Indie Roundup

Indie Roundup reviews the past week of news from the independent film community and provides a peek at what's coming soon.

Openings. This weekend will finally see the release of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, an extraordinary, ticking time bomb of a movie. Michelle Pfeiffer returns to the screen in Stephen Frears' "scandalous romp" Cheri. The very timely Iranian tale The Stoning of Soraya M., which just played the Los Angeles Film Festival, should ignite further discussion. Afghan Star features four women who (literally) risk everything in a televised singing contest.

Box Office. Woody Allen's Whatever Works performed just fine, pulling in $29,574 per-screen at nine locations. The re-issue of 1947's Brighton Rock (a very good film starring Richard Attenborough as a small-time hood) drew $10,626 at one theater; Nazi zombie flick Dead Snow scared up $5,363 in business. Several films expanded: Duncan Jones' Moon to 21 theaters ($8,541 per screen), Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro to eight locations ($7,176 per screen), and Sam Mendes' Away We Go to 132 theaters ($6,600 per screen).

Deals. Our friends at indieWIRE provided details on the acquisition of Stanley Tucci's Blind Date (due in theaters late this summer or early fall) and West of Pluto, directed by Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault. Pluto screens tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF).

Trailer. Also screening at LAFF this week is Bob Byington's Harmony and Me, which revolves around a 20-something musician (Justin Rice) who still pines for his dearly departed girlfriend. The film has been showing up at festivals all over the place, and the trailer has a good, bouncy vibe.

After the jump: Watch the trailer for Harmony and Me! Plus, more on LAFF.

Byington's previous film, the mockumentary RSO (Registered Sex Offender), screened at SXSW last year, and I didn't find it funny at all. But it's the rare mockumentary that makes me laugh, so it may be that Harmony and Me's more straightforward narrative structure will be more successful.

'The Stoning of Soraya M.' To quote myself from an earlier post when we debuted the haunting poster, The Stoning of Soraya M. stars Jim Cavieziel as a journalist "whose car breaks down in a remote Iranian village in 1986, during the time that Ayatollah Khomeini was in power. Sahebjam is approached by Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog) who tells him of a horror story that began when her niece Soraya (Mozhan Marnò) entered into an arranged marriage with a man who proved to be an abusive tyrant and ended with an innocent woman killed by a hail of stones."For more on Stoning, join writer/director Cyrus Nowrasteh for a live chat on Facebook on Thursday, June 25th at 4pm PST. To join the chat, log on right here.

The LAFF screening last Saturday "became the occasion to debate the turmoil happening a half a world away," Amy Kaufman reported for The Wrap. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh, actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Iranian writer / scholar Reza Aslan shared in a post-screening panel discussion moderated by Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini. Two videos from the event are available for viewing at Hollywood Elsewhere.

As for the film itself, Craig Kennedy at Living in Cinema says it's not perfect but "nevertheless has some great performances and an undeniably powerful subject matter that builds to a moving and excruciating climax. Aghdashloo turns in a terrific performance as a woman who has seen enough, but who has no one to turn to for help and Mozhan Marnò is deeply sympathetic as Soraya." More information about the film is available at its official site.