A closer look at…Dunkirk

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Dunkirk, 1940. Allied soldiers, surrounded by the German army, have retreated to the beaches and desperately await evacuation.

On the ground, a young soldier (Fionn Whitehead) survives the slaughter of his unit and takes desperate measures to get on the next boat out. But his ordeal is only just beginning.

In the air, a daring pilot (Tom Hardy) risks his own life to take out the German bombers who are killing the men below.

And at sea, a civilian (Mark Rylance) in his own small boat sets out to do what little he can to bring the stranded army home.

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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…Effie Gray

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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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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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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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A closer look at… Lion

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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.

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A closer look at… Loving

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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.

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A closer look at… What We Did On Our Holiday

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

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What We Did On Our Holiday is rated 12A for moderate bad language, discriminatory language, moderate sex references

The Scoop

The McLeod family are setting off on a holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Surprising, given that parents Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) are about to get a divorce. They have been living in separate houses – they fight constantly – and so the idea to take a trip together seems bound to end in tears. However, they have all promised not to talk about the imminent separation during the holiday.

It’s because they are planning to visit Doug’s father Gordie (Billy Connolly) to celebrate his birthday. Gordie is suffering from cancer and they are desperate not to upset him. However, the presence of Doug’s obnoxious brother Gavin (Ben Miller), his depressed wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) and their nerdy son Kenneth (Lewis Davie) inevitably makes things even more difficult. Indeed, it is not long before they discover that various family members are keeping even more unexpected secrets.

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A closer look at… Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is rated 12A for moderate threat 

The Scoop – A charming, if flawed first instalment in a new wizarding series

It’s 1926, and a storm is gathering in both the wizarding and non-wizarding worlds. In the midst of this, magical zoologist Newt Scamandar (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York, fresh from travelling the world and collecting an enchanted suitcase full of strange and wonderful creatures.

He couldn’t have picked a worse time. When several of his fantastical beasts break free from the case and are let loose on the streets of the city, the secrecy of the wizarding community – who live in suspicion of their non-magical (‘No-Maj’) neighbours – is threatened. With the help of witching sisters Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol), and of unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Newt must round up his creatures or face the wrath of the American wizarding authorities.

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A closer look at… Arrival

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The Scoop – An eerie, atmospheric sci-fi story which packs an emotional punch

When twelve silent, monolithic alien spaceships touch down at twelve locations across the planet, humanity is thrown into chaos. Nobody knows what the aliens want, and whether they are dangerous. In Montana, linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is brought in, along with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), to try and find a way of talking to these extraterrestrial visitors.

Working against the clock, under the suspicious eye of the FBI and of Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), Louise and Ian must decipher the strange symbols which the aliens use to communicate. As the tension mounts and global war threatens, Louise finds that her immersion in this new language is changing her in unexpected ways.

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