Friday, 24 February 2017

Virtual-Lancaster.net - News, Events, Community Information - Now All Under One Roof!

All Change for our Community web site virtual-lancaster.net

The virtual-lancaster team is very proud to announce the realisation of a long-held dream - the creation of our new, fully interactive community web site, with features that will help make it much easier for you, our readers, to be part of the project.

virtual-lancaster.net has always been our home online of course, but this blog has long been the initial posting place for news items about Lancaster, Morecambe and the surrounding area. We found Blogger was, quite simply, the easiest way for several people to contribute to the site without having to train everyone in HTML etc. that our old site was based on.

Now, all that's changed, thanks to much hard work behind the scenes, and virtual-lancaster.nethttp://www.virtual-lancaster.net is now the place for community news, events, information about Lancaster and Morecambe's many attractions, community group information... and much, much more!

So while this blog will remain in place, head over to virtual-lancaster.net now for all the latest about your area!

And please, do consider joining us in our project - you will be very welcome!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 22nd February to 2nd March 2017

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.

Four new films have been released during this period. There is the comedy drama 20th Century Women (15); suspense mystery with A Cure for Wellness (18); fantasy action in Logan (12A) and the police drama Patriots Day (15).

The region has lost the film Split and it seems that Rings will soon come to an end of its screening. However we do see the return of Assassin's Creed; the drama I, Daniel Blake; the family favourite Moana and zombie horror in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

Drama this period comes with NASA mathematicians Hidden Figures; life on benefits in I, Daniel Blake; the family drama Lion; police action in Patriots Day; space flight with The Space Between Us; and the must see move T2 TrainSpotting.

Action movies on offer are Assassin's Creed; the wartime epic Hacksaw Ridge; gun action in John Wick: Chapter 2; the X-man Logan; and oriental fantasy with The Great Wall

Family animation is provided by Ballerina; Moana; Sing; The Lego Batman Movie and Trolls.

Romance is on offer with the musical La La Land and the erotic sequel Fifty Shades Darker.

Horror is well represented with the stylish drama A Cure for Wellness, the creepy Rings and zombie horror Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

Finally, movies of note this period include a giant rabbit in the classic Donnie Darko and culture with the Royal Ballet The Sleeping Beauty.

Reviews



20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills
Certificate: 15
Cast includes Annette Bening, Lucas Jade Zuman, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning

Set in Santa Barbara in 1979, Dorothea (Bening) is a divorced mother bring up her teenage son Jamie (Zuman) whilst running a boarding house. She feels that her son needs more role models in his life and so enlists the help of her tenants including handyman William (Crudup), photographer Abbie (Gerwig) and her sons friend Julie (Fanning) to assist. A coming of age tale with drama and a good dose of comedy. A great movie with excellent performances by all. It has received good reviews.


A Cure for Wellness
Director: Gore Verbinski
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Dane DeHaan, Harry Groener, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth

Lockhart (DeHaan) is a young executive, sent to a the wellness centre health spa in Switzerland to collect the Company CEO Pembroke (Groener) who is being treated there. However Lockhart is injured and finds himself staying at the Spa also. He meets Hannah (Goth) a young patient and she reveals that the spa was built on the ruins of a castle with a troubled history. Lockhart comes to question the cure offered by Dr Volmer (Isaacs) the spa director and finds evidence of dubious medical experiments being carried out. The movie is visually spectacular with false leads, twists and eels that make up for a rather thin plot. An enjoyable move.


Fifty Shades Darker
Director: James Foley
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
A sequel to the 2015 film 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Anastasia (Johnson) had broken off her relationship with Christian Grey (Dornan) intending to pursue a career in a Seattle publishing house. However Christian entices her back albeit on her terms of a 'vanilla' relationship. However his desire for ownership rather than a relationship and rather shady figures from his past threaten to destroy their future. A sex and kink movie that rather lacks the novelty value of the original. Mildly entertaining.



John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamercio
The sequel to the 2014 movie. John Wick (Reeves) again comes out of retirement to honour a blood oath and assist a former associate Santino D'Antonio (Scamarcio) who is plotting to take control of an international assassins' guild. As a consequence Wick finds himself with a bounty 'on his head' and he must go on the run pursued by assassins looking to kill him. The plot requires a large suspension of disbelief but the movie provides dizzying action, non stop gun related pandemonium and some flashes of wit and humour. The movie has been well received. It offers plenty of entertainment, but little novelty.


La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Mia (Stone) works as a barista during the day but aspires to be an actress. She is involved in a road rage incident with Sebastian (Gosling) a jazz pianist. The two subsequently meet again and start to fall for each other as they try to satisfy their ambitions, she attending auditions and he playing in dingy bars as he plans to open his own jazz club. However the daily drudge of trying to live their dreams starts to take its toll. This movie, set in modern day Los Angeles, is brilliantly written and very well acted. Excellent musical entertainment.

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson

A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.


Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Director: Paul W S Anderson
Certificate; 15
Cast Includes: Milla Jovovich

The movie is a sequel to the 2012 Resident Evil: Retribution and forms the sixth and final film in the series. Alice (Jovovich) has lost her psychic powers and now is assisted by the Red Queen who has switched sides. She returns to the demolished Raccoon City where, with a band of survivors, she has one last battle with the Umbrella Corporation and myriads of mutants and zombies. This reviewer has greatly enjoyed the Resident Evil Movie series and can recommend the Final Chapter as offering more of the same special effects and fight sequences. However the film is not the best of the bunch and the franchise is now starting to feel a little tired. See it if you are a Resident Evil fan.

Rings
Director: F Javier Gutierrez
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe Johnny Galecki, Vincent D'Onofrio

Julia (Lutz) becomes worried when her boyfriend Holt (Roe) starts to explore the sub-cuture around a videotape which causes the death of anyone who watches it. She watches it herself and discovers that her version of the tape has additional footage which hints at the fate of the antagonist Sadako Yamamura. Julie and Holt undertake a quest to find Sadako's remains in the hope of lifting the curse. This is the latest chapter in the Ring franchise and is a sequel to 'The Ring' (2002) and 'The Ring Two' (2005). The movie tries to move the franchise onto new ground but it has received poor reviews. It is of interest to ardent Ring fans only.


T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Ewen McGreger, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Anjela Nedyalkova

Mark Renton (McGregor) returns to Edinburgh after twenty years in Amsterdam and finds his old associates are still much as he left them only older. Spud Murphy (Bremner) continues to struggle with heroin addiction. Simon 'Sick Boy' (Lee Miller) nurses old grievances and has swapped a heroin addiction for cocaine. He plans to turn a run down pub onto a bordello. Francis Begbie (Carlyle) is serving a prison sentence, but he escapes. He still harbours a grievance against Renton. The movie is part black comedy, part thriller and total melancholic drama that draws on Welsh's 1993 novel and the 2002 sequel Porno. This is an inventive and vibrant film that captures the spirit of the original. Excellent viewing.

Shakespeare Returns to Lancaster Castle, call goes out for actors from Attic Door Productions



When Demi Paradise retired from performing Shakespeare after 16 years and 10 phenomenal performances at Lancaster Castle, it looked like the Bard would no longer be leading audiences around the historic courts and keeps of Lancaster’s historic Castle.

Enter Stage Right! Attic Door Productions – organisers of Morecambe’s Bard By The Beach Shakespeare Festival and sister company of the award winning After Dark Entertainments who sell out the Grand Theatre year on year with their Adult Panto and confound audiences countrywide with their own brand of murder mystery and mayhem.

"It seemed the perfect fit" says company director Ben Muir, "We already perform murder mysteries at the Castle and for the last two years we have staged a promenade production in the Shire Hall for families (the sell out shows – Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows).

