Indie Roundup is your weekly guide to what's new and upcoming in the independent film world. Pictured above, clockwise from upper left: Mine, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnussus, The White Ribbon.
Opening Theatrically / Online / On Demand. If the world goes to the dogs, who will feed and care for them? Geralyn Pezanoski's Mine considers what happened to the animals left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The film, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at SXSW last year, "may churn your emotions," I wrote for another site. "Once the true essence of the story becomes apparent, it's difficult to turn away from the screen. The heart of the documentary lies in the conflict between pet lovers." The doc is warm-hearted, but doesn't shy away from portraying both sides of the sometimes-contentious conflicts that developed.
Mine opens theatrically in San Francisco on Friday, according to our friends at indieWIRE, the same day that the film will premiere on iTunes. Thereafter, distributor Film Movement will expand the release to New York and New Orleans, with a 20-city release to follow. The official site reveals that the filmmakers will be in attendance at the Roxie Theater for opening weekend, and also has more details on the release and the trailer.
Festival Scene. The Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off last night in the desert resort town with a gala presentation of Michael Hoffman's The Last Station. The fest typically draws huge mobs of local film lovers who eagerly line up to see a huge selection of foreign and independent films; I attended once and had a grand time. Check the fest site for more information.
After the jump: Box Office Bonanza?
Indie Weekend Box Office. In its second weekend of release, Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus topped the indie charts, according to Box Office Mojo. The film earned an average of $31,909 at the four theaters where it's playing.
No doubt curiosity and/or star power played a part -- the idea of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all helping to fill the vacuum created by the untimely death of Heath Ledger -- but it may be that positive word of mouth is working its magic as well. Our own Jenni Miller was "immensely impressed" with the film as a whole and "pleasantly surprised" by Lily Cole's performance, even though she's not a huge fan of Terry Gilliam. One pleasant surprise may lead to many more as Sony Pictures Classics rolls out the film on Friday; check the list of theaters to see if it will be playing near you.
On a slow weekend for new releases, Sony Classics also opened Michael Haneke's World War I drama The White Ribbon, which grossed $19,949 on average at three locations. The black-and-white film has received generally favorable reviews, in the judgment of Metacritic. Writing in The Village Voice, J. Hoberman calls it Haneke's "best ever. ... The White Ribbon -- which won a deserved Palme d'Or at last May's Cannes-fest of Cruelty -- is as cold and creepy and secretly cheesy as any of Haneke's earlier films, if not quite as lofty."
Driven by Jeff Bridges' earthy, award-worthy embodiment of a downward-spiraling country singer, Crazy Heart earned an average of $18,416 at 12 theaters. I didn't like the film as much as Cinematical's Todd Gilchrist, who felt it's one of the year's best, but agree with him about Bridges. In Todd's words, Bridges offers up "a fearlessly unselfconscious performance that revels as much in the unattractiveness of his alcoholism as the charm that allows friends and loved ones to ignore it."
Tom Ford's A Single Man may have lost some of the traction gained from the glowing early reviews out of the Venice Film Festival in September, but it has earned more than $1.7 million in four weeks of release, averaging $10,586 at 46 theaters.