100-plus hours of film into a coherent narrative. It was found in a raw, unordered state, and that’s impossible to tell from simply watching “Jane.”

Since van Lawick’s footage was found without sound, the praise should also go to Goodall’s narration and Philip Glass‘s score. The voiceover is based on her books, and Goodall’s prose is often closer to poetry, though it remains unadorned and matter of fact. She captured the wonder of her experience, and the audience can’t help but sit in awe of both what she saw and who she is. Glass’ rich composition has themes that demonstrate the uniqueness of each chimp, and its meter matches the rhythm of what’s on screen.

“Jane” is many things. As a biography of Goodall, it sheds light on her personal life as well as her work in the field. It’s a nature film with insight into chimps in the wild, as well as a wealth of beautiful shots from van Lawick of other creatures that will leave audiences in a state of wonder. However, at its heart, “Jane” is powerful feminist statement about a woman’s passion for and dedication to her career in the face of structural opposition. [A]

Director Dee Rees Talks ‘Mudbound,’ Shared History & Future Projects [Interview]

Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” is a complex and invigorating account of post-WWII racial tensions in 1940s Mississippi. The film addresses, with astute sensitivity, the timeless racial struggles still at play in America. Rees, whose “Pariah” remains one of the most underrated films of this decade, tells the story of two soldiers, one white and one black (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell), returning home to rural Mississippi, having seen the horrors of war and struggling to deal with racial injustices they must confront. They form a friendship that gets the townspeople talking. Neither man cares about the other’s skin color, they just need comfort in each other’s bruised souls, and Rees nails the touching friendship they build. “Mudbound” isn’t just one of the best movies of the year, it’s one of the most vitally important. It encompasses, with many brilliant brush strokes, the problems that lie in the American landscape, problems that still pertain to the political conversation today.

We spoke to the writer-director, whose film is set to screen at the 55th New York Film Festival, about what led her to this film, the parallels to today’s America and her future as a filmmaker.

I saw the movie at Sundance and again, for a second time, this week. I was a huge fan of “Pariah” and this movie exceeded my expectations. How did your post-“Pariah” journey lead you to “Mudbound”?

I was sent the screenplay by Virgil Williams, and I really liked it and then I read the novel, we then tweaked things here and there about the Jackson family. We wanted to tell both stories about both families, and the relationships that developed between them.

So, you read the script, then read the novel. What did you specifically change and add based on the novel?

I added the political [commentary] about country violence, the impossibility of living life in this place. Also, the whole Happy breaking his leg. Most importantly, that conversation with the Jackson family about owning land, I needed to establish the Jacksons a little more, they have a plan, they have a life and it was important to also give them their own kind of drive. I wrote a lot of the sermons as well. I just went deep within the Jackson family, to give them more context that just didn’t come with the house. I wanted to do something more interesting in terms of the connections between both families.

You mentioned land. That’s what these characters are connected by. I do find that to be the most important pull of the story, was it for you as well?

Yeah, they are all rooted in this place. The film, in a broader way, is how possible is it to come home, like finding a home. You have these two soldiers that are basically outside the bubble, they have to come back and reinstall themselves to a smaller place and they can’t do it. You have these two men, Henry and Hap, that are both disinherited. I was fascinated by nature’s indifference to it and the two women that are trying to keep the outside out, however, things leak in, things leak out, it’s impossible to be contained, we’re all an open system.

I love the restraint you show in this film.

Well, the storyline is about the battle at home versus the battle abroad. There are blood and guts abroad, but at home, it may be just as bloody. That location we found for the town it needed to feel like a division of enemy lines. Like, am I going to be able to make it down the street? This idea that we’re all embattled and the way you fight changes. There’s a physical threat and there’s a mental threat. You’re fighting hostilities all the way, whether abroad or at home. The physical threat where women are in danger and men are being lynched, I just wanted to show the simmering tensions but in a very matter of fact way such as “this is the way it is, this is the status quo” and it couldn’t feel too underperformed, it had to feel like it’s just the way people live there every day. It had to be a kind of way of being, this kind of DNA. It had to have a kind of casualness to it.

That casualness very much plays a role in how the script is structured, especially relating to the shifting perspectives. This is a beautifully meshed and edited together film, it must not have been easy to find that kind of fluid flow to your movie.

