Now showing at The Dukes Moor Lane,Lancaster,Lancashire LA1 1QE 01524 598500
- Florence Foster Jenkins
- Hail, Caesar!
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company Live: Romeo And Juliet
- The Battle Of The Somme
- The Daughter
- The Nice Guys
Florence Foster Jenkins 4 stars
Amateur operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins is determined to further her musical ambitions with the help of her second husband and doting companion, St Clair. The couple auditions several accompanists and Cosme Moon lands the position of Florence's pianist. The grand dame pays Cosme well and he gradually falls under his wealthy employer's spell, acknowledging that she is just following her dream, like everyone else.
- GenreBiography, Comedy, Drama, Historical/Period, Musical, Romance
- CastMeryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson.
- DirectorStephen Frears.
- WriterNicholas Martin.
- Duration110 mins
- Official site
Auditions for televised talent shows throw up a limitless supply of deluded wannabes, who refuse to let a lack of musicality or rhythm hamper their quest for pop superstardom. Occasionally, these lovable misfits strike a chord because of their unfettered enthusiasm - witness the inexorable rise of The Cheeky Girls and Jedward. Amateur operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins was one such endearing eccentric, who became a cause celebre in 1930s and 1940s New York precisely because she was unable to hold a note during her infamous recitals of Verdi, Brahms and Mozart. Recordings of her caterwauling became collector's items and her concerts were always sold out. Jenkins brought joy to millions and remained convinced of her soaring abilities until her glorious end, aged 76. This real-life story of triumph against sniggering cynicism provides rich inspiration for Stephen Frears' rollicking comedy drama. Anchored by tour-de-force performances from Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant that perfectly harmonise humour and pathos, Florence Foster Jenkins is an unabashedly joyful period piece that stands resolutely behind the eponymous socialite as she massacres the Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus or the Queen Of The Night aria from The Magic Flute. As the heroine remarks, "People may say I couldn't sing but no one can say I didn't sing." Florence (Streep) is determined to further her musical ambitions with the help of her second husband and doting companion, St Clair (Grant). "I shall need a pianist. Someone young, someone with passion!" declares Florence excitedly. The couple auditions several accompanists but they fail to meet Florence's exacting standards. "He's raping my ears. Make him stop!" she pleads after one hopeful tinkles the ivories. Cosme Moon (Simon Helberg) eventually lands the position of Florence's pianist and his first experience of Florence in full voice is played for tear-streaming belly laughs by Frears. The grand dame pays Cosme well and he gradually falls under his wealthy employer's spell, acknowledging that she is just following her dream, like everyone else. Vocal coach Carlo Edwards (David Haig) and venerated conductor Arturo Toscanini (John Kavanagh) prepare Florence for a big concert at the world-famous Carnegie Hall. However, St Clair worries that the stress of the forthcoming engagement is playing havoc with her faltering health. "What if it kills you?" he frets. "Then I shall die happy," smiles Florence serenely. Audiences will certainly die happy after watching Florence Foster Jenkins. Streep is mesmerising, bringing tenderness and vulnerability to a role that could so easily have been played as a pitiful figure of mockery. Grant is a wonderful comic foil and he demonstrates a light touch in moving scenes that remind us of his oft-ignored abilities as a dramatic actor. Period design is impeccable and Frears builds to a rousing emotional crescendo worthy of one of Jenkins' standing ovations. Bravo!
Hail, Caesar! 2 stars
Eddie Mannix masterminds production at Capitol Pictures, keeping the tawdry secrets of his leading men and ladies out of rival gossip columns penned by twins Thora and Thessaly Thacker. He also has to massage egos on and off the set of the studio's big budget epic, Hail, Caesar! - A Tale Of The Christ, starring matinee idol Baird Whitlock. When a Communist group calling itself The Future kidnaps Baird, Eddie races against time to pay the 100,000 US dollar ransom and keep the abduction secret.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Musical
- CastChanning Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, George Clooney, Josh Brolin.
- DirectorJoel Coen, Ethan Coen.
- WriterJoel Coen, Ethan Coen.
- Duration106 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/HailCaesarMovie
When the mighty fall, they fall hard. Writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen, who each have four Academy Awards on the mantelpiece and were nominees again this year for their script for Bridge Of Spies, descend from the filmmaking firmament with a sickening thud.
Hail, Caesar!, the brothers' screwball valentine to the golden age of 1950s Hollywood when studios nurtured, protected and controlled big name stars, is a deeply disappointing exercise in period style over substance, characterisation and wit.
It's hard to believe that the mercurial siblings who gave us The Big Lebowski, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and No Country For Old Men could be responsible for this flimsy whimsy. Admittedly, there are a couple of stand-out musical sequences that quicken the pulse and remind us of the Coens' genius.
These crescendos are spliced and shoehorned into the film's trailer, which runs to a trim two and a half minutes, and is infinitely more enjoyable that the bloated 106-minute misfire that has been haphazardly bolted together in the editing room.
As usual, the ensemble cast shimmers with comic talent, but here, almost everyone is squandered in thinly sketched roles.
