Indie Roundup is your weekly guide to what's new and upcoming in the world of independent film. Pictured above: Chris Messina and Rashida Jones in Monogamy.
Opening / Expanding. A different (?) kind of war doc, a frothy comedy, and a space doc highlight the limited releases opening and/or expanding this weekend.
- The Tillman Story. Professional football player volunteers to fight terrorists and is killed by friendly fire.
- Mao's Last Dancer. Chinese ballet dancer heads to Houston, discovers romance and a burning desire for freedom.
- Soul Kitchen. From director Fatih Akin (Head On, The Edge of Heaven) comes a light comedy.
- The Army of Crime. A poet leads a clandestine battle against Nazi occupation.
- Happythankhyoumoreplease. Josh Radnor's debut comedy: young people, relationships, New York City.
- Altiplano. Riot in a Andean village brings things to a boil for a married couple.
- Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard's new wave classic continues; now in 6 theaters.
- Hubble 3D. The space doc moves into 151 theaters after nearly six months of release.
Come October, Australian love story Samson and Delilah will try to win your heart, courtesy of IndiePix. Our friends at indieWIRE have the details on events leading up to the film's release in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. on October 15. Written and directed by Warwick Thornton, the tale begins in the isolated outback as love blossoms between two teenagers; after tragedy strikes, they end up fighting for survival in an urban wasteland. Quiet Earth called it "a very powerful and moving film" with "strong performances."
Online / On Demand. Edward Burns burned brightly for a few years after his debut feature, The Brothers McMullen, came out in the mid 90s, acting in some high-profile projects (Saving Private Ryan) before his star began to fade. Meanwhile, he's continued to direct very personal films that have made increasingly smaller splashes.
As a filmmaker, he's caught in a curious place. Of the several that I've seen, his films seem to stick within a fairly narrow range, somewhere between truly indie explorations and more mainstream fare. Clearly he can work within a limited budget, but he's been treading the same water -- the kinda noble good guy, the out of reach beauty, family pressures -- since his first film, without much apparent development as a writer or director. Perhaps I'm being unfair and should give all his recent flicks a try?
His latest effort, Nice Guy Johnny, will be released on October 26 via cable VOD, DVD, and iTunes; the first trailer is up at Apple. The plot is familiar: the titular character is ready to trade in his dream job for the sake of his fiancee and their impending marriage -- until he meets a girl who might change his life. If nothing else, Kerry Bishe (as the potentially life-changing young woman) sure looks pretty; so does Matt Bush as the aforementioned "nice guy."
Michael Tully at Hammer to Nail highlights some hidden gems that are available from Netflix. He lists classics such as Ninotchka, His Girl Friday, and Shampoo, in addition to more recent indies like Andrew Bujalski's Beeswax. About the latter, Tully writes: "What makes Beeswax special are elements that have already been strong in his previous films getting even better. His casting is perfect and his ear for contemporary post-collegiate vernacular among the pale is without par." Beeswax is available for rental by mail and can also be streamed; either way, it's a very good pick.