‘Bad Roads,’ Ukraine’s Oscar entry, is a grim dispatch from Donbas

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The four tales told in “Bad Roads,” Natalya Volorzhbit’s bleak and unnerving first feature, add up to a startlingly grim panorama of life during wartime. We are in the battle-scarred Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, sometime after the spring of 2014, when tensions between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists flared into armed conflict, but long before the terrible escalations of the last few months. Like Sergei Loznitsa’s recently rereleased “Donbass,” though less sprawling in scope and more intimate in feel, this omnibus work functions as both a lament and a prophecy. W…

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