Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 22nd to 30th October 2014 by Peter Clarke

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.

This is an excellent period for movies with seven new releases. Also we have a particularly full programme showing at the Vue. New releases bring family animation with The Book of Life (U), My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks and The Snow Queen (U). There is music with McBusted - Tourplay (12A). We have Disney adventure with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (PG) and comedy drama with This is Where I Leave You (15). Finally we have the supernatural thriller Horns (15).

Films making a welcome return to the screen are Frozen Sing-A-Long and Planes 2: Fire & Rescue. However, this period brings the lost of Lucy, The Equalizer and The Hundred-Foot Journey.

High culture is particularly well represented with The Royal Opera House: I due Foscari, Ballet with The Legend of Love and National Theatre Frankenstein and A Streetcar Named Desire. Also of note is the showing of Woody Allen's latest movie Magic in the Moonlight (12A).


Director: John R Leonetti
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard
The film is set in California in the 1960's where a young couple move into their new home. The wife Mia (Wallis) is pregnant and has a hobby of collecting dolls. The husband John (Horton) is a medical student and he gives a creepy pigtailed doll to Mia to add to her collection. Yet the doll is possessed and with its acquisition comes a series of disturbances including slamming doors and the malfunctions of an elevator. Mia gives birth and the newborn is also threatened by these disturbances. The film is the prequel to 'The Conjuring' but was shot with limited budget. It borrows heavily from other horror movies and comes complete with cookie neighbour and helpful priest. However despite a rather stilted dialogue and lack of originality, it successfully builds suspense to become quite an effective horror movie.

Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen' who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages.

Director: David Ayer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brad Pitt, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf
The film was written and directed by David Ayer following extensive research, and much of the filming took place in the UK. Set towards the end of the second world war, it tells the story of Sargent Dan 'Wardaddy' Collier (Pitt) and his crew of a Sherman tank as they undertake a mission behind enemy lines. One of the tank crew was recently killed in action and they are joined by a new recruit Norman Ellison (Lerman). The film shows war thought the eyes of Ellison as he becomes brutalized as a result of his experiences. All the actors give a stunning performance in this loud and intense portrayal of the violence and ugliness of war. An authentic and memorable war film.

Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
The film is based on, and is pretty much true to, the best selling book by Gillan Flynn. It is the fifth wedding anniversary of the Dunne's. Nick Dunne (Affleck) goes for a drive, and returns to find his wife Amy (Pike) is gone and the house ransacked. He reports her as missing to the police and initially he is treated with sympathy. However as time passes he becomes a prime suspect. The film is told in a broken time-line and we see in flashbacks that the marriage had started to fail. However is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? The film is a psychological thriller with the plot taking a sharp turn in the latter half of the film. This is an excellent, must see, movie.

Director: Alexandre Aja
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar
Ignatius (Ig) Perrish (Radcliffe) is a small town DJ whose girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Merrin (Temple) is murdered. Ig finds himself the prime suspect with the town locals turning on him. He wakes one morning to find horns starting to grow from his temples and these confer powers. He finds people confess to him their sins and he can easily persuade others to act on their base impulses. With these powers Ig is able to seek his sweetheart's murderer and to exact a revenge. The movie is based on the novel by Joe Hill and it uses flashbacks to develop the relationship between Ig and Merrin. This is a film that breaks new ground and is difficult to categorise, being part murder mystery part religious satire but mainly a dark comedy. It is not destined to be a classic supernatural film but worth seeing. for its originality.

Love, Rosie
Director: Christian Ditter
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin
Rosie (Collins) and Alex (Claflin) have been friends from early childhood and repeatedly become close to falling in love with each other. However every-time they start to come together other people and situations serve to come between them and they drift apart. In time. Rosie becomes a single mother and Alex in turn gets married. However there remains a spark between them - but will they ever get together? The movie is based on the 2004 novel 'Where Rainbows End' by Cecelia Ahern. The acting is first rate and the whole is a first rate romantic comedy.

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball, Douglas Cumming
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien
Thomas (O' Brien) awakes with no memory to find himself trapped with dozens of other boys inside an enclosure with towering walls. He subsequently discovers this to be a gigantic maze. He integrates in the society of boys, becoming one of the runners, a sub group who try to map the maze and find a way out. Attacking the boys are Grievers which are giant spider like creatures who also inhabit the maze. Thomas has dreams about an organisation called W.C.K.D. and he must uncover his purpose and find a way to escape. The movie is a decent adaption of the best selling novel by James Dashner, the first in a trilogy. The acting is strong and the depiction of the maze and its grandeur is very impressive. The movie is aimed at young adults but it contains some violence and the whole has a rather joyless atmosphere. The ending was somewhat complicated, designed perhaps to pave the way for the forthcoming sequel.

