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::: Coming Soon :::

~Downstairs at the Savoy~

Red Army

Coming Soon

Not Rated; 76 minutes

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Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter (excerpted)

One of the most effortlessly pleasurable distractions at the Cannes film festival, Gabriel Polsky's solo directing debut, Red Army, is a playful documentary about the former Soviet Union's national ice hockey squad, an all-conquering machine schooled under military training-camp conditions as an ideological propaganda weapon.

Red Army is a slick, witty, fast-moving blend of sports story and history lesson with clear appeal beyond the hockey-fan demographic. The tone is mostly light-hearted, but with splashes of personal tragedy and political intrigue to add grit. Interweaving scratchy archive footage from the 1970s and 80s with handsomely shot contemporary interviews, Polsky talks to former superstar players, retired KGB officers, sports journalists and veteran bureaucrats.

His star interview is Viacheslav "Slava" Fetisov, a former captain of the Soviet national team and double Olympic gold medal-winner, whose colorful life story gives the film its loose narrative spine. Fetisov's stellar career was full of triumph and tension, confrontations with his Communist bosses and bitter fall-outs with former sporting comrades.

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~Upstairs at the Savoy~

While We're Young

Coming Soon

Rated R; 94 minutes

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Kate Erbland, Film School Recjects (excerpted)

Adulthood is not the answer. Director Noah Baumbach (Kicking & Screaming, Frances Ha) has long had characters who exhibit little interest or ability to just plain grow up, but that doesn’t mean that taking on the trappings of adulthood will suddenly solve the issues of his characters. Being a grown up is just as impossible as refusing to do so, there are just better apartments to act out your angst in.

Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) don’t really fit in with their friends anymore – because everyone around them has gone baby-mad and they remain childless. It’s not for lack of trying, Josh and Cornelia attempted to expand their family before, and it didn’t work out. More than a bit flummoxed by the baby brains all their friends seem to exhibit, the couple decides babies aren’t for them. So where do they fit? The apparently random appearance of a pair of hip twenty-somethings brings something quite unexpected: new friends. Jamie (Adam Driver) is a budding documentarian, his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried) is there for support and would they like to grab some Chinese food with the energetic duo?

Baumbach’s brand of humor is on full display, the first act is so top-loaded with jokes that it almost begs for an immediate second watch to catch up on all the lines the audience laughed over the first time. Still, there’s a mainstream appeal here that the filmmaker has been steadily working towards for years and he’s able to unveil and skewer some sharp truths about both his couples. The result is a fast and very funny send-up of generational disparity and inhibited maturation that never feels cruel or calculated, the kind of film that makes you feel, well, just kind of young again.

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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

Wild Tales

Academy Award Nominee
Best Foreign Languge Film

Coming Soon

Rated R; 115 minutes
In Spanish w/subtitles

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Peter Travers, Rolling Stone (excerpted)

Argentina's nominee for the foreign-film Oscar is wild in every sense of the word. This farce about revenge is feral, ferocious and gut-bustingly funny. Writer-director Damián Szifron hasn't made one film — he's made six, stitched together under one title and sent out to a world that may not be ready.

The opening tale, "Pasternak," is set on a jet where the passengers, strangers all, realize they've all done wrong by a guy named Pasternak. I won't spoil the fun, but this tale is as crazy as anything by Pedro Almodóvar, who co-produced the film.

The comedy takes on darker colors in "The Rats," in which a diner waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) finds herself serving the crook who drove her father to suicide. Ouch! In "Road to Hell," a snotty driver gives the finger to a redneck. Big mistake. "Bombita" stars Ricardo Darín, Argentina's shiniest star, as a demolition engineer who takes on a towing service and the demons of the DMV.

There are few laughs in "The Deal," in which a rich man tries to pay off a gardener to take the rap for his hit-and-run brat of a son. But the fantastic final tale rectifies that. In "Till Death Do Us Part," set at a Jewish wedding to end all weddings, the bride (Érica Rivas, superb) and her cheating groom (Diego Gentile) turn marriage into gladiatorial slaughter. You'll laugh till it hurts. In Wild Tales, that's the point.

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~Upstairs at the Savoy~

Seymour: An Introduction

Coming Soon

Rated PG; 81 minutes

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Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

No one should tell you too much in advance about this utterly remarkable film, director Ethan Hawke's first documentary. As the title indicates, Seymour: An Introduction puts us in close proximity to Seymour Bernstein, the eightysomething classical pianist who left the concert stage when he was 50 to teach and write his own music. Lucky for us, Hawke ran into Bernstein at a Manhattan party where they talked about art, stage fright and the seduction of fame. Hawke thought we should hear from Bernstein as well.

To which we owe him a great debt. It turns out that Bernstein is as eloquent with words as he is with interpreting Schubert, Chopin and Beethoven on piano. Hawke's movie isn’t a biopic, though we do learn about Seymour's army service in Korea (the archival footage of his concerts for soldiers is deeply affecting) and his issues with a father who didn't have much regard for his son's gifts. Mostly, we watch Bernstein play for himself and his students, as well as prep for a rare concert arranged by Hawke. The twice Oscar-nominated actor appears onscreen only briefly. Hawke knows where the spotlight belongs. Believe me, the 81 minutes spent in Bernstein's funny, touching and vital presence is something you don't want to miss.

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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

Mommy

Coming Soon

Rated R; 139 minutes
In French w/subtitles

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Daniel Barnes, Sacramento News & Review (excerpted)

Mommy is already the fifth feature from 25-year-old French Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan, and while his latest film still possesses an overeager youthfulness, it's also a visually tense, emotionally ecstatic and unforgettable experience.

Set “in a fictional Canada” (don't worry, Celine Dion still exists), Mommy stars Dolan regular Anne Dorval as Diane “Die” Despres, a single mother in bedazzled jeans struggling to raise her blonde, hellcat son. Die is devoted to her boy (an excellent Antoine Olivier-Pilon, loathsome and strangely charming), but also terrified of his violent mood swings and sexually inappropriate behavior.

Dolan shoots most of Mommy in a claustrophobic, 1x1 aspect ratio, emphasizing vertical lines in the framing, and he makes gonzo use of slow motion and 1990s pop songs. But the film's ostentatiousness never overshadows the brilliantly complex lead performance by Dorval, who runs the gamut from tacky gusto to cynical calculation.

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