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) masterminds production at Capitol Pictures, keeping the tawdry secrets of his leading men and ladies out of rival gossip columns penned by twins Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton). He also has to massage egos on and off the set of the studio's big budget epic, Hail, Caesar! - A Tale Of The Christ, starring matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).
When a Communist group calling itself The Future kidnaps Baird, Eddie races against time to pay the 100,000 US dollar ransom and keep the abduction secret from the filmmaking community. Meanwhile, Eddie must conceal the pregnancy of synchronised swimming actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) and convince revered director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) to cast singing Western dreamboat Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) in his romantic period drama.
"My readers don't care about Hobie Doyle - he wears chaps!" remarks Thora Thacker coldly. As the situation with Baird spirals out of control, Eddie calls upon the services of chain-smoking film editor CC Calhoun (Frances McDormand), agent Joseph Silverman (Jonah Hill) and tap-dancing leading man Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum).
Hail, Caesar! is depressingly light on laughs and the Coens' trademark eccentricities. The fleeting appearance of a sparkling one-liner - "God doesn't have children, He's a bachelor and He's very angry" - breaks up the mediocrity.
Some vignettes are stretched to the point of discomfort, such as Hobie's attempts to master one line of period dialogue ("Would that it were so simple"). Even the woefully underused Tatum is reduced to dancing for his proverbial supper in a tight-fitting sailor's outfit. Magic Mike XXL, all is forgiven.
Howl's Moving Castle 3 stars
Pretty 18-year-old Sophie is transformed into an old woman by the vindictive Witch Of The Waste. Abandoning the people she holds most dear, Sophie crosses paths with the magician Howl, whose moving castle may hold the secret to breaking the spell.
- GenreAdaptation, Children's, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family, Romance
- CastEmily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall.
- DirectorHayao Miyazaki.
- Duration119 mins
- Official sitewww.howlsmovingcastlemovie.co.uk
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the visionary Japanese filmmaker who enthralled us with Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle is a magical animated feature based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones. Like his previous films, this colourful and fantastical fable is awash with wondrous creatures (including a bouncing scarecrow) and wildly inventive visuals.
It's a rich, lustrous feast for the senses, but unlike some of his other masterpieces, Howl's Moving Castle doesn't quite win our hearts. The heroine is a pretty 18-year-old called Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer), who works at a hat shop with her mother and sisters.
With no real friends to call her own, Sophie dedicates herself to her work, staying late while the others join the crowds which line the streets, cheering the Royal army as it marches towards the battlefront.
There is excitement in the air - the moving castle of Wizard Howl (Christian Bale) has been spotted in the wasteland close to the town. Young maidens chatter dreamily about the dashing and elusive wizard, while trains belch smoke as they rumble past the hat shop.
Walking home one evening, Sophie is confronted by legions of oily, black shape shifting creatures. She is saved in the nick of time by Howl, who takes Sophie's hand for a breathtaking stroll high above the town.
This dalliance with the wizard incurs the wrath and the jealousy of the vindictive Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), who casts a spell on Sophie, transforming her into an arthritic 90-year-old woman (now voiced by Jean Simmons). As part of the enchantment, Sophie cannot tell anyone about her transformation. She is trapped inside the aching, weary body of a crone, perhaps for eternity.
Plunged into despair, Sophie abandons the people she holds most dear and heads into the wasteland, in search of Howl, the one person who may be able to break the curse. Installing herself as the castle's dogsbody, Sophie befriends the clearly tormented Howl, his pint-sized assistant Markl (Josh Hutcherson) and a fire demon called Calcifer (Billy Crystal), who inhabits the castle's hearth.
She also becomes embroiled in war that consumes the kingdoms, and threatens to destroy Howl too.
Howl's Moving Castle bears all of Miyazaki's trademarks and the two hours pass quickly, buoyed by lively vocal performances, including Crystal as comic relief. The quality of the animation is impressive but the narrative doesn't always flow smoothly, ending with a whimper rather than a bang.
Like Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle is being released simultaneously in this English dubbed version (perfect for younger audiences) and a Japanese subtitled version, aimed at purists and arthouse crowds. Check with your local cinema to see which one is playing near you.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Saturday 2nd July 2016
Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company Live: Romeo And Juliet 3 stars
Richard Madden and Lily James, who appeared together in the 2015 film version of Cinderella, play the star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare's heart-breaking romance, which is broadcast live from the stage of the Garrick Theatre in London's West End. Romeo and Juliet are the youngest children of the Montague and Capulet clans, who have been sworn enemies for decades. Despite the rivalry between their parents, the youngsters fall madly in love and marry in secret with the help of Romeo's friend, the Friar.
- GenreDrama, Romance, Special
- CastRichard Madden, Sir Derek Jacobi, Lily James, Meera Syal.
- DirectorKenneth Branagh.
- WriterWilliam Shakespeare.