This is Where I Leave You
Director: Shawn Levy
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jane Fonda, Kathryn Hahn, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Abigail Spencer, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver
A comedy drama with big name stars, based on the book of the same name by author Jonathan Tropper. The film is narrated through the character of Judd Altman (Bateman) who, on his wife's birthday, discovers she is having an affair with his boss. Shortly after the shock of this, his Jewish father dies. The Altman family follow the Jewish tradition of Shiva, requiring them to coming together for seven days. Hence their mother Hillary (Fonda) hosts her children Jason, Wendy (Fey), Paul (Stoll) and Phillip (Driver) for the seven days of mourning. The family prove to be very dysfunctional, each having issues to overcome and the interaction leads to effective one liners and real moments of high comedy. An enjoyable film.

What We Did on Our Holidays
Director: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkins
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly
Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Pike) are a married couple on the cusp of a divorce. Despite this, they decide to take their three children to Scotland to attend a family gathering to celebrate the 75th birthday of Gordie (Connolly), Doug's father. In conversation, the children let slip to the wider family the details of their life in London and the parents arguments. Hence tension and family feuds ensue. The characters of the film are based on the TV series 'Outnumbered' and the film is in part comedy sitcom and in part an emotional 'roller-coaster'. Despite fine acting (with Connolly in particular fine form) the final third of the film seemed a little flat. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

TalkTalk tells Council: "Our landlines don't support Lifeline services"

TalkTalk: "TalkTalk landlines
don't support these devices."
Update 20 October 2014: Virtual-Lancaster has been contacted by TalkTalk who have sent us the following statement:
"We take issues like this very seriously and are conducting an urgent investigation into this."

Temporary changes made by TalkTalk to their landline service over the weekend meant that Lancaster City Council has had to warn vulnerable Lifeline users that they can't count on Talktalk telephone lines working with their Lifeline button alarm pendants in an emergency.

Over a thousand vulnerable local people use the Lifeline alarm service, wearing an emergency button on a pendant or a bracelet (see image) that they can press if they have a fall or other emergency and need help. Most of these users are elderly and frail, many are disabled, but keen to keep their independence. Knowing that help can be summoned at the push of a button brings peace of mind, to them and to the friends and relatives who worry about them .

When pressed, the button connects wirelessly to a device that plugs into an ordinary telephone socket, which phones through to the call centre. The device has a speaker and the trained call centre operator can talk to the service user and assess their need. The call centre also keeps a list of emergency telephone numbers of relatives or neighbours who have keys and can come immediately to give assistance.

This week it was discovered that Lifelines were not working for service users whose landlines were supplied by TalkTalk. There are several dozen such service users in the area and obviously, this is a potentially very risky situation. Fortunately, the glitch appeared to be only temporary. Whatever TalkTalk had reconfigured over the weekend, they restored again. But there doesn't seem to be any way of making sure it won't happen again, or finding out when it might happen.

Trying to talk to TalkTalk isn't easy. When a member of the Lifeline staff tried to explain to TalkTalk's customer services what had happened, and the problems it raised, they simply said that TalkTalk could not support Lifeline service equipment.

This statement from TalkTalk means that Lancaster City Council has had to warn Lifeline users that TalkTalk is not a sufficiently reliable service for a Lifeline that they might need to rely on in emergencies. Their letter to their Lifeline customers who use TalkTalk reads:

"Should you wish to remain a lifeline customer, you will need to arrange to change providers as a matter of urgency.

"When you are considering another provider you will need to check that the service they provide is able to support the use of community alarm systems on their line.

"Should you wish to remain a TalkTalk customer you will need to end your contract with us."

However it can take months to change service providers. Also, changing your phone line provider is a massive hassle for people who are young and strong, never mind those who are elderly or ill.

Virtual-Lancaster called TalkTalk to find out if they even knew what was going on. Their customer services supervisor first explained to us that the problem was caused by Redcare, who, he said, had installed the devices. In fact Redcare install integrated fire alarms, and have nothing to do with Lifelines. We explained this and then had to explain again in greater detail what a Lifeline was, to a person on the other side of the world who didn't (in my opinion) speak very good English and who had clearly never heard of such a thing.

