Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 25th May to 2nd June 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.

This is an excellent period for new movies with eight new releases making it to the local screens. There is family adventure in Alice Through the Looking Glass (PG); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (12A) and the cartoon Top Cat Begins (U). Drama comes with Demolition (15); Money Transfer (15) and the crime thriller The Trust (15). Finally there is the musical biopic of Miles Davis with Miles Ahead (15) and a finance documentary in The Divide (12A).

Movies that have disappeared this period include Norm of the North; Robinson Crusoe and Thomas and Friends: The Great Race In addition it looks like the films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Eye in the Sky and Florence Foster Jenkins are coming to an end of their screening. However by way of compensation there is the return of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip; Deadpool and Kung Fu Panda 3.

Movies coming to our region in the near future include Independence Day: Resurgence at the end of June and The BFG at the end of July.

Drama is very well represented at the moment with A Hologram for the King; Demolition; Eye in the Sky; High Rise; Money Monster and The Trust. In addition, the latter part of this period sees fantasy action with Warcraft: The Beginning. Finally super hero moves continue to be well represented with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice; Captain America: Civil War; the return of Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse.

Comedy comes with Bad Neighbour 2; Florence Foster Jenkins and the excellent fantasy film The Brand New Testament.

For Family entertainment, there is Alice Through the Looking Glass; ; The Angry Birds Movie; The Jungle Book; Top Cat Begins and the return of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Kung Fu Panda 3.

There is a single representative for high culture with Henry V on 27th May.

Reviews

A Hologram for the King
Director: Tom Tykwer
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sanita Choudhury
Based on the best selling 2012 novel by Dave Egger, Alan Clay (Hanks) is an American Businessman whose life is falling apart following the recession. He is trying to make a comeback, leading a team to sell a new holographic telepresence system to the King of Saudi Arabia. However he is out of his depth with no knowledge of the local customs and facing a bureaucracy worthy of Kafka. Attempts to see the king repeatedly fail and he and his team just wait in a venue with failed communications and air conditioning. The only hope seems to be his taxi driver Yousef (Black). This is something of a convoluted story which is both funny and terribly sad. However Hanks gives a great performance and the whole provides a very entertaining movie.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Johnny Depp, Alice Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska
Alice (Wasikowska) has spent three years travelling and has now returned to London to contemplate her future. She uses a mirror to return to Wonderland but find things are not well, and the Hatter is more mad than ever. To aid him she must go back in time and face the Jabberwocky. This is Disney's sequel to the 2010 production of 'Alice in Wonderland' and all the major characters from the original movie make an appearance. The film is a visual feast, a lavish performance with a star studded cast. However for this reviewer the whole seemed more gloss than substance. It does not quite live up to the magic of the original.

Bad Neighbours 2
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Zac Efron
A sequel to the 2014 Bad Neighbours. Mac Radner (Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Byrne) are expecting their second child. They are in the process of selling their old house when a newly established female sorority, Kappa Kappa Nu led by Shelby (Moretz), moves into the house nextdoor. Excessive partying on the part of the sorority makes life a nightmare for the Radner's and will jeopardise the sale of their house. Their requests for the girls to keep the partying quiet lead to an all out war. Teddy (Efron) from the previous film has not coped well outside of college and he is enlisted by the Radner's to be their ally in the battle with the sorority. This movie is little more than a re-run of the first Bad Neighbours, but the film still has more than its share of very funny moments. Good entertainment.

Deadpool
Director: Tim Miller
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Ryan Reynolds, T L Miller, Morena Baccarin
Another Marvel comic superhero 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 superpowers 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 superhero 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.

Eye in the Sky
Director: Gavin Hood
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman
Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren) is tasked with capturing a terrorist who is attending a meeting in Kenya. The meeting room is bugged and a drone used to provide surveillance. Powell discovers the terrorists are actually planning suicide bombing attacks and so she seeks authority to call in a missile attack on the building. However there is a chance any attack will result in civilian casualties. The movie is a gripping and well received drama that explores some of the moral issues of drone warfare.

Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant
A period drama based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins (Streep). Jenkins is a rich heiress with ambitions to be a singer despite a terrible singing voice. Her husband St Clair Bayfield (Grant), despite being something of a cad, arranges for her to sing in a concert, having carefully selected the audience to ensure her efforts will be well received. This is the second recent movie based on the life of Jenkins and it provides a more light hearted approach to the 2015 film Marguerite. The movie is has been well received and provides a good share of laughs, though, for this reviewer, it was something of a one joke film.

