Indie Roundup invites you to relive the last seven days and look forward to the near future in the ever-diverse indie film world.
Deals. A big buzz title at Toronto was the most notable deal of the week. Aaron Schneider's Get Low, starring Bill Murray, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black, sold to Sony Pictures Classics for distribution in North America, according to our friends at indieWIRE. Scott Weinberg called it "an excellent little dramatic piece that's awash in humanity, warmth, insight, and wit." Details on several other deals that were made, all related to the Toronto fest, can be found at indieWIRE.
Online / On-Demand Viewing. Even less-publicized fest films are getting out into circulation. Hailing from Chile, Scrambled Beer (Malta Con Huevo) premiered at SXSW in 2008, and is now available for free streaming exclusively at Babelgum. It's described as "a delirious black comedy and bizarre story about two friends named Vladimir and George who move in together and begin to see reality differently. Vladimir lives a supernatural tale of time travel, while Jorge grows obsessed and embarks on a twisted adventure." In other words, possibly the perfect movie for the beginning of fall.
Fests. My favorite festival ever, Fantastic Fest, starts tomorrow night. Unfortunately, I'll only be able to pop in over the weekend to savor a small taste of the cinematic banquet that will be served over the next seven days. Look for much more coverage right here at Cinematical.
Actors in period costume, multiple shots of rum, and foreign cities -- all after the jump!
Indie Weekend Box Office. The true story of a doomed 19th Century romance drew the biggest crowds last weekend. Jane Campion's Bright Star took in $9,984 per screen at 19 locations, according to Box Office Mojo, surely heartening all those who treasure the poetry of John Keats. His romance with Fanny Brawne is reenacted by Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish. In her review, our own Jen Yamato, herself a very fine poet, explained: "What unfolds is less a by-the-numbers examination of the artist, who died a pauper at the age of 25 before any of his poetry was truly appreciated, and more a tribute to the power of the well-documented love that Keats and Brawne shared ... Campion conceivably adopted this method, resulting in a film that feels like a living thing, even if its elements are fairly restrained."
From the title, 35 Shots of Rum sounds like my kind of movie; it trailed Bright Star by only a few hundred dollars in per-screen average, though it opened at just one theater. It is not, however, a boozy flick about knocking down a few adult beverages on a Friday night. Rather, the latest from director Claire Denis "focuses on an all-black Paris community of friends, relations, former and current lovers and colleagues," says Jeffrey M. Anderson, an astute observer of the human condition. "Denis never explains any of these relationships outright; sometimes she plants little seeds of knowledge and other times we just follow dreamily, hooked on glances and exchanges rather than facts. ... She's more about the acceptance of everyday moments than she is about achieving goals."
Also opening at one theater, Teza made a very bankable $8,908. Writer/director Haile Gerima "ambitiously attempts to put his native country's tragic recent history into context," Fionnuala Halligan wrote in her Screen International review. The film "follows an Ethiopian intellectual through exile in Germany and return to his home village during the turbulent early years of the Marxist regime. Taking place over three decades, this may be modestly-budgeted but it is also handsome, intelligent and watchable."
A decent number of people felt continental, traveling cinematically to Paris, written and directed by Cedric Klapisch. Eric D. Snider described it as "a sort of love letter to that city, a series of vignettes about loosely connected characters who wander into each other's lives. Juliette Binoche is probably the most recognizable member of the large ensemble cast." Opening on six screens, Paris averaged $7,753 per engagement.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish someone would tell me how John Malkovich keeps getting cast in romantic movies. What is it about him that screams out lust and love? (I am, of course, extremely jealous, and wish to know his secret for, uh, professional purposes.) Disgrace is his latest romance, and it made $4,205 per screen at three theaters. Malkovich plays a professor in South Africa who is having an affair with a mixed-race student and gets caught up in post-apartheid politics. Ella Taylor of The Village Voice isolates the actor's appeal: "Dour, detached, and oozing general contempt, the professor of literature who runs afoul of post-apartheid South Africa in Australian director Steve Jacobs's Disgrace might have been written for John Malkovich." She also refers to his "languid creepiness." Ah, now I understand: Being John Malkovich is not always a good thing.