That wasn't a problem for him though, because as soon as he understood that it was a device plugged into the phone line he was back on script. "TalkTalk do not support devices made by other manufacturers. You have to go and talk to the manufacturer." We explained that the device had worked on every phone line except TalkTalk's, and that we would appreciate if they could try to find out what had temporarily stopped the TalkTalk lines from working, but he just kept repeating the same line. And that was that.

The Lifeline service told us that they had a similar problem with a different service provider about a year ago. That went differently. They were able to speak to an advisor who understood the problem and had the capability to think and make enquiries. This provider was able to ensure that the service was restored.

However TalkTalk isn't interested in finding out why their service suddenly let dozens of their most vulnerable customers down, out of the blue, potentially putting their lives at risk. And they aren't interested in trying to avoid it in future. They made that very clear, to Lancaster City Council and to Virtual Lancaster.

We're lucky in Lancaster & Morecambe, because we know this now, and we can take steps to help vulnerable people change to a better phoneline provider that won't take their money and then let them down without a moment's concern.

But there are thousands of Lifeline users nationwide who may not know yet that TalkTalk doesn't support their service and that TalkTalk reserves the right to make changes, temporary or permanent, to their landline service in the course of other operations that could cut off their Lifelines without warning at any time, leaving them isolated and at risk.

The only advice that the Council can give Lifeline users still on TalkTalk is to change providers as soon as they can and, in the meantime, to keep checking the line.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

LGBT readers invited to online survey - 21st Century LGB&T Life in Lancashire

The Lancashire Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) organisation would like to research some aspects of what  life is like for LGB and / or T people in Lancashire at the moment, and so have put a survey together.

The survey is for people who identify themselves as LGB and / or T only. Lancashire LGBT would like to encourage as many people as possible across Lancashire to complete the survey as it will help to give a far more accurate picture of LGB&T need in the county.

You don't have to give any personal details - it is anonymous - and it will only take around 10 minutes to complete.  Lancashire LGBT tell us that it is really important as not only will it help the organisation understand what more work needs to be done, it will inform the decision makers in the county – for example health services, support services, police etc. about what the needs of LGB&T people are and what needs to be improved or changed.

To take the survey and also to find out more about Lancashire LGBT go to:

Light Up The Streets calls for volunteers to help the show

Volunteers are being sought to help out with one of Lancaster’s most spectacular events – Light Up The Streets.

Organised by Lancaster Arts Partners, the much-praised event will take place on 7th November, a family friendly event where Lancaster’s buildings and squares are animated with music, dance, theatre and film for the evening.

To ensure the event runs smoothly, volunteers with a friendly, calm and sensible attitude are required. Complimentary food and drinks will be provided at The Dukes on the evening.

Anyone interested in volunteering will need to attend one brief training session on 23rd October at 5.30pm or 25th October at 4.30pm.

• To express interest, please email Jane Twyman at or pick up an application form at The Dukes Box Office in Moor Lane

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Light Up Lancaster Festival - Magical Street Installations and a Fireworks Spectacular!

The spectacular Light Up Lancaster festival (  is on its way in less than a month now - a thrilling, magical two day festival on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 November for all the family which will culminate in the city's popular annual Fireworks Spectacular.

Friday 7 November sees Light Up The Streets happening in the heart of the Lancaster city centre.  On Saturday 8 November, a day of family-friendly activities  will lead up to Light up the Skies - when thousands flock into the district to enjoy the city’s annual firework spectacular launched from the roof of Lancaster Castle at 8pm.

Friday - Light Up The Streets

Light Up The Streets is a family friendly trail of discovery in a series of interlinked light and sound installations located in key areas of the city centre. From 6.30pm to 9.00pm, Lancaster city centre will be illuminated as never before.  Experience historic Lancaster – a route running between the Castle and Market Square – in an exhilarating new way. The trail of magical light shows, installations, music and performance reveals the heritage, stories and hidden treasures of the city for the public to enjoy in new and surprising ways. This year’s theme is ‘Lost & Found’ and local, regional and national artists are currently developing some wonderful ideas to show Lancaster in a completely new light.

