Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 25th March to 2nd April 2015 by

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.

Five new films make it to the local cinemas this week. The first of these, Get Hard (15) is an adult comedy. The remaining four are dramas. Still Alice (12A) follows a woman as she descends into dementia. Suspense on the Yorkshire moors comes with Catch Me Daddy (15). A Disney remake of Cinderella (U) supplies romance whereas fantasy drama is represented by the film Seventh Son (12A).

Films that have returned to our screens after an absence are Annie; Gone Girl; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and the docu-drama Selma.

The movie Unfinished Business has now vanished from our screens. In addition it is looking like the following are approaching the end of their screening:Fifty Shades of Grey; Kingsman:The Secret Service; Run all Night and Suite Francaise.

There is a good selection of high drama this week. Opera comes with Rise & Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Theatre is well represented with Behind the Beautiful Forevers; A View from the Bridge; Maxine Peake as Hamlet and a return of Treasure Island.

There are two items of news this period. The first is an absence of further films scheduled for screening by the Campus in the City. This venue will be missed by lovers of foreign films. Secondly, to make the most of the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7 which is released next week, the Vue is showing a double bill of Fast and Furious 6 & 7 on the 2nd April.


Director: Kenneth Branagh
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden
Disney's re-telling of the story of Cinderella. Cinderella (James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother Lady Tremaine (Blanchett) following the death of her father. The film sticks very close to Disney's 1950 animated musical. Cinderella is rather 'sickly sweet' but this is offset by the malevolence of the character of Lady Tremaine. The movie has some comedy action and a good selection of special effects. There is nothing in here to offend and the movie will be loved by all.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson
This is a much hyped film with a record for ticket pre-sales. It is based on the best selling 2011 novel by E. L. James. Anastasia Steel (Johnson) is a student who interviews the publicity shy billionaire Christian Grey (Dornan) as a college assignment. There is an immediate sexual chemistry between the two and they embark on an affair. However Grey has a desire to control everything in his life and his relationships have a strong sado-masochistic element. Hence he requires Anastasia to sign a contract if she wants the relationship to continue that will allow Grey to subjugate her. The film is an accurate portrayal of the book, though it omits the more sordid sex scenes. Essentially the film is soft porn for a female audience.

Director: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Will Smith, Gerald McRaney, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Robert Taylor
Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is a career con artist who, early in the film, takes on an inexperienced Jess Barrett (Robbie) as an apprentice. There is a sexual chemistry between the two, but Nicky and Jess part. Years later Nicky is running a con for the billionaire motorsport owner Rafael Garriga (Santoro), but finds that Jess is now Santoro's girlfriend. The chemistry again starts between Jess and Nicky and we find they are both trying to con Garriga. However the latter seeks revenge. The movie is something of a dark romance with some violence and a good amount of comedy. It is well acted in exciting locations and is sure to entertain.

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.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, Sophie Cookson, Taron Egerton.
A spoof spy adventure based on the comic book series by Dave Gibbons and Mark Miller. Kingsman is an international covert spying agency and they recruit members from street wise misfits. A chavvy gang member Egysy (Egerton) is recruited by the ultra suave agent Harry Hart (Firth). To be accepted Egysy must become both refined and also pass a grueling 'boot camp' where he will learn how to be an agent. In the meantime the eccentric billionaire Valentine (Jackson) is planning to distribution free SIM cards, an act that will trigger the eradication of most of mankind. This is a very 'tongue in cheek' movie, in equal measures a violent action adventure and a comedy. There are outrageous gadgets and wonderful set pieces, with the movie being part James Bond and part every other spy movie you have ever seen. Irreverent and unmissable.

Director: Ava DuVernay
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson
A slice of American History. The film follows Martin Luthor King (Oyelowo) and the events that led up to the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery which preceded President Johnson's (Wilkinson) signing the voting Act of 1965 giving equal voting rights to Afro-American citizens. Not only does this film show the build up to the march, it also portrays something of the humour and character of Martin Luthor King and the strain that his work imposed on his marriage to Coretta (Ejogo) and on his friends. It covers much of the political backdrop to the civil rights movement and contains images of violence and racial slurs that were endured by the marchers in their quest for equal voting rights.