I have to credit my editor, Mako Kamitsuna, whom I also worked with “Pariah.” She’s really amazing to work with. I knew it would be very tricky to intertwine these different narratives. At the beginning you think this is a story about two brothers, and then we cut to Laura [Carey Mulligan] and she introduces us to how we got to the land, and then Laura hands it to the Jackson family. I worked hard at finding the natural handouts in the story. We said, ok let’s just edit the Jackson family from beginning to end, have it function as its own movie, and then edit just the McAllan family from beginning to end, have it function as its own movie as well, and then kind of see where their interactions naturally fall. Then having known each character, we are much more emotionally involved when they all intersect together with Pappy at the gravesite. We’ve seen all the inner-workings and it has a very different tension then when that same scene is shown opening the film. So we worked that way and Mako is such a great editor with an incredible instinct.

The film comes at such a crucial time in America. What are your thoughts on these timeless themes you’re tackling here and how it reflects who we are today in this country?

I want the viewer to think about our shared connected history. I think what’s happening in our country is making people have an even greater critical distance where they can say “oh yeah, that’s me” or “oh yeah, I’d like to have these ideas passed on.” It makes people relate much more to the film when that happens because they see it happening in their lives now. It can also make us question ourselves. Like what are the ideas we are not interrogating? Like being liable about what you’re passing on. Like Jamie, he’s not going to be as bad as Henry whose not going to be as bad as Pappy. Jamie isn’t a saint either but maybe his son could be a little more evolved than he is. It’s about this continuity, we are a family in a way, we are our history. Just being aware of that and the way in which we try to break it. It’s not a mindful practice as much as it is something that just happens.

It pains me to say that there aren’t many African-American female directors at the moment. With this movie you are most likely going to take that extra step in your career, what does that mean to you?

It means that I will hopefully have a little bit more leeway to do the things that I want to do. I think with cinema, the idea of discovery is what keeps this industry alive. It’s about different ideas, expanded imaginations, knowing what people are capable of doing.

After “Pariah” I was excited about your next project and it took a good six years for it to be realized. What’s next for Dee Rees?

I’m working with FilmNation on a film about the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] and then I have an adaptation of a Joan Didion novel. A few things lined up and it’s very exciting to work and work quickly, tell different stories.

“Mudbound” opens in cinemas and hits Netflix on November 17th.

Joachim Trier Talks Making ‘Thelma’ & Rooting For Terrence Malick [Interview]

Some people are calling Joachim Trier‘s “Thelma” his first foray into the horror genre. It is not. “Thelma” is actually an indescribable mix of genres: drama, thriller, family, horror, mystery, comedy and, yes, even supernatural elements infuse Trier’s hypnotic fever dream of a movie.

Beautifully shot by Jakob Ihre with an attention to detail for every frame, the film is a calm, slow-burning character study. Eili Harboe is excellent as the titular character; her talent carries the movie forward in such unexpected ways as her lone wolf college freshman begins to befriend and eventually fall for Anja (Kaya Wikins). The more head over heels she becomes for Anja, the more she starts to change in ways that are too surprising to reveal in this write-up.

READ MORE: ‘Thelma’: Joachim Trier Crafts An Arthouse Version Of ‘X-Men,’ Ingmar Bergman & Stephen King [Review]

Trier’s film is a calm, low key affair that builds up the tension as more is revealed. The 43-year-old director is a sort of hero in his native Norway, where his first three films all became festival hits (“Reprise,” “Oslo August 31st,” “Louder Than Bombs“). With “Thelma,” he’s made an enigmatic movie that tackles female sexuality in ways we haven’t seen before. His vision is strong here, but so is his ability to continuously grab our attention throughout, despite the subtle simplicities of the tale being told.

We spoke to Trier at the 55th annual New York Film Festival about his influences for “Thelma,” female empowerment and what exactly is up with Terrence Malick these days.

What made you decide to delve into the supernatural with your next movie?

I wanted to try a different type of aesthetic to broaden the scope. I was trying to look with my DP at different aspects of the cinema that we were fascinated by. Different types of images, maybe subconscious nightmarish types of situations and feelings.

Is that why you decided to turn to genre filmmaking with this movie?

