Like most romantic notions, the long held romantic ideal of seeing a movie in a darkened cinema and feeling the collective wave of emotion and discovery, to feel the power of a shared journey with strangers, rarely lives up to those lofty expectations. More often the strangers you are sharing your journey with aren’t enhancing your experience, they are ruining it. The two college kids who wont turn off their phones two rows in front of you, the old man sitting next to you whose chewing popcorn at a volume level you didn’t know was possible, the bored children whose parents are having to try to keep quiet and the couple in the row behind you that feel compelled to comment on every scene to each other in something much louder than a whisper, these are not people sharing a journey with me and they certainly aren’t enhancing it. Don’t misunderstand me, I still love going to the movies, getting popcorn, sitting back and getting engulfed in a giant screen is still really cool to me but the “seeing it in a room full of strangers”, which people often cite as one of the huge plusses for goingto the movies, is less and less often a positive; a truth, given the ever shrinking attendance numbers for films, that seems to resonates with many …
Until it doesn’t
There are a lot of things one could talk about when reviewing Only The Brave, Joseph Kosinski’s gripping movie about the Granite Mountain Hot Shots (if you don’t know their story, which was well covered in the news a few years back, feel free to look it up before you go, knowing wont spoil it). The cast is amazing, particularly Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly who really should be in Oscar contention as Best Supporting Actress, the movie is shot smartly with a great sense of realism that doesn’t try to make the fire something its not or romanticize the men to the point that they feel more like archetypes than people. But here is the only review that I think could do the movie justice, at the end of the film the theater, which was quite full, was silent. As the credits rolled and showed the photos of the actual men no one stood to leave, no one began talking, everyone in the theater sat in complete silence and watched. When the credits were done you could hear a few people say “wow” in a half whisper and then we all filed out. I have seen a lot of movies, good ones, great ones and some real stinkers too, but I cannot recall the last time I went to a film that moved an audience to silence by simply (although there is obviously nothing simpleabout it) relating the depth of sacrifice and tragedy of the loss of those men.
Hollywood will forever be trying to find reasons to get us to go to the movies instead of watching on our big screens in the comfort of our own homes or even on a laptop with noise canceling headphones; bigger screens, reclining seats, better sound.But those technological advancements are in a dog race with the advancements of your home and honestly I think the home is winning. Here is a movie that gives you the real reason to go to a theater, silence when you are alone doesn’t say much, silence when you are in a room with 150 strangers is louder than any IMAX DOLBY Sound System could ever be.