"When we discovered that Demi Paradise would be retiring we approached the castle and offered our services. Shakespeare at the Castle has become almost as famous as the Duke’s theatre in the park and it’s a tradition that deserves to continue."

So what show have they got in store for us? "It’s the perfect piece for our debut," continues Ben. "The Two Gentlemen of Verona is believed to have been Shakespeare’s first play and so it’s only fitting that it should be our first performance at the castle – it’s also a very funny play with moments of high comedy and farce so it fits perfectly with the style we are known for.

"We’re also going to be keeping our first production very local – the poster has been designed by local artist Sazi Harrop and we’ll be casting from within the Lancaster and Morecambe area. There’s such a wealth of talent in this locale that it seems silly to look any further than our own city to find the cast. We’ll be holding auditions at the beginning of March."

Shakespeare isn’t the only production that Attic Door will be staging at the Castle this year, either.

"We’ve put together a full programme of events including a return with our family promenade show – The Jungle Book; then in October we’ll be presenting The Trial of Van Helsing, a new take on the Dracula Story.

"In December we’ve got a treat in store with an adaption of Dicken’s Christmas Carol and of course it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have at least one Murder Mystery: that’s in May and it’s Secret Agent themed.

"It’s all very exciting and hopefully this is only the beginning of the exciting theatrical journey we’ve got in store for the castle."

The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs from 18th – 29th April (no shows on Sunday and Matinees on Saturdays) Ticket prices range from £12.50 - £22.50 and an early bird discount applies if you book before 28th Feb. Call 01524 64998 to book now

• If you are interested in taking part in The Two Gentlemen of Verona you should email us at info@atticdoorproductions.co.uk 



Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Lancaster Litfest 2017 makes March bigger on the inside



Lancaster LitFest 2017 celebrates its 38th year throughout March with a fabulously varied programme of events celebrating writers and writing - and you can download the programme here.

The first weekend (March 4 + 5) starts off bigger on the inside with a fantastic Doctor Who-flavoured event (cosplay invited) with Eddie Robson and Paul Magrs at the Shire Hall. The following day brings you Louise Gornall and Liz Flannagan, nominated for the Lancashire Book of the Year, hosted by Chris Moore, who will also lead a ‘book blogging’ workshop in the afternoon.

In partnership with The Dukes, More Music and Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University 15 March brings “Beyond the Water’s Edge”, a poetic telling of stories from around the world; the hugely-popular Scottish National Poet Jackie Kay (18 March); an evening of creative translation with the International Man Booker Prize (22 March) and the amazing Sarah Howe (23 March). Expect more poetic delights in LitFest's full-day poetry event on 25 March which will include Polly Atkin (launching her first collection), Philip Burton, Gill Lambert, Kim Moore, Hannah Lowe and Patience Agbabi.

This year LitFest is also including opportunities for you to come and read at The Gregson Centre. The Litfest Homebake (11 March) offers local writers space to present their contributions from across all genres -  poems, prose, storytelling, jokes, memories. Whether you are interested in  a ten minute reading slot or you want to experience some of the best new  talent, everyone is invited! Bring your words, your ears and your cakes!

April Poets (9 March) present an afternoon writing workshop and another eclectic night of poetry and music: touching on  the real, the near, the far and the dead, and offering an open mic slot.

Spotlight (17 March), now in its 21st year of showcasing local arts every month, will be compered by Edinburgh Fringe favourite Kriss Foster, featuring Spotlight's current 'Listening to Youth' project. FYI, the last tryout left for this event will be in Carnforth this Saturday 25 February, unless you can get to the Gregson in the next half hour (Tuesday 6.30pm).  www.spotlightlancaster.co.uk.

And finally Litfest welcomes back favourites Jo Baker (24 March) and Jacqueline Harris (26 March). Jo will look at the current popularity of Jane Austen and her influence on new writing, using her own ‘Longbourn’ as an example. Jacqueline will hold us spellbound with a collection of tales with a Nordic flavour, accompanied by the outstanding cellist Maja Bugge and the beautiful artwork of Jackie Morris.

LitFest is looking forward to welcoming you to as many events as possible. And if you enjoy the festival, you are also invited to volunteer to help Litfest to continue in its mission to bring the very best of well-known and emerging talent to Lancaster audiences.

Download the Litfest 2017 PDF Programme

Monday, 20 February 2017

'One Day Without Us' Lunch Celebrates Migrants' Contribution to Lancaster



Lancastrians enjoyed a special lunch at the Dukes today as part of a national celebration of the contribution migrants make to the UK. The lunch was part of a national inititiative called 'One Day Without Us', which perhaps indicates how long the UK wouldn't last without their daily contribution at almost every level of UK society.

The event included a special screening of 'If Boats Could Talk', documenting a project by Year 3 children at Dallas Road School as part of last year's 'Light Up Lancaster' festival. With visual artists Anna Read and Shane Johnstone the children created installations for the Aldcliffe triangle and the adjoining canal that referenced the journeys made by migrants to Lancaster over the canal's history. You can watch it at https://youtu.be/LLc5cL04dHI.

Dukes Front-of-House Manager Jane Twyman is obviously keen to see the Dukes engaging with all the members of our community, regardless of the colour of their passports. She read out a statement by Matt Carr, organiser and journalist, explaining that the event was 'galvanised by the alarmingly xenophobic drift of UK politics over the last 12 months.

"We had had enough of seeing migrants and foreigners – or simply people who looked and sounded foreign – being abused and harassed in our streets and denigrated by politicians."

In response it provided  "an opportunity for British nationals to stand in solidarity alongside the men, women and children we have known as friends, neighbours, workmates, colleagues and students, and celebrate the fact that they are part of our society."

Jane told VL "It's great to see so many people coming together to recognise and celebrate the contributions made by migrants, despite the current challenges to be faced."

People there included teachers, health professionals, members of the local business community and a scientist who shared her deep concerns about the intractable difficulties of conducting advanced research and development without clear routes for international collaboration. All were invited to join in a mass 'tweet' of similar events up and down the country at 1pm (see image).

Erica Lewis, who is standing as a local Labour candidate for the County Council elections in May told VL:

"Uncertainty is central to Brexit & for EU citizens who have made their homes in Lancaster that uncertainty extends to their very ability to continue the lives they have built here. Today's action expresses solidarity with EU citizens who have made their lives in the U.K., & calls on the Government not to use EU citizens in our country, or U.K. citizens resident in the EU as bargaining chips."

Having spent the morning liaising between a sick neighbour and local NHS staff - every one of whom spoke with a non-native accent, I have to agree. Some of us just wouldn't have got through the day without them.

You're welcome.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Morecambe Comic-Con announced for Easter







Morecambe will play host to a Comic Con this Easter, with Sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker, leading a (so far) TV and film guest-focused line-up.

Other announced guests are Paul Blake, who played Greedo in Star Wars and James Mackenzie, who presents children’s game show Raven.

The event is being organised by the Gary Jones and Mark Longman as part of Geek Comic Cons.

Cosplay will be a major part of this event and there will be plenty of stalls and more.

"It's a fun-filled family day out," Gary told local paper The Visitor, "bringing together TV and films stars with prop displays, a Cosplay (dress-up) competition, stalls, and question and answer sessions.”

Nearby Lancaster has its own comic event, Lancaster Comics Day, on Sunday 11th June, with a full comic creator focus that includes a very rare appearance by Roy of the Rovers artist David Sque, who has drawn the locally-published graphic novel, Preston North End: The Rise of the Invincibles, and legendary comics editor Barrie Tomlinson, who helped shape the Roy of the Rovers legend over decades, even at one point roping in Morecambe and Wise to support his efforts!

