Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 30th November to 8th December 2016

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

Four new releases make it to local screens this period. There is adult comedy with Office Christmas Party (15), family animation in Moana (PG); fact based drama with Scully: Miracle on the Hudson (12A) and period drama in The Innocents (15).

Movies that have been dropped include Deepwater Horizon; Storks; The BFG; The Light Between Oceans and The Girl on the Train. In addition it looks like A Street Cat Named Bob is coming to the end of its screening. However by way of compensation, we see the return of Ice Age: Collision Course; Kubo and the Two Strings and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Drama this period comes with the forbidden romance A United Kingdom; wartime romance Allied; mystery in Nocturnal Animals; aviation near disaster with Scully: Miracle on the Hudson and the disturbing period piece The innocents. In addition there is science fiction with Arrival, super-helo action in Doctor Strange and family adventure in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them & Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Comedy on offer includes A Street Cat Named Bob; Bad Santa 2 and Office Christmas Party.

This period provides a good selection of family animation movies with ice Age: Collision Course; Kubo and the Two Strings; Moana; and Trolls.

Two films of note are Andrew Stones 1943 musical Stormy Weather and archive footage in Britain on Film: Railways.

High culture this period comes with the opera Teatro Alla Scala Live: Madame Butterfly. In addition the Dukes is providing the chance to see Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 classic The Passion of Joan of Arc. This is being screened at Lancaster Priory and comes with an original live score.

Reviews

A Street Cat Named Bob
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Luke Treadaway, Joanne Froggatt
Based on the best selling book of the same name, the movie tells the story of James Bowen (Treadaway) who is homeless and a recovering drug addict. He is relocated to a bedsit in North London and given a final chance to tun his life around by his support worker Val (Froggatt). Bowen struggles to live by busking in Covent Garden. One day a ginger cat finds him. The cat has an infected paw and James takes it for treatment. From then on the pair are inseparable. The movie is streetwise and serious but also manages to be humorous and silly. Treadaway gives a good performance, but the cat steals the show. An enjoyable if slightly soppy family feel-good film.

A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: David Oyelowo Rosamund Pike
Based on the book 'Colour Bar' by Susan Williams, the film is a romantic drama based on the real life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, king of Botswana and Ruth Williams. Seretse and Ruth met in London, in the 1940's, fell in love and subsequently married. However the marriage was opposed by their families, the couple becoming ostracised by their friends. Governments were also involved as South Africa had recently introduced their system of apartheid and they pressured the British government with threats of economic sanctions if the marriage was allowed to go ahead. This is a fine period romance with excellent costumes, impressive cinematography and exotic backdrops. The film concentrates on the human drama faced by the couple and rather glosses over the political complexities, but it is not the worse for that. The movie has received good reviews.

Bad Santa 2
Director: Mark Waters
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Brett Kelly
A sequel to the 2003 movie 'Bad Santa', starring many of the original cast. Wilie Soke (Thornton) again plays the role of drunk, lecherous and greedy anit-hero. He teams up with his helper Marcus (Cox) to attempt to rob a Chicago charity of $2 million on Christmas eve. Also involved in the scheme is Soke's foul mouthed mother Sunny (Bates) and 'the kid' from the first movie Thurmon Merman (Brett Kelly) now fully grown but no less innocent. The movie contains much bad language and sex scenes as it tries to recapture the magic of the original. However there are fewer 'laugh out loud' moments amongst the rather muddled plot. An average movie which received mixed reviews.

