Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 27th August to 4th September 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.

There are four new movie releases this period. We have horror with As Above, So Below. There is family animation with Barbie and the Secret Door & Matt Hatter Chronicles. Finally there is music with the re-release of the Beatles A Hard Days Night to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The release of new films means the loss of old. Specifically Mr Peabody & Sherman and The Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return are no longer being screened.

High culture is represented with Globe: Macbeth, RSC Live: The Two Gentlemen of Verona and NT Live: Media. Also of note is the showing of the 1947 film The Lady of Shanghai directed by Orson Welles and starring Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.

The complete listings from the Vue was not available at the time of this posting.

Reviews

Arthur & Mike
Director: Dante Ariola
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Colin Firth, Emily Blunt
A romantic road movie originally released in Toronto in 2012 with the title 'Arthur Newman' where it received rather mixed reviews. The film tells the story of Arthur Avery (Firth) who has an un-fulfilling job and a history of failed relationships. He fakes his own death and takes to the road adopting the identity of Arthur Newman. He meets and falls in love with Michaela (known an Mike in the film) who is a kleptomaniac woman also on the run. They start to break into other peoples homes to assume their identity. Ultimately however their past catches up with them. This is a rather low-key movie espousing the message that you cannot run away from yourself.

As Above/ So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Edwin Hodger, Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks
A low budget horror film set in the Catacombs under Paris. Scarlet (Weeks) continues her dead fathers quest to find the Philosophers Stone and to this end she assembles a small team to explore the Parisian catacombs. The action unfolds by the medium of rather shaky film footage from a hand held camera. The claustrophobic setting makes for electric visual effects as the characters face their own fears along with visions of their past. The film itself never feels particularly credible and the explorers never really develop into convincing characters. However the setting makes up for these deficiencies to make an above average horror movie.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell
This movie is already proving a success at the US box office and has the makings of a summer blockbuster. The film is set a decade after 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'. Much of humanity has been wiped out following an outbreak of an artificial virus which killed humans yet increased the intelligence of apes. Human and ape live in a state of fragile peace and the film explores the conflict that arises when the humans try to start a hydroelectric dam that is located in the apes territory. The first part of the movie builds the characters of both humans and apes and later there are very impressive special effects as hostilities commence between the two sides. Both apes and humans have understandable motives and thus the film is much more than a simple war between right and wrong. An excellent movie.

Deliver us from Evil
Director: Scott Derrickson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale
Like so many horror films this claims to be based on genuine experiences. New York Police officer Ralph Sarchie (Bana) and partner Butler (McHale) investigate a series of domestic abuse crimes often involving children. They find a hard drinking priest Father Mendoza (Ramirez) is also investigating these incidents and Sarchie and the priest start to work together. In time Sarchie comes to accept there is a demonic element to the crimes and the film builds towards an attempted resolution by exorcism. The movie provides its share of frights but despite, some original ideas, it is a 'by the numbers' exorcism film with perhaps more drama than demonism.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace
An action packed space adventure from Marvel. Adventurer Peter Quill (Pratt) steals a mysterious artifact which is wanted by the villain Ronan (Pace) who wishes to use it to destroy the planet of Xandar. This forces Quill into a truce with a group of misfits (including Rocket a talking raccoon and groot a walking tree) who find they must make a stand to determine the fate of the galaxy. This is a very 'busy' film with lots of spectacular action, plenty of great characters, great one liners and lots of jokes. The plot seemed a little convoluted, but just go with it and enjoy the action. The movie does not take itself very seriously and will be loved by teenagers and adults alike.

Lucy
Director: Luc Besson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Lucy (Johansson), a rather average American woman visiting Taiwan, is kidnapped by gangsters, abused and made to smuggle an experimental new drug which is sewn into her stomach. However a beating received by one of the gangsters causes the bag to rupture and she absorbs the drug, with the effect of increasing the efficiency of her brain. This leads her to outgrow her physical and mental limitations as she develops vast intellect and formidable psychic powers. Lucy can now take her revenge. This is a fun film with the story told from Lucy's point of view. However as her powers develop the revenge part of the movie becomes very one sided and the film sacrifices action sequences for a quest to understand her evolution into something that is beyond human.

