A closer look at…Slow West

Hey, it’s a new Film Blog feature!  I’ll now also be covering films which have recently been released on Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, or other popular on-demand services, or on DVD. This way, you can host a film club evening from the comfort of your own home, or catch up on hidden gems you might have missed the first time around.


Slow West is rated 15 for strong violence. Available on DVD and Netflix.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop  An odd, atmospheric arthouse Western with a few surprises up its sleeve

Young Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has travelled all the way from Scotland to the American frontier to find the girl he loves: Rose (Caren Pistorius), who fled there with her father under shady circumstances. A helpless idealist in a country of hard, cynical men, Jay looks set to meet a violent end, and soon.

He is rescued by Silas (Michael Fassbender), who offers to protect him on his journey in exchange for money. But unbeknownst to Jay, Silas is hoping to kill Rose and her father and claim the bounty on their heads.

Continue reading A closer look at…Slow West

A closer look at… Carol

© StudioCanal, 2015.
© StudioCanal, 2015.

Carol is rated 15 for infrequent strong sex.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A sweeping and beautifully designed 1950s love story

Therese Belevit (Rooney Mara), a wide-eyed New York shopgirl, is captivated by her first glimpse of a glamorous older customer in a fur coat. When Carol (Cate Blanchett) leaves her gloves behind in the store, Therese returns them, and the two women begin spending time together. Though neither of them quite has the words to convey it, they are drawn together by a powerful attraction.

Carol is divorcing her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), but he is still possessive of her. When he finds out about Therese, he threatens Carol with legal action that would block her from seeing their young daughter.

Continue reading A closer look at… Carol

A closer look at… Brooklyn


© Lionsgate, 2015.
© Lionsgate, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. Brooklyn is rated 12A for infrequent strong language, moderate sex.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop a sweet-natured, old-fashioned love story that’s bound to charm.

A big change is coming for small-town Irish girl Eilis (Saoirse Ronan). Concerned about the lack of opportunities for her at home, her older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) has arranged for her to emigrate to Brooklyn, New York. One rather rough voyage later and Eilis is walking through the famed checkpoint at Ellis Island, into her new life.

At first all she can think about is how much she misses home. But with the encouragement of kindly priest Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), and of the community of women in the boarding house where she stays, Eilis gains confidence. When she meets a kind, funny Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen) she begins to fall in love both with him and with Brooklyn.

Just when she’s beginning to think of America as her home, Eilis gets some shattering news from Ireland. She will need to decide, once and for all, where she really belongs.

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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

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.

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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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 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…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 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… Her

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


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…Frozen

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


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).