A closer look at… In a World

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The Scoop 

Carol (Lake Bell) is an aspiring voiceover artist who’s grown up in the shadow of her father, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), an industry icon. Sam belittles her career chances as a woman in the voiceover world, preferring to encourage male protégé Gustav (Ken Marino). She’s also at odds with her father for other reasons, resenting his young girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden), who seems to represent the kind of ‘baby-voiced’ femininity Carol hates.

When Jamie moves in and Carol is kicked out of Sam’s house, she moves in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry), who are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Trying to keep things together in her personal life whilst pushing ahead professionally, Carol must find a way to make her voice heard.

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A closer look at… A Long Way Down

This guide comes from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

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The Scoop

Martin (Pierce Brosnan) is a disgraced TV presenter. Jess (Imogen Poots) is the wild child daughter of a politician. JJ (Aaron Paul) is a failed musician from America. Maureen (Toni Collette) is a single mother with a disabled son. These four characters could hardly be more different, but they share a common intent: they want to kill themselves.

Their lives collide one New Year’s Eve on the roof of ‘Toppers’ House’, a popular London suicide spot. The unlikely situation allows them to form an equally unlikely bond, and they all commit to surviving the next six weeks. One holiday, two trips to the hospital and one media firestorm later they’re still friends. But will it be enough to convince them that life is worth living after all?

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A closer look at… The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

This guide comes from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

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Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) has lived an extraordinary life. Orphaned at a young age, he becomes an expert in explosives. Before long he has not only witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in the twentieth century, but in fact played an important role in them. Whether meeting presidents, fighting in wars or working on the atomic bomb, Allan seems to change the course of history wherever he goes.

On his 100th birthday, which he will be spending in a retirement home, Allan decides that he is not ready to give up on adventure. Escaping the birthday party that the nursing staff have planned, he climbs out of his window and heads for the bus station. It is the start of an absurd odyssey that sees Allan on the run from a gang of drug dealers, accompanied by an elephant. Allan’s approach to it all is best summarised in his mother’s dying words: ‘Whatever will be, will be.’

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A closer look at… How to Train Your Dragon 2

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children This is a child-friendly guide. Some questions are suitable for younger viewers. 

The Scoop

Five years on from the events of How to Train Your Dragon, humans and their scaly, fire-breathing friends now live in harmony in the Viking town of Berk. Dragon-racing is a favoured sport, and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now closer than ever to his fearsome black steed, Toothless. The pair loves nothing more than to soar away and explore new horizons, with Hiccup evading the request of his father Stoick (Gerrard Butler) that he takes over as town chieftain.

But on one such adventure, Hiccup and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) make an alarming discovery: a band of dragon-trappers working for the fearsome Drago Bloodvist (Djimon Hounsou), a tyrant amassing a dragon army. As Hiccup fights to counter this threat to Berk’s future, he meets Valka (Cate Blanchett), a mysterious woman who holds the key to his past.

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A closer look at… Inherent Vice

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California, 1970. Beach hippy and private eye Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) receives an unexpected visit from his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston). She has been seeing wealthy, married property developer Micky Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), and suspects that his wife is plotting to have him kidnapped and committed to an insane asylum. Despite Doc’s lingering feelings for her, Shasta wants him to investigate the case.

It turns out that the next two cases Doc is asked to take on both have a connection to Wolfmann. In fact it seems that everyone he stumbles across – from saxophonist Coy Harlington (Owen Wilson) to brothel worker Jade (Hong Chau) to bull-headed police detective ‘Bigfoot’ Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) – is somehow tangled in the web of conspiracy. Cults, communists, street gangs, white supremacists, the FBI, an international heroin smuggling operation, politicians, pirates (possibly) and a syndicate of dentists are all involved. None of it really seems to make a lot of sense; but Doc, shambling from clue to clue in a dope-induced stupor, is quite used to that.

Continue reading A closer look at… Inherent Vice

Going Native

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Three countries. Three teenagers. One average, life-altering day.

Natives is a new play currently on at the Southwark Playhouse in London. We’re used to working with film companies, but we were intrigued when Boundless Theatre, the company behind Natives, asked us if we’d consider creating resources for school groups based on the play.

I loved Glenn Waldron’s script, which takes an empathic and generous stance towards its teen protagonists. It sensitively explores what it means to be a ‘digital native’ – the quest for popularity, the warped intimacy,  the intrusions of violence, the potential for real connection. There was plenty to bite into when it came to putting together this worksheet for GCSE and A-Level drama groups.

