Alt Weekly: 'The Master' and More

Welcome back to Alt Weekly, a column in which we shine a spotlight on the independent films brave enough to open opposite Hollywood’s behemoth blockbusters before rolling out in wider release.

This week marks the long-awaited showdown between Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Paul W.S. Anderson's "Resident Evil: Retribution."

‘10 YEARS’

Filmmaker Cred: This is writer Jamie Linden's directorial debut.

Star Power: Plenty of it — Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt, Justin Long, Max Minghella, Oscar Issac, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, Aubrey Plaza, Lynn Collins, Ron Livingston, Brian Geraghty.

Festival/Awards Buzz: After debuting at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, this reunion dramedy has earned generally positive reviews as part of Tatum's already stellar year.

Release Details: One screen in LA and two in NY this Friday.

See This If… You're a sucker for ensemble regret, second chances and good old-fashioned C-Tates.

‘ARBITRAGE’

Filmmaker Cred: Writer-director Nicholas Jarecki previously directed the 2005 documentary "The Outsider."

Star Power: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Tim Roth.

Festival/Awards Buzz: This upper-crust thriller was well-received at Sundance earlier this year, although our review was less impressed.

Release Details: Almost 200 screens across the country in addition to availability on demand starting on Friday.

See This If… You'd like to watch Richard Gere sweat and scheme past his white-collar problems.

‘FRANCINE’

Filmmaker Cred: Co-writer/directors Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky previously collaborated on the 2011 documentary "The Patron Saints."

Star Power: Melissa Leo.

Festival/Awards Buzz: For the most part, reviewers praised Leo's performance in this character study while acknowledging the inherently glum nature of the material.

Release Details: Opens this Wednesday at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

See This If… The prospect of Melissa Leo playing an ex-con who finds herself connecting more with pets than people doesn't put you off outright.

Liberal Arts‘LIBERAL ARTS’

Filmmaker Cred: This is writer-director Josh Radnor's follow-up to 2011's "Happythankyoumoreplease."

Star Power: Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother"), Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Alison Janney, Zac Efron.

Festival/Awards Buzz: Most enjoyed this campus-set romantic comedy out of Sundance, and our own review is a glowing recommendation.

Release Details: Four screens in NY and LA this weekend.

See This If… You're willing to give someone besides Woody Allen a shot at tackling modern neurotic love.

‘THE MASTER’

Filmmaker Cred: Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood," "Magnolia," "Boogie Nights").

Star Power: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams.

Festival/Awards Buzz: Reactions to PTA's somewhat cryptic drama have ranged from full-blown awe to more restrained admiration.

Release Details: NY and LA this weekend, with a nationwide expansion set for next week.

See This If… You're already on board for a psychologically opaque character study featuring the return of Joaquin Phoenix after the "career-ending" stunt that was "I'm Still Here."

‘STOLEN’

Filmmaker Cred: Director Simon West has cranked out "Con Air," "Tomb Raider," "The Mechanic" and last month's "The Expendables 2."

Star Power: Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Danny Huston, Malin Akerman.

Festival/Awards Buzz: Not a peep.

Release Details: 141 screens scattered across the country.

See This If… You want to help Nic Cage pay his bills.