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Now showing at Brewery Arts Centre 122a,Highgate,Kendal,Cumbria LA9 4HE 01539 725133

  • Gone Girl
  • Of Horses And Men
  • Royal Ballet Live Encore Screening: Manon
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • The Riot Club
  • What We Did On Our Holiday

Gone Girl 4 stars

movie title

On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
  • DirectorDavid Fincher.
  • WriterGillian Flynn.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration149 mins
  • Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
  • Release02/10/2014

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.

There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.

Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.

The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).

Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.

In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.

On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.

Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.

Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.

Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.

Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.

Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014
Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

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Of Horses And Men 3 stars

movie title

Darkly comic portrait of a close-knit Icelandic community and its relationship with the miniature horses that roam the area. Kolbeinn owns one particularly fine animal and parades it around town en route to assignations with his girlfriend Solveig. Cantankerous coot Grimur is fed up with neighbour Egill, who insists on erecting barbed wire fences across old horse paths. So Grimur takes a pair of wire cutters to the fences but his act of rebellion comes at a terrible price.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Indie, Romance
  • CastHelgi Bjornsson, Charlotte Boving, Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson.
  • DirectorBenedikt Erlingsson.
  • WriterBenedikt Erlingsson.
  • CountryIce/Ger
  • Duration81 mins
  • Official sitewww.hrosss.is
  • Release13/06/2014 (selected cinemas)

Iceland's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Academy Awards is a darkly comic portrait of a close-knit community and its relationship with the miniature horses that roam the area. Kolbeinn (Ingvar E Sigurosson) owns one particularly fine animal and parades it around town en route to assignations with his girlfriend Solveig (Charlotte Boving). Cantankerous coot Grimur (Kjartan Ragnarsson) is fed up with neighbour Egill (Helgi Bjornsson), who insists on erecting barbed wire fences across the old horse paths. So Grimur takes a pair of wire cutters to the fences but his act of rebellion comes at a terrible price. Meanwhile, drunkard Vernhardur (Steinn Armann Magnusson) hopes to sate his thirst with some vodka from a passing Russian tugboat. He chases the crew out to sea on his horse, hoping to attract their attention.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

Royal Ballet Live Encore Screening: Manon 3 stars

Martin Yates conducts Kenneth MacMillan's acclaimed tragic ballet from the Royal Opera House in London. The erotically-charged romance between the lovely but lowly Manon Lescault and the romantic but impoverished blade Chevalier Des Grieux offers the chance for the star partnership of Marianela Nunez and Federico Bonelli to shine.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 stars

movie title

Genetically modified turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello grow up in the sewers of New York under the guidance of their mentor: a giant rat called Splinter, who teaches them Ninjitsu. Aided by plucky journalist April O'Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick, the turtles wage war on a shadowy figure called Shredder and his army, known as the Foot Clan, who are spreading fear and terror throughout the Big Apple.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastWill Arnett, Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg.
  • DirectorJonathan Liebesman.
  • WriterAndre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.ninjaturtlesmovie.co.uk
  • Release11/10/2014 (Scotland); 17/10/2014 (UK & Ireland)

The adventures of turtle brothers Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael began life in the mid 1980s as an irreverent comic book and rapidly spawned an animated TV series, a trilogy of films and a dizzying array of merchandise. Turtle power has endured to the present day, including a computer-animated series on Nickelodeon.

It's no surprise then that Jonathan Liebesman, director of Wrath Of The Titans, has resurrected the heroes in a half shell for the big screen. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an outlandish, action-heavy romp that remains faithful to earlier incarnations, condensing the characters' back-story into a snazzy comic book-style opening sequence.

Die-hard fans will enjoy the heavy whiff of nostalgia, but if Liebesman was hoping to indoctrinate a new generation, he has cowabungled it. His film is incredibly violent, albeit bloodless, reducing two very young boys in my screening to distressed screams.

The lack of spilt blood is preposterous, especially when the turtles face chief villain Shredder, who sports armour festooned with blades. Razor sharp projectiles scythe through the air but miraculously don't nick flesh. Shredder by name but not by nefarious nature.

Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) grow up in the sewers of New York City. They flourish under rat mentor Splinter (Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub), who teaches Ninjitsu to his surrogate sons.

During one of the turtles' sorties above ground, Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) glimpses the crime-fighters, who are preparing for war with hulking terrorist Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his army, the Foot Clan.

Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello fear exposure so they track down April and spirit her to their subterranean lair. "It's our Fortress Of Solitude, our Hogwarts, our Xavier's Academy," whispers Donatello, piling on the pop culture references.

Once April learns of the turtles' noble quest to destroy Shredder, she pledges her allegiance and ropes in wisecracking cameraman, Vern (Will Arnett), and prominent businessman Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who has publicly declared war on the Foot Clan in a televised speech.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles updates the characters for the modern era. Thus Mikey has a penchant for cat videos on the internet and the three scriptwriters shoe-horn verbal references to films and TV shows with abandon: "Maybe she's a Jedi," whispers Mikey after April reveals she knows Splinter's name without an introduction.

The turtles are rendered through motion-capture performances and look rather creepy, but they somersault to perfection in action set pieces including a tumble down a snow-laden mountainside.

