Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 19th to 27th February 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.

Only two new releases during this period, drama with The Book Thief (12A) and a time traveling romance with A New York Winter's Tale (12A). It is now too late to catch the movies I, Frankenstein and Lone Survivor but we see the return of a couple of favourites with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & The Harry Hill Movie.

This is also a good period for culture with screenings of English National Opera: Peter Grimes, Globe: Henry V, Globe: Twelfth Night & NT Live: War Horse.

Offering from the Dukes include the charming comedy Inside Llewyn Davis and the latest installments of their Gothic season with Suspiria and The Company of Wolves.

Reviews

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Category: 15
Cast Includes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Michael Fassbender
Set in the 1800s, New York black man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a slave to a New Orleans Plantation. Here he works for slave-master Epps (Michael Fassbender) who is a sadist, dishing out sexual abuse. The film is based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, the script being co-written by Steve McQueen and John Ridley. This is one of the finest films about American Slavery. It is very visceral, with Northup trying to maintain dignity amidst the atmosphere of violence of the movie. Very well shot and splendidly acted, this is the must see film for 2014.

Cuban Fury
Director: James Griffiths
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Rashida Jones, Olivia Colman
A boy with natural talent and a potential career as a dancer has his confidence destroyed by a bully and so his life takes a turn for the worse. Many years later as an adult Bruce Garrett (Frost) must regain his skills with Salsa in order to win the love of the woman in his life. This is a British dance comedy with some very entertaining dance sequences, a mix of wacky characters and it serves up a the laughs. However in places is seems a little too silly and in all it could have been better. However a worthwhile and entertaining comedy.

Dallas Buyers Club
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Griffin Dunne, Jared Leto
The movie is set in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Texan electrician and part-time cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is diagnosed as HIV positive and given 30 days to live. Ron finds there is no approved treatment for his condition and such is the hysteria over this disease he is ostracized by many in his circle of friends. He joins forces with a number of outcasts for form a buyers club in 1985 and undertakes a world wide search of unorthodox treatments for this condition. Potentially this could have been a depressing movie, but superb acting by McConaughey makes this an excellent film looking at the bigotry of this period. A strong film that must be seen.

Endless Love Director: Shana Feste
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde
All the classic ingredients of teen romance when privileged girl Jade meets handsome boy David but their parents try to keep them apart. David exacerbated the situation when a stupid prank resulted in the destruction of Jade's house. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Scott Spencer but struggles to capture the power of the original, leaving a film that does not really explore the characters of the lovers and fails to convince an audience.

Free Birds
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Owen Wilson, Keith David, Colm Meaney, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler
Two turkeys, Reggie and Jake, use a time machine to attend the first Thanksgiving meal in an attempt to get turkey removed from subsequent thanks-giving diners. Reggie is from a free-range turkey farm and he realises the reason why turkeys are being fattened. It is Jake who has the vision of commandeering the time machine in an attempt to change history. The film has some romantic interest with Reggie falling for Jenny, a turkey he meets during the adventure. In all the plot of this animation seems a little over complicated and the film contains some rude humour that may not be appropriate for the very young. In all an entertaining movie but one that is not destined to become a classic.

Frozen
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' for it is she 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 and makes an movie for Christmas.

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. Stone 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.

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.

The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Roger Allam, Emily Watson
The film is based in World War II Germany and tells the story of Liesel (Nelisse) a young girl sent to live with a foster family after family problems. She copes by stealing books to read and this enables her to become close with her foster father and with Max, a Jewish boy hiding in their basement. The film does not make any comments on the horrors of Nazi Germany, it simply provides a backdrop for what is essentially a love story, and during the film we have Death providing the narration. The acting is acceptable but the characters are not totally believable.

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.

The Monuments Men
Director: George Clooney
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray
An action adventure based on the book 'The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History' by Robert Edsel. This tells the true story of a platoon comprising art historians and museum directors who were dispatched into World War II Germany to retrieve art works plundered by the Nazis. A very entertaining movie with a generous helping of high profile stars. Perhaps not a must-see film but still worth a visit to the cinema.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler
The story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) who rose from penny stocks to a life of affluence and corruption as he founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. His life of drugs, sex and ruthless achievement led to his title of Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese had produced a hard hitting and fast moving film and Di Caprio's acting rises to the challenge of portraying Belfort. However after building up Belfort as a monster the film seems to say little about about the morality of this sort of life and thus ultimately does not come to any satisfactory resolution. Hence the movie seemed to lacked any real depth.

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