Brenton Thwaites

signal

A lot of independent sci-fi filmmakers aim to make feature-length episodes of The Twilight Zone with their work. Director William Eubanks has said this upfront about The Signal. This is not a flawed aim. But the problem is that none of these writers or directors are Rod Serling. They make films that read from their synopses like they could have come from the man, but their execution is often quite lacking. The Signal is no different in this regard. Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, and Beau Knapp play Nic, Haley, and Jonah, a trio of MIT students on a road trip to California. There is significant romantic friction between Nic and Haley, but all interpersonal concerns are tossed aside when the plot kicks in. When they take a detour to track down semi-legendary hacker “Nomad,” they get a billion times more than what they bargained for. Without dipping into spoilers, they have a catastrophic confrontation that ends in a collective blackout. Nic awakens in a sterile facility where all the staff refuses to remove hazmat suits. Scientist Damon (Laurence Fishburne) calmly interrogates him as to just what happened when they encountered Nomad. Twists begin to pile on as Nic seeks to escape and unravels what is going on.

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The Giver

Middle school is a great time to breed a little affinity for anarchy, and it sure seems as if the advanced English classes (nerd) I took during my junior high years possessed a certain bent, one aimed at getting our little minds to righteously reject the status quo — at least, as it applied to the fiction books we read. There was “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World” and “Anthem” and “Fahrenheit 451″ and “1984.” And there was also Lois Lowry‘s “The Giver,” which was perhaps the most age-appropriate of all the dystopian novels we read back then — hey, it’s about kids! — and the one now set for a big screen telling (albeit one that somehow stars Taylor Swift and takes some big liberties with the various ages of its youngest characters). Lowry’s novel is excellent (and it’s one hell of a tearjerker) and just finely wrought enough to appeal to both kids and adults alike. The book (and now, Phillip Noyce‘s film) focuses on a future society that bills itself as utopian, but soon reveals itself to be, well, totally not. The world inhabited by the young Jonas (aged up from eleven-years-old in the book, so that Brenton Thwaites can play him) has been changed to embrace “Sameness,” which removes all emotion, choice and richness from people’s lives in order to keep them in line and, on the surface, at peace. Great plan, right? Ha! Although you might vaguely remember these rules from your own readings — hmm, something about twins? — it’s time […]

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Oculus-Tims

Normally I would wait until the end of the year to start the For Your Consideration posts, but the campaign for Oculus could use the extra time. The challenge isn’t so much the fact that horror movies are rarely recognized by the Academy and other major awards groups as it is that imperfect horror movies don’t stand much of a chance at all. Oculus is really good, enough to make me recommend it, and I’m known for being very, very picky with the genre, but it’s no Psycho or The Exorcist. It doesn’t deserve a Best Picture nod, nor one for Best Director. It’s not outstanding enough in any categories, really, except for editing. And many other critics are noting this quality, albeit not so much with kudos in mind, so let me be the first to recommend it be nominated for the Oscar. Even this far in advance, I’m doubting the likelihood of rallying enough support for this cause. Even if I could, it probably wouldn’t matter anyway. This isn’t the sort of film that the Academy honors. If it were, it’d still have to have some other things going for it. Better writing, noteworthy performances, a director with more prestige, these would all help it but they’re just not there. It won’t have the box office success to lift its notoriety, either. It’s pretty rare these days for any movie to be nominated for Best Editing without being represented in some other top tier categories, and usually Best […]

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Brenton Thwaites in THE SIGNAL

Look, as much as we may want to we can’t possibly see every movie that plays Sundance or any other given film festival. Part of the problem is the sheer quantity of films playing, but even beyond that there will always be movies that slip beneath our radar. Also, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes sleep is far more appealing than the thought of trudging out into the snow for a midnight of a movie you’ve heard nothing about. So yeah. We missed The Signal at this year’s Sundance film fest, but while I’ve been okay with that for the past couple months the new trailer below has me regretting that decision. Director William Eubank‘s second feature (after the Angels & Airwaves film, Love) looks to be a sci-fi-tinged thriller about a trio of young people who are understandably terrified and confused after a close encounter with Laurence Fishburne. Check out the trailer for The Signal below.

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Michael Shannon

What is Casting Couch? It’s the roundup of casting news that knows what Gillian Jacobs is going to be doing with her upcoming break from Community. All that time in the bushes finally paid off. Most people probably thought Wild Things director John McNaughton’s career hit its zenith when he directed Wild Things. That movie was basically the most ’90s thing ever, and it practically introduced the concept of the three-way to the square community through the communicative power of Denise Richards’ boobs. He may yet top that work though, because Deadline reports that he’s just recruited the best actor in the world, Michael Shannon, to star in his upcoming thriller The Harvest. The film will star Samantha Morton as a successful heart surgeon and Shannon as her co-dependent husband. Its conflict comes in when their sick son meets a new friend, and suddenly the very controlled routine that Morton’s character has created starts to break down. Sounds like a creepy mom.

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Isla Fisher

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s a casting column that’s relying on the dreaded “short list” for content. You can’t really say that The Switch is a Jackie Brown prequel. Its story doesn’t really connect with the goings-on of Jackie Brown in any way, and Quentin Tarantino isn’t involved or anything. But it is an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel that features many of the same characters Jackie Brown did. Case in point: Variety reports that fiery redhead Isla Fisher is in negotiations to play Melanie, the same stoner surfer girl that Bridget Fonda played in Tarantino’s film. The Switch also features Mos Def and John Hawkes in the roles Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro originally played, and Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped housewife. Fisher’s character is said to be the manipulator of the story, and isn’t that always the case with these pretty girls?

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Disney has finally cast the cherry on top of its long-gestating revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, setting up young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites to play the prince to Angelina Jolie‘s evil Maleficent and Elle Fanning‘s innocent Princess Aurora. In the classic fairy tale, the part is generally referred to as Prince Phillip, but Deadline Evil Dark Woods doesn’t let on if that will be the case in Robert Stromberg‘s take on the tale. Despite his name, Thwaites is not a type of bread and he’s also not a knock-off of clothing brand Benetton, he’s one of those Aussie actor kids who cut his teeth on two of their many, many television series. Thwaites did a ten-episode run on SLiDe and also starred on continual favorite, Home and Away. He’ll next be seen as the male star in Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon, next month’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (ew). Other stars who did their time on Aussie TV? Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Kwanten, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Portia di Rossi, and Liam Hemsworth. It’s nothing to sniff at and no one should be surprised if Thwaites ends up the next Hollywood It Boy. Hey! Maybe we can cast him in Catching Fire!

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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