Maleficent
Director: Robert Stromberg
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Angelina Jolie, Miranda Richardson, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley
In part a re-telling of the tale of sleeping beauty but from the point of view of the villain of the story, Maleficent (Jolie). Maleficent was driven to evil following an act of betrayal which cost her the ability to fly. She battles to save her shadowy forest kingdom and plots revenge by placing a curse on the infant Aurora (Fanning), daughter to the king. Aurora herself becomes caught in the conflict between forest and human kingdoms. This is a rather dark fantasy for a Disney film, but a great tale with powerful characters and impressive special effect.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Clive Owen
It has been nine years since the initial Sin City was released, based on the graphic novels of Frank Miller. This film has the same spark (and some of the same characters) as the original and again is shot in black and white (relieved with effective splashes of colour). It is shot in a style half way between live action and animation. The film comprises a couple of interlocking narratives. There is the return of Senator Roark (Boothe) which gives some of the characters motive for revenge. Also there is the relationship between Dwight McCarthy (Owen) and his ex Ava (Green) who gets him to commit murder. The film has an impressive cast, nudity and stylized violence as it explores power and its abuse.

The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger
An attempt by the Expendables military team to apprehend an arms dealer goes wrong. The dealer proves to be Stonebanks (Gibson) who was a founder member of the Expendables who subsequently went rogue. In the light of this Barney Ross (Stallone) decided to recruit new members to his team to make it a match for the task of dealing with Stonebanks. This is the third installment in the Expendables franchise and it follows the established formula of a well known cast, wisecracks and violent set pieces. However this film does not break any new ground and in all felt a little tired.

The Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
Set in the 1950s, this animation follows the adventures of Surly the squirrel who, with his friend Buddy the rat, plan to steal from Maury's Nut shop. However the shop proves to be a front for gangsters who are planning to rob the nearby bank. This combination leads to action, car chases jokes and general mayhem. This is an inoffensive film that will amuse children but leave parents a little bored. An enjoyable romp, but not destined to be a cartoon classic.

What If
Director: Michael Dowse
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Megan Park, Adam Driver, Zoe Kazan, Daniel Radcliffe, Rafe Spall
Toronto medical school dropout Wallace (Radcliffe) strikes up a friendship with Chantry (Kazan), a woman he meets at a party. He has given up on love following failed relationships whereas she has a long term boyfriend (Spall) who for much of the film is away on a business trip. This leads to Wallace and Chantry spending increasing amounts of time together. Will they take the plunge and let their friendship mature into a relationship? This romantic comedy is reasonably entertaining with good dialogue and some slapstick humour.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Hacienda DJ heading to Morecambe as part of Vintage Festival

Mike Pickering
A DJ from the legendary Hacienda nightclub in Manchester will be appearing at a special Q&A session in Morecambe, followed by a one-off party in the town's Winter Gardens. 

Mike Pickering, who signed James and the Happy Mondays to Factory Records, is the latest industry figure to take part in one of Creative Lancashire's Conversations in Creativity


Mike is also a founder member of M People. After working at Factory, Mike went on to become co-director of Deconstruction Records and now works for Sony BMG with artists including The Gossip, Calvin Harris and Kasabian.

The Q&A session takes place at 4pm on Saturday 6th September at Hothouse, 13-17 Devonshire Road. Mike will be joined by fellow Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam.

The event will be hosted by journalist and author Dave, who DJ'd 450 times at the Ha├žienda and has since performed sets worldwide. He's currently finishing his fourth book - previous titles include 'Manchester England' (1999).

The Warehouse will bring the north’s distinctive dance culture and DJ history to the fore in the remarkable Winter Gardens. Hacienda legends Mike and Dave will evoke memories of Manchester's Acid House era. This special gig takes place from 9pm to 2.00am on Saturday 6th September at the Winter Gardens, Marine Road Central.

Tickets for the Warehouse are just £15 each, plus booking fees. For tickets and more information, visit www.skiddle.com and search for Mike Pickering.

The Conversations in Creativity series is organised by Creative Lancashire and has included some of the country's leading creative people including Simon Aldred from Cherry Ghost, Nick Park, Jeanette Winterson, Lemn Sissay and Wayne Hemingway.

Vintage By The Sea takes place at the Midland Hotel on Saturday 6th September and Sunday 7th Septrmber. 

Morecambe’s seafront will be transformed into a multi-venue playground where visitors can ‘learn the dances’, take in live performances, exclusive DJ sets, catwalk shows, food and cocktails, or take advantage of the decade-specific hair and beauty makeovers and wonderful vintage shopping.