Well, a film is a film. We are aware that growing up in the ’80s, I remember looking at a lot of more allegorical type of horror films like “Jacob’s Ladder” by Adrian Lyne, and “The Dead Zone” by David Cronenberg. These wonderful kinds of human stories that were still in the realm of dream, nightmare, and supernatural. They ended up being very beautiful but scary at the same time. I was just curious to explore those kinds of images without having to apply all the rules that came with the genre. You could say this is an artsy fartsy guy trying to do a more nightmarish story. When we worked on it we got drawn back to the character study. So, actually, it didn’t feel that different after all. It is the story of a person feeling like she doesn’t know how to accept herself or love herself and become autonomous from her parents, which is, I think, a relatable coming of age tale, but with a more expressionistic framework.

But because this is genre filmmaking, I felt like there was a lot more reliance on plot than your previous films.

Sure, I mean there’s a lot of suspense. There is a lot more concern for the plot whereas in the past I was more concerned with character studies and drama. We wanted to tell an entertaining story as well.

At the same time, in all your films you’re obsessed with alienation, and the character of Thelma definitely suffers from that.

Sure. I’m sure there are themes that are repeating here and I’m realizing these things as I’m finishing the film. The horror from this film comes from within. It’s not about the monsters or the evil of this world, it’s really an internal and morally existential problem where Thelma’s true world is at play in unexpected ways and that’s the true story of the film.

The one movie that kept coming to mind was “Carrie,” did you expect comparisons to be made?

That’s a huge compliment to be made. I’m a fan of both Stephen King and Brian De Palma, obviously “Carrie” is also a coming of age story with supernatural powers, but I think we are doing this story at a different time and this is a story about empowerment. And I’m also very much inspired by George A. Romero‘s “Season of the Witch,” which I find is a great example of an early feminist witch story. We were concerned with not making a film in which Thelma’s powers just have to be evil or that she’s victimized. We were very careful with that. But, sure, Brian De Palma is one of the great directors of all-time…if my movie is compared to his then it’s most definitely a compliment.

There is a sort of female empowerment to this film, don’t you think?

Yeah, I wanted it to be a shoutout to any person, male or female, who felt like a freak and felt like they didn’t belong and didn’t know how to accept themselves in the context of how they were living. The story is also about being gay and I think that, at least in Scandinavian cinema, we’ve had a lack of stories of lesbian love and the complications of that. I think that’s an important aspect of this film as well. Very often gay stories are about men, at least in the Nordic countries, and I think that’s the case in many places for some weird reason. So, I think that kind of sense of alienation and the yearning for self-acceptance is the theme of this film and, without revealing too much, sure it’s about rooting for that character.

How did you find your lead actress? She is so good in this movie.

I agree. Ellie Harboe is wonderful, she is a gift to the film. She’s a star already, she hasn’t done much work, but she has a lot of those qualities. I think we’ll see a lot more of her in the future. Basically she came in and was very eager to nab the part out of the hundred or so that auditioned. She said, “I want to do my own stunts, I’m not afraid of training, I’m not afraid of snakes, I’ll do anything you want to do,” so she had that bravery of taking on such a physically demanding part. But what was even more impressive was how true she is in her performance — so subtle and nuanced — at doing these powerful scenes. She does very good, dramatic, subtle film acting. She’s certainly one of the most impressive film actors I’ve worked with.

Martine Olivier

Jordan Ruimy

‘Jane’ Director Brett Morgen Talks Making Every Moment Count With Jane Goodall [Interview]

The story of Jane Goodall is well-known. The world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, over the course of a 55-year study of the social and familial interactions of the primates in Gombe, Goodall’s fieldwork has become groundbreaking in making us better understand the connections of humans to primates.
Using a treasure trove of unseen footage, courtesy of National Geographic, director Brett Morgen (“The Kid Stays in the Picture,” “Montage of Heck“) gives us his very best movie with “Jane.” He tells the story of Goodall’s early work in Gombe, which focuses on her groundbreaking approach to studying chimpanzees. However, as it goes along, the film becomes so much more than that. Her relationship with cameraman and husband Hugo van Lawick becomes central to showing us a woman finding her own unique voice in the vast openness of the isolated world in which she resides.
Aided by a uniquely touching score courtesy of Philip Glass, Morgen has done the impossible, he’s made us care about a story we thought we already knew, but which had so much more ground to cover. With more than 140 hours of footage available at his disposal, the director takes us on a unique and unforgettable journey through the eyes of one of the most important women of our time.
We spoke to Morgen about the editing process, the film’s unique POV and, most important of all, Jane.

“Jane” touches on so many various storylines and topics. What is this movie about to you?

