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?

Continue reading A closer look at… The Railway Man

A closer look at… Lion

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The Scoop

Little Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his mother (Priyanka Bose), sister (Khushi Solanki) and beloved older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) in a village near Khandwa, India. One night, he follows Guddu to the station, where his brother plans to spend the night scavenging on passenger trains. When Saroo unwittingly falls asleep aboard a train, he is separated from Guddu – and finds himself travelling thousands of miles across the country, towards Calcutta.

Far from home and unable to speak the language, Saroo is swallowed up in the vastness of the city.  Evading dangers at every turn, he ends up in an orphanage. The future looks bleak until he is told that an Australian couple, Sue and John Brierly (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), want to adopt him. 

Twenty years later, Saroo is a bright and athletic young Australian (Dev Patel) who is set to study Hotel Management in Melbourne. He meets fellow student Lucy (Rooney Mara) and begins to fall in love. But something is missing. The taste of a food from his childhood brings memories flooding back, and Saroo realises that he can’t rest until he’s found home.

Continue reading A closer look at… Lion

A closer look at… Loving

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The Scoop

Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) are young, in love and expecting a baby. The year is 1958: because Richard is white and Mildred is black, a marriage between them will be illegal in their home state of Virginia. In order to get married, they will have to cross state lines.

After a small ceremony in Washington they return to live quietly in the town of Central Point. But though their own rural community is relatively integrated, the state authorities have got wind of their relationship, leading to the couple being arrested after a night-time raid on their home. In order to avoid prison time, they must accept a 25-year banishment from the state of Virginia, meaning a separation from family and friends.

As the years pass and their children grow up in the city, Mildred in particular misses her home, and begins to wonder if anything can be done to overturn the ruling. A phone call from the American Civil Liberties Union ignites her hope – setting this unassuming couple on the path to changing history.

Continue reading A closer look at… Loving

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.

Continue reading A closer look at… Foxcatcher

A closer look at…Philomena

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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Philomena is rated 12A for infrequent strong language and moderate sex references. The film is available to buy on DVD or to stream on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Labour spin doctor Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), fired after an unforgivable political blunder, is down in the dumps. Once a journalist, he vaguely considers writing a book, though scoffs when someone suggests he look for a ‘human interest story’. He looks down his nose at this kind of ‘soft’ journalism – but then, just such a story falls right into his lap.

He hears about Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), a retired nurse from Ireland, who after a lifetime of silence has just told her daughter (Anna Maxwell Martin) about the baby boy she gave up for adoption fifty years before. A teenaged single mother, she was taken in by nuns who forcibly separated her from her son. Now all she has is a faded photograph of little Anthony, and a heavy burden of guilt and regret which her continued belief in God can’t relieve. She’s willing to share her story with Martin, if he will help her find out what happened to Anthony.

The search takes them to America, and into unfamiliar territory for both the cynical Martin and the frightened – but still faithful – Philomena.

Continue reading A closer look at…Philomena

A closer look at…Saving Mr Banks

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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Saving Mr Banks is rated PG for scenes of emotional upset. The film is available to buy on DVD and to stream on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Author P.L Travers (Emma Thompson) is in dire financial straits. Her Mary Poppins books are beloved by readers young and old, but since she’s resolved not to write another, her income has dried up. She does have a single remaining option – but it’s one she’s been resisting for years. She could sign on the dotted line, and let filmmaking maestro Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) adapt her stories for the screen.

Without concealing her reluctance, Travers finally agrees to travel to LA from her London home and meet with Disney. Outspoken and unbending, it’s not long before she’s making mincemeat of his creative team, producer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman (B.J Novak and Jason Schwartzman). She is determined that Mary Poppins will not be Americanised in any way, and that the film will feature neither singing nor animation. The immovable object of her willpower is about to meet the unstoppable force of Disney’s persuasive charm.

But in the course of their clash, he will discover that there’s more to Travers than mere stubbornness. The waspish author was once a little girl called Helen Goff (Annie Rose), whose relationship with her adored but troubled father Travers (Colin Farrell) would shape her future life and work.

Continue reading A closer look at…Saving Mr Banks

Film Blog preview: The Danish Girl

© Universal, 2015.
© Universal, 2015.

When’s it out? 1st January 2016

Who’s in it?  Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sebastian Koch

What’s the rating? 15, for sexualised scenes

Worth seeing? Yes, definitely

Watch out for… Issues around gender, sexuality, identity, and marriage. Key questions are what it means to be true to yourself, and how to love someone through times of change.

Continue reading Film Blog preview: The Danish Girl

A closer look at… Steve Jobs

 

© Universal, 2015.
© Universal, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. Steve Jobs is rated 15 for strong language.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A snappy, pacy drama that’s got far more to offer than just surface gloss

Three different years: 1984, 1988, 1998. Three different product launches. Behind the scenes, self-described tech genius Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) gets ready to wow the world.

He argues – with everyone. With his right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the only person who isn’t intimidated by him. With Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), who wants Jobs to publicly recognise the contributions of others. With his old boss and father figure John Sculley (Jeff Daniels). With Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), who is struggling to convince him that her daughter Lisa (Makenzie Moss/Ripley Sobo/Perla Haney-Jardine) is his. And eventually, with Lisa herself, as she takes him to task for all of his personal failings.

Continue reading A closer look at… Steve Jobs