The year is winding down, which means the competition for your movie-going dollar is getting fiercer – at least if you’re in the market for smart pictures for grown-ups. With ostensibly small movies getting big releases and studio movies eyeballing the impending awards season, some of the movies on this month’s outsized indie guide are considerably “bigger” than others. But all are worth your time.
By Sidney Lumet
Release Date: Out now (New York); November 4 (Los Angeles)
Director: Nancy Buirski
His main job as a director, Sidney Lumet explains early in Buirski’s enlightening profile, was to answer one simple question: What is the movie about? Not plot, which is self-evident, but “what is it about emotionally?” That organizational principle is wisely adopted for this American Masters production, which punts the conventional chronology/survey approach to instead follow the thematic crests of Lumet’s filmography. His commentary is pulled entirely from a previously unseen 2008 interview, with no other talking heads or narration, and that’s the right approach; it’s a conversational film rather than a biographical one, which allows Buirski to take unexpected detours and draw buried connections. These forays include some unfortunate exclusions (as it seems there always are in these types of things, at least if you’re a fan), and some of the clips run on a good deal too long for the points they’re making. But it’s a treat for anyone with even a passing interest in cinema, and one more chance to say goodbye to this remarkable artist and innovator.