Thursday, 18 February 2016

Are you 'open for business'?

Photo: Cat Smith
Lancaster businesses affected by the winter floods are being encourage to add themselves to a Government sponsored online visitor information map to show they are open for business.  The objective of the initiative is to highlight that places affected by flooding are ‘open for business’ and to encourage people to use local services.

The #Openforbusiness map will then be promoted as part of the #LoveTheNorth campaign from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Visit England and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The map will be promoted to visitors and members of the public as a way of identifying open businesses  in real time through automatic geolocation or by searching a postcode.

• If businesses would like to promote themselves through this online tool all they need to do is access the web page and upload their details

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 17th to 25th February 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.

 Seven new releases make it to our local screens during this period. There is comedy with the spy spoof Grimsby (15); romance in How to be Single (15) and an ageing friendship in Youth (15). We have action/drama with the martial arts movie The Assassin (12A) and police corruption in Triple 9 (15). Finally there is maritime action in The Finest Hours (12A) and a fact based drama Spotlight (15).

The movies Joy and The Danish Girl have vanished from our screens and it is likely that we will soon loose Point Break; Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie and The Hateful Eight. We do however see the return of boxing action with Creed.

Family entertainment is represented with the animated movies Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip; Jungle Shuffle and Snoopy & Charlie Brown: the Peanuts Movie. In addition we have horror/fantasy with Goosebumps.

Adult comedy comes with Dad's Army; Grimsby; How to be Single; Ride Along 2 and Zoolander 2. Action and drama is also well represented with the super-hero Deadpool; police drama in Triple 9; science fiction with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the excellent survivalist film The Revenant.

High culture this period comes with NT Live: As You Like It.


Director: Ryan Coogler
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tony Bellew
Adonis "Donnie" Jackson (Jordan) is the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed. He is determined to become a fighter and looks up his fathers old friend Rocky Balboa (Stallone), who agrees to become his trainer despite problems of his own. Jackson gets a chance to prove his worth by fighting the world light heavyweight champion "Pretty" Ricky Conlan (Bellew). The movie closely mirrors the original Rocky with fighting underdog making good. However this is very much a film in its own right with Stallone and Jordan giving excellent performances, making for great entertainment.

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.

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.

Dirty Grandpa
Director: Dan Mazer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Dermot Mulroney, Aubrey Plaza
Dick Kelly (De Niro) is a foul mouthed old man who has recently lost his wife to cancer. He coaxes his grandson Jason (Efron) into driving him to Florida on the pretext of seeing an old army buddy. However, once there Dick follows his ambition of getting drunk, getting high and bedding a younger woman Lenore (Plaza). This is a bawdy comedy, with an unrelenting stream of bad language and tasteless jokes, few of which are funny. It has received poor reviews. Not De Niro's finest work.

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 Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Certificate: 18
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
Certificate: 12A
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.

The Revenant
Director: Alejandro G Inarritu
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy
Set in Montana and South Dakota in the year 1823 and based on the book by Michael Punke, this is a tale of revenge. A party trapping for pelts in the American wilderness come under attack by native Americans of the Arikara nation. With most of the hunting party slain, the remainder escape. However one of their number, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is attacked and nearly killed by a bear. The remainder of the hunters split up. The larger group go back to their barracks whereas a couple of men including John Fitzgerald (Hardy) stay to look after Glass. However Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass and then abandons him to the wilderness. Against the odds Glass survives and is intent on revenge. The scenery in the movie is breathtaking and the action shots are stunning. The bulk of the film shows the tribulations of Glass as, wounded, he tries to return to safety after his abandonment. An emotional, well acted and very convincing movie.

Broken Dancefloors releases EP from Morecambe's H>O>D – aka House Of Daggers

Manchester-based record label Broken Dancefloors, "the sound of the northern DIY hyper insomniac underground" is back with its second release - from a Morecambe-based artist.

The new 4 track 7" EP (and a whopping 11 track download) is the work of Morecambe Tech-IDM-electro artist H>O>D – aka House Of Daggers – "a big ol' bear who makes Plaid-esque dancefloor killers that continually shift and evolve but never lose their pace."

Offering an album's worth of belting dancefloor electronica, from the robotic grind of "Glitchen Void" & "Brand New Plastic Bag" to the straight up leftfield AFX tech-electro of "KYBX" it's a sweaty ride from beginning to end. One minute sounding like Plaid doing insane techno before rupturing into live percussion breakbeat and back into full-on warehouse tech; the next, sounding like something of a Chris & Cosey analogue LP - fully robotik and tweaked 'n' twisted for your listening pleasure!

All four tracks on this EP are different but made for a warehouse rave somewhere in deepest Ancoats - and it's already getting air time on podcasts such as Matt Handley's You, the Night and the Music.

This four-rack 33rpm 7", limited to just 200 numbered copies in this format, is available in a custom thick card numbered sleeve, artist portrait and 1980s rave propaganda insert plus download code.

• Vintage Vinyl on Albert Road, Morecambe has some in stock along with other local artists limited edition single releases including Total Bloody Chaos' " Embarrassed to be Human" and a Three Dimensional Tanx 7" release.

Check out more information and buy the new record here