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Certificate: PG Cast includes: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba
Based on Rudyard Kipling's works, this is a reworking of a the well known classic using live action and CGI. Mowgli (Sethi) is an orphaned boy raised by a wolf and thence by Bagheera (Kingsley) a black panther. Mowgli alienates the Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Elba) and so must make his way to humankind for safety, meeting the well known characters Baloo and Kaa on the way. Subsequently he returns to the jungle to face Shere Khan. The movie is a good example a remake that improves on the original. An excellent movie that will entertain all ages.

The Trust
Director: Alex and Benjamin Brewar
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Nicholas Cage Elijah Wood
David Waters (Wood) and Jim Stone (Cage) are two bored and corrupt officers working the the Evidence Unit of the Vegas police department. Stone comes to hear of a large amount of money in the possession of a drug dealer and held in a large safe. The two police officers investigate, and decide to steal the money off the crooks and take it for their own. However as the robbery progresses they start to fall out among themselves. This movie is a dark comedy. It very effectively builds up the tension despite something of a thin plot. Both Cage and Wood put in excellent performances with the former providing very memorable one liners. However the film does not have the feel of greatness about it.

Cat Smith MP hits back at "inappropriate" election expenses claims, David Morris also facing investigation

Lancaster and Morecambe MP Cat Smith. Photo: Gus Campbell Photography/The Labour Party

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has hit back at claims raised on a political blog that she filed improper expenses for last year's General Election campaign, which are now being "looked at" by Lancashire Police.

The same political blog, run by Guido Fawkes - real name Paul Staines - is however remarkably silent about concerns raised about local Tory MPs who are also facing questions of , including Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris.

"Guido Fawkes", a blog that is well known for its neo-liberal agenda, backing the kind of murky forces who support cuts to public services and selling off public assets, claimed last week that "anomalies" raised questions about her spending.

Lancashire Police has confirmed it is "looking" at the allegations after complaints were made.

In a public statement, Cat, who is shadow minister for Women and Equalities, said she utterly denies the allegations that her election expenses broke the law.

"If the police do decide to investigate I will fully cooperate with their inquiries," she said, "including giving them full access to all my financial records from the General Election campaign.

"I am confident that no case will be found and I will be fully exonerated."

In a statement, Lancashire Police said: "We have received a complaint and we are in the early stages of looking into the matter to establish whether there is anything to substantiate the allegations being made.

"At this stage we are not in a position to offer any further comment."

Paul Staines (aka Guido) claims Cat Smith' case is different from all the other election expenses stories. "Smith’s spending irregularities are not about battle buses or hotels for activists," he argues. "Much more worryingly, this is about how she declared her office rent and staffing costs, many thousands of which were not declared in her campaign expenditure.

"As an individual case, this is more serious than any of the other election fraud stories of the last few weeks."

Election candidates must not exceed strict local campaign spending limits in the run-up to an election. A breach is a criminal offence and could even lead to a demand for a by-election. Anyone found guilty of an offence could face imprisonment or a hefty fine.

David Morris MP

Earlier this month, the Electoral Commission launched an investigation after the Conservative Party admitted failing to declare expenses for its election battlebus which was used to target key marginals, including Morecambe and Lunesdale.

The move came as Channel 4 obtained undeclared receipts and published evidence it said undermined the Tory claim that the vehicle’s deployment was part of national campaign spending, not "local".

The report followed earlier news items in February by national newspapers such as the Daily Mirror, which David Morris refutes.

Channel 4 said it had found that in Morecambe And Lunesdale, campaigners were photographed handing out flyers for David Morris. It also reported that more than £38,000 was spent on accommodating battlebus campaigners in 29 marginal seats and that this was not declared to the Electoral Commission "in accordance with the law".

The Conservative Party has blamed an "administrative error" for not declaring the battlebus spending.

“My election expense return for the 2015 election was completed and returned by my election agent in accordance with the law,” Mr Morris told the Visitor in March. “It included all items authorised by my election agent for use in my campaign.

“I signed the necessary declaration on that basis.

“I am aware that CCHQ campaigned across the UK for the return of a Conservative Government, including in seats such as mine.

“Such campaigning would be part of the national return not within our local return.”




Tuesday, 24 May 2016

New Home for Morecambe’s Mosaic created by Leslie Cant

Photo: Lancaster City Council
A Morecambe landmark created by the late Leslie Cant is set to be preserved in a new location as preparations get underway for improvements to the town centre.

The Morecambe Mosaic, sited outside the Arndale Centre on Euston Road, will be moved in the next few weeks and given a new prominent setting on the seafront near to the RNLI lifeboat station.