At first we thought it was a love story before Hugo and Jane. We then realized that the movie was really about a woman and her work and a man and his work. We’ve seen films where people are falling in love in first-person documentaries. Jane is so unique because it begins in a traditional manner and morphs into the fourth wall being penetrated and then you see Jane and Hugo falling in love in front of the camera. When you see Hugo introduced with his lens, there’s the sense that the camera loves Jane. This is very much a movie built on love.

There’s a shift in point of views that felt so risky but so rewarding at the same time. I imagine it must have been quite stressful for you to figure how to shift the POV without hampering the audience’s attention too much.

That is really funny because I don’t think I’ve been asked that before in an interview, so you’re a fucking genius [laughs]. The greatest anxiety I had in making this film had to do with how we would handle the POV shift. I obsessed over that. We had to make the turn. I kept thinking the audience is going to stand and say, “Liar, you cheated us.” What happened was my editor and I spent the first eight months of this film cutting, and recutting over and over the first 12 minutes of this film in order to enable us to make that transition. What was so challenging is we had to construct that sequence in a matter that did not allow the audience time to think too much about who is filming in those moments. What we found is that having Jane being photographed with a telephoto lens, so you don’t feel the presence of a camera presence, we were able to create that division so that when Hugo arrives we could have that subjective POV.

I love how you used and edited the footage to just bring us back to that place and time in Gombe.

Thank you. The challenge with “Jane” was taking footage that was meant for a very different type of documentary, much more formal documentary — I actually just had an email exchange with Alex Gibney about the aspect ratio. How could we take that footage and tell a story that would resonate with audiences today?

And this was hours and hours of footage.

140 hours. That sequence you were alluding to, Hugo falling in love. That always gets me emotionally. Even last night after the NYFF screening we were saying how serene she was, I also noticed how her nose looked exactly the same as it did in 1960. She’s aged so beautifully inside and out. Jane is such a beautiful human being. It really just emanates.

One thing I love about your movies is how brilliantly edited they are. How different was this to your other works?

The rhythm was very different with “Jane.” In “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” there’s so much DNA related in how to make a specific cut. In “The Kid Stays in the Picture” there are no dissolves until the last reel. In “Montage of Heck” we were trying to find a style to invite you into Kurt’s inner thoughts. With “Jane” it’s about observing, watching, listening more than anything else and so we kind of needed it to have more lyrical, meditative, Malick-esque component to it. We sort of allowed her voice to act as our muse and to act as the the rhythm of our film. ‘Montage’ was the first film where I shot interviews. As a filmmaker, we should use every grain available to us to tell our story. Color and sound become an emotional tool. The idea of the talking head is you set up the camera and the shots stay the same, the lighting stays the same. In ‘Montage’ I wanted the lighting and composition to be respectable to the emotions the subject is embracing at that very moment, so you have to know where the subject is going emotionally as well to do that. By already having assembled [“Jane”] I had a better sense of what I was looking for in the interview with Jane, I didn’t want it to be a talking head interview cliche as well.

How was your relationship with Jane, how often did you speak to her? Was she open at first or did you have to make her open up a little?

Jane and I both have the same approach to making this film, which was none of us had any interest [laughs]. We had that in common. When I was asked to make a film about Jane, I was like, “Haven’t so many films already been made about Jane?” When National Geographic approached her, she had the same reaction — “What is there left to say?” The answer is plenty, I believe, and the fact of the matter is that the film hadn’t been made. We actually appreciate the way our lives came together for this opportunity.

When making the film I didn’t want her to have much to do with it. I didn’t want her to do too much because I had all the material needed already, all her writing, I had 12 books to read to base the script on. When Jane was asked to be interviewed she thought we could all just do it in three hours. We spent five days before the interview trying to line up the shots, and I think Jane realized that we were trying something a little more than just the usual documentary. The first question I asked her was, “Jane, are you tired of telling your story?” then she looked at me and answered, “Depends on who is asking the question” [laughs]. That is kind of where we started and that was the challenge. She kind of made me work for it. I did have a secret weapon though. I already cut the film, it was on my laptop, and around the time we started talking about Hugo I told her, “Jane, I just want to show you something we put together from the film,” and I showed her the sequence of her and Hugo falling in love, because I wanted to kind of bring her back to that space. It was quite effective and I think by the end of our four days of filming, there was a lot of mutual respect.

