Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 8th to 16th 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.

This week seems to be something of a slow period in the cinemas, perhaps whilst we wait for the forthcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron and Spy. However this week does see two new releases. There is the family comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (PG) and action/adventure with John Wick (15). In addition we have the documentary on the superbike championship of 2014 with I, Superbiker V 'Split Second' (12A) which shows one night only at the Reel.

During this period the following films have disappeared from our screens Annie; Focus; Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Selma and Still Alice. Also the movies Get Hard and Seventh Son may soon be at the end of being screened.

Family entertainment continues to be well represented with Cinderella; Home; Into the Woods; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Paddington; Shaun the Sheep and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. However adult drama is rather more sparse with just Fast and Furious 7 and The Water Diviner.

For high culture there is similarly something of a scarcity with just two national theatre productions A View from the Bridge and The Hard Problem.

Films of note during this period include the race horse documentary Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance (PG) and the cult movie by David Lynch Eraserhead (18).

Reviews

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.

Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, James Corden, Anna Kendrick
This is a Walt Disney adaptation of Sondheim's 1987 hit musical of the same name. The film posits that the fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel are all happening simultaneously. Meanwhile a Baker and his wife wish to begin a family, but they cannot due to a witches curse. To lift the curse they must collect items from each of the fairy tales. This is a star studded musical with excellent performances, especially from Meryl Streep who plays the wicked witch. The original stage musical had a number of adult themes which are softened for the Disney version, but the end result is a great and entertaining family movie.

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 memoire '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. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Strange worlds of David Lynch film season at Dukes


Still from 'Wild at Heart'


The Dukes cinema is celebrating 25 years since the premieres of Twin Peaks and Wild At Heart with a special season of films directed by David Lynch.

The Strange Worlds Of David Lynch kicks off on April 8 with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (15) and continues with Eraserhead (18) on April 15; The Elephant Man (PG) on April 29; Blue Velvet (18) on May 6; Wild At Heart (18) on May 20 and concludes with Mulholland Drive (15) on May 27.

“All the movies are about strange worlds that you can’t go into unless you build them and film them,” said David Lynch. “That’s what’s so important about film to me. I just like going into strange worlds.”

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a sort-of-prequel to the television series which launched on April 8, 1990 and it follows the last seven days in the life of Laura Palmer. It features some great music with vocals by Julee Cruise - in 2011, NME placed the  soundtrack at number 1 on their list of the 50 Best Film soundtracks Ever, describing it as "combining plangent beauty with a kind of clanking evil jazz, this is one of those endlessly evocative soundtracks that takes up residence in your subconscious and never leaves." I agree.

Lynch’s first film, Eraserhead, is set in a nightmarish industrial wasteland where factory worker Henry Spencer becomes father to a hideously deformed baby whose crying drives him and his girlfriend to near insanity.

Newly knighted John Hurt gives a career-best performance in Lynch’s atmospheric Victorian drama, The Elephant Man, telling the true-life story of John Merrick.

Blue Velvet is an unforgettable sinister satire on American suburban life while Wild At Heart is Lynch’s controversial winner of the 1990 Palme d’Or at Cannes featuring a mix of extreme violence, mordant wit and laid-back, absurd humour. You're not in Kansas anymore.

The season ends with one of Lynch’s finest films – Mulholland Drive – acclaimed by Sight and Sound magazine as one of the 50 greatest films ever made.

Tickets for each film at the Lancaster cinema are priced £6.50/£5.50 concessions (a £1 per transaction fee applies to online bookings).

For more information or to book, call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or online at http://www.dukes-lancaster.org/whats-on.

Election Forecast poll suggests Labour's Amina Lone is front runner in Morecambe's MP race

Amina Lone and supporters - but does she have enough to swing the Morecambe and Lunesdale seat?

Research available through a new site by campaign group 38 Degrees offering voters an insight into which party best suits their views suggests Labour's Amina Lone has a good chance of beating sitting Tory MP David Morris in next month's General Election battle.

A hustings to which all the constituency's candidates have been invited will take place at More Music in Morecambe on Tuesday 14th April from 7.00 until 9.00pm and you can post questions for the event on its Facebook page. The constituency includes Skerton, where Labour councillors have had strong support for many years.

 The Vote Match site offers a simple quiz to help you find the political party closest to your views, covering topics that include the NHS, taxation, the environment and immigration. Once you've answered the questions, the site offers a "best match" between your views and those of the political parties.

The current predicted chance of Labour winning in Morecambe and Lunesdale is 68%, according to ElectionForecast, with David Morris predicted as having a 32% chance of retaining his seat.

The current predicted chance of Liberal Democrats winning in Morecambe and Lunesdale is less than 1%, and the chances of both UKIP and the Green Party are no better.

Predictions, are, of course, subject to a lot of varaiables and Election Forecast cautions that  when reading their seat predictions, voters should "keep in mind that our model may not know as much about your specific seat of interest as you do.

"The model knows how the general patterns of support across the UK have changed in constituencies with different kinds of political, geographic and demographic characteristics. The model uses the Ashcroft constituency polls where available, plus smaller samples of polling data for every constituency, extracted from pooling many national-level polls.

"However, the model does not know whether your MP is beloved by constituents or embroiled in scandal, nor does it know whether Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage is standing in your constituency, let alone what the implications of that might be."

There are still some wrinkles in the technology, too, as despite filling in the survey for this very English seat, the results also advised that the SNP and Plaid Cymru had little chance of winning!

• Vote Match: www.38degrees.org.uk/page/-/html/votematch.html

• Morecambe and Lunesdale Hustings, 7.00 - 9.00pm, Tuesday 14th April 2015, More Music, 13-17 Devonshire Road, LA3 1QT Morecambe. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/724571480974654/

The Candidates for Morecambe and Lunesdale