A closer look at… The Lobster

 

© Picturehouse Entertainment, 2015.
© Picturehouse Entertainment, 2015.

This is a level 3 guide, suitable for more experienced groups. The Lobster is rated 15 for strong language, sex, sex references, bloody images.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A pitch-dark satire on the contemporary relationship game. Would make an excellent double-bill with ‘Her‘.

Think it’s tough being single? At least you don’t live in the off-kilter futuristic world inhabited by David (Colin Farrell). When his wife leaves him, he is sent to stay in a hotel where he and a large group of other singletons have forty-five days to fall in love with someone, or be turned into an animal. David decides that if it comes to that, he’ll be a lobster. He’s always liked the sea.

When things at the hotel go awry, David runs away to the woods, where he encounters a group of rebel Loners whose fearsome leader (Lea Seydoux) enacts bloody punishments on those who are tempted by romance. Falling in love with a Loner woman (Rachel Weisz) could be a short-sighted move.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Lobster

5 questions to ask about… James Bond

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© Sony Pictures Releasing, 2015.

Some honesty, upfront: I am not much of a Bond fan. Both in the sense that I haven’t seen a lot of Bond, and in that I’m not hugely keen on what I have seen. Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t grow up watching old Bond films, so they don’t even have nostalgic appeal for me. But I recognise that for many people, they offer just the right kind of escapist entertainment.

The release of a new Bond film is a major cultural event, and it’s well worth pausing to ask why. Here are some questions to reflect on as Spectre, ostensibly Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, hits cinemas.

Continue reading 5 questions to ask about… James Bond

5 questions to ask about… Back to the Future

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Yup, it’s finally here. After months of seeing doctored versions of this image all over the internet, the real Back to the Future Day has arrived. Don your self-lacing trainers, get on your hoverboard, re-hydrate a pizza, and celebrate Doc and Marty’s arrival in our present.

I hope that you, like me, will be re-watching BTTF2 tonight. In the meantime, here are five questions to ask about this classic series of films.

  • Why does Back to the Future have such enduring appeal? Films become classics for a reason. The original BTTF is a blast of pure entertainment: it’s got action, it’s got comedy, it’s got a fantastic soundtrack, it’s got romance, it’s got crazy science. It’s got a cast who all knock it out of the park. But more than anything, it’s centred on a perfect gem of a story idea.
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future (1985)
  • What can we learn from the films’ vision of the past? What happens when we start seeing our parents as people? Do we inevitably inherit their flaws, or can we change our own destiny? Nostalgia tells us that the past was a cleaner, more innocent place: but is this really true?
  • What can we learn from the films’ vision of the future? What hopes and anxieties can we read into the second film’s vision of the year 2015? Did any of these actually come to pass? What kind of future do today’s Sci-Fi films imagine?
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Back to the Future Part II (1989)
  • Why are we so fascinated by Back to the Future Day? People have been sharing that image for months – why do we get such a kick out of it? Are we amused because the real future is better than the one the film imagined, or disappointed because it’s not as good? Does it make us feel old, and maybe even a little frightened, to know that the future is now the present?
  • Why does Marty’s paternal grandmother look exactly like his mother? And who, I ask, who in the world, thought those Irish accents were a good idea?
Seamus_and_Maggie
Back to the Future Part III (1990)

 

Read More

‘Back to the Future’ is now all back and no future

‘Back to the Future’: 13 things you may not know

Back to the Future Day: Six experts predict life in 2045

Back to the Future: the complete history

 

A closer look at… Suffragette

Suffragette-Movie-Posters
© Pathe, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. Suffragette is rated 12A for infrequent strong language, moderate violence, a scene of force-feeding.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A powerful account of an essential chapter in history

Maud (Carey Mulligan) is a dutiful wife to Sonny (Ben Wishaw) and a loving mother to their young son George (Adam Michael Dodd). Her laundry job is back-breaking, and she barely has it in her to question why she is paid less than the men who work there, or why her supervisor routinely gets away with sexually assaulting the women in his charge.

When her friend Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) introduces her to the Suffragette movement, Maud’s frustration finally finds an outlet. Cautious at first, she is soon influenced by women such as Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter), Emily Wilding Davison (Natalie Press) and the movement’s outlaw leader Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep).

Maud is about to learn how much it will cost her to be a revolutionary. But the more she loses, the bolder she becomes.

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A closer look at… The Martian

 

© 20th Century Fox , 2015.
© 20th Century Fox , 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. The Martian is rated 12A for infrequent strong language, injury detail.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – Matt Damon’s stuck in space, again. And he needs saving, again.

When a fierce storm during a manned mission to Mars leaves astronaut Mark Watney stranded alone on the red planet, it seems all hope is lost. But Watney is not the type to give up easily. Using his botany skills, his ingenuity and a lot of duct tape, he sets about staying alive until somebody can come and rescue him.

Help is only 140 million miles away. Back on Earth, NASA head Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and his colleagues – including mission director Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and spokesperson Annie Monroe (Kristen Wiig) – try to figure out how to achieve the impossible.

Meanwhile, Watney’s commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) and the rest of her crew are on their return voyage, still believing that they left him for dead. What will they do if they find out the truth?

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A closer look at…Testament of Youth

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 Hannah Rowe.

Testament-of-Youth-Poster

The Scoop

It’s the golden Edwardian summer of 1914 and Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) is excited about what the future holds. After persuading her parents (Dominic West and Emily Watson) to let her sit the entrance exam and tutoring herself, she has been offered a place to study at Oxford and will soon escape provincial Derbyshire. Her brother Edward (Taron Egerton) is also Oxford-bound along with school friends Victor (Colin Morgan) and Roland (Kit Harrington). Vera and Roland, both aspiring writers, have been in correspondence with one another over the last few months and are falling in love. But as they embark on a heavily chaperoned courtship, the bells of war begin to toll and their worlds are turned upside down. Roland immediately turns down his place at Oxford to enlist and is soon joined by Edward and Victor. Vera moves to Oxford alone but after a while finds it impossible to study in the context of war. She surrenders her hard-won place at Oxford to become a nurse.