The festival will offer a packed weekend with something for ev! eryone, combining a mix of dancing, music, fashion, glamour, film, classic cars, delicious street food, creative workshops, activities for kids, street theatre, a vintage fairground, vintage bus tours, as well as an eclectic vintage and upcycled market place to browse vintage treasures. 

• For more information, visit www.vintagefestival.co.uk. Follow the Vintage Festival on twitter - @Vintage_2014

• Creative Lancashire is a service provided by Lancashire County Council through its economic development company - Lancashire County Developments Ltd (LCDL). They support creative and digital businesses and work with all sectors to realise creative potential. For information visit www.creativelancashire.org. You can follow them on twitter - @CreativeLancs. 

Harry Potter artist to visit Lancaster Castle


Harry Potter fans of all ages will not want to miss a special free event in the atmospheric setting of Lancaster Castle's Shire Hall - an appearance by writer and award-winning illustrator Jonny Duddle on Wednesday 3rd September, organised by Lancashire County Council's library service and SilverDell Bookstore, Kirkham.

Jonny was chosen by Bloomsbury Publishing to reimagine the magical world of Harry Potter. Now all seven books are being republished on Monday 1st September with Jonny's fantastic new illustrations.

Artist and writer Jonny Duddle
Jonny, who lives in North Wales with his wife and young family, is a fantastic creator and his character designs were an integral part of the development work on Aardman's feature length, Oscar Nominated animation The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists.

Having worked on a pirate ship (climbing up and down riggings), and as an art teacher in the middle of the Kalahari Dessert, it is no wonder that his work spans an exciting selection of projects including his own picture books The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door, overall winner of the Waterstones Prize and shortlisted for; Sheffield Book Award, Specsavers National Book Awards and Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

Jonny’s cover and inside artwork for Terry Pratchett’s bestseller, Nation, was also shortlisted for Best Children's Illustrated Books at the English Association Book Awards.

Asked about being given the Harry Potter commission, Jonny said: "It was a bit of a shock. I painted the first cover as a test piece last year, but was concerned that I couldn’t give it the time ! I would’ve liked due to other commitments.

"So when I heard that JK Rowling and the team at Bloomsbury wanted me to paint the rest of the series, I was gobsmacked."

At the event at Lancaster Castle, Jonny will be talking about his work and signing copies of the new editions of the Harry Potter series.

Jill Connolly, the library service's reading and development manager for children and families, said: "We're all very excited to be welcoming Jonny to the Shire Hall. It's an ideal venue for a Harry Potter evening as it really does looks as though it's come straight out of Hogwarts.

"And we're especially pleased as this is the only event celebrating the new editions to be taking place outside London. It's simply a must for all Harry Potter fans across the county."

The evening also includes a fancy dress competition for children who go dressed as characters or creatures from the series, and people will be able to buy signed copies of the books.

• Jonny Duddle at Lancaster Castle, 6.30pm Wednesday 3rd September, Lancaster Castle Shire Hall. This event is free but to avoid disappointment places must be booked in advance. To book a place, phone SilverDell Bookshop 01772 683444 or email info@silverdellbooks.com

Jonny Duddle's Official Blog

Silverdell Bookstore, Kirkham

Friday, 22 August 2014

Sounds of Summer 2-day Music Fest opens the new Square Stage



By now you will have noticed a new structure in Market Square. You may even have sat on it. Some would call it a 'plinth' (gah). But in fact, like all the world, it's a stage.  The Square Stage. 'Lancaster Sounds of Summer' is a two day musical extravaganza, this Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, to celebrate our new Stage in the newly refurbished Market Square.

Sunday night headliners to get the city dancing will be Preston based soul funk band Templebys, and earlier you can shake some bootie to Jeramiah Ferrari - a four piece reggae-rock group from Manchester. Throughout the two dayer you can expect an eclectic mix of music ranging from Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band, through the soothingly classical Players from Lancaster's Haffner Orchestra, to the upbeat, kickass sounds of Get Carter and the Convulsions.
Here's the programme:

Sunday 24 August 

2pm - 3pm Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band – Brass
One of the oldest bands in the country starting in 1821 when the band played for the coronation celebrations of King George IV. The band has travelled to Europe and hosts exchanges with European brass bands as well as running a NW Band Competition since 1988. One of the best traditional acts around.

