Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 16th to 24th April 2014 by Peter Clarke

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

New releases during this period include comedy with The Love Punch (12A) and The Other Woman (12A); science fiction with Transcendence (12A) and action/adventure with The Raid 2 (18).

Films no longer being screened are Epic, Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy and 12 Years a Slave. Also this week looks like the last chance to catch The Grand Budapest Hotel, The LEGO movie, Mr Peabody & ShermanMuppets Most Wanted and Frozen.

Alternative options are provided by RSC Encore: Richard II (12A), and Vikings Live from the British Museum (12A).


Director: Neil Burger
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kate Winslet, Theo James, Shailene Woodley
The movie is based on Veronica Roth's popular trilogy. Tris (Woodley) is a 16 year old girl living in Chicago after a war which wiped out most of civilisation. Society has been divided into different factions and as teens come of age they undergo tests to decide which faction will contain them. Yet Tris proves to be divergent, not fitting into any of the factions and divergent people are considered a threat to the status quo. She must work with the mysterious Four (James) to determine why being divergent is considered to be so dangerous. The movie is rather a slow starter. However the cast is full of talent, there is some nice dialogue and the film finishes with a tense climax. A must see movie if you have read and enjoyed Roth's books.

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.

Mr Peabody & Sherman
Director: Rob Minkoff
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter
A DreamWorks comedy animation. Mr Peabody is a dog, but this does not stop him being an inventor, scientist, sportsman and general genius. Accompanied by his boy Sherman, the duo use their WABAC time machine in order to impress Sherman's friend Penny. However during their adventures meeting famous characters of history,they accidentally rip a hole in the Universe. As a result they must repair history in order to save the future. A great yarn and appealing family movie. There is little here to offend the youngest of children, and some of the jokes will entertain an older audience.

Muppets Most Wanted
Director: James Bobin
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Eric Jacobson, Steve Whitmire
A long awaited sequel to 'The Muppets' in which the entire Muppet cast undertake a sell out world tour. However Constantine (a Kermit lookalike and major criminal) and his right hand man Dominic (Gervais) involve the Muppets in an international crime heist. The film is an upbeat Disney musical comedy that will appeal to all ages and generates plenty of laughs. An excellent film.

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins
A movie based on the biblical story of Noah and the flood, but it takes quite a bit of artistic license. Crowe and Watson as Noah and Ila respectively give excellent performances and this is epic movie which very much goes its own way. With stunning effects and some surreal sequences this is a very entertaining film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Director: Wes Anderson
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Tony Revolori
An idiosyncratic movie telling the adventures of Gustav (Fiennes) the concierge at the Budapest hotel and his friend Zero Moustafa (Revolori). The film is full of madcap characters and is filmed in the classic Anderson style. Set in Europe between the wars, the film tells the story of the theft of a Renaissance painting and disputes over fortunes. The movie has a star-studded cast and much of the plot of interlocking stories is told in flashbacks. A fine comedy making this a must see movie.

The Love Punch
Director: Joel Hopkins
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Tuppence Middleton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie
Richard and Kate (Brosnan and Thompson) are a divorced couple who hit financial hard times as Richard is facing bankruptcy as a result of a corporation wiping out his company's pension fund. Vincent, the villainous boss of the corporation, has used these proceeds to buy a diamond necklace for his own bride. Richard and Kate, along with friends Jerry and Penelope (Spall and Imrie) decide to get revenge by stealing the necklace and using this to replenish the retirement fund. This is a comedy with big name stars set in an exotic location. The humour seems a little contrived at times but in all it works well to make a genuinely funny and entertaining movie.

The Quiet Ones
Director: John Pogue
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Jared Harris, Olivia Cooke
A Hammer Horror film set in 1974. Professor Coupland (Harris), helped by a group of university students, relocates to a country estate in order to try an unorthodox cure for a mentally unstable woman Jane Harper (Cooke) with malignant alter ego Evey. The experiment is recorded by cameraman Brian McNeil (Claflin). This is a stylish movie with impressive visual effects. However the performances of the students are a little wooden and the film does not break any new ground. However in all a competent and gripping horror film.

