Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 18th to 26th May 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.

We see few changes in our cinemas during this period as there are just three new releases. There is drama with A Hologram for the King (12A) and family animation with Thomas & Friends: The Great Race (U). Also new to the region, though released some time ago, is the very well received comedy The Brand New Testament (15).

The horror movie Friend Request has vanished from the cinema whilst the family movies Norm of the North and Robinson Crusoe seem to be nearing the end of their screening. We do however see the return of the UK number one film The Revenant for one day only.

Forthcoming attractions later this month include Alice through the Looking Glass and Warcraft: The Beginning whereas Independence Day: Resurgence is due to be screened in June.

Again this is a good time for caped crusader action with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse all being shown. In addition there is science fiction drama in High Rise.

More down to earth drama is available in A Hologram for the King; Eddie the Eagle; Eye in the Sky; Son of Saul and The Colours Red. Alternatively there is comedy with Bad Neighbours 2, Florence Foster Jenkins and The Brand New Testament.

Family entertainment comes with Norm of the North; The Angry Birds Movie; The Jungle Book and Thomas & Friends: The Great Race.

There is just one entry for high culture this period with ROH Live: Frankenstein.


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.

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.

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 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.

Overnight closures required on M6 between Junctions 34 and 35 Next Week

Drivers using the M6 in Lancaster are being advised of two overnight closures as part of ongoing works for the Heysham to M6 Link Road.

On Monday 23rd May, the motorway will close at 8.00pm and re-open by 6.00am the following morning. A second provisional closure is booked for Tuesday 24th May 8.00pm to 6.00am.

The closure is required to permit the safe lifting and fitting into place of the new parapets on Foundry Lane Bridge over the M6, which carries traffic to Halton from Kellet Lane. The current bridge has been extended to accommodate the new northbound slip road of junction 34 onto the M6 underneath.

Diversion signs will be erected on the M6 prior to junction 34 (northbound) and junction 35 (southbound), its important drivers familiarise themselves with alternative routes, and plan their journeys ahead.

During the closure between junction 34 and 35 of the M6 all traffic will be diverted along the A6.

Southbound traffic on the M6 will exit at junction 35 and will be diverted on the A6 via Carnforth, Bolton-le-Sands, Slyne, Skerton and Lancaster. They will be guided to re-join the M6 at junction 34.

Northbound traffic on the M6 will exit at junction 34 and will be diverted on the A6 via Lancaster, Skerton, Slyne, Bolton-le-Sands, and Carnforth. They will be guided to re-join the M6 at junction 35.

“We have planned two overnight closures where we will complete the task of installing the parapets as quickly and as safely as possible”, said Costain Project Manager Richard Helme.

New M6 Junction 34 southbound off slip

To maximise the use of the overnight closure of the M6 motorway, the new southbound off slip will also be opened in a temporary alignment. This is to facilitate the construction of the final phases of the off slip. As we will still be working on Caton Road, the junction with the new off slip will be controlled by temporary traffic lights. This is for the safety of both the workers and the travelling public.

• The Highways Agency provides live traffic information via its website

• Local Twitter services are also available at @HighwaysNWEST @Heysham_Link

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Midsummer Marquee Comes to St. John's Hospice

For ten days in June, the front garden at St John’s Hospice, which provides free palliative care to patients with life shortening conditions, will be transformed into The Midsummer Marquee - hosting a series of fabulous events as part of the charity's 30th Anniversary celebrations.

Organisers say there will be something for everyone with different themes and interests, as well as events during the day and in the evening.

On Friday 17th June there's an Abba Tribute Night, sponsored by Sykes Cottages. Dance the night away to a fabulous ABBA Tribute band including a hot pot supper and a disco.

On Saturday afternoon on 18th June there's a change of pace with a free talk by Mike Warren.

Take a virtual stroll through our local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (home of the origin of St John’s), also celebrating a 30th anniversary, with memories from those early days blended with the stunning wildlife and landscape.

In the evening, there's a Ceilidh Night; put on your dancing shoes (and your kilt if you like!) for a great old fashioned night of knees up Ceilidh music from a wonderful live band. There will also be a Jacob’s Join, so bring along some food to share.

The St John’s Hospice Summer Fair takes place on Sunday 19th June at 12 noon to 5.00pm. Take the whole family along - here will be stalls, games, drinks, inflatables, a hospice pre-loved fashion boutique and even a free drink for dads on Father’s Day.

For the first time this year there will also be Live Music from the Melodrome -featuring The Manfredi’s, The Guns of Navarone, Bill Lloyd and The Groove Cutters.

On the evening of Tuesday 21st June, Butterfly Bridal will present an evening of elegance and glamour exhibiting new, exciting bridal gowns accompanied by stylish grooms. A hand picked collection of exhibitors to style and create any function with originality… Tickets are £5 and Include a glass of prosecco and a raffle. There will be a licensed bar.