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A few of us from the Damaris Media team were lucky enough to see Natives in performance earlier this week. The production – which stars Ella Purnell, Fionn Whitehead and Manish Gandhi – has already been getting rave reviews from the likes of The Guardian, The Metro and Theatre Full Stop, and it definitely lives up to all of this hype.

The action plaScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 15.24.41ys out in a small, intimate performance space, on a mostly bare stage which is illuminated by digital projections. It’s up to the three young leads to carry the story, which concerns three teenagers in different parts of the globe who must wrestle with the intersection between their digital lives and their ‘real’ ones. All three are excellent, but Purnell is the standout – recognisable from film roles in the likes of Never Let Me Go and Maleficent, she has a charismatic presence, funny, sharp and poignant by turns.

The 90-minute running time zips past, building to a powerful finale which posits a tentative hope for the future of the digital generation. That’s what’s so refreshing about Natives: it isn’t a critique of young people so much as the older generation who have bequeathed them a broken world.

‘Where are the grown-ups to do something, where are the grown-ups in this story?’

The play will hopefully have a long life both in performance (Boundless are planning to tour it) and in the classroom, where it could inspire teenagers to recognise the world-changing power they hold in their hands.

Find out more and book tickets

29 Mar – 22 Apr 2017  
By Glenn Waldron
Directed by Rob Drummer
At Southwark Playhouse

A closer look at…Effie Gray

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The Scoop

Bright, beautiful young Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) marries renowned art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise), a man who is significantly older and wealthier than her, and whom she has known since childhood. To Effie, it seems like a fairy tale – but from their wedding night onwards, something is terribly wrong. The newlyweds move in with Ruskin’s overbearing parents, and over the years which follow, her in-laws interference and her husband’s neglect cause Effie to waste away.

A ray of hope comes in the form of Lady Eastlake (Emma Thompson), an acquaintance who offers a sympathetic ear. A trip to Venice sets Effie’s mind whirling as to the other possibilities which life could offer; and a holiday to Scotland with Ruskin’s handsome protégé Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) could bring scandal or salvation.

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A closer look at… The Railway Man

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The Scoop

Reserved, eccentric Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) loves trains. He spends his time train-spotting at stations, and curating his collection of timetables. It’s when travelling on a train that he meets Patti (Nicole Kidman), a beautiful woman who isn’t put off by his shyness. One whirlwind romance later, and the two are married.

But Eric has a secret, and as they settle into their life together, Patti discovers that he’s a haunted man. He’s dogged by horrifying nightmares and flashbacks, and though he won’t tell her what’s wrong, his friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgård) agrees to reveal the truth. As young men, they were taken prisoner during the Second World War and forced to work on the notorious Thai-Burma railway.

The young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) and his friends secretly built a radio in the prison camp, and were caught in the act by their Japanese captors. What followed would leave Eric with deep physical and emotional scars – including an enduring hatred for a man called Nagase (Tanroh Ishida/Hiroyuki Sanada). Can Patti help Eric to untangle the pain of the past, and find some kind of peace?

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A closer look at… Before I Go To Sleep

This guide comes from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.
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The Scoop

Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up every morning remembering nothing. Gradually, she pieces things together. Her walls are plastered with photos of her wedding day to help her remember that she is married to Ben (Colin Firth), the man she finds lying next to her in bed. Every drawer is labelled to help her find her clothes and downstairs is a list of her allergies, hobbies and interests. She spends her days working out who she is and simply passing the time until she goes back to sleep and forgets the day’s events all over again.

Her condition is a result of a traumatic accident that she suffered fourteen years ago and which, of course, she cannot remember. Unbeknown to Ben, she has begun a course of treatment with Dr Nash (Mark Strong) in an attempt to help her recall what really happened. He encourages her to keep a video diary of her daily experiences and soon she is beginning to question everything around her. Can she really trust the secretive Dr Nash? What about Ben, who claims to keep certain things hidden from her for the good of their marriage? Or are her concerns simply the products of a paranoid mind?

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Sweet Dreams are made of these

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Sophie faceLast night we screened Fai bei sogni (or Sweet Dreams), the new film from director Marco Bellochio, at the beautiful Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We invited a group of people involved in various aspects of Italian life in the UK, including lecturers, scientists, and representatives from the Italian embassy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Sweet Dreams follows the story of Massimo (Nicolò Cabras), a sensitive and introverted young boy who loses his beloved mother (Barbara Ronchi) in a sudden tragedy. Drawing on his rich fantasy life to help him cope, Massimo grows up into a withdrawn man (Valerio Mastandrea) who is unable to make real emotional connections. 

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