Alas, the hefty budget hasn't stretched to remedying basic continuity errors like when Fox's plastic heroine emerges from a downpour with dry, flowing hair. Believe that and you'll lap up this bland turtle soup.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014
Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

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The Riot Club 4 stars

movie title

Alistair Ryle arrives at Oxford, hoping to emulate his older brother, a former president of an elite dining club at Oxford University. Given his lineage, Alistair is almost certain to catch the eye of Riot Club president James Leighton-Masters. However, it is dashing classmate Miles Richards from more humble stock, who steals Alistair's thunder and arouses the homosexual yearnings of influential club member Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDouglas Booth, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Freddie Fox, Sam Reid, Jessica Brown Findlay, Ben Schnetzer, Gordon Brown, Olly Alexander, Max Irons, Tom Hollander, Matthew Beard, Holliday Grainger, Jack Farthing.
  • DirectorLone Scherfig.
  • WriterLaura Wade.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/TheRiotClubUK
  • Release19/09/2014

The class war degenerates into foul-mouthed tirades and stomach-churning violence in Laura Wade's robust adaptation of her own coruscating stage play. Posh originated at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2010 and was revived two years later in the West End, painting a vivid portrait of a fictional dining clique akin to the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, which once included David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson in its notorious ranks.

Lone Scherfig's film, retitled The Riot Club, packs a similar emotional wallop to its stage-bound predecessor, detonating pent-up testosterone and tempers with horrifying repercussions. Wade has fleshed out key protagonists and excised some scenes entirely to reduce the running time by 40 minutes.

There seems to be a greater emphasis on the fledgling romance between the most likable male character and a down-to-earth northern lass (Holliday Grainger), who is dazzled by the dreaming spires and gushes, "Being at Oxford is like being invited to 100 parties all at once - and I want to go to all of them."

The Riot Club is not a party most of us would wish to attend. But that's the point. Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin) arrives at Oxford, hoping to emulate his older brother, a former president of the titular fraternity.

This hush-hush 10-strong dining club honours the memory of its libidinous 18th century founder by boozing to excess at an annual dinner, trashing the venue and paying for the damages out of their trust funds. Given his lineage, Alistair is almost certain to catch the eye of Riot Club president James Leighton-Masters (Freddie Fox).

However, it is dashing classmate Miles Richards (Max Irons) from more humble stock, who steals Alistair's thunder and arouses the homosexual yearnings of influential club member Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt (Sam Reid). Alistair and Miles pass initiation and are inducted into the ranks alongside Harry Villiers (Douglas Booth), Guy Bellingfield (Matthew Beard), Toby Maitland (Olly Alexander), Dimitri Mitropoulos (Ben Schnetzer) and George Balfour (Jack Farthing).

The students head to a country pub run by Chris (Gordon Brown) and his daughter Rachel (Jessica Brown Findlay), who have no idea of the devastation about to be wrought.

The Riot Club is a sobering attack on a culture of inherited privilege and power in Britain. Scherfig's film dissects how our egalitarian society is founded on secret handshakes in wood-panelled rooms far from the madding electorate, and you can almost see the venom streaking down the camera lens when one inebriated club member sneers, "I am sick to death of poor people!"

The Danish filmmaker, who previously helmed the Oscar nominated coming of age story An Education, doesn't spare the morally repugnant characters any blushes. A climactic showdown is just as jaw-dropping in lurid cinematic close-up as it was from the safe distance of the theatre's upper circle.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

What We Did On Our Holiday 4 stars

Gordie McLeod is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug and his wife Abi arrive with their three children in tow. The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastDavid Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Amelia Bullmore, Ben Miller, Emilia Jones, Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge.
  • DirectorAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • WriterAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official site
  • Release26/09/2014

In 2007, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin abandoned the conventions of a tightly scripted sitcom and took a more fluid approach to mining laughs in the breakout hit Outnumbered. While the adult characters' lines were committed to the page, the young actors were allowed to improvise around suggestions from Hamilton and Jenkin, and consequently delivered natural performances, reacting instinctively to set-ups and punchlines.

The writer-directors adopt the same winning recipe for this uproarious feature film debut, an ill-fated family road trip laced with absurdity that touches the heart and tickles the funny bone.

Once again, it's the younger cast who scene-steal with aplomb, explaining why a bout of car sickness is a source of joy ("It's like being a fountain!") and succinctly distilling the anguish and betrayal of parental infidelity into a single throwaway line: "Dad had an affair with a Paralympic athlete with one foot."

That's not to say that Hamilton and Jenkin short-change the rest of the ensemble cast including David Tennant, Rosamund Pike and Glaswegian firebrand Billy Connolly. They snaffle a generous smattering of belly laughs too, like when Connolly's cantankerous grandfather tries to explain Hitler's seizure of land in terms a bairn might understand: "Like Monopoly, but with more screaming."

Gordie McLeod (Connolly) is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin (Ben Miller) is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club.

Gavin's long-suffering and neurotic wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) remains in the background, occasionally exploding with pent-up rage. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug (David Tennant) and his wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) arrive with their three children in tow: 11-year-old Lottie (Emilia Jones), who scribbles repeatedly in her notebook so she can remember which lies she is supposed to tell; six-year-old Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge), who is obsessed with Vikings; and five-year-old Jess (Harriet Turnbull), whose best friends are two rocks christened Eric and Norman.

The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep along with an interfering Social Services officer called Agnes (Celia Imrie), who casts doubt on Doug and Abi's ability to nurture their dysfunctional brood.

What We Did On Our Holiday is a rip-roaring riot, laying bare the petty jealousies and deep-rooted fears within a family while dealing with serious issues through the unblinkered eyes of the three children.

Tennant and Miller spark a fiery sibling rivalry with excellent support from Pike and Bullmore, the latter proving that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Hamilton and Jenkin eschew cloying sentimentality in the film's tricky final third, striking a pleasing and ultimately winning balance between musing and amusing.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014

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