How to solve a problem like Abkhazia? Or rather, how to send a letter from Paris to a country that has not yet been acknowledged by the French state? Documentary filmmaker Eric Baudelaire again chooses the epistolary form in Letters to Max (2014) after employing a series of email exchanges to structure his first film The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenbou, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images which dealt with the titular characters’ exile in Lebanon…

The ironic naming of the cargo ship that director Lucie Borleteau uses in Fidelio: Alice’s Journey (2014) comes into view as the ‘Fidelio’ departs the port of Marseille for the first time. Employed as the literal and figurative vessel for the emotional and spiritual odyssey undertaken by the film’s eponymous voyager (Ariane Labed) it is mechanically unreliable, seeming to have more faulty parts than functional ones from the outset. Indeed, a member of the crew has died in suspicious circumstances before the anchor was cast.

The warning signs are there even before the opening credits roll. Lessons in Love (2014)– the UK title of Tom Vaughan’s latest – went through two prior iterations for its appearance in Canadian (How To Make Love Like An Englishman) and US (Some Kind of Beautiful) cinemas. Unfortunately, much like giving someone the same present for Christmas, Easter and their birthday, no matter how this rom-com is gift wrapped the resultant 99 minutes of your life will feel as hollow and wasted as receiving an empty box…

Paris, 1682: Alan Rickman’s second outing as director has been a long time coming. He follows 1997’s The Winter Guest with A Little Chaos which takes place at the French court of Louis XIV. Visually sumptuous, the decadence of the setting and extravagance of the 17th century dress of its characters belies their superficiality and unfortunately the same must be said for the film. Beneath the excess of wigs, make-up and frills there is very little of substance to a film which is not necessarily chaotic but definitely erratic.

“The harder they push, the more grateful I am.” So says an inexperienced but resolute Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) as she struggles with the demands of her nursing superiors at the outbreak of World War One. Belittled by Niamh Cusack’s officious Sister Jones, the “ivory towers” of a privileged upbringing will crumble and fall as the horrors of experiencing the Great War irrevocably change the young woman, putting her on a path towards pacifism and, most notably, writing. A nostalgic but heartfelt period piece, this adaptation of Brittain’s wartime memoirs is the story of an indomitable spirit and proof of the old adage that what does not kill you will make you stronger. 

The opening shot of Mr. Turner is a stunning vision; a stream runs past a windmill which stands alone in a wide expanse of Dutch countryside. Two milkmaids jovially converse as they amble towards the foreground shortly after daybreak. The warm colours of a hazy sunrise light up the sky and the screen.

When I was 12 or 13 I was in London for the day with a friend, and our respective mothers, seeing the sights with exchange students from Vancouver whom we were hosting. Naturally, Buckingham Palace was high on our list and as we walked away from Queen Liz’s down The Mall, we came across a Pride parade.