When Jane saw the film for the first time, she wrote me the most beautiful, heartfelt letter in which she said that after the film she felt as close as she’d ever felt before in being back in Gombe, in the sixty years since, and she couldn’t believe that we could achieve with that footage today to bring her back to that time. I wasn’t really a Jane Goodall fan before I made the film, I didn’t know much about her, but I think that’s what makes the movie so great: she’s spared the whole mythology that comes with her persona and it goes far deeper into who she is. What I found was that she was so even-handed, so honest, so serene. There’s an openness that is so unique. The journey is usually the best part of filmmaking but with Jane you can’t help but be touched by her service and how this woman made every moment count.

Dierks Bentley Enters The Best Song Fire With ‘Only The Brave’

A year ago it was pretty much a given that one of the selections from “La La Land” was going to win Best Original Song. This awards season is a completely different story. Original compositions such as “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” “The Mystery of Love” or “Visions of Gideon” from “Call Me By Your Name,” “Stand Up For Something” from “Marshall,” “Evermore” from “Beauty and the Beast” and “Truth to Power” from “An Inconvenient Sequel,” a number of potential players from Pixar’s “Coco” and even “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” are all in the race for a nomination. One track that shouldn’t be discounted is the moving ballad “Hold the Light” from “Only the Brave.”

Written by country superstar Dierks Bentley, Joseph Trapanese, Sean Carey and Jon Randall, the song plays over a special end credits montage in the Joseph Kosinski directed drama. It’s also the first song the 14 time Grammy nominee has ever written or performed in a movie since he first hit the charts in 2003. The film tells the truest story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, an elite team of firefighters based in Prescott, AZ. An Arizona native, Bentley had performed in a benefit concert after the events depicted in the film a number of years ago.

READ MORE: ‘Only The Brave’ Is A Touching, Respectful Tribute To Fallen Heroes [Review]

“This movie, I thought it as going to be a documentary,” Bentley says. “It’s like a ‘Top Gun’ almost like a wilderness firefighters type energy movie. I’m really honored to these guys and their families. So, when they asked me to be part of it and to write a song with Joe Trapanese and I had a chance to jump on that song and work on that song and basically sing it and it got placed in the movie. It’s pretty heavy. And the song is kind of, is right there. So it’s pretty powerful stuff for sure.”

Trapanese is the composer of the film and has earned raves for his previous collaborations with Daft Punk on “Tron: Legacy,”Anthony Gonzalez of M83 on “Oblivion” and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park on “The Raid: Redemption.” Bentley says that pedigree along with the presence of noted country songwriter Randall meant he couldn’t ask “for a better experience the first time being involved with something like this.”

“To work with Jon (Randall), he’s incredible. This guy, he’s just a one of the great song writers in Nashville,” Bentley says. “[There were some things] different the way Joe writes, a true composer of writing. Pencil and pen, write out the notes, scoring an entire movie. Working alongside of him and seeing the way he ties the melody of the note and can structure in the film how it all tied in this last song we wrote together, ‘Hold the Light.’ You kind of think the song is a hour and a half long whatever the hell long the movie is because all these pieces of the song are playing throughout the whole movie.”

As for the melody, that came from Trapanese, but also from Carey better known as a member of Bon Iver.

“I wrote the bridge of the song and I knew Eric Marsh, the leader of these ‘Hot Shots.’ He used to say ‘I’ll see you on this side or the other brother’ when they were going into to fight a fire,” Bentley says. “I was able to get that line in the bridge and put that in the song. It’s kind of a crazy thing, but they incorporated it in the song the way it was sincere. I think it worked.”

You can listen to the song in the context of the official video embedded below.

“Only the Brave” opens nationwide on Friday.

Hold The Light (From “Only The Brave” Soundtrack) (Official Video) by Dierks Bentley & S. Carey on VEVO.

Rodrigo Perez

‘Blade Runner 2049’: An Enthralling, Thrilling Mystery & Philosophical Provocation [Review]

Aside from two quotes that will be mostly meaningless in this context, this is a spoiler-free review that keeps the many secrets of “Blade Runner 2049” hidden.

“I’ve seen things you couldn’t believe… miracles,” a character laments in Denis Villeneuve’s uneven, but still extraordinary and evocative “Blade Runner 2049,” the belated sequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi masterpiece “Blade Runner.” Echoing replicant Roy Batty’s (Rutger Hauer) similar sentiments of what humans can only dream of, but never fully experience, the expression of these words possesses both maddening frustration and unspeakable sadness.