• Morecambe Comic-Con 2017 takes place at the Platform on 17th April 2017, 10.00am - 4.00pm. Admission £5, 12 and under £3 and five and under go free

Morecambe Comic-Con 2017 Facebook Event Page

Buy Tickets from Skiddle

Friday, 17 February 2017

Cat Smith MP backs breathing space for families in problem debt

Cat Smith MP
Lancaster & Fleetwood
Cat Smith MP has backed calls for a new scheme to help thousands of families regain control of their finances as data from the Bank of England shows unsecured household debt rising at its fastest rate since the financial crisis.

In Lancaster and Fleetwood alone, an estimated 2872 families with 4893 children are living with problem debt. Analysis from The Children’s Society shows that children in low-income families with multiple debts are more likely to suffer from mental health problems than equivalent families with fewer debts.

Debt often strikes when people experience sudden changes in circumstances such as job loss or ill health.  Aggressive action from creditors and pressure to repay debts at an unaffordable rate can lead families to cut back on everyday essentials like food, take out other, expensive loans or fall further behind on essential bills.

The rise in personal borrowing has led to mounting concern that households who get into debt need safer ways to manage financial difficulties.

Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood, has joined calls in parliament to introduce a ‘Breathing Space’ scheme – supported by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity - that would offer people seeking debt advice a 12-month legal protection from mounting interest, charges and enforcement action. It would build on protections offered under the Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland, which has made sure that families sticking to an affordable repayment plan agreed with their creditors are not harried or hassled for the duration of that plan.

She said:
“It can't be right that children's mental health and happiness is suffering as a result of creditors unfairly escalating people’s debt problems.

“Families in problem debt need time and space to get back on their feet. By providing a period free from additional interest, charges and enforcement action, a new Breathing Space scheme would help families recover their financial situation and put in place a plan to affordably repay their debts.

“I’m pleased that the Breathing Space proposal has widespread cross-party support, including from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance. The Government now needs to act by putting a comprehensive Breathing Space scheme in place.”

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 15th to 23rd February 2017

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.

Three new releases make it to the local screens this period. There is the story behind NASA mathematicians in Hidden Figures (PG); hit man on the run in John Wicks: Chapter 2 (15) and oriental action in The Great Wall (12A).

The movies Doctor Strange; Moana; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage have vanished from our screens. Also the film Rings seems to be approaching the end of its screening. However we do see the return of the family drama with Manchester by the Sea and the science fiction Passengers.

There is a good selection of family animated movies on offer at the moment with Ballerina; The Lego Batman Movie; Sing and Trolls.

Space based drama comes with NASA mathematicians in Hidden Figures and space adventure in Passengers & The Space Between Us. For earthbound drama there is erotic romance with Fifty Shades Darker; the excellent Musical La La Land and the must see T2 Trainspotting. In addition there is the family story Lion and Manchester by the Sea.

Action moves include John Wick: Chapter 2 and The Great Wall. There is psychological drama in Split a western Hell or High Water and wartime action in Hacksaw Ridge.

Horror this period comes with just one entry, Rings.

High drama is represented by National Theatre Live: Saint Joan.

Reviews

Fifty Shades Darker
Director: James Foley
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
A sequel to the 2015 film 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Anastasia (Johnson) had broken off her relationship with Christian Grey (Dornan) intending to pursue a career in a Seattle publishing house. However Christian entices her back albeit on her terms of a 'vanilla' relationship. However his desire for ownership rather than a relationship and rather shady figures from his past threaten to destroy their future. A sex and kink movie that rather lacks the novelty value of the original. Mildly entertaining.

John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamercio
The sequel to the 2014 movie. John Wick (Reeves) again comes out of retirement to honour a blood oath and assist a former associate Santino D'Antonio (Scamarcio) who is plotting to take control of an international assassins' guild. As a consequence Wick finds himself with a bounty 'on his head' and he must go on the run pursued by assassins looking to kill him. The plot requires a large suspension of disbelief but the movie provides dizzying action, non stop gun related pandemonium and some flashes of wit and humour. The movie has been well received. It offers plenty of entertainment, but little novelty.

La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Mia (Stone) works as a barista during the day but aspires to be an actress. She is involved in a road rage incident with Sebastian (Gosling) a jazz pianist. The two subsequently meet again and start to fall for each other as they try to satisfy their ambitions, she attending auditions and he playing in dingy bars as he plans to open his own jazz club. However the daily drudge of trying to live their dreams starts to take its toll. This movie, set in modern day Los Angeles, is brilliantly written and very well acted. Excellent musical entertainment.

Passengers
Director: Morten Tyldum
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
The rocket 'Starship Avalon' is on a 120 year voyage from earth to the colony planet Homestead II, transporting over 5000 people who are travelling in hibernation pods is a state of suspended animation. However two of the pods open prematurely releasing their occupants while they are still 90 years from their destination. These are journalist Aurora Dunn (Lawrence) and mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Pratt). They are drawn to each other and romance blossoms. However they need to understand the apparent malfunction that released them early from their hibernation and decide how to respond to their plight. They discover that the pods are not the only problem and the spaceship and its entire cargo is in jeopardy. This is a science fiction movie with a good helpings of romance, suspense and action. An entertaining movie.

Rings
Director: F Javier Gutierrez
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe Johnny Galecki, Vincent D'Onofrio
Julia (Lutz) becomes worried when her boyfriend Holt (Roe) starts to explore the sub-cuture around a videotape which causes the death of anyone who watches it. She watches it herself and discovers that her version of the tape has additional footage which hints at the fate of the antagonist Sadako Yamamura. Julie and Holt undertake a quest to find Sadako's remains in the hope of lifting the curse. This is the latest chapter in the Ring franchise and is a sequel to 'The Ring' (2002) and 'The Ring Two' (2005). The movie tries to move the franchise onto new ground but it has received poor reviews. It is of interest to ardent Ring fans only.

T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Ewen McGreger, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Anjela Nedyalkova
Mark Renton (McGregor) returns to Edinburgh after twenty years in Amsterdam and finds his old associates are still much as he left them only older. Spud Murphy (Bremner) continues to struggle with heroin addiction. Simon 'Sick Boy' (Lee Miller) nurses old grievances and has swapped a heroin addiction for cocaine. He plans to turn a run down pub onto a bordello. Francis Begbie (Carlyle) is serving a prison sentence, but he escapes. He still harbours a grievance against Renton. The movie is part black comedy, part thriller and total melancholic drama that draws on Welsh's 1993 novel and the 2002 sequel Porno. This is an inventive and vibrant film that captures the spirit of the original. Excellent viewing.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 8th to 16th February 2017

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.

There are five new releases in local cinemas during this period. There is family entertainment with the animated comedy The Lego Batman Movie (U) and science fiction adventure in The Space Between Us (PG). We have action and adventure with the 'hitman' John Wick: Chapter Two (15); a legal drama in Denial (12A) and erotic romance with Fifty Shades Darker (18).

Films that have vanished from the screens include A Monster Calls; Arrival; Collateral Beauty and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In addition the movies Ballerina and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. are approaching the end of their screening. We do however see the return of Doctor Strange; I, Daniel Blake and Moana.

Drama on offer at the moment comprises wartime exploits in Hacksaw Ridge, psychological tension in Denial & Split and reunions in Lion & T2 Trainspotting.

For action and adventure there is John Wick: Chapter Two and xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Fantasy on offer includes superhero adventure in Doctor Strange; horror in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter & Rings and a boy born on mars in The Space Between Us.

Romance with a twist comes with the excellent musical La La land and the erotic Fifty Shades Darker.

Family entertainment is provided by Ballerina; Moana; Sing; The Lego Batman Movie and Trolls.

High culture this period comes with The National Theatre Live: St Joan and The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works.

Finally the Dukes are presenting another Film Quiz on 13th February.

