We’re getting into serious Oscar-bidding season, and the month of November is chock full of movies we’re excited about: Skyfall, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Hitchcock, Anna Karenina, Silver Linings Playbook, Killing Them Softly, and on and on. But the majors aren’t the only ones trotting out smarter-than-average fare; as usual, the indies have got a full slate of strong stuff this month as well. After the jump, we’ve got a few that are worth checking out in the weeks ahead.
A Late Quartet
RELEASE: November 2
DIRECTOR: Yaron Zilberman
CAST: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Wallace Shawn
Aside from offering some interesting peeks into the group dynamic of a string quartet, this music-based drama is walking some awfully well-trod soil — the conflicts and confrontations are plenty predictable, and unfold about as expected. But that’s where the subject matter becomes analogous to the film: no one would complain about attending the titular ensemble’s concerts and hearing a bunch of songs they already knew. They’d go to appreciate the performances, and that’s what A Late Quartet provides. Along with the (to these uncultured eyes, anyway) totally convincing music scenes, Hoffman and Keener’s portrayal of a troubled marriage is achingly true, Ivanir’s frosty soloist is spot-on, Poots continues to carve out a niche as one of our most intriguing ingénues, and Christopher Walken turns in a performance that navigates gingerly between heartbreaking emotion and poker-faced restraint.