Seventh Son
Director: Sergei Bodrov
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Jeff Bridges, Olivia Williams, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes
A fantasy movie set in the far past and based on the young adult fiction 'The Spook's Apprentice' by Joseph Delaney. Master Gregory (Bridges) is the last of the Falcon Knights and in the past he imprisoned an evil witch, Mother Malkin (Moore). She is now free and seeking to wreck an awful revenge on the earth. Gregory must train an apprentice Tom Ward (Barnes) who is the seventh son of a seventh son, in order that they can fight the dark magic. The movie has an A list cast with an impressive selection of fiends, monsters and epic battles. An extremely enjoyable caper marked with fine acting, but ultimately a rather forgettable movie.

Suite Francaise
Director: Saul Dibb
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts
Set in 1940 occupied France, this is a love story based on the unfinished 2004 novel by Irene Nemirovsky. French woman Lucille Angellier (Williams) waits for news of her husband who is a prisoner of war. A regiment of German soldiers arrive at their town and the soldiers are billeted in the French homes. In this way Lt. Bruno von Falk moves in with Lucille and over time the two fall in love. However the war ensures the course of the romance will not be smooth. This is a very competent production with excellent acting. It does not break any new ground and a more adventurous film may have made more of the material in Nemirovsky's novel. However as a sentimental romance the film works and is worth a trip to the cinema.

The Duke of Burgundy
Director: Peter Strickland
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Sidse Babett-Knudsen, Chiara D'Anna
Cynthia (Babett-Knudsen) is an expert in the field of butterflies (The Duke of Burgundy is the name of a butterfly) and she employs Evelyn (D'Anna) as her housekeeper. They live in a grand old house located in a forest and the film explores the relationship of the two women. Cynthia is a stern employer with something of a sadomasochistic streak. Evelyn seems at first to be submissive, but she also holds power in the relationship and increasing has an obsession with erotica. The movie is a little out of the ordinary. Erotica but with some depth. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Police hunt man after local dog walker attacked

Lancaster Police are trying to find a man who punched a dog walker in the face as he was walking his dogs up past Skerton Bridge and onto the grassed area behind Bridge House, Lancaster at around 6.00pm on Wednesday 11th March.

As the dog walker, who is in his 50s, walked toward a bin to dispose of his dog’s waste, a man approached him, shouting that the victim needed to pick up his dog waste.

He then brought out an orange-coloured mobile phone and asked the victim to smile whilst he took a photo of him - before punching him in the face.

The suspect, described as a white male with a shaven face in his mid 50’s, approximately 5’8” in height, medium build with a Northern accent, wearing a Black bobble hat, Black leather jacket and dark or black trousers, then walked off and urinated in nearby bushes.

The victim was left with a deep cut to his forehead that required stitches at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Police are appealing to the public and the to the individual directly for information.

Police Appeal After Morecambe Stabbing

Detectives are appealing for information after a man was stabbed in Morecambe.

The incident happened at around 12.00pm on Tuesday 17th March 2015, when a 29-year-old man was pursued along Clarendon Road in Morecambe. When he was at the junction of Devonshire Road, the man was assaulted and stabbed a number of times. 

He sustained stab wounds to his buttocks which required medical treatment and has since been discharged from hospital.

DC Tris Hardwick of Lancaster CID said: “I would urge anyone who may have witnessed what happened to contact us on 101.”

A 35-year-old man from Morecambe was arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Anyone with information can call police on 101 quoting crime reference WB1502038.

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Fracking: Lancs County Council launches consultation on changes to Cuadrilla applications

A former Cuadrilla test drilling operation at Westby in Lancashire

Consultation begins today on extra information submitted to Lancashire County Council (LCC) as part of Cuadrilla's planning applications for shale gas development at Preston New Road at Little Plumpton (Application number LCC/2014/0096), and Roseacre Wood at Roseacre (Application number LCC/2014/0101). You can find the new information on the LCC website here.

