Thursday, 21 November 2013

Local Cinema Round-Up for 20 - 28 November 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 films during this period include the JFK assassination with Parkland and science fiction with much awaited The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who with Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor.

Still showing are the excellent films Philomena, Gravity and Thor: The Dark World. Also a couple of family favourites remain during this period The Smurfs 2 and Despicable Me 2.

A range of alternative movies include culture with Romeo and Juliet and music with Andre Rieu's Home for Christmas & One Direction: This is us. Also of note is the surreal comedy Prince Avalanche.

Reviews

Captain Phillips
Director: Paul Greengrass
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi
A dramatisation of the 2009 hijacking of the container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates who kidnapped the Captain Phillips. This is a excellent must see thriller movie featuring superb acting. Characters are well developed and the film takes a sympathetic view of both pirates and the crew of the ship. In keeping with the subject the film has a documentary feel about it which makes for compelling viewing.

Despicable Me 2
Director: Pierre Coffin , Chris Renaud
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Steve Carell, Kirsten Wiig, Steve Coogan
A sequel to Despicable Me, which became the tenth biggest animation movie in US history. Gru, now retired, spends his time caring for his adopted children. He has turned good and is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track down a criminal who has stolen a serum from a research facility. This is a great animation for both children and adults and, like last time, it is the Minions who provide the most entertainment. If you only get to see one film this week - this should be the one.

Gravity
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Ryan Stone (Bullock) a medical engineer and seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) are on a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. However during a routine space walk, disaster strikes as the shuttle is destroyed by impact from space debris and Stone tumbles free in space. The film follows Stone's plight as she battles to survive. Bullock gives a superlative performance in this spectacularly shot movie. However the interest of the film is not the impressive special effects but rather the exploration of human frailty in adversity.

Parkland
Director: Peter Landsman
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Billy Bob Thornton
A re-telling of the 1963 assassination of J F Kennedy, with the drama set around the Dallas Parklands Hospital. The film is little quirky as it attempts to portray the assassination through the lives of ordinary people involved in this drama. A well made movie with good acting. It mixes newsreels with dramatic reconstruction. However this reviewer felt everyone was trying a little to hard to add a new spin to these well known and extensively documented events. Overall a fair movie.

Philomena
Director: Stephen Frears
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
A quaint and charming film based on the book 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' by Martin Sixsmith. Philomean (Dench) plays an Irish woman who had her baby taken from her for adoption in the USA whilst she was forced to live in a convent after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Much later in life she enlists the help of Sixsmith to try to discover the whereabouts of her lost son. Coogan produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay. He plays Sixsmith, the journalist who has fallen out of favour. Both Dench and Coogan give superb performances in this funny and heartwarming if a little sentimental film. Well worth seeing.

The Counsellor
Director: Ridley Scott
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Michael Fassbender,Brad Pitt,Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz
The screenplay is by Cormac McCarthy and the film follows the Counsellor, a man in love with Laura (Cruz) and employed defending drug dealers. He succumbs to greed and becomes involved in a drug deal on the Mexican boarder. However the deal goes very wrong and the Counsellor has to deal with some colourful and unpleasant characters. This is an original crime thriller with scenes of sexuality and gruesome violence which justifies its 18 category. The film is convoluted, unpredictable and generates an atmosphere of unease. However it is absorbing, very well acted and with its share of dark humour. A powerful must see movie.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland
The Hunger Games started as an extremely successful trilogy by Suzanne Collins. For this reviewer, the first Hunger Games excursion into film felt a little clunky. However The Hunger Games: Catching Fire got everything right and is a first rate movie. Katniss Everdeen was the winner in the 74th Hunger Games tournament and as victor she and Peeta Mellark must undertake a victors' tour of the districts. However rebellion is 'in the air' and the ruler, President Snow, sees Katniss as a potential threat to the status quo. Hence he plots to discredit and kill her by involving her in a new Hunger Games along with old winners. So the participants need to defeat President Snow as well as avoiding killing each other. This is a dark, tense, thrilling and very enjoyable movie.

Thor: The Dark World
Director: Alan Taylor
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings Thor must combat an ancient, pervasive and powerful enemy led by Malekith to save the earth and all the realms. Much of the action is played out in Asgard and the interaction between Thor is Loki provides a major part of the film. However there is plenty of action and a strong vein of humour. In all a film that is very entertaining and does not take itself too seriously.

Turbo
Director: David Soren
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Peña
A DreamWorks animation in which Turbo is a snail obsessed with racing cars who dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500 race. His hopes start to look more realistic when an accident with a car engine provides him with a magical turn of speed. The animation is expertly done. The snails have cute believable personalities and the whole has a real 'feelgood' factor of an underdog following his dreams. The film follows the DreamWorks hit animation 'The Croods' and whilst it is extremely enjoyable, it lacks twists and subplots that make for a really memorable movie.

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page.

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