Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.
Six new releases make it to our region during this period. There is comedy with Grandma (15) and drama with Sunset Song & The Fall of the Krays (15). In addition we have the western The Hateful Eight (18), family animation in Zarafa and the documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans.
Three major movies have vanished from the screen with the loss of Sisters; Spectre and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Also the movie The Lady in the Van is nearing the end of its screening. However the comedy The Intern has returned for just one day. Coming soon is the boxing drama Creed due for release on the 15th January.
There is some excellent drama on offer at the moment. The must see science fiction is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By contrast In the Heart of the Sea is a glorious seafaring adventure whereas The Danish Girl breaks new ground with its depiction of a transexual. Finally Tarantino's The Hateful Eight is a superb western mystery, though having an 18 certificate.
Comedies on offer include Daddy's Home; Grandma; Joy and The Intern. Family films include Pan; Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie; The Good Dinosaur and the new release Zarafa.
There is little by way of high culture, but the screening of the classic Dr Zhivago fills this niche.
By way of local news, the Dukes are hosting another Film Quiz on Sunday
10th January whereas the Vue is still advertising problems with their
Director: Sean Anders
Cast Includes: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini
A comedy. Conservative radio executive Brad (Ferrell) marries Sarah
(Cardellini) and tries to be a good step dad to her two children.
However his wife's charismatic and musclebound former husband Dusty
(Wahlberg) comes for an extended visit. Brad finds he must now compete
with their real father for the affection of his step children. There is
a real on-screen chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg as they vie
with each other and this provides plenty of opportunity for gags and
comedy set pieces. However some of the gags are rather predictable
leaving a film that is genuinely funny but seldom hilarious.
In the Heart of the Sea
Director: Ron Howard
Cast Includes: Ben Whishaw, Brendon Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy
A film based on a non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is set in
the winter of 1820 when the whaling ship the Essex sets sail. Finding
the local whaling ground is depleted, the ship ventures into the Pacific
Ocean. Here prey is bountiful, but a massive sperm whale seeks
vengeance against the hunters. It attacks the ship and the crew take
refuge on a tiny island where they face the prospect of starvation.
Hence they have little option but to take to the seas again to face the
hardships and privations of an extended voyage to return home. This is a
gripping film with convincing special effects and plenty of action,
though somewhat lacking in suspense. An entertaining sea-fairing yarn.
Director: David O Russell
Cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Diana Ladd
A semi-fictional biographical comedy drama about a mop, or how Joy
Mangaro (Lawrence) became a millionaire. Joy is a divorced mother with
two children, living with her extended dysfunctional family who all
depend upon her. In the early 1990s she invents and markets the Miracle
Mop. This becomes a great success, selling on a TV shopping channel.
Her grandmother Mimi (Ladd) is always supportive of her, and it is she
who supplies the narration during the film. The movie has a strong cast
and Lawrence provides an exceptionally strong performance. There are
some laugh out loud moments during the movie though at times it seemed a
little flat. A good, but not a great film.
Director: Joe Wright
Cast Includes: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Garrett Hedlund
A prequel to the story of Peter Pan. Peter (Miller) is abandoned by
his mother and brought up in an orphanage run by Mother Barnabus
(Burke). He is captured by pirates and taken to the magical world of
Neverland where he is forced into slave labour by Bluebeard (Jackman).
Peter and his friend James Hook (Hedlund) manage to escape to the forest
where Peter befriends the fairy Tinker Bell. The fairies fight and
defeat the pirates and Hook becomes captain of the Jolly Roger ship. A
rather bland and somewhat contrived movie.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Director: J J Abrams
Cast includes: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver.
The movie is set some thirty years after 'The Return of the Jedi'. The
power vacuum left after the Empire was vanquished has been filled by
the 'First Order' who start to control the galaxy with their
stormtroopers. The movie tells of the adventures of Han Solo (Ford),
Chewbacca and Princess (now General) Leia (Fisher) as they join new
characters including Rey (Ridley), a scavenger, Finn (Boyega) a First
Order Conscript and a spherical droid BB-8 as they battle the First
Order led by the ominous Kylo Ren (Driver). This movie follows the
style of the first star wars trilogy and, for this reviewer, was much
better than the prequels. Old characters make a welcome appearance to
supplement the newer heroes and villains. An excellent movie in all
respects and the best Star Wars yet.
The Danish Girl
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw
The film is based on a novel by David Ebershoff and inspired by the
lives of Dutch artists Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener (Redmayne) and Gerda
Wegener (Vikander). Set in the mid 1920's Gerda is a portrait painter,
but a sitter is late for an appointment. Hence Gerda gets her husband
Einar to stand in for the missing female sitter. This has consequences.
Einar has been harbouring a disire to become a female and the finished
portrait attracts favourable attention from art dealers. Einar decides
to permanently convert to his alter ego Lili Elbe and becomes one of
the first people to received a surgical sex realignment procedure to
change from a man to a woman. The movie follows both the artists as
they come to terms with the change from Einar to Lili. A serious movie,
well acted and well received that highlights the issues of gender
The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast Includes: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins
A mystery western set in Wyoming some years after the American civil
war, and told in six chapters. A stagecoach bound for Red Rock picks up
a number of passengers. These include John Ruth (Russell), bounty
hunter, Daisy Domergue (Leigh) a criminal, Major Marquis Warren
(Jackson) another bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Groggins) the
prospective sheriff of Red Rock. Due to a blizzard, the stage coach is
forced to make a stopover at Minnie's Haberdashery and here the
travellers meet a local hangman, a loner, a Mexican and a Confederate
General. These eight must spend the night together. However, one of
them is plotting evil and the night descends into violence and death.
This is an excellent movie, stylish, well acted and with excellent
dialogue. Tarantino slowly builds up tension and suspense during the
first half of the movie, leading to a final climactic resolution.
The Lady in the Van
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Cast includes: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings
A true story, adopted from 1999 West End Play of the same name and
filmed on location in North London. In 1974, Miss Shephard (Smith) is a
woman looking for somewhere to park after being moved on the council.
Playwright Alan Bennett agrees to her parking her van (which is also her
accommodation) in his drive for a couple of days. However Miss
Shephard then lived in the drive for the next fifteen years and the film
shows the relationship between Bennett and his nuisance neighbour.
This is a warm, charming and thoroughly fun movie.