Ewan McGregor has been a father figure before, especially in the ways of the Force (apologies for the Obi-Wan reference), but with Son of a Gun his mentoring is of the criminal kind.
Brenton Thwaites, up and coming star of The Giver and The Signal, plays JR, a naive criminal who befriends hardened convict Brendan Lynch (McGregor) during a six month stint at a West Australian prison.
Since Brendan provided JR with protection in the slammer, JR returns the favor and busts him out of prison. Life in the fast and illegal lane may be alluring to the youngster, but someone probably should have told him crime doesn’t pay. As the two get involved in a high stakes operation to rob a gold mine, trust issues inevitably surface, leading to an inevitable showdown between the two.
Son of a Gun debuts exclusively on DirecTV on December 11 and hits theaters January 16. The trailer is below:
One of the many takeaways from The Giver, aside from it being yet another solidly crafted film from director Philip Noyce (The Quiet American, Salt, Patriot Games, to name a few), is its seamless mixture of top level talent (Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep) with promising young actors (Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush).
As the titular character, Bridges gives profound life advice to an initiate named Jonas (Thwaites) who discovers that his society isn’t as perfect as it seems. Although humanity begets violence, envy, and inevitable tragedy, there are a multitude of emotions and experiences that are gone from Jonas and The Giver’s world. It’s Jonas’ mission to bring back humanity’s memories into his emotionally sterile universe – no matter what the cost.
Bridges, who brings a relaxed yet yeoman like work ethic to acting, received valuable life and work advice from his late father, actor Lloyd Bridges. ” “You kind of relax when you’re feeling joyful and then all of the good stuff gets to come through,” said Bridges, who worked with his dad in Tucker and Blown Away. Click on the media bar to hear Bridges talk about the importance of bringing a sense of “joy” into his work:
As Taylor Swift continues to flourish and branch out as a musician, writer, and singer, she’s also branching out in the acting field. She explored her comedic chops in the 2010 comedy Valentine’s Day, and with The Giver she ventures into the dramatic arena.
Based on Lois Lowry’s evocative and prescient novel, The Giver has Jeff Bridges playing the titular character, a man who holds the memories of humanity before his environment turned into a safe yet emotionally empty society. Swift plays Rosemary, a youth who attempted to learn life’s valuable lessons and experiences from The Giver, but their bond leads to tragic results.
“I hope she continues (with) the acting,” said Bridges about his co-star. “She’s very talented, as well as being a great songwriter/performer. She was just wonderful.”
The Giver, which co-stars Brenton Thwaites (he’s The Giver’s latest pupil) and Meryl Streep, opens Friday.
Opening August 15, The Giver centers on a seemingly halcyon society where violence and crime has been erased. The citizens’ memories of their past have also vanished, however, and when a young prodigy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) discovers that the government is restricting the individual freedoms of its people, he goes on a quest to find a newer way to live. Jeff Bridges is the titular character, a sage mentor who teaches Jonas about how the beauties and horrors of humanity’s past.
For Thwaites, having a more relaxed yet inquisitive approach to acting was a lesson he learned (or maybe reaffirmed) from his work with Jeff Bridges. “I guess every movie has its uniqueness,” says Thwaites, who was recently seen in the first rate sci-fi feature The Signal. “That’s the wonderful thing about being an actor. . . every job is kind of a different thing. Every movie is its own wild beast that you have to kind of roll with it and do the best you can and try to enjoy it along the way.”
One of Thwaites’ more endearing aspects is his sense of humor, and during the press conference he was asked about working with the baby twins on The Giver. In his answer, Thwaites gave a ribbing to fellow Aussie Phillip Noyce, the stoic and talented director behind The Giver.
Click on the audio link to hear Thwaites joke around about his bond with the babies, with Noyce chiming in with a rather dry response.
Noyce’s impressive body of work includes Salt, Patriot Games, The Quiet American, and Catch a Fire. Along with The Giver and The Signal, Thwaites was also starred in Oculus and Maleficent.