Director: Wally Pfister
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany
Dr Will Caster (Depp), a brilliant scientist in the field of researching artificial intelligence, is creating a sentient computer called PINN. However anti-technology extremists embark on a series of of attacks against the artificial intelligence community and Dr Caster is one of the casualties. In order to survive he digitises and loads his consciousness into the computer. Here he starts a quest for knowledge and for power that seems unstoppable. The film is well produced and visually appealing. However the characters come across as rather wooden and the topics examined in this film have already been explored in earlier science fiction movies.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Green Party leader to visit Lancaster tomorrow to host public meeting on women in politics

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party. Image: Green Party
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and European election candidate for the region, councillor Gina Dowding, will host a public meeting in Lancaster tomorrow, Wednesday 16th April, to discuss the role of women in politics.

Earlier in the day they will meet with local businesses and visit the Lancaster co-housing and hydro project.

The public meeting, 'What space for a women's agenda in politics in 2014?' will see Natalie Bennett describe her experiences of operating in what can still be seen as a ‘man’s world’. A trustee of the Fawcett Society, Britain’s pre-eminent women’s issues group, she was the founder of the blog Carnival of Feminists and is an active campaigner on women’s issues.

Since becoming leader of the Green Party in 2012, former Guardian journalist, Natalie Bennett has spoken and listened to many women's groups up and down the country on issues ranging from equal pay and worker’s rights to Female Genital Mutilation.

Natalie Bennett is the only female leader of a UK national political party - and she took over from Caroline Lucas, the Green Party's first leader, which is the first time a woman political party leader has handed over to another woman in British political history.

“Since becoming party leader I’ve been working hard to support and develop the talent of women within the Green Party," said Natalie. "It’s really important that we have female voices in both local and national politics so that all views within our society are represented. The Greens have a good mix here in Lancaster and that’s something I’d like to see the other parties work towards. Much of our political culture isn’t very conducive to women’s participation and that’s something our Green MP, Caroline Lucas has been trying to change since she arrived in parliament in 2010.

She continued: “In the European election campaign you have Nick vs Nigel on the TV and UKIP in the European Parliament with a group of nine MEPs – all older white men. I think UK politics could benefit from some different voices being part of the debate.”

The party leader is in the North West region ahead of May’s local and European elections. The Green Party is the fourth largest group in the European Parliament with 58 MEPs, working on issues as diverse as workers' rights, energy, transport, fishing, international development, environmental protection and employment. In 2009 the North West Green Party’s Peter Cranie lost out on a seat in the European Parliament by just 0.3% of the vote. Instead the British National Party’s leader, Nick Griffin, became the region’s MEP. The Greens are hoping to break through this May.

• "What space for a women's agenda in politics in 2014?" TIME: 7.30pm for 7.45pm start, Friends' Meeting House, Lancaster. More info:

Monday, 14 April 2014

Man exposes naked to woman in Lancaster

Officers in Lancaster are appealing for information after a woman encountered a naked man.

Sometime between 7:30pm and 7:45pm on Monday 7 April, a 21-year-old woman was walking along the cycle track between Vicarage Field and Long Marsh Lane.

Having heard a noise behind her, she has turned around to see a completely naked man jogging toward her. Before reaching her, the man has turned left and has jogged away from her in the direction of Lancaster Castle.

The offender is described as 5’’10’/178cm tall, of slim build, with a pale white body and short brown hair, and is in his early twenties.

DS Martin Foley of Lancaster CID said; “Understandably, this incident has left the young lady very shaken, particularly as she was walking on her own at the time.

“If anyone has any information about this man, or thinks they have witnessed or been subject to something similar, please get in touch with us.”

Less than a month ago a woman out jogging on the New Quay Road cycle track was accosted by a naked man who chased her and tried to catch hold of her waist pack. Fortunately she was able to evade him and run away. See previous story: Appeal after jogger grabbed by naked man in Lancaster

In response, Police patrols have been stepped up in the area to reassure local residents, walkers and joggers. Residents are also encouraged to take extra precautions, such as sticking to routes in busier areas, and walking with a friend or family member where possible.

