Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 22nd to 30th April 2015

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.

Only a single release of a mainstream movie this period, the latest in the Avengers franchise with Avengers: Age of Ultron (12A). However there are a couple of new European films that make it to our region. These are a look at the Christian Dior fashion house with the French documentary Dior and I (12A) and a Spanish comedy/drama Wild Tales (15).

We also see the return of a couple of family movies with Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. However we have lost the films Seventh Son; Suite Francaise; The Imitation Game and The Water Diviner.

Events of note this week include the screening of the Avengers triple bill at the Vue on the 22nd. This comprises Avenger's Assemble; Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. In addition the Dukes is showing another film in their David Lynch season with The Elephant Man.

There is a distinct shortage of high culture during this period, the sole candidate of the genre being Elaine Page Royal Albert Hall concert. Also the Dukes theatre has only a limited program during the week.


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.

Child 44
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman
The film is based on Tom Rob Smiths novel of 2008 and is set in Soviet Russia in the 1950s. Leo Demidov (Hardy) is an agent of the secret police. However he refuses to denounce his wife Raisa (Rapace) as a traitor so he and his wife are exiled to Volsk, a provincial Russian outpost. Here Demidov, with his superior General Mikhail Nesterov (Oldman), works to track down a serial killer who is attacking young boys. However the investigation is hampered by the official position that within the Soviet Union there are no such things as murderers. The film could have been a very decent thriller and it benefits from strong action. However it is let down somewhat by the thick Russian accents adopted by the actors and lack of development of some of the characters. The movie was banned within Russia for portraying the county as Mordor.

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.

John Wick
Director: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Bridget Moynahan, Alfie Allen
John Wick (Reeves) used to be an assassin, but he left that world behind when he got married. Unfortunately his wife Helen (Moynahan) died from an illness but she bequeathed him a beagle puppy as a gift. Wick subsequently met members of a Russian gang at a garage forecourt and they tried to buy his car. He refused so the gang followed him home where they beat him, killed the dog and took the car. The rest of the film is the violent and action packed consequences as Wick seeks revenge. The film has a rather comic book feel and it posits a mysterious underworld of mobsters and assassins in which Wick must operate. Reeves gives an excellent performance to make this a very entertaining film in which there are no heros.

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.

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 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.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Just 1100 Lancaster University students registered to vote as final deadline looms

Lancaster University magazine subtext reports on the large Lancaster University Students Union stall in Alexandra Square today, complete with model of Big Ben, encouraging Lancaster students to register to vote. 

The most recent update from Lancaster City Council on 4th April was that, as of that date, despite the efforts of staff, political parties and LUSU, just 1144 Lancaster University campus residents had registered to vote under the new Individual Electoral Registration system

"It's difficult to know the exact number potentially able to vote in a given year, due to the varying numbers of overseas students," subtext reports, "but, for example, in the 2013 County Council Elections there were 4121 campus residents on the electoral roll. That points to a current campus registration rate of 28%. Registration rates among those living off-campus appear to be similarly sluggish.

"This may reflect genuine apathy, or a genuine desire by some students to vote in the place where they grew up, but subtext suspects that the majority are simply unaware that they need to register now if they want to vote in Lancaster on 7 May.

If you think a figure of 28% sounds very poor, just to put it in perspective, indications are that the number of current University of Cumbria (Lancaster campus) residents on the electoral register may be as low as 19. No, not 19%...

This year's General Election is the tightest in decades. In Morecambe and Lunesdale alone, Tory David Morris squeezed in by 866 votes in 2010, while in Lancaster and Fleetwood, Eric Ollerenshaw won by just 333 votes.

The absolute deadline for online voter registration via is 11:59pm tonight, Monday 20th April  (an electronic receipt is supplied)

All aboard for a model railway exhibition at the Platform

The Platform in Morecambe will be transporting visitors to a bygone era this May.

On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd May, a model railway exhibition visits the venue - itself a converted train station - as part of Morecambe Carnival Weekend.

There will be plenty of nostalgia from the Hornby clockwork system in O gauge and the Hornby Dublo layout featuring trains that would have carried visitors to the Midland Hotel.

There will also be OO scale layouts with classic steam heritage, modern engines and rolling stock on display.

The doors will be open from 12pm to 4.30pm and entry is free.

• If you have time, and would like to see how much work goes into creating a model railway for exhibition, then this thread on RM Web - which began in 2009, and work is still continuing! - outlines the building of a model railway based around the old Green Ayre Station in Lancaster. There are some photographs of the original, too. The amount of work that has gone into this project is simply incredible.

Celebrate St George’s Day with Lancaster City Council

One of England’s most renowned heroes will be celebrated by staff at Lancaster City Council’s two Visitor Information Centres on Thursday 23rd April.

The date marks St George’s Day, the patron saint of England. His emblem, a red cross on a white background, is the flag of England, and part of the Union flag.

Visitors to Morecambe and Lancaster Visitor Information Centres will be able to pick up a St George’s Day fact sheets, ‘Things you never knew about St George’ and ‘The Legend of St George and the Dragon’.

There will be lots of St George’s Day gift ideas and both centres will be dressed for the occasion with traditional flags and banners.

The displays will be in the centres from 23rd April for one week so pop along and find out more about the ‘real’ St George.