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Kikkelsen
Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) was a surgeon whose career was ruined by a car accident which crushed his hands. He learned of an Ancient One (Swinton) with healing powers and so travels to Nepal to seek out the mystic. Here Strange learns of the different dimensions, magic and becomes a warrior on the astral plane. Meanwhile a former disciple of the Ancient One Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) has turned to the dark side and is intent on invoking the malevolent Dormammu from his alien abode. Strange much choose between a life of fortune or to defend the earth from magical attack. Doctor Strange has made a very successful transition from comic to the screen and the movie provides a good plot with excellent acting and dialogue. Special effects are very convincing and the film is one of the better Marvel super-hero movies.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell
This is a Harry Potter prequel, inspired by J K Rowling's book of the same name. The movie is set in the 1920's, where Newt Scamander is a magizoologist, collecting and studying magical creatures. He visits New Your City where several of these creatures escape from his suitcase. He collects about him a group of allies to try to recapture the beasts. However New York at this time has been under a reign of terror from the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) and in the era of suspicion the creatures are believed to be responsible for an attack. Hence Percival Graves (Farrell), a director of magical secrets, declares war on Scamander and his helpers. This is a wonderful film and a fine tribute to the creativity of Rawlings. There are lots of plots, strange people and weird and wonderful beasts. The movie has received favourable reviews, but is perhaps a little darker than the Harry Potter series.

Ice Age: Collision Course
Director: Mike Thurmeier and Galen T Chu
Cast includes: Simon Pegg, Roy Romano, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Hohn Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Chris Wedge
A computer animation family adventure film. This is the fifth instalment in the Ice Age series and the sequel to Continental Drift. Scratt (Wedge), the sabre toothed squirrel, activates an alien UFO in his continued pursuit of the acorn. The craft propels Scratt into outer space and thence causes a planetary collision resulting in the creation of meteors that threaten to engulf the earth. Manny (Romero) the Wooly Mammoth, Sid (Leguizamo) the sloth and Diego (Leary) the sabre toothed tiger hatch a plan with the weasel Buck (Pegg) to save the earth. The plot is quite unbelievable, but the resulting mayhem is as entertaining as ever. New characters are introduced as the movie unfolds and the film a worthy addition to the franchise. Whats not to like?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Samuel L Jackson, Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench
A rather dark fantasy drama based on the 2011 best selling novel by Ransom Riggs. Jake (Butterfield), following the death of his grandfather, finds Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. This is a refuge for people with extraordinary gifts and it is fixed in one day in 1940, which they continually re-live. The inhabitants of the home can access different time zones. However they have powerful enemies, led by Mr Barron (Jackson), who also have peculiar powers. Jake finds himself being called upon to help his new friends. This is a very busy film with plenty of characters, lots of action and CGI special effects. However, in this variety, there seems limited time for the characters to fully develop. The movie has received mixed reviews but this reviewer found it great fun.

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

'Left Behind' City Museum Exhibition captures abandoned Moor Hospital


'Left Behind: Capturing the Moor Hospital’ is an exhibition by Nick Dagger Photography at Lancaster City Museum. It showcases Lancaster’s abandoned 19th Century psychiatric hospital, the first asylum in Lancashire. This project sets the scene of what was left behind after closing its doors in 2000 and before the complex was given a new lease of life and redeveloped as luxury homes in 2013.

The exhibition will run from Friday 2nd December 2016 to Sunday 19th February 2017. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm and entry is free. Lancaster Arts City's event 'First Fridays' will be hosting an exclusive lunchtime preview from noon on Friday 2nd December, with a special Meet the Artist session and a unique photographic workshop from 12.30-1.30pm.

Natalie Mullen, a PHd student at Lancaster University is also hosting a talk entitled 'Coping with Confinement: Patient Experience in Lancashire County Asylum' at the exhibition on Friday 9th December from 1 - 2pm.

Alongside the haunting and powerful images, the exhibition will also display historical artifacts from the Moor Hospital, a collection provided by Lancashire County Council. The Council's cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, County Councillor Marcus Johnstone said: "I'm sure these photographs will be very evocative for Lancaster residents who remember this landmark building.

“The site has now been given a new lease of life, and so this exhibition provides a great opportunity to take a look at some very poignant images to discover some of the history of the building by what remained. I'm sure that the uniqueness and atmosphere of the building will be sensed from the photographs."