This will then pave the way for improvements to this section of the town centre, including new street surfacing, street furniture, new lighting and artworks.

The decision to relocate the mosaic - created some 40 years ago - follows a public consultation last year about its future when the improvement works take place, and concerns from locals about its future that go back even further.

Local MP David Morris voiced his concerns about the fate of the mosaic back in 2011, saying he had received many letters from constituents who expressed their fondness for the mosaic following press reports that it was to be removed.

There were 16 responses to the consultation, representing a mix of views.

Councillor Janice Hanson, Cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, said: “To many people the mosaic represents something of the town’s identity, but keeping it in the current location would severely limit what we can do to enhance this area of the town centre.

“The results of the consultation weren’t conclusive in terms of its future location, but most of the respondents said they wanted the mosaic to be kept in some form and I absolutely agree.

“The area we’ve chosen is a good location just off the promenade, easily accessible to the public. The mosaic will be on a slope as now.

“Morecambe’s motto is ‘beauty surrounds, health abounds’ and the new location, with the Bay in the background, represents that perfectly.”

The works are part of the Morecambe Area Action Plan, an ambitious programme to regenerate central Morecambe, which includes plans to improve Euston Road from Barclays through to New Town Square, with new street surfacing, street furniture, lighting and artworks.

Leslie Cant. Picture via
Tagging the Treasures
The Morecambe Mosaic, one of a number of items of public art that formed part of the Council's last art audit back in 2012 (PDF link), is credited to artist Leslie Cant, who was born in Glasgow but moved to Preston in his twenties and worked as a set designer for the Salburg Players at Preston Hippodrome. Before he became a self-employed artist in 1983, he was office manager at the Building Design Partnership in Preston.

During his career as an artist he turned his talents to a range of disciplines including perspective drawing and building design, sculpture, mosaic and murals, as well as lecturing. He enjoyed landscape painting, some of his favourite scenes being of the Lake District. He died in June 2007, aged 87.

Appeal for information after woman, 21, found in distressed state in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information after a student was found in a distressed state in Lancaster in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The 21-year-old woman was found by residents on Coulston Road near the University of Cumbria and was later taken home by police, where she disclosed that she may have had her drink spiked while she was on a night out in the city centre.

Detectives are now trying to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident and are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the woman, who was wearing a pink top, black jeans and black boots, in the area between 1.30am and 2.20am on Saturday 21st May.

DC Sam Johnson of Lancaster CID said: "Our enquiries are on-going to establish exactly what has happened to this woman and we would like to hear from anyone who may have any information that could help us piece her movements together. If anyone saw her in the Coulston Road area in the early hours of Saturday morning I would urge them to get in touch with us.

“There is a suggestion that she may have had her drink spiked and this incident serves as a timely reminder to anyone on a night out to be careful about what they drink and who they accept drinks from.

"We would advise people to keep a close eye on their drinks at all times and make sure they are never left unattended. If you’re unsure about whether your drink may have been spiked, our advice is not to risk it and leave it well alone.”

• Anyone with information can contact Lancaster CID on 101 quoting crime reference WB1603945

Take a tour of Hidden Lancaster



A walking tour of Lancaster is planned in June for anyone interested in finding out about the darker secrets of Lancaster's criminal history.

The 'Lawless Lancaster' walking tour will take place on Thursday 2nd June.

This tour will start at 10.30am at Lancaster Castle, and will finish at approximately 4.30pm at Lancaster Town Hall. It will also visit the Judges' Lodgings, Lancaster City Museum and the courtroom and cells at Lancaster Town Hall.

The walk will also include lunch at Lancaster Castle.

Now in its second year, the tour will tell the story of law and order and crime and punishment in Lancaster from the Georgian period in the 18th century through to the early 20th century.

Lancashire County Council's head of libraries, museums, culture and registrar's services, Julie Bell, said: "I have no doubt that this will be a fascinating day.

"Those taking part will be able to learn about the more hidden details of the city's history, and enjoy some gentle exercise at the same time."

Tickets for the tour are now available and cost £20 for adults and £15 for concessions, which includes lunch.

Numbers are limited so booking is essential. To book a ticket, or for more information phone 01524 64998 or call in at Lancaster Castle shop between 9.30am and 4.30pm.

Appropriate footwear and suitable outdoor clothing is recommended for the tour. Unfortunately it is not suitable for wheelchair users.

• More information about this walking tour is available at: www.lancastercastle.com/event/lawless-lancaster-tour | More information about other Lancashire County Council museums is available at www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums