Cinematical's Indie Roundup: Dr Portnoy Provacateur, Erasing David, Crying With Laughter, Centurion

Indie Roundup is your weekly guide to what's new and upcoming in the world of independent film. Pictured clockwise, from upper left
: Dr. Portnoy: Provacateur, Erasing David, Crying With Laughter, Centurion.

Online / On Demand Viewing. Have you had your fill of Jay Leno and late night TV programming fiascos? Me too! Still, the premise of Dr. Portnoy: Provacateur sounds refreshing. Debuting exclusively on Hulu, the new web series revolves around artist Michael Portnoy, who, as a talk show host, promises to 'get down to the bottom of what makes his guests tick.' Actor Alan Cumming, musician Melissa Auf Der Maur (Smashing Pumpkins), and John Cooper (Director of the Sundance Film Festival) are among the guests who subject themselves to scrutiny in the six-episode series.

Austin, Texas will become the center of the independent film world when South by Southwest (SXSW) gets underway next week, and you can share in the festivities without leaving the comfort of your own home. Two SXSW titles, David Bond's documentary Erasing David (a man tries to disappear and is hounded by private investigators) and Justin Molotnikov's thriller Crying With Laughter, will be available via iTunes and Amazon VOD during SXSW, according to indieWIRE, and will then be available on demand via multiple cable systems on April 1.

Deals. Our friends at indieWIRE also reported on two acquisitions this week. Heading for the big screen is Neil Marshall's sword and sandal thriller Centurion, courtesy of Magnet (read further observations by Elisabeth Rappe and watch the exciting trailer right here at Cinematical), while Leon Gast's celebrity photog doc Smash His Camera heads to the small screen on HBO.

After the jump: a ghost, a prophet, and a steal at the box office.
'The Ghost Writer'Indie Weekend Box Office. Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer built on generally good reviews as it expanded into 43 theaters, remaining at the top of the charts with a per-theater average of $18,350 in its second week of release, per Box Office Mojo. The film has now passed the $1 million mark in earnings, though with a reported budget of $45 million it will need all the good word of mouth it can get.

Our own Dawn Taylor says the thriller "is a fascinating mash-up of homages, cinematic in-jokes and self-references, the sort of film that tends to either delight or irritate film buffs -- sometimes inspiring both reactions simultaneously -- while leaving more casual viewers a bit flummoxed." Presumably, many fans of Polanski's body of work have been eager to see if his latest flick is up to snuff. But what about those who are more interested in a thriller that stars Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, and Kim Cattrall?

Meanwhile, A Prophet debuted just a few dollars behind, with a per-theater average of $18,197 at nine locations. The latest film from Jacques Audiard follows a teenager who has been sentenced to prison for an offense he denies. In his review for Cinematical, Eric D. Snider described it as "visceral, compelling, and satisfying, a fresh take on an old genre." Audiard made The Beat That My Heart Skipped, an absolutely riveting remake of James Toback's Fingers, and A Prophet has been picking up glowing notices since it debuted at Cannes, so I can't wait for it to expand to my town. Check the official site to see when it's coming to your neck of the woods.

Also debuting: the documentary The Art of the Steal, which earned a very good average of $13,006 at three theaters. We have a clip to whet your appetite. The film is highly recommended by our own Christopher Campbell. In a nutshell, it's about a fantastic collection of art that will shortly be displayed in a new museum -- against the collector's own wishes. In case you missed it, last week's Doc Talk has much more.