Reviews

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Kikkelsen
Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) was a surgeon whose career was ruined by a car accident which crushed his hands. He learned of an Ancient One (Swinton) with healing powers and so travels to Nepal to seek out the mystic. Here Strange learns of the different dimensions, magic and becomes a warrior on the astral plane. Meanwhile a former disciple of the Ancient One Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) has turned to the dark side and is intent on invoking the malevolent Dormammu from his alien abode. Strange much choose between a life of fortune or to defend the earth from magical attack. Doctor Strange has made a very successful transition from comic to the screen and the movie provides a good plot with excellent acting and dialogue. Special effects are very convincing and the film is one of the better Marvel super-hero movies.

Fifty Shades Darker
Director: James Foley
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
A sequel to the 2015 film 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Anastasia (Johnson) had broken off her relationship with Christian Grey (Dornan) intending to pursue a career in a Seattle publishing house. However Christian entices her back albeit on her terms of a 'vanilla' relationship. However his desire for ownership rather than a relationship and rather shady figures from his past threaten to destroy their future. A sex and kink movie that rather lacks the novelty value of the original. Mildly entertaining.

La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Mia (Stone) works as a barista during the day but aspires to be an actress. She is involved in a road rage incident with Sebastian (Gosling) a jazz pianist. The two subsequently meet again and start to fall for each other as they try to satisfy their ambitions, she attending auditions and he playing in dingy bars as he plans to open his own jazz club. However the daily drudge of trying to live their dreams starts to take its toll. This movie, set in modern day Los Angeles, is brilliantly written and very well acted. Excellent musical entertainment.

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Director: Paul W S Anderson
Certificate; 15
Cast Includes: Milla Jovovich
The movie is a sequel to the 2012 Resident Evil: Retribution and forms the sixth and final film in the series. Alice (Jovovich) has lost her psychic powers and now is assisted by the Red Queen who has switched sides. She returns to the demolished Raccoon City where, with a band of survivors, she has one last battle with the Umbrella Corporation and myriads of mutants and zombies. This reviewer has greatly enjoyed the Resident Evil Movie series and can recommend the Final Chapter as offering more of the same special effects and fight sequences. However the film is not the best of the bunch and the franchise is now starting to feel a little tired. See it if you are a Resident Evil fan.

Rings
Director: F Javier Gutierrez
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe Johnny Galecki, Vincent D'Onofrio
Julia (Lutz) becomes worried when her boyfriend Holt (Roe) starts to explore the sub-cuture around a videotape which causes the death of anyone who watches it. She watches it herself and discovers that her version of the tape has additional footage which hints at the fate of the antagonist Sadako Yamamura. Julie and Holt undertake a quest to find Sadako's remains in the hope of lifting the curse. This is the latest chapter in the Ring franchise and is a sequel to 'The Ring' (2002) and 'The Ring Two' (2005). The movie tries to move the franchise onto new ground but it has received poor reviews. It is of interest to ardent Ring fans only.

T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Ewen McGreger, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Anjela Nedyalkova
Mark Renton (McGregor) returns to Edinburgh after twenty years in Amsterdam and finds his old associates are still much as he left them only older. Spud Murphy (Bremner) continues to struggle with heroin addiction. Simon 'Sick Boy' (Lee Miller) nurses old grievances and has swapped a heroin addiction for cocaine. He plans to turn a run down pub onto a bordello. Francis Begbie (Carlyle) is serving a prison sentence, but he escapes. He still harbours a grievance against Renton. The movie is part black comedy, part thriller and total melancholic drama that draws on Welsh's 1993 novel and the 2002 sequel Porno. This is an inventive and vibrant film that captures the spirit of the original. Excellent viewing.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Modest Council Tax rise ahead despite continuing funding cuts

Lancaster City Council will increase its portion of Council Tax by around 10p a week to help to protect services in the short term, as cuts in central government funding continue to bite.

From April 2017 households in a Band D property will pay an additional £5 a year to the city council.  As 80% of the district's homes are in the lowest bands (A to C) the actual increase will be even lower than 10p a week for the majority of households.

The decision was made at a meeting of Full Council last Wednesday evening.

Councillor Anne Whitehead told the meeting that while the council tax increase will help the council balance its budget for the next financial year, the long term financial outlook for the council is austere.

By 2020/21 an additional £2.3million will need to be saved each year to balance the books following further Government cuts.

From April a series of major reviews will look at how the council can work more efficiently and prioritise which services it wants to provide.

One piece of good news, however, is the potential creation of a £500,000 reserve to help boost the local economy and take advantage of opportunities presented by the opening of the Bay Gateway.

This money, if confirmed at the annual budget council on 1st March, will be used to help boost economic growth, promote inward investment and encourage more businesses to relocate to the district.

Coun Anne Whitehead said: “The council’s financial position continues to be extremely challenging.

“While we would rather not have to raise council tax, it will help to avoid the need for even more severe budget cuts than those we are being forced to make and to meet the challenges of the future.

“Some very difficult decisions will need to be made in the next few years and some services will need to be prioritised over others if we are to balance the books.

“At the same time I’m glad we’ve managed to find some money for helping the local economy. The Bay Gateway presents us with a massive opportunity to promote inward investment to the district and the creation of a dedicated reserve, if confirmed as part of our budget, will allow us to dedicate resources to boosting the local economy.”

While as the billing authority Lancaster City Council collects Council Tax, it only receives around 13% of the total bill to spend on its services.

Excluding parishes, of the remaining bill, the majority goes to Lancashire County Council (73%), with precepts from Lancashire Police Authority (10%) and Lancashire Combined Fire Authority (4%) making up the rest.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Rise in service veterans on our streets prompts questions from Morecambe MP David Morris

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris has challenged the government on the number of homeless military service veterans on the streets in the UK - and the response led us to figures that depict a shocking rise in homeless numbers in the North West - and veterans suffering mental health issues.

In a written question to the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Morris asked what estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) homeless veterans and (b) veterans experiencing mental health problems; and whether each of those issues is supported by the Armed Forces Covenant.

In response, Mark Lancaster provided a link to an earlier response on homeless veteran numbers provided by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Local Government Marcus Jones made to Liverpool MP Luciana Berger in 10 November 2016.

Noting "one person without a home is too many" and that "homelessness robs families of their future, safety and self-worth," Mr Jones reported that, according to data gathered by the Greater London Authority some three per cent of individuals seen sleeping rough in London alone are UK nationals with a history of service in the armed forces.

(A search for those recent figures for Greater London reveals that between October to December 2016, outreach teams for CHAIN - a multi agency database recording information about rough sleepers and the wider street population in London - recorded 1,299 people in London sleeping rough for the first time. Of these, 1,022 (79%) spent just one night sleeping rough,  241 (19%) slept rough for more than one night but did not go on to live on the streets, and  36 (3%) were deemed to be living on the streets).

"This is still too high, and no way to treat our veterans, said Mr Jones. "We are committed to fight for all those who have fought for us. All local authorities in England are signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, ensuring they support the needs of their armed forces communities. We have committed over £500 million to tackle homelessness over the next four years as set out at the last Spending Review."


Homelessness charity Crisis notes there is no national figure for how many people are homeless across the UK. This is because homelessness is recorded differently in each nation and because many homeless people do not show up in official statistics at all.

However, according to the latest national figures, collected in the autumn of 2016 and published in January 2017, 4,134 people are estimated to be sleeping rough nationally on any one night.

Using data from four sets of official 2016 statistics to compile what it describes as a "conservative" total, last December the charity Shelter estimated more than a quarter of a million people are homeless in England, although the government challenges the findings.

If three percent of the homeless are service veterans in London alone, this means there could be up to 7500 homeless veterans nationally.

