A closer look at… Interstellar

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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Interstellar is rated 12 for infrequent strong language, moderate threat, violence. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Earth, the not-so-distant future. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) scrapes a living as a farmer, dwelling on his past as a failed astronaut and dreaming of the day when the human race will reach for the stars once again. The future for his children, Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and Tom (Timothée Chalamet) looks bleak: years of drought have reduced the country to a dustbowl, with worse environmental catastrophe looming ahead.

The appearance of a strange gravitational phenomenon in his daughter’s room leads Cooper to a secret base, where he discovers the world’s best-kept secret. The NASA space program, thought long defunct, has been sending astronauts to a faraway galaxy through a newly discovered wormhole, in the hope of finding a viable new planet for mankind. Under the leadership of Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), this ‘Lazarus Project’ is about to launch its most ambitious mission yet – and Brand wants Cooper to be part of it.

Cooper leaves knowing that he may never see his children again. Even if he returns, the vagaries of special relativity will mean they’ve aged more rapidly than him. While he flies away through space and time in an attempt to save the world, a grown-up Murph (Jessica Chastain) must decide whether she can ever forgive him.

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A closer look at… Paddington

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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This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. children Paddington is rated PG for dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

In darkest Peru a young bear (Ben Wishaw) has grown up in the care of his Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). But these are no ordinary bears. After the visit of a British explorer (Tim Downie) many years before, Pastuzo and Lucy have learnt to talk. They are fluent in British manners and have a passion for marmalade. The family dreams of visiting the London the explorer told them about, where he promised they would always receive a warm welcome. When a violent storm destroys their idyllic life, Aunt Lucy sends her nephew to fulfil the family dream. With a suitcase filled with jars of marmalade, his Uncle’s hat (complete with emergency marmalade sandwich inside) and a label saying ‘Please look after this bear, thank you’, the young bear stows away on a ship bound for the golden city.

When he arrives, however, all is not quite as expected. In the hustle and bustle of Paddington Station no one replies to a small bear’s polite greetings and requests for a home. Enter the Brown family – Mary (Sally Hawkins), Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and their children Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and Judy (Madeleine Harris). Untrusting Henry hurries them past the forlorn-looking bear but Mary takes pity, naming him Paddington and offering shelter.

As the clumsy, kind-hearted bear starts to make friends and learn how to live in this strange new world, the search for a permanent home becomes the least of his worries. For a fanatical taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) has heard of the arrival of this unusual specimen and has her sights set on a new addition to her collection. How will Paddington escape her evil clutches? As the Browns begin to realise that they need Paddington just as much as he needs them, can they help him in time?

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A closer look at… Boyhood

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Boyhood is rated 15 for strong language, sex references, drug use

The Scoop

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is six. He cycles around the neighbourhood with his friends, talks with his mother (Patricia Arquette) about his problems at school, and squabbles with his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Their estranged father (Ethan Hawke) drops by at the weekend to shower his children with gifts and empty promises.

Mason is seven. The family are moving house. He is eight; nine; his mother remarries. His father takes him camping. As we watch him and his family grow older before our eyes over the course of twelve years, milestone moments fly by. Innocence is lost, and experience gained. Their lives, like our own, are completely ordinary – and completely extraordinary.

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A closer look at…The Fault in our Stars

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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The Fault in Our Stars is rated 15 for terminal illness theme, strong language

Sixteen-year-old Hazel has thyroid cancer. A new drug has bought her some time but her constant companion is an oxygen tank and her illness is still terminal. Augustus lost a leg to cancer but is now in remission. Good-looking, charming and with a penchant for keeping an unsmoked cigarette between his lips as a ‘metaphor’, Hazel is instantly attracted. As they become friends, Hazel persuades him to read her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), which she finds to be the most honest portrayal of cancer. The book, which ends mid-sentence, leaves many questions unanswered and Hazel is desperate to ask the author what happens next. As Hazel and Gus become closer, Hazel is hesitant to leave another broken heart in her wake, but Gus won’t be deterred.

It is not until they travel to Amsterdam, on a once-in-a lifetime trip to see Van Houten, that she allows herself to fall head-over-heels in love. The trip is not what they expected though, for Van Houten’s reception is not entirely welcoming and Gus has some news to share. How much time will the young lovers have together? And how can they go about living a meaningful life in the short time that they do have?

