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.

maxresdefault

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.

read more

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.

read more

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?

read more

A closer look at… Still Alice

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

still-alice-movie-poster

At the age of fifty, Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) has everything she wants: a prestigious job as a linguistics professor, a loving husband (Alec Baldwin), and three grown-up children. Life doesn’t seem about to slow down any time soon. But then Alice begins experiencing some unnerving memory lapses, and after a series of tests, she receives the devastating news that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The disease, which she may have passed on to her children, will gradually take away her memories until she no longer knows who she is. For this sharp, competent, independent woman, it’s a crushing blow, and only her youngest daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart) seems to really understand. As Alice goes into decline, she and those who love her must come to terms with everything they’re going to lose.

read more

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.

interstellar-imax-poster-wallpaper-these-awesome-fan-made-interstellar-posters-are-best-seen-after-the-film-jpeg-183303

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.

read more

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.
Paddington1

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?

read more

A closer look at… Boyhood

   BOYHOOD

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.

read more

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.
the-fault-in-our-stars-movie-wallpaper-2
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?

read more

A closer look at… Gone Girl

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

Gone-Girl-2014-Movie-Poster-1024x576

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.

read more