Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 17th to 25th 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.

We have three new releases during this period. There is drama with The Riot Club (15), action/adventure with A Walk Among the Tombstones (15), and science fiction with The Giver (12A). In addition we see the return of three favourites. Animation with Frozen & Wreck-it Ralph, comedy with Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie.

We have lost the horror film As Above, So Below and the excellent Maleficent. In addition it is likely that The Inbetweeners 2 and The Nut Job will soon cease to be screened.

Recommended for high culture is Madame Butterfly; Salome & Wilde Salome and RSC Encore: The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Given the dearth of main stream horror films at the moment, there is a welcome screening of the Gothic masterpiece from the 1920s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at the Dukes.

Reviews

A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Grigoriy Dabrygin
The film is an adaptation of John le Carre's novel of the same name and is also the last role of the late Philip Hoffman. Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) is an intelligence officer working in Hamburg who becomes aware of a tortured half Chechen half Russian immigrant Issar Karpov (Dabrygin) who has arrived in Hamburg to claim asylum and seek his fathers fortune. However is the immigrant a victim or is he a terrorist? If the latter could he be played to lead the security forces to others higher in the terrorist chain? Hoffman steals much of the film with his world weary character and the movie unfolds by covert meetings and dark conversations. This is an intricate, well directed, gripping espionage film.

A Walk Among The Tombstones
Director: Scott Frank
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Liam Neeson, Ruth Wilson, David Harbour, Robert Boyd Holbrook, Dan Stevens, Adam David Thompson, Brian Bradley
Set in 1999 and based on the tenth book in Lawrence Block's best selling crime series. Matt Scudder (Neeson) used to be an alcoholic police officer until a disastrous shootout caused him to give up both. Now he works as an unlicensed private eye and, with some reluctance, he agrees to help find the men who kidnapped and killed the wife of a drug trafficker (Stevens). Scudder discovers the kidnappers are serial killers and, helped by a homeless teenager (Bradley), who acts as his apprentice he tracks them down. Neeson gives a strong performance in this atmospheric thriller. There are quite a few sub plots during the course of this movie as it builds to up a violent conclusion. A fine film.

Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffe
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff, Mark Strong
A movie based on the best selling 2011 book by S J Watson. Christine Lucas (Kidman) suffered a head trauma thirteen years ago, with the consequence that she starts each day with no memories of the past thirteen years. She does not recognise her husband, her doctor nor even her own face. To try make sense of her world, she starts to keep a video diary and in this way can begin to get some continuity in her thoughts. However this reveals that her husband Ben (Firth) and her doctor (Strong) are concealing something from her. This film is a psychological thriller which successfully builds suspense with twists to the plot and some false trails. An enjoyable thriller.

Earth to Echo
Director: Dave Green
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Teo Halm, Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Reese C. Hartwig, Jason Gray-Stanford
A construction project is destroying a neighbourhood when a group of friends start to receive strange signals on their phones. They search for the origin of the signals and discover an alien who has become trapped on earth. The film tells the story of the youngsters as they battle the government and help the alien return to his home. It is hard not to compare this film with 'E.T.' However the movie is really about the youthful friendships rather than an extra-terrestrial. A entertaining if rather average family film.

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' 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.

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.

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
Director: Ben Kellett
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brendan O'Carroll
Agnes Brown (O'Carroll) is a market trader who finds her livelihood under threat from a property developer. Supported by her family she embarks on a crusade to save her stall. This is a movie adaption of the well known and much loved BBC comedy and was extremely successful in its opening weekend. The film is a very capable comedy that captures the spirit of the TV series.

Pride
Director: Matthew Warchus
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Bill Nighty, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton Joe Gilgun, Ben Schnetzer
The film is based on a true story and is set in the summer of 1984 during the miners strike. Mark Ashton, a member of a London based gay and lesbian group organises a collection for the miners. However when the group came to offer the donation, they were rebuffed due to prejudice (the AIDs epidemic is one of the backdrops to the film). The group therefore decide to bus to a mining village in the Welsh Dulais Valley to make the donation personally. This movie is played for laughs. It is an excellent comedy supported by an excellent cast and it explores the clash of two very different cultures.

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 spirit (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 stylised violence as it explores power and its abuse.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
A Walt Disney adaptation of the 2010 novel by Richard C Morais. The Kadam's are an Indian family that were displaced due to political rioting. They arrive at a quaint but rather conservative French Village and decide to open an Indian Restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. However just across the road is a classical, Michelin starred restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory (Mirren). This leads to fall-outs and ultimately sabotage between the two institutions. Meanwhile Hassan (Dayal) the master cook of the Indian restaurant begins a flirtation with Marguerite (Le Bon), the sous chef of Mme Mallory's restaurant. This is a well acted and endearing movie with plenty of laughs. Entertaining but lacking suspense.

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.

Wreck it Ralph
Director: Rich Moore
Certificate: PG
Film animation starring video game characters. Wreck it Ralph rebels against continually being the bad guy and being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix. He jumps into different video games to prove himself a hero. He meets a champion (Sargent Calhoun) from a first person action game and the trouble-making Vanellope von Schweetz from a racing game. Ralph inadvertently unleashes the enemy of the arcade and must strive to made amends. This film is a great and very enjoyable piece of hokum. Kids will be enthralled and computer gamers will revel in the in-jokes and gaming references.

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