Homeless Link's analysis of the data indicates this was an increase of 16% from 2015 to 2016, while since 2010 rough sleeping estimates show an increase of 134%.

While the East of England has seen the biggest percentage increase in rough sleeping since last year (44%), this is followed by the North West (42%), the East  Midlands (23%) and the North East (18%), all of which have seen increases in rough sleeping above the national average.

Shelter's estimated total number of people recorded as being homeless in the North West suggest some 3953 people are living in temporary accommodation, 220 are rough sleeping, 1782 are in homeless hostels, 318 are in social services temporary accommodation - totalling 6,273 people in all.

That suggests around 190 homeless could be service veterans in the North West.

In 2016, the government renewed action tackling the homeless, giving support to the Homelessness Reduction Bill, to reform England’s homelessness legislation and ensure that more people get the help they need to prevent a homelessness crisis in the first place.

They also announced a £40 million Homelessness Prevention Programme to ensure there is an end-to-end approach to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, and provide the support people need to recover from homelessness.

Mental Health Issues for Veterans on the Rise

Last month, the Ministry of Defence announced 473 soldiers were discharged from the Armed Forces for “mental or behavioural” reasons in 2015-16.

Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress noted the figures revealed by the Ministry of Defence showing increasing numbers of service personnel leaving the Armed Forces with medical discharges is also echoed by the charity's data.

"We have found a rise in the number of veterans seeking support from Combat Stress after being medically discharged from the military," she said.

“In the last five years we have seen a 71% increase in veterans seeking support for mental health issues and that they are seeking support more quickly. While the reasons for this are unclear, it could be due to the reduction in stigma that is resulting in more ex-servicemen and women feeling able to come forward for treatment and sooner. It could also be that we are starting to see a small but significant increase in the number of veterans with mental health issues."

"In the UK, primary responsibility for the provision of healthcare, including mental healthcare, for veterans rests with the NHS in England and the Devolved Administrations," noted Mark Lancaster this week in his response to Mr Morris. "The Ministry of Defence provides advice, information and signposting to support services for veterans though its Veterans UK web pages and free telephone helpline service.

"We encourage veterans wishing to seek help with mental health problems to visit: www.gov.uk/mental-health-support-for-the-uk-armed-forces or call the 24-hour veterans' mental health helpline on 0800 138 1619.

"The £10 million per annum Covenant Fund makes grants to support the Armed Forces community and has funded projects across all four countries in the UK to support veterans with complex needs," he added. "This includes grants made through the Veterans in the Criminal Justice System programme; and the Veterans Gateway programme."

Due to launch later this year, the £2 million Veterans Gateway programme will help veterans find and access advice and support on a broad range of issues, including healthcare and housing. This new service will provide a 24/7 phone number, a dedicated website and a mobile app.

Lancashire & District Homeless Action Service

Lancaster and District Homeless Action service (LDHAS) is the leading homeless charity in the Lancaster region

Combat Stress

Veterans mental health charity. 24-hour Helpline (0800 138 1619)

Greater London Homeless Figures - PDF

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 1st to 9th February 2017

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 have gained three new movies this period but six films vanished from the local screens. The new releases are science fiction with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (15); horror in Rings (15) and comedy animation in the family movie The Lego Batman Movie (U).

Films that have disappeared from the cinemas include Assassin's Creed; Fantastic Beasts and where to find them; Moana; Passengers; Storks and Sully. in addition the following movies are approaching the end of their screening, A monster Calls; Arrival; Collateral Beauty; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

Drama this period comes with psychological crises in Collateral Beauty and Split. There is family loss in Lion & Manchester by the Sea; Reunion and self destruction in T2 Trainspotting; action with xXX: The Return of Xander Cage and biographical war drama in Hacksaw Ridge. Also crime comes with Goodfellas & Live by Night whereas political biography is represented buy Jackie.

Science fiction comes with Arrivals; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Rogue One: A Star wars Story. We also have the new horror horror Rings.

On a lighter note, there is still the excellent musical romance La La Land.

For family entertainment consider A Monster Calls; Ballerina; Sing; The Lego Batman Movie; The Secret Life of Pets and Trolls.

Finally the following satisfy any need for high culture: Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake; National Theatre Live: Amadeus and The Royal Ballet:Woolf Works.

Reviews


La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Mia (Stone) works as a barista during the day but aspires to be an actress. She is involved in a road rage incident with Sebastian (Gosling) a jazz pianist. The two subsequently meet again and start to fall for each other as they try to satisfy their ambitions, she attending auditions and he playing in dingy bars as he plans to open his own jazz club. However the daily drudge of trying to live their dreams starts to take its toll. This movie, set in modern day Los Angeles, is brilliantly written and very well acted. Excellent musical entertainment.


Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Director: Paul W S Anderson
Certificate; 15
Cast Includes: Milla Jovovich

The movie is a sequel to the 2012 Resident Evil: Retribution and forms the sixth and final film in the series. Alice (Jovovich) has lost her psychic powers and now is assisted by the Red Queen who has switched sides. She returns to the demolished Raccoon City where, with a band of survivors, she has one last battle with the Umbrella Corporation and myriads of mutants and zombies. This reviewer has greatly enjoyed the Resident Evil Movie series and can recommend the Final Chapter as offering more of the same special effects and fight sequences. However the film is not the best of the bunch and the franchise is now starting to feel a little tired. See it if you are a Resident Evil fan.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Felicity Jones

This movie is set just before the events of the original Star Wars. There are rumours circulating that the Galactic Empire are about to construct a horrendous new weapon, a 'Death Star' designed by Galen Erso (Mikkelson) A small team of rebels led by his daughter Jyn Erso (Jones) and Cassian Ander (Luna) strive to find the designer and steal the design schematics. The movie hosts new and familiar aliens who strive to 'use the force' and it comes with breathtaking special effects. This is more gritty that the familiar star wars offering, more of a war move with a higher body count and more muddied ethics. The movie has been well received and will delight audiences. It breaks new ground from the classic Star Wars, but only just.

T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Ewen McGreger, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Anjela Nedyalkova

Mark Renton (McGregor) returns to Edinburgh after twenty years in Amsterdam and finds his old associates are still much as he left them only older. Spud Murphy (Bremner) continues to struggle with heroin addiction. Simon 'Sick Boy' (Lee Miller) nurses old grievances and has swapped a heroin addiction for cocaine. He plans to turn a run down pub onto a bordello. Francis Begbie (Carlyle) is serving a prison sentence, but he escapes. He still harbours a grievance against Renton. The movie is part black comedy, part thriller and total melancholic drama that draws on Welsh's 1993 novel and the 2002 sequel Porno. This is an inventive and vibrant film that captures the spirit of the original. Excellent viewing.


The Secret Life of Pets
Director: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Louis C.K., Ellie Kemper, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart

A family animation film that follows the lives of pets living in a Manhattan apartment building during the time their owners leave them alone. Max (Louis) is a rather spoilt terrier who starts to find himself neglected when his owner Katie (Kemper) brings home Duke (Stonestreet), a mongrel, from a dog pound. However the two dogs must put their rivalry behind them when they are captured by Snowball (Hart) a rabbit and an army of abandoned pets who are trying to get back at all happily owned pets and their owners. This is a delightful and energetic animation movie that is inoffensive and fun for all, young and old.

New partnership aspires to support excellence in social work education and practice in Cumbria

Members of the new Cumbria-Lancaster Social Work Teaching Partnership: Front row from left to right: Jane Pye (Lancaster University), Sonyia Curran (Cumbria County Council).  Back row from left to right: Professor Karen Broadhurst (Lancaster University), Nick Waterfield (Cumbria County Council) and Richard Simpson (Barnardo's)

A new social work teaching partnership will support ambitious plans to further develop social work education and practice across the region, following a successful bid to the Department for Education to secure two-year funding.