How to have your say
Anyone who wishes to make representations should write to the county council at the Development Management Group, Lancashire County Council,  County Hall, PO Box 100, Preston, PR1 0LD, by email to by Friday 17 April 2015 or via the  'Have your say' section of the LCC website.  All representations that have been received to date will still be taken into account.

Advice on the objection process can be found at It's not rocket science.

Demonstration planned
An anti fracking demonstration 'Blow the whistle on fracking' has been organised by Frack Free Lancashire for Wednesday 1 April, starting at 10am at Preston Flag Market

Background to the changes
In June 2014 the council received applications from Cuadrilla to drill, frack, and test gas flows, with associated separate applications for environmental monitoring, at Preston New Road  (LCC/2014/0096) at Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood (LCC/2014/0101) at Roseacre.

In January 2015 the Development Control Committee decided to defer determination of the applications after Cuadrilla asked to submit further proposals intended to mitigate concerns raised by planning officers. See previous article: Lancs County Council defers fracking decision 8 weeks

Sir Philip Dilley
The applications are accompanied by an Environmental Statement which has been produced as a result of an Environmental Impact Assessment.  The statement has been prepared for Cuadrilla by their long time partners, Arup Associates.  Last year David Cameron's government appointed Sir Philip Dilley of Arup Associates to chair the Environment Agency. In our opinion he would have granted Cuadrilla's Environmental permits if they had come written in tar on an asbestos sheet.

Cuadrilla submitted further and other information in November and December 2014 in relation to the Environmental Statement in accordance with Regulation 22(3) of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011.

Cuadrilla submitted further and other information in respect of noise, traffic, air quality and landscape in relation to the Environmental Statement in accordance with Regulation 22(3) of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 in March 2015.

The further information for the Roseacre Wood site relates to noise, traffic ([1] and [2], air emissions and visual impact.

The extra information for the Preston New Road site relates to noise, air emissions and visual impact.

The information has been published on the council's website here and made available at libraries in Lytham, St Annes, Ansdell and Kirkham, and at the offices of Fylde Borough Council in Lytham St Annes.

Following the consultation the council's planners will assess the new information and responses to the consultation before making recommendations to the Development Control Committee.

Petition sites:

Friendship Centre 15th Anniversary Open Day next Wednesday

Lancaster’s Friendship Centre for the over 55’s is holding an open day to celebrate its 15th anniversary. The Centre, which uses facilities at Lancaster Baptist Church, next to the Town Hall. will be open to all on Wednesday 25 March from 10am to 1pm. Older people are invited to come along and try out a variety of free classes and activities and enjoy a celebration buffet lunch in the company of the Mayor of Lancaster, Cllr Susie Charles.

Cllr Dave Brookes, Friendship Centre Chair said: “The Friendship Centre was set up in the year 2000 by a group of older people who wanted a place in the city centre to meet and chat. It soon began to offer organised activities and classes and went from opening one day a week to two, and then to three days a week. The Centre helps members to stay fit and active, keep their brains working, and enjoy socialising with peers. This is a particularly valuable service for those who have lost their partners, although all are very welcome.”

Throughout its 15 years the Friendship Centre has had the support of local Green councillors, from founding Chair Cllr Jon Barry, through Cllrs Gina Dowding and Anne Chapman, to current Chair Cllr Dave Brookes.

The Friendship Centre is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 1.30pm all year round except bank holidays, a one-week break in the summer, and a two-week break at Christmas.

The Centre offers a range of activities including Keep Fit, Line Dancing and Sequence Dancing, and classes including Computers, Art, and History, as well as the opportunity to meet people and benefit from peer support and company.

The Centre also offers a home cooked lunch on Wednesdays, and Hodgson’s fish & chips on Fridays, both at £3.

Membership is open to anyone aged 55 and over and costs £10 per year. Some classes and activities are free but most involve an additional charge.

For more information, visit the Friendship Centre website at