Nick Dagger said, "As a Lancastrian born and bred, it is such an honour to be working with Lancaster City Museum on this project and to have the opportunity to display this exhibition in the heart of my home city. The Moor Hospital is an iconic building in our city of heritage and for as long as I can remember I have always wondered what lay within.”

“With the support of The Chamber North Lancashire, Lancaster Arts City, The Bay and Lancaster BID, the aim of this exhibition is to invite the curious Lancaster public and its visitors in to the city to look behind the curtains of this once secretive and intriguing building.”

Explore the Moor Hospital for the first time at Lancaster City Museum and let the images take you on a journey of discovery into the history of what was left behind.

For more information on this exhibition and see other work by Nick Dagger Photography, visit www.nickdaggerphotography.com/events

Winter Warmer Food, Music & Crafts Festival this Saturday at St Thoms

It’s the busiest shopping day of the year this Saturday and you may already be dreading the thought of trudging round in the cold. But fear not, there’s a way to warm up, re-energise, pick up some unique gifts and even make a positive difference while you’re at it.

Lancaster Winter Warmer, which will run 11am-7pm on 3rd December at St Thomas’ Church, promises all this and more. What better way to warm your cockles than with some delicious freshly prepared Pakistani curries and GoBurritos, some moving music from the Millennium Choir and other local artists, and some authentic Middle Eastern coffee and desserts courtesy of our refugee community. There will be plenty of crafting and making activities to occupy the kids too, so it all adds up to a welcome break.

It’s free in; just make a charitable donation to the nominated charities for the event: Lancaster District Homeless Action Service and Filoxenia International, a charity providing safe, longer-term solutions for the most vulnerable living in Greek refugee camps.

Local resident and organiser, Charlotte Stuart, explains, “As winter beds in and the cold bites, it’s easy to forget the most vulnerable, yet there are so many ways a little giving can make a huge difference. We wanted to put together an one-day mini festival that would inform, inspire, entertain and enliven anyone who dropped in for a break while they are shopping in Lancaster.”

Charlotte is not working alone. She’s recruited the goodwill and generosity of colleagues, friends and family – all members of Lancaster & Morecambe City of Sanctuary, East meets West, Lancaster University and Students Union, Lancaster People’s Cafe and various other community organisations – who want to lend a helping hand and put on an event to warm hands, hearts and stomachs!

More details can be found on the Facebook page for ‘Lancaster Winter Warmer’.



Thursday, 24 November 2016

Former Corrie star makes The Dukes a port of call for special maritime heritage project

Julie Hesmondhalgh
A former Coronation Street favourite is among a cast bringing Lancaster’s maritime heritage to life in audio dramas launched on Friday 2nd December.

Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley Cropper in the popular soap, joins seven other actors in Port Stories, an exciting new Dukes project which recently received Heritage Lottery Fund support.

Four unique audio dramas have been produced using the talents of celebrated historians and awardwinning writers.

The dramas are embedded at historic sites mainly around St George’s Quay and Castle Park in Lancaster and from Friday 2nd December, a map will be available to download from the Dukes web site to experience a walking tour with a difference.

Although it’s recommended to enjoy these dramas as a journey around Lancaster’s heritage sites, they can also be listened to at home, streamed from The Dukes website.

Julie performs in a drama called Black Mary, based on a local legend at the time of Lancaster’s slave trade. It’s about a family who apparently kept the hand of one of their slaves to pass down through the generations.

The slave trade is also the background to A History of Violence (age guidance 14 plus). This drama, also by James Harker, is best heard at the Slavery Memorial on St George’s Quay and explains how slavery continued to have a lasting impact on British society long after it was abolished.

The final two audio dramas are 1698 Parts 1 & 2 by May Sumbwanyambe which are based on the autobiography of well known Lancastrian Quaker William Stout, who went from shopkeeping to international trade. David Crellin, who recently appeared in The Dukes production of The Ockerbys on Ice, plays Stout.

