Photographer and fanboy Sam Jones thought he’d look into the heart of the creative process by documenting the development of the fourth album by Chicago alt-country quartet Wilco. What the first-time director found himself staring down was something else entirely: the black maw of the music business. If the story of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot weren’t already an indie-rock legend, Jones’ creamy black-and-white would certainly make it one. Using a handheld 16 mm camera that he keeps admirably still, Jones makes the unassuming band members look glamorous and heroic, tracing a nearly perfect fantasy of artistic validation in three tidy acts. The first finds Wilco beginning to put together songs for its new album, singer-guitarist Jeff Tweedy at the helm and guitarist (and Philip Seymour Hoffman look-alike) Jay Bennett nipping at his heels. Soon, Tweedy & Co. are detuning their guitars and balancing tiles on the drum kit before banging them with mallets. It’s all an effort to get at some essential sonic truth, of course, much to the horror of Wilco’s label, Reprise, which sees no market in truth, no matter how hummable. (It should be noted that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is no Metal Machine Music; despite its experimental turns, Wilco still makes intelligent, restless pop.) The midsection of the film follows the band’s breakup with Reprise and Bennett’s Spinal Tap-ish breakup with Tweedy. But the final third will make any underappreciated artist’s resentful little heart beat faster: A bidding war ensues, a prestigious indie-arty label releases the album to fervent acclaim, and the little band of Davids brings shame to clueless industry Goliaths. The sad part is that the stakes are so low: When the four band members hurry through mixing-board arguments because the studio is costing $1,000 a day, it’s hard not to think of 10 brand-name pop stars who probably spend that much on 24 hours’ worth of floral arrangements. —Arion Berger