The Cumbria-Lancaster Social Work Teaching Partnership includes Lancaster University, Cumbria County Council and four allied organisations from the private, voluntary and / or independent sector in Cumbria - Barnardo’s, South Lakeland District Carers, Howgill Family Centre and East Cumbria Family Support.

The partnership starts with immediate effect and work has already started on the programme of reform.

Existing staff will contribute to the implementation plan and three dedicated practice development workers will be recruited to work between the university and the council to lead the changes and developments.

The partnership aims to ensure more people with the right skills; experience and professionalism are recruited to qualifying programmes and take up posts with Cumbria County Council and allied partners.

It also seeks to increase the quantity and quality of practice placements to ensure that more Lancaster University students experience two statutory placements, to better prepare students for employment after graduation.

The partnership also hopes to bring the university and the council into closer alignment, to ensure that qualifying and post-qualifying education meets the needs of employers and improves the retention of qualified workers.

The partnership will also seek to increase the involvement of the council and partners in classroom- based learning and in student recruitment; ensure the Chief Social Worker’s Knowledge and Skills Statements are embedded in knowledge and practice; develop a shared understanding and datasets concerning workforce needs to inform forecasting and planning (recruitment, retention, training needs); and to promote evidence-based practice and embedding of research in practice.

The teaching partnership will establish learning hubs in the North, West and South of Cumbria that will become the focal point for academic, practice and service user exchange and the vehicle for student support.

The hubs will align with the Cumbria Social Work Academy.

“This is an excellent opportunity to work more closely with our Cumbria partners and to showcase developments nationally," commented Professor Karen Broadhurst, of Lancaster University. "Cumbria’s expansive rural context does present some challenge in terms of both student placement and reaching a qualified workforce and we are keen to explore how these challenges can be overcome.”

“The teaching partnership will enable us to work closely with Lancaster University and our partners to have clear practice focussed, professional career development pathways," added John Macilwraith, Director of Children’s Services at Cumbria County Council, "so that students are better prepared for the transition from University, into our social work academy.

“We will also develop comprehensive development programmes for all our social workers to reach their full potential so that we retain talented social workers in Cumbria.”

SaveSave

Robbery at Heysham petrol station

BP Garage, Oxcliffe Road. Image: Google
Local police are appealing for information following a robbery at a petrol station in Heysham.

The incident happened shortly before midnight last night (Tuesday 31st January 2017) when two men wearing balaclavas entered the BP petrol station on Oxcliffe Road.

One of the men remained at the door while the other man approached the counter and threatened the staff member with what is believed to be a handgun. The member of staff handed over approximately £300 in cash from the till before both men left the scene.

They are thought to have fled to the rear of the garage and over a fence leading to an alleyway and on to Willacy Parade.

Both men are described as wearing dark clothing. One of them was described as 5ft 9in tall and was wearing a waterproof type top.

DI Phil Jones of Lancaster CID said: “An investigation into this robbery is underway and we are conducting house to house enquiries in the area.

"We are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed anyone acting suspiciously between the times of 11.45pm and shortly after midnight last night. If you have any information that could assist with our enquiries then please contact us as soon as possible.”

• Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log 1473 of 31st January. Alternatively independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org

Thursday, 26 January 2017

2017 Moonlight Walk in aid of St. John's Hospice has a superhero theme


The day before this year's Lancaster Comics Day (11th June 2017) in Lancaster Library, local cancer care charity St. John's Hospice are running their annual Ladies Only walk - which this year has a superhero theme.
Ladies are encouraged to sign up for this fund raising event and go along dressed as their favourite superhero, or make one up! 
(Maybe the person you plan to walk for is your superhero).
As ever, there will be two walks to choose from, 14km and 25km. This year the 14km route is also available as The Moonlight Run.
Based in Skerton, St John's Hospice is a local charity which provides free palliative care to patients with life shortening conditions. It has been caring for people with life shortening conditions and their families for 30 years, day and night, all over North Lancashire, South Cumbria and parts of North Yorkshire. Their work really makes a difference to the lives of thousands of local families in need of their support.
By supporting your local hospice and taking part in the Moonlight Walk, you are already their heroes! 
• For more information and to sign up visit: www.everydayhero.co.uk/event/sjhmoonlightwalk17
SaveSave

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Local Cinema Round-up for the 25th January to 2nd February 2017

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.

There is a good selection of new and recent movies appearing in local cinemas during this period. We have family entertainment with the fantasy A Monster Calls (12A); a musical animation Sing (U) and the animation based on a trading card game YU-GI-OH! The Dark Dimension. Drama comes with Manchester by the Sea and the sequel to Trainspotting in T2 Trainspotting (18). Finally there is the biographical war drama Hacksaw Ridge.

The big draws at the moment are the romantic musical comedy La La Land and the black comedy sequel T2 Trainspotting

Science fiction this period comes with the established movies Arrival; Passengers and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

For earthbound drama there is tragedy in Collateral Damage and Manchester by the Sea. Also we have psychological horror in Split; crime drama with Live by Night; action in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage: biographical wartime action in Hacksaw Ridge and family reunion in Lion.

Family entertainment is well represented with a mixture of old and new. There are the animations Ballerina; Moana; Sing; Storks and Trolls as well as the fantasies A Monster Calls and Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them.

High culture this period comes with National Theatre Live: Amadeus and The Royal Opera: Il Trovatore.

A film of note is Ghost in the Shell being shown by the Dukes. This is the original Anime version that precedes the Hollywood remake. Finally, the lift at the Vue is currently out of action.

Reviews

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell
This is a Harry Potter prequel, inspired by J K Rowling's book of the same name. The movie is set in the 1920's, where Newt Scamander is a magizoologist, collecting and studying magical creatures. He visits New Your City where several of these creatures escape from his suitcase. He collects about him a group of allies to try to recapture the beasts. However New York at this time has been under a reign of terror from the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) and in the era of suspicion the creatures are believed to be responsible for an attack. Hence Percival Graves (Farrell), a director of magical secrets, declares war on Scamander and his helpers. This is a wonderful film and a fine tribute to the creativity of Rawlings. There are lots of plots, strange people and weird and wonderful beasts. The movie has received favourable reviews, but is perhaps a little darker than the Harry Potter series.

La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Mia (Stone) works as a barista during the day but aspires to be an actress. She is involved in a road rage incident with Sebastian (Gosling) a jazz pianist. The two subsequently meet again and start to fall for each other as they try to satisfy their ambitions, she attending auditions and he playing in dingy bars as he plans to open his own jazz club. However the daily drudge of trying to live their dreams starts to take its toll. This movie, set in modern day Los Angeles, is brilliantly written and very well acted. Excellent musical entertainment.

Moana
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
A Walt Disney animated fantasy adventure. Moana (Cravalho) is the teenage daughter of the chief of a Polynesian island. However the fish and island produce become less abundant and hence Moana undertakes a nautical quest to find the magical amulet Te Fiti's heart and the demigod Maui (Johnson). The quest involves monsters and battles This is a magical film, with music, comedy and a good dose of adventure. It is extremely well produced and has received excellent reviews from both critics and audience. A must see movie for all ages.