Image courtesy Lancaster Maritime Musuem
The Port Stories audio dramas will be officially launched at 1.00pm on Friday 2nd December in the Print Room Café and Bar at The Storey where visitors can find out more and get instructions on how to take part. At 6.00pm, hear first-hand from the creative team and historians at the talkback event in The Storey Lecture Theatre.

Port Stories has involved professional historians Sam Riches, Andrew White, Mike Winstanley and community historians, including some from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. Local schools are also creating learning resources for Key Stage 2 and 3 and all material will be deposited with Lancashire Archives.

The project also aims to increase awareness of the importance of Lancaster’s built heritage and museum collections at a time when the county’s museums are under threat.

Port Stories is a Dukes led partnership with the Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster Museums Service and Global Link.

• The Port Stories community programme runs until March 2017. If you would like to get involved, email portstories.dukes@gmail.com

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 23rd November to 1st December 2016

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

We have four new releases featured in local cinemas during this period. There is romantic drama based on real life events in A United Kingdom (12A) and wartime romance in Allied (15). In addition there are the tribulations of divorce in the French film After Love (12A) and finally a suspense mystery in Nocturnal Animals (15).

Movies that have vanished from our screens include I, Daniel Blake; Jack Reacher: Never Go Back; Pete's Dragon and The Accountant. In addition the family movie Storks and the love story The Light Between Oceans are coming to an end of their screening.

Movies that have returned to the region include the family favourite Finding Dory and the musical documentary Nick Cave: One More Time with Feeling.

Drama is represented this period with the fact based Deepwater Horizon; the science fiction Arrival and the two mysteries Nocturnal Animals and The Girl on the Train. Romance comes with A United Kingdon; Allies and The Light Between Oceans.

There are two Fantasy films on offer; superhero action in Doctor Strange and the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

For comedy there is feel good action in A Street Cat Named Bob and the adult themed Bad Santa 2.

Finally family films on offer over this period include Finding Dory; Storks; The BFG; Trolls and Your Name. Also there is the musical extravaganza Andre Rieu: Christmas with Andre.

There is no film in the category of high culture, but we do have the Louis Theroux documentary My Scientology Movie.

Reviews

A Street Cat Named Bob
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Luke Treadaway, Joanne Froggatt
Based on the best selling book of the same name, the movie tells the story of James Bowen (Treadaway) who is homeless and a recovering drug addict. He is relocated to a bedsit in North London and given a final chance to tun his life around by his support worker Val (Froggatt). Bowen struggles to live by busking in Covent Garden. One day a ginger cat finds him. The cat has an infected paw and James takes it for treatment. From then on the pair are inseparable. The movie is streetwise and serious but also manages to be humorous and silly. Treadaway gives a good performance, but the cat steals the show. An enjoyable if slightly soppy family feel-good film.

A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: David Oyelowo Rosamund Pike
Based on the book 'Colour Bar' by Susan Williams, the film is a romantic drama based on the real life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, king of Botswana and Ruth Williams. Seretse and Ruth met in London, in the 1940's, fell in love and subsequently married. However the marriage was opposed by their families, the couple becoming ostracised by their friends. Governments were also involved as South Africa had recently introduced their system of apartheid and they pressured the British government with threats of economic sanctions if the marriage was allowed to go ahead. This is a fine period romance with excellent costumes, impressive cinematography and exotic backdrops. The film concentrates on the human drama faced by the couple and rather glosses over the political complexities, but it is not the worse for that. The movie has received good reviews.

Bad Santa 2
Director: Mark Waters
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates, Brett Kelly
A sequel to the 2003 movie 'Bad Santa', starring many of the original cast. Wilie Soke (Thornton) again plays the role of drunk, lecherous and greedy anit-hero. He teams up with his helper Marcus (Cox) to attempt to rob a Chicago charity of $2 million on Christmas eve. Also involved in the scheme is Soke's foul mouthed mother Sunny (Bates) and 'the kid' from the first movie Thurmon Merman (Brett Kelly) now fully grown but no less innocent. The movie contains much bad language and sex scenes as it tries to recapture the magic of the original. However there are fewer 'laugh out loud' moments amongst the rather muddled plot. An average movie which received mixed reviews.