3:30pm - 4:30pm Hairpiece Suite - Indie Rock (youth act)
Local youth indie rock group that have established a growing following as one of Lancaster's top youth acts and a good opener for Jeremiah Ferrari.

5pm - 6pm Jeramiah Ferrari – Reggae
From Manchester, simply the most ballistic reggae band ever. A ground-breaking rejuvenation of the genre.

8pm - 9:30pm Get Carter / Convulsions - Riff based manic retro
Lancaster based high energy retro mods together on one stage at the same time. Get Carter are led by Selector founding member and Hammond virtuoso James Mackie.

10pm - 11:30pm Templebys - Soul / Deep funk
Preston based soul funk band the Templebys are Lancaster Music Festival favourites with a combination of deep funk and hot-grit soul topped off with the searing vocals of Kim Hollin.


Monday 25 August 

2pm - 3pm Players from Lancaster's Haffner Orchestra – Classical
Award winning Lancaster Haffner Orchestra are providing Cello trio, string quartet and Baroque trio with oboe, harpsichord (keyboard) and cello continuo for a very relaxing start to Monday's program.

3pm - 4pm Franco & The Dreadnought – Indescribable
Guitar virtuoso John Blaylock from Manchester takes the acoustic guitar to places it's never been to before with blurring finger dexterity that would shame most Flamenco players.

4:30pm - 5:30pm Roomful of Mirrors - World, reggae
Cumbria based world music and reggae act that have been appearing at many NW festivals and always a favourite with their fun loving upbeat virtuosity.

Enjoy!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Campus invites community for 50th Anniversary day of free activities



Tune into a musical workshop for babies, brand your own smoothie, take a look round the labs, interact with a scarecrow robot or catch one of the mini public lectures. These are just a handful of the exciting activities taking place on Saturday 13 September when Lancaster University stages a Community Activities Day on campus. The event has been arranged as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Through an action-packed programme of imaginative and innovative activities, from 11am to 5pm, the University is keen to provide an insight into life on campus. The free event, geared at all ages and all members of the regional community, will showcase some the University’s world-class teaching and research, together with a glimpse of the excellent facilities on site.

Pictured above are Senior Lecturer Dr Jackie Parry and PhD student Amber Lynch, from the Department of Biomedical and Life Sciences. And no, they aren't making a smoothie (or that's what they tell us anyway) or a Monster Mash, but demonstrating some ‘Super Squidgy Science’ – otherwise known as DIY DNA. It's a new and quite fascinating activity designed for you to join in on the day, and apparently if you stick with it and don't just eat all the ingredients (or fabric-paint them, if the photo is anything to go by) you will end up creating an individually designed loom bracelet. And you'll probably know quite a bit more about DNA (or DIY) and laboratory techniques.

Vice Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith said: “This milestone year gives us an opportunity not only to celebrate our world class credentials in teaching and research, but also to celebrate and strengthen our community links closer to home.

“We have always been hugely proud of our roots in Lancaster and, through this event, hope to give the local community a deeper insight into just what goes on here and how we are working to benefit our local community and beyond.”

Amongst the dozens of activities taking place on the day, visitors will be able to:

  • Watch a demonstration of 3D printing
  • Become a linguistics detective and help solve a murder case through forensic linguistics
  • Try Chinese painting and language classes
  • Hear talks from our expert historians on the First World War
  • Hear from published authors on their experiences of getting into print
  • Brand their own smoothie and try speed mentoring in our business games area
  • Try their hand at painting with local artist Chas Jacobs
  • Enjoy campus tours, talks, performances, workshops, sports events, live music and food and drink stalls

50th anniversary project manager Alexandra Mounsey said the Community Activities Day included a fascinating and intriguing line-up.
“The day genuinely provides something for everyone,” she said. “We have a host of exciting events, from talks from our expert historians on the First World War, to student performances and exciting showcases of the latest research in technology and computing.

“And there’s plenty for our young visitors too including a teddy bears' hospital, Bonington Bear portrait gallery, musical instrument-making classes, and a chance to learn about the environment and skeletons and bones."

You can simply drop in on the day although some events need to be booked in advance. We'll be posting further information shortly and if you are interested in receiving more details directly about this free event, please email anniversary@lancaster.ac.uk.
There will be free parking on campus throughout the day