Day after day the newspapers list pages upon pages of the dead, and it becomes apparent that the war is not going to be as brief as everyone first thought. Vera’s nursing takes her to the western front where she witnesses the devastating cost of war on both sides. As she nurses captured German soldiers the seeds of her future pacifist thinking are sown. Will the Armistice come soon enough to save Vera’s loved ones and will she be able to find any hope in the devastation left by war?

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A closer look at… Divergent

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 Hannah Rowe.

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Divergent is rated 12 for moderate violence, threat. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Like The Hunger Games (2012 and 2013) and How I Live Now (2013), Divergent follows the journey of a teenage girl in a dystopian society. Chicago is a city of ruins surrounded by an impenetrable fence, and its inhabitants live peacefully due to a system of segregation. Everyone lives in one of the five different factions: Abnegation, who value selflessness above all; Dauntless, who value bravery; Erudite, knowledge; Candor, truthfulness; or Amity, who value friendship. Every citizen takes an aptitude test when they turn sixteen to determine the faction to which they are best suited. The results are then used to guide them as they pledge their lifelong allegiance to a faction. When the choice is made there is no going back. In this world faction comes before blood. The only other option is to be one of the factionless, who are left homeless and starving.

Abnegation-raised Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), however, is different. Her aptitude tests are inclusive. She does not belong in one faction: she is ‘divergent’. At the choosing ceremony she is torn between staying with her family in Abnegation and the allure of the exciting, dangerous Dauntless, and at the last moment chooses the latter. Once the choice is made she enters a rigorous training programme, since Dauntless only take the best recruits and those too weak and fearful will be sent to live factionless. Her training instructor is the mysterious, handsome Four (Theo James) who begins to take an interest in his courageous, determined recruit. But even as Tris begins to finally feel that she’s found a place where she belongs, it becomes apparent that, being divergent, she can never truly belong anywhere. To be divergent is to be a threat to the system: a system that is slowly crumbling and will do all it can to eliminate this threat.

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We’re Back!

And this time, it's personal
And this time, it’s personal

For years, the Damaris Film Blog has been providing discussion guides on the latest cinema releases. And now, we’re excited to be back – refreshed, renewed, revitalised. Redesigned. Raring to go.

By popular demand, we’ve started republishing our back-catalogue of guides. There’s already something for everyone, from animated mega-hit Frozen to teen tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars to the mind-bending Interstellar. Do shout if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on the site – we’ll be getting more old stuff online very soon.

But enough of the old. What about the new? Your editor, Sophie, can’t wait to get back to the cinema and catch up with the best current releases. In the coming weeks, expect new-style discussion guides, as well as a whole lot of other film-related musings and fun.


I get lonely if no-one talks to me. Tweet @damarismedia or email [email protected] I’d love to hear what you liked about the old Damaris Film Blog, and what you’d like to see us doing in the future.

A closer look at…A Little Chaos

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.

a_little_chaos_poster

A Little Chaos is rated 12 for moderate sex. The film is available on DVD.

What King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) wants, he gets. In 1682, he decides he wants a monumental garden for the Palace of Versailles, full of terraces, ponds and fountains. Landscape architect André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts) is put in charge of meeting these extravagant requirements, but feels that for the most lavish water feature he will need an assistant. Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) is an unconventional candidate. She’s straight-talking, her designs disrupt the acknowledged standards of order and symmetry, and she’s a woman. Nonetheless, she wins the job and finds herself thrown into the court of the Sun King.

The etiquette of the court is foreign to Sabine, and her status as a single woman means that she is constantly under scrutiny. All of this must be faced after long, hard days working in the garden. As Sabine battles with the difficult terrain, and with the King’s exacting demands, she is also battling with her own heart. She is haunted by the memory of her daughter and, perhaps most seriously of all, she finds herself falling for André.

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A closer look at…Cinderella

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

This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. children Cinderella is rated U – contains very mild scenes of emotional upset. The film is available on DVD.

Once upon a time there lived a happy couple who had a daughter named Ella (Lily James). They share a golden existence in their beautiful house until the tragic, premature death of Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell). Before she dies she asks her daughter to do two things: ‘have courage and be kind’. These, she promises, will help her overcome the trials life throws at her. Time passes and Ella’s beloved father (Ben Chaplin) eventually remarries, bringing his daughter a Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and two stepsisters, Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger), to keep her company whilst he is away on business trips. But tragedy soon strikes again and Ella’s father dies too.

It soon becomes apparent that Ella’s new family have no intention of welcoming her. Over time she becomes their servant, left to do all the cooking and cleaning. Some nights she cannot find the energy to climb to her draughty attic room and so sleeps by the dying embers of the kitchen fire; leaving her covered in cinders come morning, and earning her the nickname Cinderella. Life is tough, but through all Ella remembers her mother’s instruction to ‘have courage and be kind’.  It is this spirit that captures the heart of Kit (Richard Madden), a ‘palace apprentice’ she meets by chance in the woods.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s young Prince is under pressure to choose a wife that will strengthen the country’s political footing. He is to make his decision at a lavish ball full of foreign princesses and, at the prince’s request, ordinary members of the public. Will Cinderella make it to the ball to meet Kit once again? Will they find out each other’s true identity? And will their families allow them their happily ever after?

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