Passengers
Director: Morten Tyldum
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
The rocket 'Starship Avalon' is on a 120 year voyage from earth to the colony planet Homestead II, transporting over 5000 people who are travelling in hibernation pods is a state of suspended animation. However two of the pods open prematurely releasing their occupants while they are still 90 years from their destination. These are journalist Aurora Dunn (Lawrence) and mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Pratt). They are drawn to each other and romance blossoms. However they need to understand the apparent malfunction that released them early from their hibernation and decide how to respond to their plight. They discover that the pods are not the only problem and the spaceship and its entire cargo is in jeopardy. This is a science fiction movie with a good helpings of romance, suspense and action. An entertaining movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Felicity Jones
This movie is set just before the events of the original Star Wars. There are rumours circulating that the Galactic Empire are about to construct a horrendous new weapon, a 'Death Star' designed by Galen Erso (Mikkelson) A small team of rebels led by his daughter Jyn Erso (Jones) and Cassian Ander (Luna) strive to find the designer and steal the design schematics. The movie hosts new and familiar aliens who strive to 'use the force' and it comes with breathtaking special effects. This is more gritty that the familiar star wars offering, more of a war move with a higher body count and more muddied ethics. The movie has been well received and will delight audiences. It breaks new ground from the classic Star Wars, but only just.

Storks
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Kelsey Grammer, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman
Conerstone used to be in the business of delivering babies and most of its employees are stalks. However CEO stalk Hunter (Grammer) discontinued the service for the more lucrative business of delivering parcels. The business receives a letter from Nate (Starkman) a neglected boy who wants a baby brother and Tulip (Crown), a woman working for Cornerstone, causes the baby machine to create a girl in response to the letter. Now Tulip and her stork friend Junior (Samberg) must deliver the baby before Hunter finds out. This involves their facing a pack of wolves, militant penguins and an avalanche. This is a bizarre, non stop and fun packed movie that will appeal to all ages. It has been well received by the critics and is sure to please.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Final Days for This Year's Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year Search


The search to find Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year 2017 as part of a countywide competition is drawing to a close soon.

This year, High Sheriff John Barnett MBE DL is welcoming applications involving young people who have put others first.

He said: “Sometimes young people receive negative coverage in the media but my experience has always been that the vast majority are hardworking and help others.

“Perhaps you know someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty at school, a young charity fundraiser or they may be a young carer who looks after a family member – whatever they have done, we’d like to hear about it and they may win the top prize!”

The awards take place every year and involve the High Sheriff inviting applications to find a young person, ideally aged up to age 21, who has helped either their local neighbourhood, an individual, family member or local organisation.

The University of Central Lancashire are sponsoring this year’s awards, and are happy to be supporting the scheme.  Vice Chancellor Mike Thomas said:  “As a University we are delighted to sponsor the High Sheriff of Lancashire’s Young Citizen of the Year Awards 2017. The University is committed to deep-rooted engagement with the wider communities of Preston, Lancashire and the North West and so the ethos behind this initiative is one we support wholeheartedly.

“Our young people play a huge role in making local communities safer and better places to live and it is extremely important that we recognise and celebrate their achievements. Many step out of their comfort zones to make a difference and crucially they act as powerful ambassadors for inspiring positive change in others.

“My congratulations go to all this year’s nominated candidates.”

Winners and runners up are selected by the High Sheriff and a panel of judges from the Lancashire Partnership Against Crime (LANPAC), Lancashire Constabulary, the University of Central Lancashire and the former High Sheriff Rodney Swarbrick, who initiated the award.

Lancashire Constabulary’s Chief Constable, Steve Finnigan said: “We are extremely proud of our continued involvement in the Young Citizen of the Year Award and I am really looking forward to seeing the fantastic entries I am sure we will receive this year.

“This award highlights the contribution that young people can make towards supporting people in their communities, helping to reduce vulnerability and build community resilience.

“Our Volunteer Police Cadets are an example of that as they show that young people have a lot to offer and I am really pleased to play a part in making sure that young people get the recognition and support they deserve.”

All finalists will be invited to attend a presentation at Lancashire Constabulary Headquarters in March 2017 where the winner will receive £500 along with a specially commissioned trophy and certificate from the High Sheriff and Chief Constable Steve Finnigan.

The scheme is being administered by the Lancashire Partnership Against Crime (LANPAC) charity on behalf of the High Sheriff and the closing date for nominations is 31st January 2017.

Two runners up will also receive £100 and a certificate.

Approval of a parent or guardian is needed for the nomination, subsequent publicity and any future events involving the finalists.

• Application forms can be completed online at www.lanpac.co.uk. For more information you contact Al Yusuf from LANPAC on 01772 412796

Community Alcohol Partnership Launches in Lancaster

A Community Alcohol Partnership - the first in Lancashire - is to be launched in Lancaster this month in the Bulk Ward area to tackle underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.

CAPs are made up of partnerships between retailers, local authorities, police, schools, neighbourhood groups and health providers, working together to empower communities to tackle alcohol-related harm to young people and improve the quality of life for residents.

They aim to reduce the sale of alcohol to under 18's, advise them on the dangers of drinking and provide alcohol-free activities through youth services and local charities.

Across the country CAPs have had outstanding impacts on local crime, anti-social behaviour, litter, feelings of safety and reductions in underage purchasing of alcohol.

By the end of 2016 there were 124 local CAPs across the country and local partners’ evaluations show that on average, in CAP areas alcohol-related youth anti-social behaviour fell by 40%, confiscations (police seizures) of alcohol from under 18s drinking in public fell by 85% and attempted purchase of alcohol by under 18s fell by 75%.

Attempted “proxy purchase” of alcohol by adults on behalf of children also fell significantly (ranging from 41% - 65%).

The Lancaster CAP will bring together a wide range of stakeholders, including Trading Standards, Police, Ridge Community Centre, local retailers, primary and high schools, local agencies, Police and Crime commissioner and the community.

County Councillor Azhar Ali, the county councils cabinet member for health and well-being said: “There is growing concern about the levels of underage drinking in Lancaster among local residents, councillors and retailers, so I am delighted to announce the introduction of the Lancaster (Bulk Ward) CAP to tackle alcohol-related harm in the area.

"Drinking alcohol at a young age brings serious risks to children’s health and development and puts them in danger of both physical and social harm. They are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else, engage in unsafe sex, fail to reach their potential at school and engage in anti-social behaviour. We are committed to making a positive difference to their lives and to our local community.”

CAP Chair Derek Lewis said: “A significant proportion of children have not only drunk alcohol before the age of 18 but are likely to have been drunk at least once in the last four weeks. This can be seriously damaging to their health and development and impact negatively on the wider community.

"CAPs offer a great opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to our nation’s relationship with alcohol, starting with the current generation of young people.”

• The formal launch of the Lancaster CAP, the first in Lancashire, will take place at the Ridge Community Centre, 2-4 The Square, Lancaster on Thursday 26th January 2017 at 1pm. The chair of the national CAP Derek Lewis will speak at the event and everyone in the area is invited to come along and pledge their support to help make the community a safer place

Find out more about Community Alcohol Partnerships here


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Local Cinema - Films from Friday 20th January 2017 in Lancaster and Morecambe


For day to day screening start times, visit the cinema web sites.

Vue Cinema Lancaster

Church Street, Lancaster LA1 1LP
To book online click here. There is a booking fee
Telephone Bookings: 08712 240 240

• See website for details of audio described / subtitled films: myvue.com/cinema/lancaster/whats-on

• Ticket prices vary depending on performance time and day, see cinema web site for details

Assassin's Creed

A man relives the events of his ancestor in 15th century Spain, a member of a secret, global assassin’s society.

Starring Michael Fassbender,Marion Cotillard
Running time 1hr 55mins

Ballerina

Orphaned Félicie strives to reach her dream of performing ballet at the Grand Opera House, with the help of mentor Odette.

Voices of Dane DeHaan, Elle Fanning, Maddie Ziegler

Bridget's Jones's Baby - Monday 23rd January only

Bridget s back, and pregnant, either by handsome American Jack or Mark, the ex she never got over. Cue babymaking shenanigans.