- Duration165 mins
- Official sitewww.branaghtheatre.com
- Release07/07/2016 (selected cinemas)
Richard Madden and Lily James, who appeared together in the 2015 film version of Cinderella, play the star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare's heart-breaking romance, which is broadcast live from the stage of the Garrick Theatre in London's West End. Romeo and Juliet are the youngest children of the Montague and Capulet clans, who have been sworn enemies for decades. Despite the rivalry between their parents, the youngsters fall madly in love and marry in secret with the help of Romeo's friend, the Friar (Matthew Hawksley). Their happiness is cut short when Juliet's brother Tybalt (Ansu Kabia) fatally wounds Romeo's loyal servant Mercutio (Derek Jacobi), and Romeo - wishing to avenge his dear friend's memory - kills the murderous Capulet, thereby re-igniting the bitter war of words between the two dynasties. Meera Syal co-stars as the Nurse, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
The Battle Of The Somme 3 stars
Silent war documentary.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Saturday 2nd July 2016
The Daughter 3 stars
Henry Neilson is poised to marry his former housekeeper Anna and invites his estranged son Christian to the wedding to serve as best man. Christian's arrival stokes resentment with his father, but his nerves are soothed by a reunion with his good friend Oliver Finch, who works at Henry's mill. Oliver has just learnt that the mill will close and he must assure his wife Charlotte and teenage daughter Hedvig that they can survive this downturn in fortunes.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance
- CastSam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Anna Torv, Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto.
- DirectorSimon Stone.
- WriterSimon Stone.
- Duration95 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/roadshowfilms
- Release27/05/2016 (selected cinemas)
Theatre director Simon Stone makes his feature film debut with a brittle relationship drama inspired by Ibsen's play The Wild Duck. Henry Neilson (Geoffrey Rush) is poised to marry his former housekeeper Anna (Anna Torv) and invites his estranged son Christian (Paul Schneider) to the wedding to serve as best man. Christian's arrival stokes resentment with his father, but his nerves are soothed by a reunion with his good friend Oliver Finch (Ewen Leslie), who works at Henry's mill. Oliver has just learnt that the mill will close and he must assure his wife Charlotte (Miranda Otto) and teenage daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young) that they can survive this downturn in fortunes. Oliver's father Walter (Sam Neill), who is Henry's former business partner, isn't concerned for his son's future, but when dark secrets, which have been suppressed for years, finally come to light, the fates of the Neilson and Finch families hang in the balance.
The Nice Guys 4 stars
Jackson Healy is a hired heavy in 1977 Los Angeles, who beats up perverts and stalkers with his knuckleduster. A young woman called Amelia Kuttner pays him to scare off low-rent private detective Holland March, who has been asking for her around town. The first meeting of these two men ends in bloodshed and broken bones, but Jackson and Holland reluctantly agree to work together when Amelia subsequently vanishes without trace.
- GenreAction, Comedy, Thriller
- CastRussell Crowe, Angourie Rice, Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger.
- DirectorShane Black.
- WriterShane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi.
- Duration116 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/NiceGuysMovieUK/?brand_redir=1668045260089410
Good things come to those who wait. Every decade, filmmaker Shane Black unspools a deliciously off-kilter buddy action comedy that plays fast and loose with the conventions of the genre. In 1996, he penned The Long Kiss Goodnight starring Geena Davis and Samuel L Jackson, which metamorphosed a picture-perfect suburban mom into a finely honed killing machine. In 2005, he repeated the feat and also sat in the director's chair for the potty-mouthed murder mystery Kiss Kiss Bang Bang headlining Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer. Now, Black strikes it lucky for a third time with the unlikely comic pairing of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, a hare-brained missing person's caper set in sexually liberated 1977 Los Angeles. The script delivers big, throaty laughs from the cynical opening - "Marriage is buying a house with someone you hate!" - and adroitly juggles physical and verbal humour, inflicting injuries and indignities on his leading men for our sport and entertainment. It's a groovy kind of bromantic love and Crowe and Gosling relish the to and fro of the snappy dialogue as they gleefully contend with the fashions of the era. Jackson Healy (Crowe) is a hired heavy, who beats up perverts and stalkers with his knuckleduster. A young woman called Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley) pays him to scare off low-rent private detective Holland March (Gosling), who has been asking for her around town. The first meeting of these two men ends in bloodshed and broken bones, but Jackson and Holland reluctantly agree to work together when Amelia subsequently vanishes without trace. "Why don't you invite him in?" asks Holland's precocious daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) when Jackson turns up at their door. "No animals in the house, sweetheart," retorts the investigator, bearing the physical scars of their previous encounter. The breadcrumb trail of evidence leads to Amelia's fearsome mother, Judith Kuttner (Kim Basinger), who works for the United States Department of Justice and pleads with Jackson and Holland to locate and protect her child. Unfortunately, a hitman called John Boy (Matt Bomer) is also on the trail of Amelia, and Holland also needs to solve the perplexing mystery of porn actress Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), who was apparently seen alive two days after she died in a car accident. The Nice Guys doesn't quite soar to the dizzy heights of Black's previous escapades, but he comes close, retaining an enviable ability to conjure jaw-dropping one-liners out of nowhere. Like when the central duo is detained by a police officer who is simply following the rulebook. "You know who else was just following orders? Hitler!" counters Jackson. The central plot is a morass of crosses, double crosses, bluffs and coincidences that intrigues and bamboozles, untangling itself in the closing frames with aplomb.