Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Local Cinema Round-up for the 9th to 17th March 2016

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.

Following the excess of new releases last week, this period is a desert with no new films making it to our region. However there is some churn with the following having vanished from the local screens: Exposed; Snoopy and Charlie Brown: the Peanuts Movie; The Danish Girl; The Finest Hours; Triple 9 and Zoolander 2. In addition the movies Daddy's Home; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Forest are approaching the end of their screening.

By way of contrast the films Home; Point Break and Spectre have made a return to the local cinemas. Films soon to be released include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice & Eddie the Eagle, both being released end of March and A Warriors Tale & Zootropolis being released early in April.

Drama is still well represented with A Bigger Splash; Deadpool; London has Fallen; Spotlight and Spectre In addition there is horror with The Forest; The Other Side of the Door and science fiction with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Divergent Series: Allegant.

Comedy comes with Dad's Army; Daddy's Home; Grimsby; Hail Caesar!; How to be Single and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

For family entertainment there is Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip; Jungle Book and Kung Fu Panda 3.

There are no representatives in the category of high culture during this period. However the popular Film Quiz returns to the Dukes on Monday 14th March.

Reviews

Dad's Army
Director: Oliver Parker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, Toby Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Blake Harrison
After some fifty years, the famous Dads army TV sitcom makes it to the big screen. It is 1944 and the end of the second world war is in sight. Morale in the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard is low until Rose Winters (Zeta-Jones) a glamorous journalist, arrives to report on the exploits of Mainwaring (Jones) and his platoon. In addition evidence is uncovered of a local German spy who must be caught. The movie makes references to the original series and surviving members make a couple of cameo appearances. This is a very amiable movie, quietly amusing rather than riotously funny. One is left with the impression that a star studded cast should have been capable of making something a little more spectacular.

Daddy's Home
Director: Sean Anders
Certificate: 12A
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.

Deadpool
Director: Tim Miller
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Ryan Reynolds, T L Miller, Morena Baccarin
Another Marvel comic super-hero makes the big screen. Wade Wilson (Reynolds), a mercenary, is diagnosed with cancer. He agrees to take part in an experimental cure and this gives him super powers but leaves him disfigured. He escapes from the laboratory but feels he can no longer return to his girlfriend and his previous life. Taking advice from his best friend Weasel (Miller), he decides to become a masked vigilante and subsequently is invited to join the X-Men. He finds that his girlfriend Vanessa (Baccarin) has been kidnapped and so seeks her safety and his revenge. Made on a low budget, this is an enjoyable movie. It makes fun of the super-hero movie genre and does not take itself very seriously. Full of wise cracks, one liners and excessive violence this is still a very entertaining film.

London Has Fallen
Director: Babak Najafi
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Aaron Eckhard, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Charlotte Riley
The UK prime minister has died in mysterious circumstances. A state funeral is held and the leaders of the western world attend. However the event is exploited by terrorists, who have infiltrated the British Secret Service, intent on killing the leaders and devastating London. Working to thwart the plot is the US President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart), a US agent Mike Banning (Butler) the American vice president Allan Trumbull (Freeman) and a British MI6 agent Jacquelin Marshall (Riley). The president gets stranded in the London streets and Banning has to battle the terrorists to escort him to the US Embassy. This is a sequel to the hit movie 'Olympus has Fallen' and it follows a similar format. There are some very good set pieces in the film and footage of many of the London landmarks coming under attack. For this reviewer it did't quite have the magic of the original, but it is a competent and entertaining film nevertheless.

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Waltz, Andrew Scott
The latest James Bond Movie. M engages in a political battle to keep the secret service in the light of a plan by Max Denbigh (Scott) to replace the 00 program with computer surveillance. Bond meanwhile is trying to locate a Franz Oberhauser (Waltz), the suspected head of the evil organisation 'Spectre'. The movie starts in Mexico during the Day of the dead celebrations and thence the action continues in London, Rome and Morocco. There are numerous over the top action sequences, car chases, a good assortment of scary villains and exotic love interest. However amid the harshness, the movie contains a good level of humour. Tension builds from the very start, though some of this starts to dissipate as the film progresses. This is James Bond from the classic mould and Daniel Craig delivers a great performance.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Director: J J Abrams
Certificate: 12A
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 Forest
Director: Jason Zada
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney
Sara Price (Dormer) learns that her identical twin sister Jess is missing after heading into the Aokigahara Forest in Japan. The forest is infamous for the number of suicides that occur there and rumoured to be haunted by restless spirits. Sara heads to Japan where she teams up with travel reporter Aiden (Kinney) and together they enter the forest. Here they find a tent belonging to Jess and so stay the night. This is when the hallucinations and the violence begins. Dormer gives a good performance playing both of the sisters and the director has tried the novel approach of building tension without too many shocks. This makes for a frightening and entertaining film, thought the lack of real shocks explains why it has received some rather poor reviews.

