A closer look at… La La Land

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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?

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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.

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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

A closer look at…Saving Mr Banks

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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Saving Mr Banks is rated PG for scenes of emotional upset. The film is available to buy on DVD and to stream on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Author P.L Travers (Emma Thompson) is in dire financial straits. Her Mary Poppins books are beloved by readers young and old, but since she’s resolved not to write another, her income has dried up. She does have a single remaining option – but it’s one she’s been resisting for years. She could sign on the dotted line, and let filmmaking maestro Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) adapt her stories for the screen.

Without concealing her reluctance, Travers finally agrees to travel to LA from her London home and meet with Disney. Outspoken and unbending, it’s not long before she’s making mincemeat of his creative team, producer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman (B.J Novak and Jason Schwartzman). She is determined that Mary Poppins will not be Americanised in any way, and that the film will feature neither singing nor animation. The immovable object of her willpower is about to meet the unstoppable force of Disney’s persuasive charm.

But in the course of their clash, he will discover that there’s more to Travers than mere stubbornness. The waspish author was once a little girl called Helen Goff (Annie Rose), whose relationship with her adored but troubled father Travers (Colin Farrell) would shape her future life and work.

Continue reading A closer look at…Saving Mr Banks

A closer look at…The Lego Movie

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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This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. children  The Lego Movie is rated U, contains mild fantasy violence and very mild language. The film is available to buy on DVD, and to stream on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Emmett (Chris Pratt) couldn’t be happier. A construction worker in a seemingly utopian Lego world, he knows his place. He sings along to ‘Everything Is Awesome’, everybody’s favourite pop song; buys coffee from everybody’s favourite overpriced coffee shop; and watches ‘Where Are My Pants?’, everybody’s favourite sitcom.

But then, a chance encounter with freedom fighter Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) changes everything. She believes that Emmett is The Special, prophecied by the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) to be ‘the greatest, most talented, most interesting, most important person of all time’. In the fight against Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a dictator with evil designs on the whole Lego universe, they will need all the allies they can get – including Wyldstyle’s arrogant boyfriend, Batman (Will Arnett).

If Emmett wants to live up to the prophecy, bring down Lord Business and win Wyldstyle’s heart, he’ll have to break with the instructions and get creative.

Continue reading A closer look at…The Lego Movie

A closer look at… Joy

© 20th Century Fox, 2016.
© 20th Century Fox, 2016.

Joy is rated 12 for infrequent strong language

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop –  Though not as riotously entertaining as David O. Russel’s best work, Joy nevertheless provides a great showcase for Jennifer Lawrence as a truly inspirational woman.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) was a creative, vivacious, high-achieving child. But somewhere along the line, life stole her spark. Her parents’ divorce, a failed marriage to Tony (Edgar Ramirez), caring for two children, trying to hold down a job, and managing the chaos that her mother (Virginia Madsen), father (Robert De Niro) and half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) throw her way, have all caused Joy to sideline her own dreams.

Her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) is determined to see Joy rise and take her place as matriarch and provider for the family. And when Joy hits on an ingenious design for a self-wringing mop, it could be the key to unleashing her buried potential.

Continue reading A closer look at… Joy

A closer look at… Steve Jobs

 

© Universal, 2015.
© Universal, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. Steve Jobs is rated 15 for strong language.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A snappy, pacy drama that’s got far more to offer than just surface gloss

Three different years: 1984, 1988, 1998. Three different product launches. Behind the scenes, self-described tech genius Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) gets ready to wow the world.

He argues – with everyone. With his right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the only person who isn’t intimidated by him. With Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), who wants Jobs to publicly recognise the contributions of others. With his old boss and father figure John Sculley (Jeff Daniels). With Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), who is struggling to convince him that her daughter Lisa (Makenzie Moss/Ripley Sobo/Perla Haney-Jardine) is his. And eventually, with Lisa herself, as she takes him to task for all of his personal failings.

Continue reading A closer look at… Steve Jobs

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.

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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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