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::: Coming Soon :::

~Upstairs at the Savoy~

The Drop

Starts Friday, September 26

Rated R; 106 minutes

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Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post (excerpted)

The Drop is a taut, atmospheric, exceedingly well-written thriller adapted by Dennis Lehane from one of his short stories. Lehane’s screenplay, directed by Michael R. Roskam, sports a superb cast led by the masterful Tom Hardy. Lehane — best known to moviegoers as the author of the Boston-set Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone — here brings his acute eye to Brooklyn, where he displays his usual command of local vernacular and tribal rituals, as well as unsentimental moral inquiry.

As Hardy’s character, a bartender named Bob Saginowski, explains in the film’s introduction, there are corners of his neighborhood “that no one ever thinks about.” He occupies one such corner, a tavern owned by his Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini in a fitting final role). Known as a “drop bar,” the neighborhood hangout is used by the local crime syndicate to transfer its cash in a seemingly endless loop of well-thumbed ill-gotten gains.

Bob, meanwhile, keeps his head down, buying rounds for his regulars while Marv scowls in the background — at one point he orders Bob to take down the Christmas decorations because it’s Dec. 27. But Bob’s watchful solitude is punctured one night when he encounters an irresistible little pit bull. With the help of a pretty neighbor named Nadia (Noomi Rapace), Bob begins to care for the dog, simultaneously becoming involved in a years-old crime investigation and perhaps running afoul of the Chechen gang with whom Cousin Marv has become entangled.

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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

Love is Strange

Starts Friday, September 26

Rated R; 98 minutes

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Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly (excerpted)

George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow) have finally tied the knot after 39 years as a couple, but with consequences. George is let go from his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school for violating the moral code (i.e., marrying a man), and he and Ben are forced to sell their Manhattan apartment and bunk with separate friends before they can reunite.

Indie filmmaker Ira Sachs (Forty Shades of Blue, Keep the Lights On) takes an impeccably balanced approach to the film. His ironic title refers to all tough relationships, including the one that the characters have with New York City. In how it mirrors life's joys and disappointments, and charges a minimum of $1,500 per month for the privilege, the city is as much a leading player here as Molina and Lithgow — both of whom, in their many decades as actors, have rarely been as beguiling or moving on screen.

The story is elusive, with unexpected leaps in time but Love Is Strange is hardly plotless. The final act is punctuated by a major event, yet Sachs is too smart a director to dwell on it. Instead he aims away from the obvious and toward a poignant wordless denouement involving Ben's 15-year-old great-nephew (the revelatory Charlie Tahan). It's one final nuanced decision in a movie loaded with them. Sachs, Molina, and Lithgow have given adult moviegoers a perfect piece of summer counter-programming — a warm, humane, resplendent romance to savor while our days are still long.

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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

One Chance

Coming Soon

Rated PG-13; 103 minutes

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Annlee Ellingson, Loa Angeles Times

Paul Potts was a schlubby car-phone salesman from Wales who blew the judges away on the first episode of "Britain's Got Talent" with his rendition of Puccini's aria "Nessun Dorma." The son of a steelworker with a chipped front tooth and the voice of an angel won that first season of the reality show, but his progression through the competition is just an afterthought in One Chance, the story of his life leading to the life-changing moment that's been viewed on YouTube more than 110 million times.

Paul (played by Tony Award winner James Corden) actually gets several chances to pursue his passion — studying in Venice, where he chokes during a master class with his idol, Luciano Pavarotti; scoring the lead in an amateur production of "Aida" only to be struck with appendicitis and a tumor on his thyroid; regaining his voice months later only to suffer massive injuries in a major car accident. Despite neighborhood bullies and a disapproving father (Colm Meaney), he perseveres with the love of his utterly charming wife, Julz (the adorable Alexandra Roach), a delightful sense of humor and that voice (Potts' own vocals were used in the film).

Director David Frankel has crafted a sweet, funny, heartfelt film, and while we may know all along how it all turns out, Paul's signature performance still gives us chills.

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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

The Two Faces of January

Coming Soon

Rated PG-13; 97 minutes

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Tim Robey, The Daily Telegraph (excerpted)

The Two Faces of January, adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr Ripley) is an elegantly pleasurable period thriller, a film of tidy precision and class. It’s the directorial debut of Hossein Amini, the British-Iranian screenwriter best-known for the Oscar-nominated The Wings of the Dove and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. His skill as a scenarist shines through in this three-person rummy game - it’s tightly engineered and doesn’t waste words. But it’s also a treat to look at and listen to, evoking a lot of old-fashioned movie virtues, and showing us a lush but suspenseful good time.

From the start, as holidaying Americans Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette (Kirsten Dunst) take a turn around the Parthenon in 1962, we get that tingle that comes with feeling in safe hands. Amini has borrowed cinematographer, Marcel Zyskind, from Michael Winterbottom, and a composer, Alberto Iglesias, from Pedro Almódovar. Their combined efforts are seductive but also expressive, honed to a purpose. And the lemon dress Dunst is wearing may be the most perfectly stylish thing we’ve ever seen her in. You want her performance to live up to her gorgeous look, and it does.

This couple, the MacFarlands, have escaped for the summer, and for a brief stretch they look like prey, at least to the unscrupulous gaze of a small-time con artist called Rydal (Oscar Isaac). Handsome as a faun, this devil has been charming young travellers as a tour guide, then exploiting their faulty Greek to short-change them, a tactic he tries out on these two fellow Americans at a street market. His hand around Colette’s wrist, as he helps her to try on a bracelet, is a virtual promise of amorous frissons to come. But there turns out to be larceny on both sides.

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~Downstairs at the Savoy~

Alive Inside

Coming Soon

Not Rated; 74 minutes

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Alive Inside is a joyous cinematic exploration of music's capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin ("Don't Worry, Be Happy").

An uplifting cinematic exploration of music and the mind, Alive Inside's inspirational and emotional story left audiences humming, clapping and cheering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.

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~Upstairs at the Savoy~

Tracks

Coming Soon

Rated PG-13; 110 minutes

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Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly (excerpted)

Tracks follows real-life pioneer Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) as she treks 1,700 miles through the Australian desert with four camels and a dog by her side. She went on to write a National Geographic piece about the experience that she then expanded into a best-seller.

This lush adaptation from director John Curran (The Painted Veil) is remarkable for accomplishing so much with so little. There's no love story, although Adam Driver is marvelously dorky as a National Geographic photographer who meets up with Davidson every so often and might be nursing a crush. There's minimal dialogue — and, really Wasikowska's riveting performance tells you everything you need to know about how solitude can chip away at the mind. There's virtually no attempt to psychoanalyze Davidson's motives for taking the journey: The script thwarts any attempt to brand her as a women's-rights activist or a nature conqueror, stating only that she wanted to ''feel free.''

Still, what's on screen will leave you in a state of wonder. The sweeping cinematography surveys the cracked earth and Davidson's chapped skin with equal intensity, as if to remind us how vulnerable we puny mortals are. There's a powerful message about human endurance here, and no one needs to hear it more than this generation, which came of age too late for Joseph Campbell's rites-of-passage ceremonies and would never survive in the desert without an iPhone compass app.

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