Tickets also available at Butterfly Bridal shop on New Street, Lancaster or call Helen Soutar on 01524 382538.

Grab your friends and join the Hospice team on Thursday 23rd June for Bubbly Bingo, a night of bubbles and bingo, in association with the famous Gala Bingo. Enjoy a glass of fizz on arrival, a two course meal, games of bingo with fabulous prizes and a DJ and dancing until midnight.

On Saturday 25th June, it's time for Club Tropicana - party like it’s 1986!

That's the year the Hospice opened and to celebrate they're opening Club Tropicana for one night only!

There will be an 80s disco and a fantastic 80s duo singing all the 80s hits - plus a guest appearance from local legend DJ Steve Middlesbrough of Club Tropicana Morecambe. So dig out your leg warmers, shoulder pads and luminous bangles and come to Club Tropicana… Drinks aren’t free, but it’s for a great cause!

The ten days of summer ends on Sunday 26th June afternoon with some majestic culture - a full performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the nation’s favourite Shakespeare play. The ticket price also includes a free drink and piece of cake. Come and find out why “The course of true love never did run smooth”.

• Visit to book your tickets

Monday, 16 May 2016

Volunteers Urgently Needed for Lancaster and District Samaritans Shop in Lancaster

The Lancaster and District branch of Samaritans is urgently looking for new volunteers.

As well as listening volunteers who help to respond to people in distress who contact Samaritans, the charity is urgently calling for new volunteers to join a friendly team of people working in their Lancaster City Centre charity shop which will reopen later in the Summer after being damaged by the floods of December.

Their charity shop, in Damside Street, is the charity's main source of funding and, essentially, pays to keep the branch running. Volunteers are urgently needed to allow the shop to be staffed full-time once it reopens.

As a shop volunteer, you would be working on the shop floor, serving customers, using the till and helping keep the shop tidy. You will also be required to help sort the stock and use a steamer on the clothes prior to going on the shop floor. The Samaritans shop volunteers work on a rota system and a minimum commitment of 4 hours per week is required.

“Volunteers are the life-blood of Samaritans and we depend on the income from our shop to keep the branch open," explains Jenny Dighton, director of Lancaster and District Samaritans. "We desperately need more volunteers to help in the shop and if you can spare just a few hours a week we would love to hear from you.

"There are many reasons to volunteer with us, whether it be developing new skills, making good friends or knowing you're giving something back to your community. As a Samaritans volunteer, whatever role your take, you are still making a big difference to those people in distress who depend on our services when they are in distress.

"Volunteering with Samaritans is a very rewarding experience," she says. "You'll be joining a very friendly and social team of volunteers, and we provide full training and on-going support. We have volunteers from as far afield as Windermere and Kendal, and everyone's contribution is valued.”

• Anyone interested in finding out more can email or drop into the informal information evening in the Sun Street centre from 6pm - 7.00pm on the last Tuesday of each month

• Anyone in distress can talk to Samaritans any time they like, in their own way and off the record, about whatever is getting to them. To contact Samaritans you can call for free on 116 123 or email round the clock, every single day of the year. You can also call into the branch during their opening hours at 21 Sun Street, Lancaster

Plans for Lune Bank Gardens On Show This Week

Lune Bank Gardens, 1905

Skerton-based Friends of Lune Bank Gardens group want to know what local people think about their ideas for bring the Gardens back into use after years of neglect. The group are holding a consultation exercise during May and are holding an Open Day at the John O’Gaunt Rowing Club boathouse on Halton Road in Skerton on Saturday 21st May from 11.00am to 3.00pm.

Plans to bring the neglected public park back to its former glory were announced last September by the Friends of Lune Bank Gardens. They've been working over the last nine months with local community interest company LESS, funded by the Heritage Lottery, to develop a plan for the restoration of the Gardens which were laid out as a formal promenade along the north bank of the River Lune in 1905 on land given to the town by Lord Ashton.

Flanking Halton Road for about 400 metres, the Gardens - tended to by a permanent gardener - were enjoyed by many as a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the roadside, to take in the scenery on the seating provided, and to enjoy a spot of fishing.

It became a tranquil place for residents living nearby, but after World War Two there was no permanent gardener and the gardens suffered from vandalism. The roadside hedge was removed and the upper walk made into a path with a grass verge only.

Volunteers at work
restoring the Gardens

“As well as making plans for the Gardens we have been doing some clearing of the overgrown walkway along the river to make access easier," says LESS project worker Chris Coates. "We have delivered 500 leaflets to local residents in the area to get their views on the project.”

• The consultation runs until the end of May. If you can’t make it to the Open Day on Saturday and want to comment on the proposals you can give your views on the Lancaster City Council website: The questionnaire closing date is 30 May 2016. View it online

• There's a location plan of the gardens here (PDF, 588KB) which you should take a few minutes to look at the plan before you complete the online questionnaire