‘A Long-Awaited Reckoning’: Hollywood after Weinstein

On 5th October, New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story detailing decades of sexual harrassment allegations against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. This predatory behaviour had been part of the rumour mill for years, but previous attempts to publish anything substantial had fallen foul of Weinstein’s far-reaching influence.

This article went off in Hollywood like a bomb. Within days, Weinstein had been sacked, and more women were coming forward. On 10th October, the New Yorker published a piece by journalist Ronan Farrow accusing Weinstein of many more counts of sexual harassment and assault. High-profile actresses like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow joined the chorus.

The New Yorker

And it didn’t stop there. Emboldened, women – and men – across the entertainment industry spoke about their own experiences of being sexually harassed, assaulted and intimated at work. Their stories implicated Kevin Spacey,  Steven Segal, producer Brett Ratner, comedian Louis CK, and many more. They lifted a lid on a toxic culture where powerful men feel entitled to do whatever they want, without fearing consequences.

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A closer look at… In a World

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The Scoop 

Carol (Lake Bell) is an aspiring voiceover artist who’s grown up in the shadow of her father, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), an industry icon. Sam belittles her career chances as a woman in the voiceover world, preferring to encourage male protégé Gustav (Ken Marino). She’s also at odds with her father for other reasons, resenting his young girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden), who seems to represent the kind of ‘baby-voiced’ femininity Carol hates.

When Jamie moves in and Carol is kicked out of Sam’s house, she moves in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry), who are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Trying to keep things together in her personal life whilst pushing ahead professionally, Carol must find a way to make her voice heard.

Continue reading A closer look at… In a World

Going Native

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Three countries. Three teenagers. One average, life-altering day.

Natives is a new play currently on at the Southwark Playhouse in London. We’re used to working with film companies, but we were intrigued when Boundless Theatre, the company behind Natives, asked us if we’d consider creating resources for school groups based on the play.

I loved Glenn Waldron’s script, which takes an empathic and generous stance towards its teen protagonists. It sensitively explores what it means to be a ‘digital native’ – the quest for popularity, the warped intimacy,  the intrusions of violence, the potential for real connection. There was plenty to bite into when it came to putting together this worksheet for GCSE and A-Level drama groups.

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A few of us from the Damaris Media team were lucky enough to see Natives in performance earlier this week. The production – which stars Ella Purnell, Fionn Whitehead and Manish Gandhi – has already been getting rave reviews from the likes of The Guardian, The Metro and Theatre Full Stop, and it definitely lives up to all of this hype.

The action plaScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 15.24.41ys out in a small, intimate performance space, on a mostly bare stage which is illuminated by digital projections. It’s up to the three young leads to carry the story, which concerns three teenagers in different parts of the globe who must wrestle with the intersection between their digital lives and their ‘real’ ones. All three are excellent, but Purnell is the standout – recognisable from film roles in the likes of Never Let Me Go and Maleficent, she has a charismatic presence, funny, sharp and poignant by turns.

The 90-minute running time zips past, building to a powerful finale which posits a tentative hope for the future of the digital generation. That’s what’s so refreshing about Natives: it isn’t a critique of young people so much as the older generation who have bequeathed them a broken world.

‘Where are the grown-ups to do something, where are the grown-ups in this story?’

The play will hopefully have a long life both in performance (Boundless are planning to tour it) and in the classroom, where it could inspire teenagers to recognise the world-changing power they hold in their hands.

Find out more and book tickets

29 Mar – 22 Apr 2017  
By Glenn Waldron
Directed by Rob Drummer
At Southwark Playhouse

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… Nightcrawler

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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Nightcrawler is rated 15 for strong bloody crime scene detail, strong language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is ready to try his hand at anything. Full of self-improvement aphorisms and entirely empty of scruples, he stumbles across the Los Angeles underworld of ‘nightcrawling’: following police-radio tipoffs to incident sites, and filming the grim aftermath. The resulting footage can be sold to cable news stations, who have no qualms about broadcasting images of car wrecks or bleeding shootout victims. If it pulls in viewers, it runs – or as Lou’s fellow nightcrawler Joe (Bill Paxton) puts it, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’

As Lou’s fledgling business grows, he develops a symbiotic relationship with news director Nina (Rene Russo), who’s every bit as ruthless as he is, and an uneven partnership with ‘intern’ Rick (Riz Ahmed), a young man too desperate for money to say no. Just how far is Lou willing to go in pursuit of the success he craves? And who will end up paying the price?

Continue reading A closer look at… Nightcrawler

A closer look at… Spotlight

© Entertainment One, 2016.
© Entertainment One, 2016.

Spotlight is rated 15 for child sexual abuse references

The Scoop – An intelligent drama which manages to be both restrained and powerful.

It’s 2001, and the Spotlight investigative team at the Boston Globe are looking for their next big story. They’re dubious when their new boss, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), asks them to dig deeper into a case involving an abusive priest, John Geoghan. The documents are all legally sealed, and any attempt to access them will be viewed by the Church as a hostile move. In a city where Catholicism is part of everybody’s life, the Globe doesn’t want to alienate its readers.

But when journalists ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaten), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) start asking questions, they realise that Geoghan is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only are there more abusive priests in Boston than anybody had guessed, but the cover-up encompasses powerful figures from the Church and across the city.

Shining a light into this story will involve not only confronting the painful experiences of the many victims, but also coming to terms with the shocking complicity of everyone involved.

Continue reading A closer look at… Spotlight

A closer look at… The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

© Lionsgate, 2015.
© Lionsgate, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is rated 12A for moderate violence, threat.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A sometimes meandering but ultimately satisfying send-off for Katniss Everdeen and a game-changing blockbuster series.

After the events of Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is sick of being a pawn in somebody else’s plan. Both her mortal enemy President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and her supposed ally President Coin (Julianne Moore) are looking to use her for their own ends. But Katniss has other ideas.

As an alliance of rebels gets ready to storm the Capitol and overthrow Snow’s oppressive government, she hatches a plan to face him on her own terms. But with her old friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) growing increasingly warlike and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) struggling to get his sanity back, Katniss can trust nobody but herself.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

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.

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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.

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