Ockham's Razor - Light Up Lancaster Castle
The Castle have surely scored a tremendous coup by presenting the awesome aerial dance company Ockham's Razor to perform their latest oeuvre 'Not until we are lost' in a free public show. Not Until We Are Lost uses aerial movement to create atmospheric, exciting physical theatre in a series of short stories which explore what it is to be lost.  The performance is viewed in new, innovative ways from within a unique set, featuring originally designed aerial structures.  The aerial sculptures transform around the audience creating physically and emotionally affecting environments. How solid, how fixed, is the world around us?  Watch the trailer.
Original score from composer Graham Fitkin (twice winner British Composer awards), featuring a choir from the local community put together especially for the show.

MC Soweto Kinch - Sun Square
On the agenda is a fascinating collaboration between MOBO award winning alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch and the innovative projection specialists, Illuminos. Working with local company More Music, this exciting and versatile young musician in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes and Illuminos will create a stunning piece in Sun Square.

Market Square
• The Nightmarket  - twinkling with distinctive illumination, will have craft and food stalls
• Splodge-A-Matic - The Spin Doctor extends the spectrum to his famous Cyclo-Graphic-Splodge-A-Matic spin painting machine with Neon colours, UV lights and Disco beats. Join him and make your own dazzling Spin painting.
• The Realms of Greater Measure - In 1389, Richard 11 decreed that: "There shall be but one Weight and one Measure throughout the Realm, saving in the County of Lancaster." Illuminos will present a unique, stunning new video mapping projection that will transform Lancaster City Museum into a living, responsive weighing scale. A playful and interactive digital delight.
• FlashBack  - allows you to connect directly with Light Up The Streets and share your views in a fun, interactive way. Like a friendly and engaging pop-up photo booth, it’s immediate, live and in an instant captures personal, individual reflections about the night.

The Storey
The Dukes will also be turning two spaces in The Storey into a labyrinthine promenade adventure… illuminating the stories lost, found and conjured. Step through the ‘rabbit hole’ into the enchanting darkness and be part of an imaginative 20 minute standing and walking family friendly event told by a daring company of young performers.

Storey Gardens - How Did Your Garden Grow?
An intimate environmental lighting experience showcasing the heritage of the Storey Gardens. A magical evening meander through this lovely green space in the heart of the city.  Bring your torch and be prepared for an adventure!  Note: On grassed, uneven surfaces, which may at times be slippery. Please ensure you have appropriate outdoor footwear. Apologies - not suitable for pushchairs or for people with limited mobility.

Judges Lodgings - Lighten Up
More Music is masterminding an enchanting performance at The Judges Lodgings. This short piece magnifies key episodes from the historical past and links them to the world today.  Most images have been gathered from the people, objects and themes suggested by the contents of the museum.  Performance times: 6.45pm, 7.15pm, 7.45pm, 8.15pm, 8.45pm

A light hearted yet physically and emotionally challenging series of small performance vignettes, "Nooks” will draw you into the nooks and crannies of Lancaster’s rich heritage, space and lost tradition. Running at various locations throughout the event including the Castle, Castle Walk, Priory Steps, New Street and Church Street

There will be street theatre and puppetry too and in shop windows, to celebrate 50 Years of the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus, Shane Johnstone has created 50 original pieces of 3 dimensional artwork using stained glass and light.

Saturday - Light Up The Skies Fireworks Spectacular

On Saturday November 8, Light Up The Skies will offer a host of family-friendly activities during the day around the city ahead of the finale of the Light up Lancaster Festival - the dazzling Lancaster Fireworks Spectacular starting at 8pm.

As in previous years, the main viewing areas for the display at Giant Axe and Quay Meadow (sold out) will be accessible via free wristbands which are now available to order online.   Other official viewing areas which do not require wristbands will be the Millennium Bridge, Salt Ayre Sports Centre and Williamson Park.

BBC Radio Lancashire presenters will be back again this year to broadcast live from Quay Meadow from 6pm - 8pm on all frequencies. At 8pm spectators tuning into Radio Lancashire on 104.5FM will be able to listen to the specially coordinated firework music and enjoy the full light and sound experience as they watch the drama unfold from other vantage points around the city.

More information on Light Up Lancaster is available at   Here you can also sign up to receive more information on this and other events taking place in the Lancaster district as soon as it becomes available.

Light Up Lancaster is being funded by Lancaster City Council, Arts Council of England, Lancaster Arts Partners, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster Unlimited and Heritage Lottery Fund.
Light up the Skies will this year be delivered on behalf of Lancaster City Council by Storm Consultancy.