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by Justin Stewart

Before We Vanish by Justin Stewart Film

Félicité | Alain Gomis

Alain Gomis, a French director of Guinea-Bissauian and Senegalese descent, knows the value of a good face. This is why he fills so many of Félicité‘s frames with the visage of Véro Tshanda Beya (a singer, making her film debut). Beya plays the title character here,…

by Justin Stewart Film

Spoor | Agnieszka Holland

Some of the most elegant and graceful tracking shots ever seen open Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor. They may be drone or helicopter-assisted; the camera, gravity-defying, soars over a remote snowy spot in the mountains of southwest Poland’s Kłodzko Valley region. In the late gloaming hours, some…

by Justin Stewart Film

Porcupine Lake | Ingrid Veninger

Slovakia-born Canadian director Ingrid Veninger’s Porcupine Lake is a sensitive, sun-dappled summer idyll (with dark undercurrents) on themes of coming of age, preteen-love-fumblings, and the inevitable realization of the adult world’s fallibility. Newcomer Charlotte Salisbury (palpably raw and naturalistic) plays Bea, up from Toronto in the…

by Justin Stewart Film

High Fantasy | Jenna Bass

The no-budget, dually high-concept premises of Jenna Bass’s High Fantasy: four South African twentysomethings (two women of color, a white woman, and a black man) go camping in some arid Northern Cape preserve, argue loudly about race, gender and apartheid issues, then wake up…

Before We Vanish by Justin Stewart Film

The Force | Peter Nicks

Exciting, fascinating and mostly well-rounded, Peter Nicks’s The Force follows the Oakland Police Department (and by proxy, the citizens and city of Oakland) for two years, with filming having commenced in 2014. Both time and subject are suited for examination; we see the department…

by Justin Stewart Film

Aroused by Gymnopedies | Isao Yukisada

Nikkatsu is in the process of rolling out a new crop of “romantic pornography” (or Roman Porno) films—a throwback to their heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, when the studio went “pink” in an effort to compete with television. As then, the only real…

by Justin Stewart Film

Dealer/Healer | Lawrence Lau

Telling the “true” story of murderous, drug-addicted Triad heavy-turned-sober, prolific rehabilitater of young gangster-addicts Peter Chan Shun-chi, Lawrence Lau’s Dealer/Healer belongs to that most enervating of sub-genres: the wannabe epic. Toggling back and forth between the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and the present, it certainly…

by Justin Stewart Film Horizon Line

The Big Sick | Michael Showalter

The stateside media-consuming public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for standup comedy product (The Comedian, Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, infinite podcasts) is the target audience of The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s autobiographical dramatization of their own courtship. (He’s an aspiring Chicago standup,…

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