A closer look at…Effie Gray

Sinopsis-film-Effie-Gray-2014-Bahasa-Indonesia

The Scoop

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.

Continue reading A closer look at…Effie Gray

A closer look at… La La Land

lalaland-finalposter-cropped

La La Land is rated 12A for infrequent strong language 

The Scoop

Aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and jazz fanatic Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) cross paths in Los Angeles. The city is full of dreamers, and Mia and Sebastian are no exception: she wants to be a star on the silver screen, while he wants to open his own jazz club. From their first encounter, sparks fly between them, and soon they are falling in love.

Their relationship plays out against the sweeping backdrop of Hollywood, to a soundtrack of wistful musical numbers. Will they get where they want to go – and will their love survive the journey?

Continue reading A closer look at… La La Land

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.

Birdman-3

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

A closer look at… The Grand Budapest Hotel

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

grand-budapest-hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is rated 15 for strong language, sex references, brief gory images. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

A girl sits on the snowy steps of a memorial to a great author, reading a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel. In flashback, we meet the author (Tom Wilkinson), who begins to explain how the book came into being. As a younger man (Jude Law), staying in the crumbling Grand Budapest during the 1960s, he met the hotel’s owner, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). In his turn, Zero relates his own youth as a lobby boy during the hotel’s golden years.

Young Zero (Tony Revolori), an immigrant in the middle-European Republic of Zubrowka, is taken under the wing of the hotel’s flambouyant concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). When one of Gustave’s elderly lovers, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), dies, she bequeaths him the priceless painting Boy With Apple – leaving him in hot water with her grasping family. Zero and Gustave take off with the painting, setting off a series of comic escapades which play out against the shadowy backdrop of a coming war.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Grand Budapest Hotel

A closer look at…Whiplash

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

Whiplash-Movie-Images

The Scoop

Young jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is determined to be not only great, but ‘one of the greats’. He’s already studying at a top musical school, the Shaffer Conservatory, but what he really wants is to catch the attention of teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). He knows that if he’s accepted into Fletcher’s legendary studio band, his chances of a high-level musical career will be far greater.

But Fletcher is feared by his students as well as admired, and Andrew is about to find out why. Brutal and uncompromising, Fletcher will make Andrew cry, sweat and quite literally bleed in order to push him beyond his limits. Is this man a genius who knows that hard discipline is the only way to make great art? Or is he a bullying tyrant whose manipulative power games can only destroy his young protégé?

Continue reading A closer look at…Whiplash

A closer look at…Begin Again

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.

beginagain-share

Begin Again is rated 15 for strong language, sex references. The film is available to buy on DVD and on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Dave (Adam Levine) has just landed a music deal with a major record label in New York City. Gretta (Keira Knightley) travels with him to America, both as his girlfriend and his musical partner. Dave comes alive on the stage, whilst Gretta prefers to hide away writing songs. But when Dave becomes intoxicated with his newfound fame, he soon forgets Gretta. Alone in a foreign city she relies on the friendship of her entertaining pal Steve (James Corden) to distract her from her broken heart.

Meanwhile, Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is fired from his role at the record label that he co-founded. He has also been exiled from the house that he used to share with his wife Miriam (Catherine Keener) and teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). When he hears Gretta singing in a local bar, he is captivated by her simple, unpolished charm. He suggests that they collaborate, and the resulting album is a tribute to hope, friendship, and New York City.

Continue reading A closer look at…Begin Again

Film Blog preview: The Danish Girl

© Universal, 2015.
© Universal, 2015.

When’s it out? 1st January 2016

Who’s in it?  Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sebastian Koch

What’s the rating? 15, for sexualised scenes

Worth seeing? Yes, definitely

Watch out for… Issues around gender, sexuality, identity, and marriage. Key questions are what it means to be true to yourself, and how to love someone through times of change.

Continue reading Film Blog preview: The Danish Girl

A closer look at… The Lady in the Van

© Sony, 2015.
© Sony, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups.
The Lady in the Van is rated 12A for infrequent strong language.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A film with a big heart but not without bite,  The Lady in the Van is a funny and touching showcase for its leads.

In a Camden suburb, one person disrupts the comings and goings of the comfortable, middle-class residents. She is Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith), a chaotic force of nature whose personality is as overpowering as the smell inside the van where she lives. When playwright and actor Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) moves into the neighbourhood, he makes the mistake of offering her a little sympathy – and so begins a peculiar relationship which will span the next fifteen years.

To the bewilderment of everyone around him, Alan allows Miss Shepherd to park her van on his driveway, becoming a permanent part of his life. Is this a cynical attempt at getting material for his writing, a symptom of his guilt around his relationship with his mother (Gwen Taylor), or a genuine act of kindness? Alan isn’t sure. And whatever the truth, Miss Shepherd isn’t going anywhere.

I was looking after myself, Miss Shepherd only incidentally; kindness didn’t really come into it. – Alan Bennett

Continue reading A closer look at… The Lady in the Van