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey
Running time: 123 minutes


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (until Sunday)

1920’s New York and a peculiar wizard by the name of Newt Scamander has just arrived to meet with an important official at the Magical Congress of the USA, carrying with him a suitcase filled with magical creatures.

Starring Eddie Redmayne,Dan Fogler
Running time 2hrs 13mins

La La Land

An aspiring actress and dedicated jazz musician fall in love in LA in this Golden Globe winning film.

Starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Running time 2hrs 8mins


Live By Night (until Saturday 21st)

It’s prohibition era America and Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is a bootlegger, rum-runner and gangster who pushes things too far and risks losing it all.

Starring Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller
Running time 2hrs 9mins

Moana (until 22nd January)

Moana is a plucky Polynesian girl who revives the voyaging tradition of her island tribe, with the help of buffoonish demigod Maui.

Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Rachel House, Jemaine Clement, Alan Tudyk
Running Time: 103 minutes



A Monster Calls  (until 23rd January)

Twelve-year-old Conor has a mother who's battling cancer and a father who's walked out; then a yew-tree-shaped monster with Neeson's voice comes into his life. Coming-of-age tearjerker

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson
Running Time: 108 minutes


Passengers  

When two passengers wake up 90 years too early on their space expedition, it doesn’t take long for love to blossom. But what is behind their rude awakening?

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
Running time 1hr 56mins


Rogue One: AStar Wars Story

Troublemaker Jyn Erso and Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor lead a rag crew across the galaxy to make contact with Death Star chief engineer Galen (Mikkelsen), Jyn's dad.

Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Aris
Running Time: 133 minutes


Sing

A koala named Buster Moon hosts the world's greatest singing competition in the hope of restoring his theatre to its former glory.

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johansson
Running Time: 108 Minutes

Trolls

Trolls are cute creatures who love EDM and warm hugs, but they're preyed on by Bergens, toothy monsters who think eating Trolls will bring happiness.

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani
Running Time: 92 minutes

Why Him? (until 21st January)

Ned’s daughter’s boyfriend is kind, rich, handsome and completely inappropriate – and he’s about to propose. Can Ned stop him before it’s too late?

Starring James Franco, Bryan Cranston
Running time 1hr 51mins


xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Reboot of the extreme sports action movie franchise.

Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone
Running Time: 107 minutes

Reel Cinemas

Reel Morecambe, Central Drive, Morecambe, LA4 4DW
0871 220 6000 (24hr bookings and Information)
(All telephone bookings are subject to a booking fee)
Web: https://reelcinemas.co.uk

• Ticket prices vary depending on performance time and day, see cinema web site for details

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years ago...

La La Land

See synopsis, above

Live By Night

Ben Affleck writes, produces, and stars in this adaptation of Dennis Lehane's sprawling crime novel

Moana

See synopsis, above

Pete's Dragon

For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham has delighted local children with his tales of a fierce dragon...

Sing

See synopsis, above

Split

James McAvoy excels as a crazed kidnapper with multiple personalities is this nerve-shredding horror film...

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

See synopsis, above

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

See synopsis, above

The Dukes

The Dukes Cinema
Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1QE
Email: tickets@dukes-lancaster.org Box office 10am-8pm Mon-Sat Tel:01524 598500
24 hour info line: 01524 598501
Hearing impaired (textphone) line: 01524 380062
Web; http://dukes-lancaster.org/events/cinema

Or book online. There is a booking fee

La La Land

Friday | 20th January 2017,  6:00 pm
Saturday | 21st January 2017,  8:30 pm
Sunday | 22nd January 2017,  8:20 pm
Monday | 23rd January 2017,  11:00 am
Monday | 23rd January 2017,  11:00 am
Monday | 23rd January 2017,  6:00 pm
Tuesday | 24th January 2017,  3:30 pm
Tuesday | 24th January 2017,  8:30 pm
Wednesday | 25th January 2017,  6:10 pm
Wednesday | 25th January 2017,  8:45 pm
Thursday | 26th January 2017,  11:00 am
Thursday | 26th January 2017,  6:00 pm
Friday | 27th January 2017,  8:30 pm

A Monster Calls

Friday | 20th January 2017,  8:35 pm
Saturday | 21st January 2017,  1:25 pm
Saturday | 21st January 2017,  6:10 pm
Monday | 23rd January 2017,  8:35 pm
Tuesday | 24th January 2017,  6:10 pm
Wednesday | 25th January 2017,  11:00 am
Thursday | 26th January 2017,  8:35 pm

Your Name

Saturday | 21st January 2017,  3:45 pm

Mitsuha and Taki are two total strangers living completely different lives. But when Mitsuha makes a wish to leave her mountain town and for the bustling city of Tokyo, they become connected in a bizarre way. She dreams she is a boy living in Tokyo while Taki dreams he is a girl from a rural town he’s never been to. What does their newfound connection mean? And how will it bring them together?



Bolshoi Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty

Sunday | 22nd January 2017,  3:00 pm

On her 16th birthday, a curse by the evil Carabosse causes the beautiful Princess Aurora to fall into a deep slumber for 100 years. Only the kiss of a prince could awaken her…

In this resplendent and magical classic, the Bolshoi dancers take us on a dream-like journey through this classic fairytale complete with jewel fairies, a magical kingdom, a youthful princess and a handsome prince in this purest style of classical ballet. The Bolshoi’s sumptuous staging with its luxurious sets and costumes gives life to Perrault’s fairy tale unlike any other. A must-see!

The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch

Sunday | 22nd January 2017,  6:30 pm

Delve into the vivid imagination of a true visionary. Who was Hieronymus Bosch? Why do his strange and fantastical paintings resonate with art lovers now more than ever? How does he bridge the medieval and Renaissance worlds? Where did his unconventional and timeless creations come from? With his fascinating life revealed plus the details and stories within his works seen like never before, don’t miss this cinematic exploration of a great creative genius.

Ghost in the Shell

Wednesday | 25th January 8:45pm

Catch the original anime before the Hollywood remake hits screens later this year. 2029 – A female cybernetic government agent, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of ‘The Puppet Master’, a mysterious and menacing computer virus capable of infiltrating human hosts. Together with her fellow agents from Section 9, they embark on a high-tech race against time to capture the omnipresent entity. A movie that questions human existence in the fast-paced information age, this award-winning cyber thriller is one of the bestselling Japanese animation films of all time.

Manchester by the Sea

Friday | 27th January 2017,  5:45 pm

A remarkably powerful drama featuring a stunning performance from Casey Affleck. Lee, an isolated Boston janitor, is forced to return to his hometown Manchester-by-the-Sea to look after his brother’s child following a family tragedy. Whilst home Lee must come to terms with caring for his nephew, being near his ex-wife Randi and being faced with reminders of his past. A rich, emotional film from acclaimed writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.


The Gregson Cinema
33 Moorgate, Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 3PY

The Gregson is a community and arts centre with a 26 seater cinema available to hire for your planned screening / presentation: £25!

If enough of your group eat at the Gregson beforehand the booking fee may be waived / discounted
Info & booking tel: 01524 849959

Check out the Gregson events page for public screenings coming up

Other Local Cinemas


The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
Box Office: 01539 725133
Box Office E-mail: boxoffice@breweryarts.co.uk
Web: www.breweryarts.co.uk
Try the Brewery's 'Warehouse Films' page as well as their Cinema page

The Royalty
Lake Road, Bowness-On-Windermere, LA23 3JB. Tel: 015394 43364
Web: http://windermere.nm-cinemas.co.uk

Odeon, Preston
Web: www.odeon.co.uk
Riversway, Portway, Ashton-On-Ribble, Preston, PR2 2YQ
Bookings & Info: 0871 22 44 007

Zefirellis, Ambleside
Compston Road, Ambleside. Tel 015394 33845
Web: www.zeffirellis.co.uk
Sing