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The Drop (2014)

Bob is working at his cousin Marv's bar in a gritty part of Brooklyn, and you quickly realize tell they both have a shady past. The bar is one of many in the city used as a drop for dirty money and it turns out the bar itself is owned by a menacing Chechen gang leader. A couple of small-time thugs rob the bar, Bob finds an abused puppy in a trash can and meets a girl named Nadia, and a random crime turns out not to be so random.

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Languid, introspective, and darkly funny, this vampire movie never outright mentions what its main characters are. Adam is a centuries-old musician going through a rough patch while living in seclusion in Detroit. Enter his long-time lover, Eve, thousands of years old and living in Tangiers until Adam calls. The quiet romance and midnight reflections on the rise and fall of lives and societies are at the center of this story, until Eve's uncontrollable little sister shows up, complicating things by doing what we all expect vampires to do.

The Skeleton Twins (2014)

Products of a dysfunctional marriage and orphaned at the age of 14 (Dad: suicide; Mom: disinterest), damaged but endearing twins Maggie and Milo are both unhappy, each facing a life crisis of their own making. Close as children but estranged as adults, they meet again in their New York state hometown after 10 years apart and proceed to support and undermine each other in the ways only siblings can.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Spanning two years and three Thanksgivings, this Woody Allen classic hits all his favorite subjects: sex, death and Manhattan. The movie unfolds as a series of vignettes featuring sisters Hannah (Mia Farrow), Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest) along with their former, current, and future husbands and lovers. Love, betrayal, aging parents, career angst, hypochondria, and some good religion jokes—what more could you ask for?

Begin Again (2013)

The director of the Oscar winning film Once (2006) returns with another musical urban love story. This time the setting is New York City and you may know some of the actors. Keira Knightly plays a British song-writer adrift in the city after her partner, played by Adam Levine (frontman for Grammy winning band, Maroon 5) gets lured away by the music industry that brought them across the pond. She has a chance encounter with a disgraced music-business executive, played by the always excellent Mark Rufallo, who is also weathering a troubled long-term marriage.

Jindabyne (2007)

If you were on a fishing trip with friends and found the body of a murdered young woman in the river what would you do? Would you cancel the trip immediately and contact the police; or, go fishing and tell the authorities on your way home from the remote mountain location?  The decision by a group of friends to continue the trip has lasting repercussions.  Set in Australia, the film not only confronts the basic moral question, but also the racial and cultural issues involved since the young woman was Aboriginal.

Philomena (2013)

Based on a true story uncovered by British journalist Martin Sixsmith, this is the moving story of a young Irish girl whose illegitimate child is taken from her by nuns and sold to an American couple in the mid-1950s. You might expect the movie to be mawkish and sentimental but it manages to avoid this with complex performances by Judi Dench as Philomena Lee and comedian Steve Coogan as Sixsmith.

The Well-Digger's Daughter (2011)

On the eve of World War I, widowed well digger Pascal struggles to raise his six daughters but the oldest one, 18-year-old Patricia, goes astray, falling for a dashing airman who loves her and leaves her in the usual way. This French-language movie, based on the book by Marcel Pagnol, is heartwarming in the best sense of the word: beautiful shots of the lush Provencal countryside, the innocently luminous Patricia, the amusingly gruff but loving Pasal, and assorted charming minor characters.

Elena (2012)

Wealthy businessman Vladimir and his second wife (and former nurse) Elena share a luxurious Moscow apartment and argue about their respective children: his scornful and distant daughter; her wastrel son with a wife, two kids, and no job. After Vladimir has a heart attack and decides to write a will that will prevent Elena from supporting her son's family, she makes a fateful decision. This domestic noir thriller feels quite un-American, and that's because it's Russian.

Almost Famous (2001)

Time travel back to the era of 70s rock and roll with wannabe teen rock journalist William Miller. Under the dubious tutelage of rock mag Creem's editor Lester Bangs, and with the reluctant approval of his mother, William joins the tour of on-the-verge-of-stardom Stillwater. William rides on the bus, rubs shoulders with the band and their female groupies, falls in love, and tries to write a break-out story for Rolling Stone magazine.

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