Cinematical's 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. James Gandolfini is the most notable cast member in the highly-praised, acerbic political / military comedy In the Loop, which James Rocchi wrote warmly about when he saw it at Sundance. Reclusive author Jeff Daniels is pursued for advice by single mother Lauren Graham in the comedy The Answer Man. Kevin Spacey is a celebrity Shrink facing serious problems of his own. Highly-recommended thriller The Hurt Locker expands into 200 theaters.

I'm singling out Tommy Davis' very good doc One Minute to Nine, which gets a one-week run in New York and Los Angeles starting on Friday, because I saw it last year and it's stayed with me. Wendy Maldonado, single mother of four, is headed to prison, and it's not immediately apparent why. Davis tells the story of Wendy's life, so by the time you figure out the why, you're fully invested in the real-life drama and the injustices that unfold. *

Deals. Phase 4 Films acquired U.S. distribution rights to Kari Skogland's Fifty Dead Men Walking and plans an August 21 release. Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess, and Rose McGowan star in the controversial thriller, set in the 1980s and based on real-life events: McGowan stirred up more talk with her comments about the IRA. [indieWIRE] Fox Searchlight picked up Scott Cooper's drama Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall. Release is scheduled for next spring. [Variety]

After the jump: Indie Weekend Box Office, Wild Seven and more on Babelgum, Toronto Fest's doc lineup, Adam Yauch's illness and Oscilloscope Pictures.

Box Office. (500) Days of Summer took the crown last weekend, earning a robust $30,907 per screen at 27 theaters, according to Box Office Mojo, followed by Alien Trespass ($14,405 on one screen in its 16th week), A Woman in Berlin ($12,439), and Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg ($9,166). Expanding from 60 to 94 screens, The Hurt Locker grossed $7,875 per screen, and has earned a total of $2.1 million so far.

'Wild Seven'Online / On-Demand Viewing. We noted last week that heist flick Wild Seven, with Robert Forster, Richard Roundtree, and Robert Loggia (pictured), would be available for free at Babelgum for the month. That's the first in the latest round of offerings by Babelgum and Cinetic Rights Management. Details on five more films that will make their online and mobile debuts via Babelgum can be found at indieWIRE, as well as news about Sally Potter's new film, Rage.

Festivals. The documentary lineup for the Toronto International Film Festival was unveiled this week, and A.J. Schnack of All These Wonderful Things asked fest programmer Thom Powers to comment. "Those films share another quality besides their urgency," he said in part. "They all deliver as a theatrical experience. That's a big concern at TIFF because audiences are watching docs alongside big budget fiction work and bring high expectations." Powers is a good example of a veteran programmer who understands his audience without condescending to them.

News. The world in general may know him best as a Beastie Boy, but in the indie film world Adam Yauch has earned respect as the founder of Oscilloscope Pictures. It's probably not fair to call them a "fledgling" distribution outfit anymore, since Yauch and his team have taken chances on a wonderful collection of films, especially intimate dramas and documentaries, and found modest success which allows them to keep on rolling out more films.

On Monday, Yauch announced that he has cancer of the salivary throat gland and will be undergoing treatment. The Beastie Boys' tour has been postponed, as has the release of their next album. Scott Macauley at the Filmmaker Magazine blog has the details and Yauch's video. The good news is that the cancer is very treatable. And despite Yauch's illness, Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE reports that business at Oscilloscope will continue as usual.

Like every other fan of the man's work, Cinematical wishes Yauch a speedy recovery.

* UPDATE: I corrected Tommy Davis' name. Thanks to commenter Gamer18548 for pointing out my mistake.