Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 15th to 23rd April 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.

There are four new releases in our region this period. We have romance with A Little Chaos (12A); drama with Mommy (15); mystery with Child 44 (15) and the much awaited fantasy adventure Avengers: Age of Ultron (12A).

There is not a great deal of churn in other films. Only three movies have been dropped from the schedule viz Chappie; Into the Woods and Paddington. Also there is only film returning after an absence with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. However, it is looking like Diverget Series: Insurgent and The Water Diviner may soon come to the end of their screening.

An event of note is the screening of an Avengers triple bill comprising Avenger's Assemble; Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. These are being screened at the Vue on the 22nd April. In addition, the Dukes are holding another of their Film Quiz nights on Sunday 19th April.

High culture this week comes with theatre and ballet. The former is represented by Stoppard's The Hard Problem, the latter by the Bolshoi with Ivan the Terrible.

Reviews

A Little Chaos
Director: Alan Rickman
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Helen McCrory
The film is set in Paris in 1862. King Louis XIV (Rickman) wishes to build a marvelous garden at the Palace of Versailles and so hires the famous landscape artist Andre Le Notre (Schoenaerts) to undertake the work. Le Notre advertises for an assistant and hires Sabine de Barra (Winslet), a talented and attractive woman with modern ideas on gardening. Sabine has something of a past (told in flashback) and must overcome the obstacles of her class and sex to function within the court. The film is a period romance with the sexual chemistry building between Sabine and Andre, while being opposed by Andre's scheming wife Francoise (McCrory). The performances are excellent and the film a delight of stunning gardens and costumes. An entertaining if somewhat unchallenging film.

Cinderella
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.

Fast and Furious 7
Director: James Wan
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham
Dominic Toretto (Diesel), Brian O'Connor (Walker) and the rest of their associates return to the USA where they hope to find peace. However Deckard Shaw (Statham) is the latest villain after Don and the team as he seeks revenge for the death of his brother. The film is thus a sequel to the 2013 Fast and Furious 6 and it involves even more car chases and madcap action. The film suffered from the death of the actor Paul Walker during filming but this does not detract from the frenzied action. A worthy successor to this popular franchise.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Director: Andy Fickman
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez
Paul Blart (James) is a Mall Cop who takes a vacation with his teenage daughter Maya (Rodriguez) before she starts college. They go to Las Vegas to attend a Security Guard Expo. Though Blart is mocked by the Casino security staff, he uncovers an attempted theft and goes after the thieves. The film is a sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop which was released in 2009 and became something of a surprise box office hit. The movie is an example of that rather rare genre, a true family comedy that succeeds in entertaining young and old.

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 DUFF
Director: Ari Sandel
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Mae Whitman, Skyler Samuels, Bianca Santos, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Nick Eversman
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger. Bianca (Whitman) is a high school senior who, at a party, finds that she has been given the label the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her more popular friends Jess (Samuels) and Casey (Santos). She takes steps to challenge this designation by helping the star of the school football team Wesley (Amell) with his academic work in return for his helping her to re-invent herself. Yet she must face her nemesis, the mean label maker Madison Morgan (Thorne). This is an entertaining comedy albeit with some sexual references and crude language.

The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, Keira Knightley
A portrayal of the life of computer genius Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) who masterminded the cracking of the German Enigma code in the second world war and continued to develop computer theory at Manchester University. The film opens in 1951 with a robbery taking place in Turing's house. Thence the film explores Turing's life by flashbacks to his schooling and his life in Bletchley Park. The acting in the film is excellent with Cumberbatch giving a particularly good performance. However the film rather backs away from Turing's homosexuality and his subsequent suicide after his persecution by the British Government.

The Theory of Everything
Director: James Marsh
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox
A biopic of the early years of the world renown physicist Stephen Hawkins, based on the memoir 'Traveling to Infinity: My life with Stephen Hawkins' by Jane Hawkins. At Cambridge, Hawkins was an active young man who fell in love with literature student Jane Wilde. However, aged 21, Hawkins had an accidental fall and this led to his being diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given just two years to live. The film shows the marriage of Stephen and Jane and how she supported him and their children during the years of their marriage (they divorced in 1995). This is a beautiful film likely to leave the audience in tears. The acting is excellent especially Redmayne's portrayal of Hawkins and the movie shows the lighter side of Hawkin's character, his humour and his passion.

The Water Diviner
Director: Russell Crowe
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Russell Crowe, Isabel Lucas
Joshua Connor (Crowe) is an Australian farmer, water diviner and grieving father. He lost his three sons in the First World War Battle of Gallipoli and after a four years period he decides to travel to Turkey to locate their bodies. In doing so he comes to terms with the Turks as he finds obstacles to be overcome in getting to the battlefield. This is Crowe's first experience as a director and the result is a sombre but beautiful film, well acted and with a strong anti war message. 

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