CATEGORIES Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Foreign Language, Independent, Magnolia, ThinkFilm, Box Office, Cinematical Indie, Roadside Attractions, UK Box Office, Cinematical, UK Box OfficeApologies for the one-day delay, but, as it happens, the indie weekend charts changed in the interim. Early on Sunday, estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo indicated that Tarsem Singh's The Fall (Roadside Attractions) won the weekend, but when the figures were tabulated, Lloyd Kaufman's Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (Troma) sneaked into the top position with a take of $10,624 at one theater in Manhattan. Ed Gonzalez of The Village Voice says the film "chronicles what happens when a fried-chicken shack goes up on a Native American burial ground" and called it "a predictably hit-and-miss yukfest."
Doug Pray's Surfwise (Magnolia) surged near the top, grossing $10,304 at another theater in Manhattan. The doc follows a doctor who abandoned his practice to become a surfer and live in a camper, packing along his wife and nine children. All 12 critics whose reviews are listed at Rotten Tomatoes were positive.
The Fall fell to third place, earning $8,845 per screen at nine locations. Reviews were mixed (57% positive, per Rotten Tomatoes), though even the naysayers acknowledged the visual beauty of the film. We've previously pointed to the trailer, posted exclusive stills and a clip, which definitely confirm this impression. In the words of our own Eric D. Snider, it is "a visually stunning fable where a man in a hospital tells a little girl a story, and that story is craaaazy."
More than half a dozen other new indies fought for a share of the audience. Let's run through seven of them so you know what's out and what may be coming soon to your favorite online DVD retailer, if not your local multiplex.
America the Beautiful (Arenas): $6,800 at one theater in Chicago. Darryl Roberts' R-rated documentary considers whether America has an unhealthy obsession with beauty. Roger Ebert wrote that the doc "carries a persuasive message, and is all the more effective because of the level tone that Roberts adopts. The cold fact is that no one can look like a supermodel and be physically healthy."
Bloodline (Cinema Libre): $6,658 at one engagement. Bruce Burgess' doc seeks to find evidence to support the controversial theory that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene married and had children.
Before the Rains (Roadside Attractions): $6,019 per screen at eight locations. Gorgeous-looking period piece set in colonial India in the late 1930s is ultimately too sluggish to be compelling as either a romantic or social drama.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (Music Box): $3,490 per screen at nine theaters. Kim Voynar declared that this spy spoof set in the 1950s was very entertaining, "a delirious comedy."
Battle for Haditha (Lafayette): $2,181 at one theater. Nick Schager was not impressed by Nick Broomfield's dramatization of the November 2005 killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines, writing that the films hawks "standard-issue characterizations and leaden cause-effect analysis to humdrum effect."
Noise (ThinkFilm): $1,843 per screen at two theaters. Again, I rely on Eric D. Snider's wonderfully concise description: "an indie comedy about a man (Tim Robbins) who takes vigilante action against all the noise of New York City, which is driving him crazy." Directed by Henry Bean (The Believer).
The Babysitters (Peace Arch): $1,069 per screen at 22 locations. This poorly reviewed "dark comedy" (just 29% positive at Rotten Tomatoes) features John Leguizamo and Katherine Waterston in an apparently tawdry tale of teenager babysitters and the fathers who, er, pay them.