A closer look at… The Big Sick

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The Scoop

When stand-up comedian Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is heckled by graduate student Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his shows, it leads to a flirtation, which leads to a one-night stand – and then, unexpectedly, to something more serious. But their blossoming relationship is about to hit two major roadblocks.

The first is Kumail’s parents, first-generation Pakistani immigrants who dote on their son but are determined that he will have a traditional arranged marriage. And the second is a mysterious illness which lands Emily in hospital, in a medically induced coma. As he waits anxiously by her side and wrestles with his doubts about their relationship, Kumail forms a bond with her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) which will change everything.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Big Sick

A closer look at…Effie Gray

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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… Before I Go To Sleep

This guide comes from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.
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The Scoop

Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up every morning remembering nothing. Gradually, she pieces things together. Her walls are plastered with photos of her wedding day to help her remember that she is married to Ben (Colin Firth), the man she finds lying next to her in bed. Every drawer is labelled to help her find her clothes and downstairs is a list of her allergies, hobbies and interests. She spends her days working out who she is and simply passing the time until she goes back to sleep and forgets the day’s events all over again.

Her condition is a result of a traumatic accident that she suffered fourteen years ago and which, of course, she cannot remember. Unbeknown to Ben, she has begun a course of treatment with Dr Nash (Mark Strong) in an attempt to help her recall what really happened. He encourages her to keep a video diary of her daily experiences and soon she is beginning to question everything around her. Can she really trust the secretive Dr Nash? What about Ben, who claims to keep certain things hidden from her for the good of their marriage? Or are her concerns simply the products of a paranoid mind?

Continue reading A closer look at… Before I Go To Sleep

A closer look at… Despicable Me 2

This guide comes from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

Despicable Me 2 Movie

The Scoop

The once ill-tempered super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) has given up a life of crime in order to care for his boisterous adopted daughters, Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove). However, when someone steals a secret Arctic laboratory using a giant magnet, The Anti-Villain League (AVL) recruit Gru to help them find the thief. He is put to work alongside perky undercover AVL agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and finds himself hiding out in a bakery at The Paradise Shopping Mall.

Life at home is just as eventful. Gru’s assistant Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) has decided that he misses being evil and is leaving for a new job. Margo has fallen for the handsome young Antonio (Moisés Arias). Agnes must recite a poem about mothers in the school performance, but really she longs for a mother of her own. To top it all, Gru’s minions keep going missing. But most despicable of all, everyone seems insistent on helping Gru to fall in love…

Continue reading A closer look at… Despicable Me 2

A closer look at… Loving

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The Scoop

Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) are young, in love and expecting a baby. The year is 1958: because Richard is white and Mildred is black, a marriage between them will be illegal in their home state of Virginia. In order to get married, they will have to cross state lines.

After a small ceremony in Washington they return to live quietly in the town of Central Point. But though their own rural community is relatively integrated, the state authorities have got wind of their relationship, leading to the couple being arrested after a night-time raid on their home. In order to avoid prison time, they must accept a 25-year banishment from the state of Virginia, meaning a separation from family and friends.

As the years pass and their children grow up in the city, Mildred in particular misses her home, and begins to wonder if anything can be done to overturn the ruling. A phone call from the American Civil Liberties Union ignites her hope – setting this unassuming couple on the path to changing history.

Continue reading A closer look at… Loving

A closer look at… What We Did On Our Holiday

This guide is from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.

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What We Did On Our Holiday is rated 12A for moderate bad language, discriminatory language, moderate sex references

The Scoop

The McLeod family are setting off on a holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Surprising, given that parents Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) are about to get a divorce. They have been living in separate houses – they fight constantly – and so the idea to take a trip together seems bound to end in tears. However, they have all promised not to talk about the imminent separation during the holiday.

It’s because they are planning to visit Doug’s father Gordie (Billy Connolly) to celebrate his birthday. Gordie is suffering from cancer and they are desperate not to upset him. However, the presence of Doug’s obnoxious brother Gavin (Ben Miller), his depressed wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) and their nerdy son Kenneth (Lewis Davie) inevitably makes things even more difficult. Indeed, it is not long before they discover that various family members are keeping even more unexpected secrets.

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A closer look at…45 Years

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© Curzon Artificial Eye, 2015

45 Years is rated 15 for strong language, sex. Available on DVD or to rent or buy on Amazon Instant Video.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A slow-moving, low-key drama with powerful emotions below the surface

Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are approaching their 45th wedding anniversary. Amid the gentle rhythms of everyday life and the last-minute party preparations, an unexpected piece of news arrives. The body of Geoff’s former girlfriend Katya, who died many years ago in a skiing accident, has been found perfectly preserved inside a Swiss glacier.

As Geoff withdraws, brooding over what might have been, Kate begins to crumble: what do the celebrations mean now that her whole lifetime with Geoff has been cast in a different light? Over the course of a few days in the run-up to their anniversary, both are shocked to find their marriage shaken to its foundations.

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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… 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… Suffragette

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© Pathe, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. Suffragette is rated 12A for infrequent strong language, moderate violence, a scene of force-feeding.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A powerful account of an essential chapter in history

Maud (Carey Mulligan) is a dutiful wife to Sonny (Ben Wishaw) and a loving mother to their young son George (Adam Michael Dodd). Her laundry job is back-breaking, and she barely has it in her to question why she is paid less than the men who work there, or why her supervisor routinely gets away with sexually assaulting the women in his charge.

When her friend Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) introduces her to the Suffragette movement, Maud’s frustration finally finds an outlet. Cautious at first, she is soon influenced by women such as Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter), Emily Wilding Davison (Natalie Press) and the movement’s outlaw leader Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep).

Maud is about to learn how much it will cost her to be a revolutionary. But the more she loses, the bolder she becomes.

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