Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 11th to 19th March 2015 by peter@virtual-lancaster.net

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.

A good week for new releases. Family animation comes with Home (U) and drama is represented by Love is Strange (15) and Run All Night (15). In addition there is romance with Suite Francaise (15) and science fiction adventure in The Divergent Series: Insurgent (12A).

Films no longer being screened include Jupiter Ascending; The Wedding Ringer; The Theory of Everything; Ex Machina and Selma. It is looking like The Boy Next Door will soon vanish from the screens. However we have the return of the film Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Science fiction is well represented at the moment with the release last week of Chappie; the appearance at the end of this week of The Divergent Series: Insurgent and the continuing screening of Project Almanac. Indeed there is a Divergent/Insurgence double bill showing at the Vue on the 18th March. Unfortunately there is no horror film showing at the moment. However by way of compensation, there is a good selection of comedy dramas with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Focus and Unfinished Business.

High culture is here in abundance. There is ballet with Swan Lake, opera with La Traviata and theatre with Love's Labour's Won and Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

A film of note is Love is Strange, which follows the tribulations of a Gay relationship. In addition, The Campus in the City continues to screen foreign films with a look at Chilean propaganda with No.

Reviews

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.

Focus
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.

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.

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 Boy Next Door
Director: Rob Cohen
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson.
Claire Peterson (Lopez) is a lonely English teacher. She is a single parent looking after her teenage son Kevin (Nelson) following separation from her unfaithful husband. A man half her age, Noah (Guzman), moves into the house across the street. Initially he helps Claire with chores, but their closeness results in a night of passion. Claire realizes this was a mistake and abruptly finishes the relationship. Noah however shows his unstable side. He becomes her stalker and threatens her, his obsession becoming ever stronger till there is a final culmination at the end of the film. The movie however has attracted rather poor reviews as both the plot and the dialogue are a little 'clunky'. Also Guzman proves to be more convincing as a handsome hulk than a threatening obsessive. However this is an acceptable entry into the category an erotic drama.

Unfinished Business
Director: Ken Scott
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller
Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) owns a small business and he takes his two associates Tim (Wilkinson) and Mike (Franco) with him to Germany in order to close an essential and very profitable deal. However he finds he is competing for the work against his former employer Chuck Portnoy (Miller). In addition, every aspect of the German trip goes radically wrong including clashes with Oktoberfest, a gay fetish festival, a UN summit and the Berlin Marathon. The film is a comedy with plenty of scope for real laughs. However the film suffers from a rather overly contrived plot, somewhat mediocre acting and poor reviews. This is a comedy that will raise a smile, but not much more.

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