A closer look at… Nightcrawler

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.

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Nightcrawler is rated 15 for strong bloody crime scene detail, strong language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is ready to try his hand at anything. Full of self-improvement aphorisms and entirely empty of scruples, he stumbles across the Los Angeles underworld of ‘nightcrawling’: following police-radio tipoffs to incident sites, and filming the grim aftermath. The resulting footage can be sold to cable news stations, who have no qualms about broadcasting images of car wrecks or bleeding shootout victims. If it pulls in viewers, it runs – or as Lou’s fellow nightcrawler Joe (Bill Paxton) puts it, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’

As Lou’s fledgling business grows, he develops a symbiotic relationship with news director Nina (Rene Russo), who’s every bit as ruthless as he is, and an uneven partnership with ‘intern’ Rick (Riz Ahmed), a young man too desperate for money to say no. Just how far is Lou willing to go in pursuit of the success he craves? And who will end up paying the price?

Continue reading A closer look at… Nightcrawler

A closer look at…The BFG

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This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. children The BFG is rated PG for mild threat.

The Scoop – A delight from start to finish, The BFG sees Spielberg bottle Roald Dahl’s magic. 

Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) knows how to stay safe from the monsters that lurk in the small hours of the night. Don’t get out of bed. Don’t go to the window. Don’t pull back the curtain.

But when she catches a glimpse of a huge, shadowy figure lurking outside the London orphanage where she lives, Sophie can’t help herself. The giant (Mark Rylance) snatches her away and carries her off to the ramshackle cave where he lives – but it turns out that he’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact this big, friendly, word-mangling, dream-catching creature needs help defeating some monsters of his own.

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A closer look at… Anna Karenina

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.

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Russia, the late nineteenth century, and one of the best-known tragedies in literature is about to unfold. We meet Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) as she prepares to rescue her boisterous brother Stiva (Matthew Macfadyen) from a marital crisis, brought on by his infidelity to wife Dolly (Kelly McDonald). Anna bids farewell to her mild-mannered husband Alexei (Jude Law) and beloved young son Serhoza (Oscar McNamara), and embarks upon a fateful train journey to Moscow.

Having talked Stiva and Dolly into a reconciliation, Anna is persuaded to attend a ball with Dolly’s sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander), who is innocently infatuated with the dashing Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). She is expecting a proposal at any minute – but to her dismay, Vronsky suddenly has eyes for nobody but Anna. His gaze is reciprocated. Having been in a passionless marriage since the age of eighteen, Anna is completely swept off her feet, and it isn’t long before the two have plunged headlong into an affair.

Continue reading A closer look at… Anna Karenina

A closer look at… Foxcatcher

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.

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Foxcatcher is rated 15 for drug use, brief strong violence. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

The glory of winning an Olympic gold medal has had little bearing on the everyday life of wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). He lives alone, surviving on pot noodles and video games, earning a pittance giving motivational talks to disinterested schoolchildren. The only meaning in his life seems to come from training, which he does under the supervision of his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), an affable family man whose own sporting achievements overshadow Mark’s.

Then from out of the blue, Mark is contacted by billionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell).  The philanthropist and wrestling enthusiast has built an expensive private training facility on his estate at Foxcatcher Farms, and wants the Schultz brothers to come and train there for the World championship. Dave doesn’t want to uproot his family, but Mark has nothing to lose, and is soon living at Foxcatcher under the wing of the seemingly benevolent du Pont.

The relationship between the two lonely men grows increasingly strange, as Mark yearns for the father figure he never had, and du Pont tries to impress his distant mother (Vanessa Redgrave).  When Dave finally agrees to come to Foxcatcher, the ensuing power struggle will lead to tragedy.

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A closer look at… Hector and the Search for Happiness

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

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Once upon a time there was a young man called Hector (Simon Pegg). He lived a neat and tidy life with his girlfriend Clare (Rosamund Pike), who tied his ties, made his lunch and kept his sock drawer in order. Hector worked as a psychiatrist, listening patiently to his patients’ tales of trauma, whilst doodling in his notebook and dreaming of another life.

One day, Hector snaps. He cannot live as a fraud any longer, offering meaningless advice to his patients when he himself has never really experienced life. He sets off alone on a cross-continental adventure in the hope of discovering the route to true happiness. Those he meets along the way offer snippets of wisdom that he jots down in his notebook, but it is only once he has faced up to the emotions of his own past and his fears of the future that Hector can truly embrace happiness for his own life in the present moment.