Later, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) says sorrowfully, “Sometimes to love someone, you have to be a stranger.” Superficially unconnected, these sentiments are artificially fused by counterpart feelings of longing, desire, and detachment, key ingredients to understanding “Blade Runner 2049,” another philosophical provocation about what it means to be human and the transcendent, mysterious qualities of empathy.

Blade Runner

Ridley Scott didn’t design the emotional, yet dispassionate “Blade Runner 2049,” but considering its reflective consideration of evolution, master, slaves, and creators — notions explored in his recent “Alien” prequels — the fundamental ideas find the legendary filmmaker’s DNA everywhere. You don’t have to dust too much to spot Philip K. Dick’s synthetic fingerprints too.

But ‘2049’ makes the case that Ridley Scott should step aside for new talents more than capable of dreaming within the moody world that Dick birthed, and the filmmaker delivered to the screen. Because through the nearly impeccable execution of “Blade Runner 2049,” French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve further cements his name as one of the best and most striking filmmakers working today. At the helm and in complete command of his movie with dark, ambient magic, Villeneuve crafts a mysterious noir thriller that pushes existential boundaries, and nails the essence of the “Blade Runner” spirit.

Blade Runner 2049

Swimming in secrets and connections to the original “Blade Runner,” attempting to address though not necessarily answer many of the questions raised in the original movie, ‘2049’ is a is a field full of landmine spoilers — some shockingly stepped on within the first few minutes of the narrative, while other stunning revelations are left in the dark until much later. To discuss means to withhold most details aside from a little context.

‘2049’ begins with Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a disciplined LAPD Blade Runner — one who “retires” replicants with extreme prejudice — who is moving around in the same dystopian avenues of “Blade Runner,” only three decades later. Somewhere in the ensuing years, civilization has suffered a blackout — a massive data wipeout — crippling the entire planet, throwing the world into chaos, and leaving a gaping hole in digitally recorded history. The Tyrell corporation has gone bankrupt and the Wallace Corporation, a new tech giant run by a new creationist visionary Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), has absorbed them whole, reviving the once prohibited Nexus replicant program.

Blade Runner 2049

Not much else can be revealed, suffice it to say K, already hunting down remaining replicants, uncovers a dangerous, long-buried secret and in trying to unravel the thread is thrown into an ever-expanding, spiraling mystery that takes many Earth-shattering turns.

Dimensionally, the aesthetics of the film are awe-inspiring and enriching, providing a haunting meditation on the soul. The world building of this futuristic megapolis is an exhilarating symphony of breathtaking visuals, combined with a blazing music score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, and incredibly rich VFX, manufacturing a sleek and stylish setting. Venerable cinematographer Roger Deakins should be showered with all the awards, as his work supports the existential anxiety seething through the film. His atmospheric gaze is breathtaking, and in fairness to his competitors, the category of best DP at the Oscars might as well be closed.

Blade Runner 2049

As gorgeous and enigmatically enthralling as “Blade Runner 2049” is, the movie isn’t without its flaws. Its slow burning pace hisses with a sense of dread and looming portent — Villeneuve’s bread and butter — but as much as its measured gait allows the viewer to immerse themselves into the story and allows the movie to fully breathe, the narrative introduces many of its elements far too late into the picture.

“Blade Runner 2049” is also aloof and chilly for at least half the film, echoing the disconnection and artificiality of the picture’s milieu and the emotionally uninvolved nature of replicant “skin jobs.” It’s an effect that’s distancing nonetheless, and when ‘2049’ rolls into its blistering and affecting third act, it’s just a hair less poignant than it could have been.


Even when the heady and unknowable mix of ideas in ‘2049’ becomes a little jumbled, Villenueve’s movie is still experientially rapturous, an intoxicating swirl of engrossing unease and the fearful ecstasy of seeing through to the other side.

Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long do I have? are the questions the movie poses when contemplating the self, mortality and what it means to truly feel love. Perhaps what’s missing is Roy Batty’s infinite sadness, a being who just needs more time, one more day, and the chance to witness one more miracle. Yet, through sheer force of filmmaking will and examination of what it means to be self-aware, Villeneuve’s towering picture still manages to inspire awe and contains profoundly beautiful moments.

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford star in Alcon EntertainmentÕs sci fi thriller BLADE RUNNER 2049 in association with Columbia Pictures, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures Releasing International.“Blade Runner 2049,” may not fully answer the question of whether androids dream of electric sheep, but it presents future visions and faraway prophecies about humanity that one day may come to pass. [B+]