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A closer look at… Gone Girl

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Gone Girl is rated 18 for strong bloody violence, very strong language. The film is available on DVD.

Beautiful, intelligent Amy (Rosamund Pike) and laid-back journalist Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) were once the kind of golden couple that everybody envies. Amy’s diary records how, after meeting at a party, their relationship went from strength to strength, until they eventually got married. But then the recession hit, Nick’s parents fell ill, and the Dunne partnership began to show signs of strain.

Now, on the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy has vanished without a trace. Nick finds the house empty, with signs of a struggle – and within hours his life is a whirl of police questions and television cameras. The whole community rallies around to try and find Amy, who appears to have been kidnapped. But what if things aren’t quite as they seem? As more clues emerge and hysteria builds, the finger of blame is pointed at Nick.

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A closer look at… Edge of Tomorrow

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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Edge of Tomorrow is rated 12 for moderate violence, threat, infrequent strong language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

An alien race known as the Mimics are about to conquer the world, starting with Europe. Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is a cowardly army marketing man who finds himself unceremoniously sent to the front line to fight. Despite the fact that he kills a rare Alpha, he dies within minutes. Then he awakens again, back at the beginning of the same day. Somehow, the Alpha has condemned him to live this day over and over again, fighting and dying in an endless loop.

There is only one person who seems to understand what is going on. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), known as the Angel of Verdun, is a celebrated Special Forces warrior. She trains Bill so that every day he is able to fight more skilfully. Together, they plan to use his unique power to beat the invaders. But for it to work, Bill will have to ensure that he does one thing every single day: die.

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A closer look at… Her

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

Los Angeles, the near future. Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) works for a company which produces personalised love-letters for other people. Recently divorced from Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore is lonely and vulnerable, spending his days playing video games and making too-intimate connections with strangers via late-night phone calls. His only proper friend is his neighbour Amy (Amy Adams).

When he downloads a super-intelligent computer operating system (OS) to help him organise his life, Theodore is surprised to discover that ‘Samantha’ (Scarlett Johansson) – as she calls herself – understands him better than anyone. As their connection deepens, he realises that he’s falling in love, and that she seems to reciprocate. Can their relationship be real, even if Samantha isn’t?

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A closer look at… American Hustle

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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American Hustle is rated 15 for strong language. The film is available on DVD.
The Scoop

Is Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) a fake? His hair, an elaborate combover held together by hairspray and bravado, certainly is. His work revolves around selling forged paintings and conning people through a loan scam. But when he meets the clever and glamorous Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), his feelings couldn’t be more real.The two fall madly in love and soon go into business together, ramping up Irving’s con operation and raking in the money. The only fly in the ointment, as far as they’re concerned, is that Irving can’t bear to leave his adopted son with volatile wife Roslyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who refuses to divorce him. Love and business both continue illicitly, until FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the act of a scam.

Richie, ambitious and reckless, proposes to release the con artists if they help him with a scheme of his own. He wants to entrap Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a popular politician whose passion for helping people makes him less than scrupulous about where his funding comes from. As Richie sets his plan in motion, the lives and loves of all five characters become so entangled that it’s no longer clear who’s conning who.

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A closer look at…Frozen

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Frozen is rated PG for mild threat. The film is available to buy on DVD and on Amazon Instant Video.  children This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers.

The Scoop

In the kingdom of Arendelle, princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) has the power to conjure snow and ice. As a child, she uses it to entertain her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) – but one day, an icy accident causes their parents to panic. They warn Elsa that she must control and conceal her ability, and Anna’s memory is magically wiped. The sisters grow up estranged, with Elsa struggling to contain her growing powers.
On the day of Elsa’s coronation, Anna meets and quickly falls for the dashing Prince Hans (Santino Fontana). Ensuing events so upset Elsa that she unwittingly unleashes an icy winter on the entire kingdom, before fleeing to the mountains. In an attempt to reconcile with her and save the kingdom, Anna sets off into the snowy wilderness, aided by rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) – and an enchanted snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad).