A closer look at… The Railway Man

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The Scoop

Reserved, eccentric Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) loves trains. He spends his time train-spotting at stations, and curating his collection of timetables. It’s when travelling on a train that he meets Patti (Nicole Kidman), a beautiful woman who isn’t put off by his shyness. One whirlwind romance later, and the two are married.

But Eric has a secret, and as they settle into their life together, Patti discovers that he’s a haunted man. He’s dogged by horrifying nightmares and flashbacks, and though he won’t tell her what’s wrong, his friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgård) agrees to reveal the truth. As young men, they were taken prisoner during the Second World War and forced to work on the notorious Thai-Burma railway.

The young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) and his friends secretly built a radio in the prison camp, and were caught in the act by their Japanese captors. What followed would leave Eric with deep physical and emotional scars – including an enduring hatred for a man called Nagase (Tanroh Ishida/Hiroyuki Sanada). Can Patti help Eric to untangle the pain of the past, and find some kind of peace?

Continue reading A closer look at… The Railway Man

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… A Most Violent Year

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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A Most Violent Year is rated 15 for very strong language, strong violence. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

New York, 1981 – the most violent year in the city’s history. Immigrant businessman Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) and his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) are trying to expand their heating oil company, but a DA agent (David Oyelowo) is investigating their dealings. To add to their troubles, the Morales’ trucks keep being hijacked at gunpoint by anonymous goons. Not only is the company losing money, but the drivers – including Julian (Elyes Gabel), who lands in hospital after a savage beating – are becoming too afraid to work.

Though Abel suspects that one of his competitors is behind the attacks, he’s determined to behave honourably, and not resort to violent tactics in return. Anna, whose father and brother are in the mob, has other ideas. How far will each of them go in order to protect what they’ve built?

Continue reading A closer look at… A Most Violent Year

A closer look at… Foxcatcher

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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Foxcatcher is rated 15 for drug use, brief strong violence. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

The glory of winning an Olympic gold medal has had little bearing on the everyday life of wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). He lives alone, surviving on pot noodles and video games, earning a pittance giving motivational talks to disinterested schoolchildren. The only meaning in his life seems to come from training, which he does under the supervision of his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), an affable family man whose own sporting achievements overshadow Mark’s.

Then from out of the blue, Mark is contacted by billionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell).  The philanthropist and wrestling enthusiast has built an expensive private training facility on his estate at Foxcatcher Farms, and wants the Schultz brothers to come and train there for the World championship. Dave doesn’t want to uproot his family, but Mark has nothing to lose, and is soon living at Foxcatcher under the wing of the seemingly benevolent du Pont.

The relationship between the two lonely men grows increasingly strange, as Mark yearns for the father figure he never had, and du Pont tries to impress his distant mother (Vanessa Redgrave).  When Dave finally agrees to come to Foxcatcher, the ensuing power struggle will lead to tragedy.

Continue reading A closer look at… Foxcatcher

A closer look at…High-Rise

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High-Rise is rated 15 for strong violence, sex, very strong language

The Scoop Stylish, gripping, possessed of a powerful nasty streak, High-Rise is not for the fainthearted.

Handsome, inscrutable Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston) moves into an apartment in a newly built high-rise block. The tower has every amenity, from a gym to a swimming pool and supermarket. He meets people from the floors below him – Wilder (Luke Evans) and his pregnant wife Helen (Elizabeth Moss) – and from the better-appointed floors above, including Charlotte (Sienna Miller) and the building’s penthouse-dwelling architect, Royal (Jeremy Irons).

Something is wrong in the tower. The extravagant lifestyles of those on the upper floors lead to simmering resentments beneath, spilling over into violence and anarchy. The thin veneer of civilisation will be peeled back to reveal the horrors beneath.

Continue reading A closer look at…High-Rise

A closer look at… The Revenant

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

The Revenant is rated 15 for strong violence, bloody injury detail, strong language

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – Bleak, brutal and often beautiful, The Revenant makes for a gruelling cinema experience.

In the wilderness of nineteenth century America, fur-trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) ekes out a living for himself and his half-Pawnee son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck). While their hunting party is on the run from hostile natives, Glass is badly wounded in a bear attack. Though Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) attempts to save him, unscrupulous Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) believes it’s best to just let Glass die.

As Glass teeters on the boundary between life and death, Fitzgerald does something unforgivable. And Glass will get revenge, even if it means clawing his way out of his own grave.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Revenant

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.

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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… 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