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Kikkelsen
Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) was a surgeon whose career was ruined by a car accident which crushed his hands. He learned of an Ancient One (Swinton) with healing powers and so travels to Nepal to seek out the mystic. Here Strange learns of the different dimensions, magic and becomes a warrior on the astral plane. Meanwhile a former disciple of the Ancient One Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) has turned to the dark side and is intent on invoking the malevolent Dormammu from his alien abode. Strange much choose between a life of fortune or to defend the earth from magical attack. Doctor Strange has made a very successful transition from comic to the screen and the movie provides a good plot with excellent acting and dialogue. Special effects are very convincing and the film is one of the better Marvel super-hero movies.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell
This is a Harry Potter prequel, inspired by J K Rowling's book of the same name. The movie is set in the 1920's, where Newt Scamander is a magizoologist, collecting and studying magical creatures. He visits New Your City where several of these creatures escape from his suitcase. He collects about him a group of allies to try to recapture the beasts. However New York at this time has been under a reign of terror from the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) and in the era of suspicion the creatures are believed to be responsible for an attack. Hence Percival Graves (Farrell), a director of magical secrets, declares war on Scamander and his helpers. This is a wonderful film and a fine tribute to the creativity of Rawlings. There are lots of plots, strange people and weird and wonderful beasts. The movie has received favourable reviews, but is perhaps a little darker than the Harry Potter series.

Finding Dory
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence
Pixar's sequel to the 2003 movie 'Finding Nemo'. Dory (DeGeneres), who helped reunite Nemo (Rolence) with his father Marlin (Brooks) in the first movie, has a flashback in which she remembers her own family. She decides to look for them despite her problems with a faulty memory. Marlin and Nemo agree to help and the three swim to California to start the search. Dory is caught and held in a marine life institute aquarium for shipping to Cleveland. However with the help of Hank (O'Neill), the octopus she escapes back to the ocean and finds her parents Charlie and Jenny. Now she has to come to the aid of Marlin and Nemo who are also imprisoned in the institute aquarium. The movie is essentially the same plot as the original, but provides impressive animation and contains some emotional scenes. However this is ultimately a fun 'happy ever after' sort of film that will delight people of all ages.

Storks
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Kelsey Grammer, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman
Conerstone used to be in the business of delivering babies and most of its employees are stalks. However CEO stalk Hunter (Grammer) discontinued the service for the more lucrative business of delivering parcels. The business receives a letter from Nate (Starkman) a neglected boy who wants a baby brother and Tulip (Crown), a woman working for Cornerstone, causes the baby machine to create a girl in response to the letter. Now Tulip and her stork friend Junior (Samberg) must deliver the baby before Hunter finds out. This involves their facing a pack of wolves, militant penguins and an avalanche. This is a bizarre, non stop and fun packed movie that will appeal to all ages. It has been well received by the critics and is sure to please.

The Girl on the Train
Director: Tate Taylor
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Justin Theroux
A movie based on Paula Hawkins best selling 2015 novel of the same name. Rachel (Blunt) is an alcoholic who recently divorced her husband Tom (Theroux). She commutes every day by train and on her journey she fantasises about the seemingly perfect couple Scott (Evans) and Megan (Bennett) Hipwell who live in a house that she passes. Rachel witnesses something shocking on her journey and then hears Megan Hipwell is missing. She tells the police and starts her own investigation. Yet she cannot remember where where she was on the night of Megan's disappearance, and Megan and Scott are neighbours of her ex husband. Hence Rachel find the police start to suspect she is involved in the mystery. This is a well acted first rate mystery with a plot that provides a good number of unexpected turns. A must-see movie.