Anybody with any information can contact Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online via, citing log number LC-20140407-1239. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Friday, 11 April 2014

An Elegant And Entertaining Edwardian Evening At The Dukes

Edwardian elegance and entertainment are promised when The Dukes stages a Northern night like no other on 25th April.

The Lancaster theatre will take on a distinct music hall feel for a Charity Gala Performance of The Life And Times Of Mitchell & Kenyon when guests will be encouraged to dress to impress.

Edwardian host for the night is local actor, Nick Camm who will welcome guests into The Dukes Café Bar which will be decked out to suit the era and where free fizz will be on offer.

Blackpool entertainer Fran Lee will perform a variety of well known music hall songs in the bar before guests are invited to see The Dukes latest homegrown production about Blackburn film pioneers, Mitchell & Kenyon.

The play, which opens on 19th April, is full of songs, laughter and original films from the Edwardian era which gave ordinary folk their 15 minutes of fame on the big screen.

After the Gala Night show, guests will be encouraged to join a  singsong around the piano and pose for pictures Edwardian style.

Also during the evening, Dukes patron James Mackie will speak about how the financial support of Friends, Patrons and Guardians of the theatre – which is a registered charity - an help safeguard its future.

Tickets for the Gala Night are £30 including a ticket to the show, fizz, nibbles and plenty of late night entertainment.

• For more information and to book, call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Luneside East Developer responds to local complaints. Council issues TPOs

Persimmon Homes have responded to local residents' complaints about their recent planning application for Luneside East (see previous news: Luneside East Planning Application breaks promises, residents claim). Residents had complained that the plans include removal of part of the old railway embankment and its trees, and also an access route via Long Marsh Lane, although they had received assurances from the Council that such changes would not be part of any development.

Persimmon's public relations company Connect PR have today
forwarded the following statement to Virtual-Lancaster:
In a joint statement, Guy Illingworth, director of land owner Luneside East Limited, and Mark Cook, managing director of Persimmon Homes Lancashire, said: 
“Luneside East was identified as a key regeneration site more than 15 years ago with outline planning consent gained initially in 2001.
“We have worked extensively with the Planning Authority to form viable proposals that make full use of the site within the parameters of that outline approval. Following close consultation with the Assistant Head of Regeneration and Planning, we have now submitted a reserved matters application. 
“The proposal seeks to create 170 much-needed homes for local people, including 24 that are specifically designated as affordable.  
 “There will be direct access via Long Marsh Lane to a limited number of the properties, all with off-street parking. Safe cycle and pedestrian links only will be maintained through to the wider development, along with an innovatively-designed central area of public open space as advised by the Council. 
“We await the decision from Lancaster City Council and remain hopeful that the development can be brought forward in the near future.”
Coun Jon Barry told Virtual-Lancaster that, in light of the undertakings given by the City Council to residents during the consultation processes:

"The Council could have put steps in place - given that it previously owned the land - to ensure that the embankment was protected. For example, it could have kept hold of a ransom strip of land by the embankment or it could have put on a legal covenant about the embankment. Leaving 'protection' to the planning process is a very risky way of doing things. For example, even if the application is turned down, the developers could easily win on appeal."

We understand that the City Council has now placed Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) on the trees on the embankment. This means that they cannot be felled until the planning application has been considered. The TPO can, however, be changed by the results of the planning application.

Tree-felling in Freeman's Wood 2012
Since trees in nearby Freeman's wood were felled on land belonging to the Bermuda-based Property Trust Group, in association with their partners, development consultants Satnam, in open breach of the Council's Tree Preservation Orders (see previous news: Freeman's Wood - TPO upheld at Appeal Hearing) back in 2012, Luneside residents might be forgiven for doubting that an award of a TPO from the Council might offer any protection in reality.

Persimmon's' planning application 13/01200/REM is due to come before Lancaster City Council Planning Committee at Lancaster Town Hall at 10.30am on Tuesday 6 May.

Residents have started a petition at (you can see it here) to oppose the application.

See previous news: Luneside East Planning Application breaks promises, residents claim