The Other Side of the Door
Director: Johannes Robert
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Logan Creran, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto, Sofia Rosinsky
Maria (Collies) and Michael (Sisto) are in India when tragedy strikes with the death of their son Olivier (Creran). Maria is distraught, causing her housekeeper to reveal there is a way for her to say one final goodbye to her dead son. This involves visiting an ancient temple where, for one time only, she will be able to communicate with her son through the closed temple door. Maria goes, but breaks a fundamental rule, causing her to open the door between the worlds of the living and the dead. This results in the family becoming the victim of a haunting. The movie is filmed in India and incorporates some hindu mysticism. The premise of the film is rather original, though the treatment of the subsequent events does not break any new ground. A solid horror movie.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Morecambe MP David Morris Had Official "Credit Card" Suspended


14 MPs - including Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris - have had their taxpayer-funded credit cards blocked after running up debts worth £27,000.

The news breaks just one month after David Morris called on the Labour leader of Lancaster City Council to resign after "mismanaging" the council's finances.

The Indpendent newspaper (among others) reports that a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the action was carried out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which issues MPs with credit cards to pay for a variety of items such as travel, accommodation and stationery.

MPs are issued with credit cards which they can use for travel and other valid expenses. They are required to justify each item to Ipsa within a month, or they build up debts to the watchdog. The sums are recouped by suspending the cards and not paying out valid expenses claims, or in instalments from the MP's salary.

David Morris's card was suspended in December, when he owed £12,240.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Mr Morris says Ipsa had initially failed to process the transactions properly and later discovered an overspend in office costs of nearly £5,000.

The Morecambe MP said the expenses claimed for were all permissible claims and "were legitimate office costs incurred by carrying out my parliamentary duties to my constituents."

Unlike other credit card users, they are not charged interest even if they take months to clear a debt. The Independent newspaper reports that according to an Ipsa spokesman, that is because “technically, it is not a credit card: it’s a payment card”.

The Indpendent's report on the matter suggests the row is a sign that an MP’s word is no longer taken on trust as it was before 2008, when lax rules allowed a handful of MPs to engage in fraud, while numerous others put in highly questionable expenses claims, which blew up into a scandal when the details became public.

In February, the Lancaster Guardian reported Morecambe MP David Morris had called for the resignation of Lancaster City Council leader Eileen Blamire over proposed cuts to local services, after Coun Blamire said the Conservative MP “has his head in the sand” over “appalling” cuts to local government funding.

Mr Morris hit back saying the council was mismanaging its finances and “has no vision and no scope”.

"I want Lancaster City Council to be in a position by 2020 to manage its money, rather than the financial mismanagement I’m seeing," he said, after claims he was ignoring how the government's funding cuts were affecting the area.

David Morris: Full Statement on Ipsa

"The card was suspended during a process of dealing with IPSA’s chief executive to get to the bottom of card payments which had not been processed by IPSA which led to an historic office costs overspend.

"This overspend happened due to numerous admitted errors by IPSA with their system but under the scheme any budget overspends must be personally reimbursed by the Member from their own pocket.

"This issue has now been resolved and the amount agreed as owed is being paid back by myself from my own pocket.

"I must stress that these expenses claimed for were all permissible claims and were legitimate office costs incurred by carrying out my parliamentary duties to my constituents."

• David Morris Official web site: www.davidmorris.org.uk

• Find David Morris MP on Facebook here. He doesn't allow comments from people who might disagree with him. You can also follow him on Twitter



MPs Affected by Payment Card Suspension




• Angela Crawley (SNP) Card suspended: 25 Jan 2016 Amount owed when card  suspended: £2,152.68 Amount owed as of  23 February: £2,152.68



• Angus MacNeil (SNP) 15 December 2015; £950.70; Repaid in full



• Angus Robertson (SNP)  15 December 2015; £1,165.26; Repaid in full



• Stewart Hosie (SNP) 15 December 2015; £3,446.95; Repaid in full



• Stuart Donaldson (SNP)  3 November 2015; £33.93; Repaid in full



• Natalie McGarry (Independent) 25 January 2016; £2,720.04; £2,370.30



• David Morris (Tory) 8 December 2015; £12,240.03; £4,919.37



• John Stevenson (Tory) 15 December 2015; £608.90;



• Repaid in full Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru) 3 November 2015; £2,183.11; Repaid in full



• Ian Paisley (DUP) 3 November 2015; £27,766.63; £20,337.06



• Jon Cruddas (Labour) 15 December 2015; £2,967.25; £1,483.61



• Liam Byrne (Labour) 29 January 2016; £1,189.52; Repaid in full



• Owen Smith (Labour) 25 January 2016; £953.42;  Repaid in full



• Simon Danczuk (Labour)  25 January 2016; £595.81; Repaid in full