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.

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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… 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.

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

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.

Continue reading A closer look at… Arrival

A closer look at… I, Daniel Blake

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The Scoop

59-year-old Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is in an impossible situation. Told by his doctor that he should’t work because of his dodgy heart, he nonetheless fails a Work Capability Assessment. So now he can’t claim sickness benefits, but he can’t look for a job either.

He meets and befriends young single mother Katie (Hayley Squires), whose own dealings with the benefits system have been equally nightmarish. Together they must fight to keep their dignity, and find hope in the midst of their desperation.

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A closer look at… Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

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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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is rated 15 for brief strong violence. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Bob (Casey Affleck) and Ruth (Rooney Mara) are young and in love. They’re also criminals who, after committing an armed robbery, end up in over their heads. During a shootout with the police force, Ruth puts a bullet in Sherriff Wheeler (Ben Foster), and Bob agrees to take the rap. He goes to begin a twenty five-year stretch in prison, while Ruth gives birth to their baby daughter.

Four years and five escape attempts later, Bob finally breaks out and writes to tell Ruth that he’s coming for her. But things have changed since the lovers were parted. Ruth is doing her best to raise little Sylvie (Kennadie and Jacklynn Smith), under the watchful eye of Bob’s adoptive father Skerritt (Keith Carradine), and the kindly Wheeler, who has fallen in love with her. Will she take off with Bob to live the outlaw life they’d always planned? Or are other priorities now guiding her choices?

Continue reading A closer look at… Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

A closer look at… Calvary

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Calvary is rated 15 for very strong language, strong sex references, bloody violence. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Patient priest Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) hears confession. A voice on the other side of the grille – known to him, anonymous to us – recounts an appalling experience of childhood abuse at the hands of the priesthood. Father Lavelle is a good priest, the voice acknowledges, an innocent man – and for that very reason, he’s going to be shot. He has a week to get his affairs in order before the confessor will meet him on the beach, on Sunday, and end his life.

Instead of going to the police, Father Lavelle goes about his business as usual. His troubled daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) comes to stay, and he visits his parishioners; including sharp-tongued atheist Dr. Harte (Aiden Gillen), adulterous Veronica Brennan (Orla O’Rourke), the husband who might be beating her (Chris O’Dowd), mechanic Simon (Isaach De Bankolé) and arrogant banker Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran). He encounters a male prostitute (Owen Sharpe), a serial killer (Domhnall Gleeson) and a grieving widow (Marie-Josée Croze). In unexpected places, he comes across faith and doubt, fear and solace, anger and grace.

Against the backdrop of a country caught between past pain and the crises of the present, Father Lavelle will suffer and possibly die for all of these people.

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A closer look at… Only Lovers Left Alive

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Only Lovers Left Alive is rated 15 for strong language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam (Tom Hiddleston) have been alive, and in love, for centuries. Spending their days immersed in literature, music and obscure scientific knowledge, they’re cultured and effortlessly cool. They also happen to be vampires.

At her home in Tangiers, Eve receives a steady supply of black-market blood via her friend and fellow vampire Kit (John Hurt). Adam, who records albums from the seclusion of his crumbling Detroit house, gets his blood fix from a local hospital. He’s a connoisseur of vintage guitars, acquiring a collection from naïve human fan Ian (Anton Yelchin), but this passion is starting to lose its appeal. In fact, Adam has begun to wonder – not for the first time – whether his endless life is really worth living.

Getting wind of his suicidal mood, Eve comes to visit him in Detroit. Before long, they’re joined by her younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikoswka), whose recklessness could put them all in peril.

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A closer look at… Birdman

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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Birdman is rated 15 for strong language, sex references. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) was once a Hollywood icon, known for playing airborne superhero Birdman. But his career since has been a disappointment, and the only attention he gets is from Birdman fans wanting a picture with their reluctant, ageing idol.

In an attempt to claw back some credibility and do something he deems worthwhile, Riggan is directing and starring in a Broadway adaptation of the Raymond Carver short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. But backstage, the company is in chaos. Riggan may have got co-star Laura (Andrea Riseborough) pregnant, while another actor is injured by a falling spotlight. Leading lady Lesley (Naomi Watts) persuades Riggan to bring in her boyfriend, critical darling Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), as a replacement, but his volatile antics only destabilise things further.

The play’s producer Jake (Zach Galiafianakis) is struggling to hold everything together, while Riggan’s daughter and manager Sam (Emma Stone) seems on the verge of falling apart. Worst of all, Riggan is plagued by a sinister voice – the voice of Birdman, in fact – bent on ensuring that his failures and his vanities are never far away.

Continue reading A closer look at… Birdman