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, love is in the air as Russian socialites and Philly neurotics dare to take on the smitten vampires and werewolves of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2."
Filmmaker Cred: Joe Wright previously directed "Hanna," "Atonement" and "Pride & Prejudice."
Star Power: "Atonement" and "Pride" star Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly Macdonald.
Festival/Awards Buzz: Wright's reportedly lavish adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel premiered at Toronto last September, where our reviewer found himself unmoved by the end result.
Release Details: 16 screens as of this Friday, and due for nationwide expansion over the coming weeks.
See This If... You're always up for the latest Keira Knightley period piece.
Filmmaker Cred: This is the feature debut of writers/directors/brothers Kevin and Matthew McManus.
Star Power: Kevin Corrigan in a supporting role.
Festival/Awards Buzz: This coming-of-age comedy was a foul-mouthed favorite at South by Southwest, where we reviewed it.
Release Details: Just LA this weekend.
See This If... The thought of two altar boys playing hooky after every funeral service they serve already tickles your funny bone.
'MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD'
Filmmaker Cred: This is the latest documentary from the prolific Alex Gibney ("Inside Job," "Taxi to the Dark Side").
Star Power: Um, the Catholic Church?
Festival/Awards Buzz: Gibney's extensive look at accusations of clerical pedophilia likewise premiered at Toronto. Our reviewer found the material tough to take, but ultimately worth watching.
Release Details: One screen each in NY and LA this week before an eventual HBO premiere.
See This If... You're both willing and able to watch a sobering yet well-made documentary that treads where "Funeral Kings" dares not to go.
'SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK'
Filmmaker Cred: Writer-director David O. Russell previously made "The Fighter," "Three Kings" and "I Heart Huckabees."
Star Power: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles.
Festival/Awards Buzz: The response to this bi-polar rom-com has rarely been short of rapturous, and our own review falls in line with the widespread praise.
Release Details: 15 screens in the top 10 markets this Friday, with a wider release to 400+ screens in time for Thanksgiving.
See This If... You're trying to keep up with the current Oscar front-runners. (It's pretty much this and "Argo" at this point in the game.)