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.

Festivals. Canada will be hosting hundreds, if not thousands, if not mllions (only a slight exaggeration, I'm told) of visitors when the Toronto International Film Festival opens on September 10, which is next Thursday! Look for intensive coverage from the Cinematical team on the ground; those of us not lucky enough to go will be following the news eagerly from afar to gauge the critical reaction to many hotly-anticipated titles.

Deals. Courtesy of our friends at indieWIRE, we learned that Mother, the latest picture by Bong Joon-Ho (The Host), has been acquired by Magnolia Pictures, along with the Korean director's first effort, Barking Dogs Never Bite. Mother debuted at Cannes and is headed for festival dates in Toronto and New York, with a theatrical release planned for early next year; it's already been selected by Korea as their entry for this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Barking Dogs, originally released in 2000, did not reach North America theaters.

Film Movement has picked up Geralyn Pezanoski's warm-hearted Mine, which examines what happened to the pets left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In my review for another outlet, I wrote: "Even if you're not a dog lover or a pet owner, [Mine] may churn your emotions. ... once the true essence of the story becomes apparent, it's difficult to turn away from the screen." Film Movement plans a brief theatrical release before it hits DVD and VOD.

What is judicially inclined, comes in a bottle, and is very, very funny? Find out in Indie Weekend Box Office, after the jump.


'The September Issue'Indie Weekend Box Office. As two horror franchises battled it out for box office bucks, the superbly-timed release of The September Issue confidently walked away with the indie crown. R.J. Cutler's doc, focusing on Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour (pictured, sitting) as she prepared for the magazine's key issue of 2008, drew an excellent average of $36,736 per screen at six locations, according to Box Office Mojo. Which proves what, exactly? That people are endlessly fascinated by fashion? Or by documentaries about fashion? Or that Anna Wintour is some kind of magnetic screen presence?

Robert D. Siegel's Big Fan, with non-model Patton Oswalt dominating the screen as a hardcore football fanatic, scored a solid $12,133 per screen in two theaters. Erik Davis described it as a "cold, lonely drama (with brief moments of awkward humor) ... Siegel's debut feature is definitely a strong one, full of real life and complicated characters."

Erik really loved the off-beat comedy Mystery Team, which opened exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin and enjoyed a very healthy return of $7,840. That's behind Hirokazu Kore-eda's family drama Still Walking ($10,149 average, two theaters), but slightly ahead of Ondi Timoner's revealing documentary We Live in Public ($7,325 at one theater).

Jason Bateman in Mike Judge's 'Extract'This holiday weekend is the last chance for indie films to get noticed in a big way ahead of the opening of the Toronto festival; however, may I suggest Mike Judge's Extract? It may sound like a mainstream comedy, with the likes of Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, and Mila Kunis, but Judge's dark humor and insight into character is as sharp as ever, and several developments in the film could only have come from an independent filmmaker.

Miramax will open the film in more than 1,600 theaters, so it should be playing near you. Like Office Space and Idiocracy, Extract is the kind of movie that will build its audience over time. It's not pitched at the same high level of familiarity as Office Space -- everyone could relate to crappy office jobs and gimmicky theme restaurants -- but it's probably more relatable than Idiocracy, which depends on the viewer acknowledging that the world is already filled with stupid people who will pass on their stupidity to the generations to come.

So watch Extract, catch up on any indies you may have missed before they conclude their theatrical runs, and don't forget to make an appearance outdoors -- just to say you did before the end of summer.