Continue reading A closer look at… Hector and the Search for Happiness

A closer look at… The Grand Budapest Hotel

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The Grand Budapest Hotel is rated 15 for strong language, sex references, brief gory images. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

A girl sits on the snowy steps of a memorial to a great author, reading a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel. In flashback, we meet the author (Tom Wilkinson), who begins to explain how the book came into being. As a younger man (Jude Law), staying in the crumbling Grand Budapest during the 1960s, he met the hotel’s owner, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). In his turn, Zero relates his own youth as a lobby boy during the hotel’s golden years.

Young Zero (Tony Revolori), an immigrant in the middle-European Republic of Zubrowka, is taken under the wing of the hotel’s flambouyant concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). When one of Gustave’s elderly lovers, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), dies, she bequeaths him the priceless painting Boy With Apple – leaving him in hot water with her grasping family. Zero and Gustave take off with the painting, setting off a series of comic escapades which play out against the shadowy backdrop of a coming war.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Grand Budapest Hotel

A closer look at…Whiplash

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.

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The Scoop

Young jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is determined to be not only great, but ‘one of the greats’. He’s already studying at a top musical school, the Shaffer Conservatory, but what he really wants is to catch the attention of teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). He knows that if he’s accepted into Fletcher’s legendary studio band, his chances of a high-level musical career will be far greater.

But Fletcher is feared by his students as well as admired, and Andrew is about to find out why. Brutal and uncompromising, Fletcher will make Andrew cry, sweat and quite literally bleed in order to push him beyond his limits. Is this man a genius who knows that hard discipline is the only way to make great art? Or is he a bullying tyrant whose manipulative power games can only destroy his young protégé?

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A closer look at…Begin Again

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

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Begin Again is rated 15 for strong language, sex references. The film is available to buy on DVD and on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Dave (Adam Levine) has just landed a music deal with a major record label in New York City. Gretta (Keira Knightley) travels with him to America, both as his girlfriend and his musical partner. Dave comes alive on the stage, whilst Gretta prefers to hide away writing songs. But when Dave becomes intoxicated with his newfound fame, he soon forgets Gretta. Alone in a foreign city she relies on the friendship of her entertaining pal Steve (James Corden) to distract her from her broken heart.

Meanwhile, Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is fired from his role at the record label that he co-founded. He has also been exiled from the house that he used to share with his wife Miriam (Catherine Keener) and teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). When he hears Gretta singing in a local bar, he is captivated by her simple, unpolished charm. He suggests that they collaborate, and the resulting album is a tribute to hope, friendship, and New York City.

Continue reading A closer look at…Begin Again

A closer look at… Love & Friendship

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© Curzon Artificial Eye, 2016

Love & Friendship is rated U – no material likely to offend or harm.

The Scoop – A razor-shape take on a little-known Austen story

Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) – beautiful, widowed and wickedly witty – arrives to stay with her in-laws amid a cloud of society gossip. While Catherine DeCourcy Vernon (Emma Greenwell), her deceased husband’s sister, regards Susan with suspicion, Catherine’s handsome brother Reginald (Xavier Samuel) is soon smitten, much to the horror of his family.

When Susan’s daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) runs away from school, she too comes to stay with the DeCourcys – and idiotic suitor Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) soon follows. With steely resolve, and with her friend Mrs Johnson (Chloe Sevigny) at her side, Susan sets about securing a future for herself and her daughter.

Continue reading A closer look at… Love & Friendship

A closer look at… Gravity

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Gravity

Gravity is rated 12A for sustained moderate threat, disturbing images and strong language. The film is available to buy on DVD or to rent on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) was recruited for a space mission due to her technical expertise, not her experience as an astronaut. Nervous and jittery during a spacewalk, she’s hardly reassured by the smooth patter of veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who’s up there with her. Then the unthinkable happens. Debris from a demolished Russian satellite comes hurtling towards them, and the two are cut loose both from the space station and from communications down below.

Spinning through the void, attached to one another only by a thin cord, survival seems impossible for Stone and Kowalski. Is there any way they can reach the distant Russian station, and find a way back down to Earth?

Continue reading A closer look at… Gravity