The Signal is a sci-fi adventure infused psychological thriller elements, and if Roman Polanski (The Tenant, Chinatown) directed a paranoid driven episode of The Twilight Zone, The Signal’s complex narrative would fit into his aesthetic wheelhouse. Science fiction, at its apex, delivers a journey into the mind and soul. During its most inspired moments, The Signal takes us there.
College kids Nic (Brenton Thwaites), Jonah (Beau Knapp), and Haley (Bates Motel star Olivia Cooke) are the best of friends. With Haley leaving the trio for a year, they understand their drive through the Southwest may be their last Americana trip for a spell. Nic, an avid runner before an injury left his physically disabled, needs his girlfriend more than ever, and Haley’s growing distance isn’t a good sign.
Jonah doesn’t want their travels to end, so he insists they hunt down a computer whiz who has hacked into MIT’s system but, in the process, has exposed a “signal” for the friends to investigate. Their mission ends in near tragedy, as Nic awakens into an unspecified location and at the mercy of the manipulative Dr. Wallace Damon (Laurence Fishburne).
To divulge further plot details may ruin your full enjoyment of The Signal. With a reported $2 million budget, Eubank has crafted a visually inspired and arresting look into Nic’s transformation from a wounded youth to a determined fighter. Carving his teeth as a cinematographer, Eubank knows how to craft beautiful compositions (he cites Ridley and Tony Scott as among his favorite filmmakers), but if The Signal only emitted pretty pictures, the meal wouldn’t satisfy more discerning moviegoers.
Instead, Eubank gives us prime cut steak with our potatoes, sometimes giving us more than we could possibly handle. Want a cat and mouse thriller? Damon and Nic are continually at loggerheads, and when one has the seeming advantage over the other, a new twist enters the mix. If bittersweet coming of age tales are your cup of tea, Nic’s frequent remembrance of things past, when life with Haley was sublime and his running days were ahead of him, are interspersed with Nic’s present day battle with Damon.
Thwaites, Cooke, and Knapp all deliver pinpoint performances as friends who need each other more than they could possibly know, and thanks to a remote signal in the desert, that chain may never be broken. Their shared affections are palpable, and each of them possess a distinct charisma that’s fit for the big screen. If producers ever developed a Rebel Without A Cause remake, filling the James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo, their search should begin (and end) with The Signal’s leads.
Since we’re smack dab in the middle of top notch summer fare, The Signal’s cinematic power may not be fully realized until it hits Blu-ray or your respective streaming devices, and that would be a total shame. Even with its miniscule budget, the film is a feast for the eyes that is blessed with a slam bang ending. Just when you think you’ve got this mystery figured out, everything is turned on its head.
Eubank, a lifelong devotee of The Twilight Zone, understands that, as writer Don Delillo states in his book Libra, “there is a world inside the world.” For Nic to finally grow up and face his fears of abandonment and overcome his physical impairments, he needs to man up. No matter how fast he runs, the signal only gets stronger. Still, a smattering of hope lingers in the distance. All Nic and his friends can do is fight to live another day, whether it’s in this world or the next.
The Signal – With Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, Laurence Fishburne. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running Time: 97 Minutes. Focus Features
One of my favorite films this year is The Signal, a $2 million budgeted sci-fi feature which showcases the filmmaking acumen of director William Eubank. Citing such heavyweight influences as Stanley Kubrick, Tony Scott, and Ridley Scott, Eubank infuses The Signal with a distinct, visually arresting aesthetic while offering up a nail-biting and twist driven narrative in the process.
During my interview with Eubank, he talked about how he pulled off an expensive looking film with a modest budget. “I always take the script and I have a book and I start to kind of literally write and draw all the shots in the movie in this big book,” said Eubank, who collaborated with Angels & Airwaves on the 2011 feature Love. “…It’s that sort of execution and commitment to an early part of the film and knowing exactly what you’re trying to do so you can isolate where money should be spent and where you can let go of certain things that enable you to actually executive it down the road.”
Check out the video below for a few filmmaking pointers from Eubank:
The Signal, starring Brenton Thwaites, Beau Knapp, and Olivia Cooke, opens June 13.