The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Big Bang (2011)

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If you hadn't already heard, Stars Play chose not to renew their agreement with Netflix to stream their films on Watch Instantly, meaning on February 29, 2012, hundreds of movies got the ax. That left me with a mad scramble to watch and capture images for no less than 11 flicks that I didn't want to miss out on so I could review them here at the DTVC. This is the first of those. I'm going to tag them with "Stars Play 11", to give them a unique distinction in the archives. So without further ado, The Big Bang.

The Big Bang stars Antonio Banderas as a PI in Vegas, called in to find a stripper for a former Russian boxer that just got out of jail. As he peels back the layers, though, things aren't what they seem-- when are they ever?--, and he finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew. But for a real hard boiled private dick, there's no case too tough to crack-- and end up with the dame in the process.

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This was pretty fun. Don't get me wrong, it had a flashback exposition style that was tedious and intrusive at first, but got better as it went; and it suffered from those moments of self-indulgence that seem to plague so many Film Noir efforts made after the mid-90s. Overall though, the pros outweighed the cons. The cast was pretty good; the story, when it was allowed to be told without breaks, worked; Banderas was perfect as the lead; and it had this unique inclusion of physics references mixed in. I also really liked the use of color, some of the shots were really striking. Definitely worth checking out.

Most of my Antonio Banderas experience comes in his Pedro Almodovar flicks, which are all fantastic, and which he's is great in all of. He was much younger in those of course (except the recent The Skin I Live In), and the roles are much more off-beat than what he did here in the States, where he was much more of a traditional leading man. What I liked about his performance in The Big Bang, was that he was able to marry both aspects, the off-beat with the more conventional, to give us a great hard boiled Noir detective in a film like this that's a little out there. Without his performance, I don't think any of this works.

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There are a whole host of other stars in The Big Bang. Snoop Dogg plays a porn director, which, is what it is-- one of those moments of self-indulgence I'd say, I mean, I don't see how him playing a porn director is any different from him performing on a Katy Perry track or appearing in a soft drink commercial. Two of my favorite That Guys, Delroy Lindo and William Fichtner, play police detectives putting the squeeze on Banderas. How do you not love those guys? Our Noir dames are Sienna Guillory and Autumn Reeser, both sufficiently hot and mysterious. Jimmi Simpson plays a young physicist prodigy working for Sam Elliott-- who we'll get into next. Finally, James Van Der Beek plays a crazy actor in a small part at the beginning. Cue the I don't wanna wait...

I don't know about you, but I've had it with this sententious, sanctimonious Sam Elliott voice-over work in bad commercials that we're constantly subjected to. It wasn't so bad with "Beef, it's what's for dinner", but now it's as if the shite he's peddling is somehow superior just because he says it's so; that instead of being a corporate shill, he's waxing poetic about some mythical blue collar way of life that's just dripping hypocrisy considering the big business source. Anyway, it was good that his character in this was totally full of shit. It was as if the character was based on the real him-- here's this pompous ass spouting off this "better than thou" BS, and in the end is revealed for who he is. Whatever happened to the legendary bouncer mentor from Road House? Maybe when "it was tails", it killed more than just his character, it killed his tact too.

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I took physics as an undergrad when I started out as an electrical engineering major. The final didn't have partial credit, and as a freshman, I was living off of partial credit, so that sunk me, and I ended up with a D+, my only grade that poor out of my entire college career. It also meant when I switched majors, I was the only anthropology major with Calc-based physics as his science gen-ed. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is, physics isn't an entirely foreign subject to me, but not one I'm totally comfortable with. I was able to get a lot of the references though, like "Schrodinger's" painted on the side of the movie studio building, or the cafe named "Planck's Constant". As long as you're not making me write out page-long equations to find one value with no partial credit, I'm good.

I imagine this is pretty readily available on DVD, and I think it's worth checking out. Anchored by a fantastic Antonio Banderas performance, with an off-beat story, a nice supporting cast, and some sharp visuals, this is better than your usual DTV Noir. Plus you get the physics without being graded on it, which ain't bad either.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1307873/

11 comments:

  1. I know how you feel about the whole Starz Play/Netflix thing - too many movies to watch before they expire.

    Sounds like I should add this movie to my queue and check it out fast.

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  2. I watched a movie once right on the cusp of it's expiration time, and I was able to watch it past midnight. I think it's midnight PST that's the official hour, so you have until then.

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  3. Good review! Thought this was a decent actioner. The supporting cast really helped out. Always great to see Delroy Lindo and William Fichtner.

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  4. I knew, if anyone could appreciate those two it was you Ty. I agree, always great to see them in anything.

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  5. I enjoyed this one as well, though it got a little crazy at the end.

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  6. dang it, I was looking forward to watching this one soon. I knew the Starz thing was coming to an end but I guess I had forgotten about it. I wonder what else is gonna disappear that I'll miss out on.

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  7. Like I said, 11 flicks I wanted to watch, but I've noticed some others have taken their places that I'm looking forward to, and I'm hoping there will be more tomorrow after those purges.

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  8. Sam Elliott hater, huh? The boys at the Superego podcast are too. Enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enNl3T2Hx1o

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  9. I wouldn't say I'm a Sam Elliott hater. Over on my Tumblr I posted a video from Shakedown"> with him and Peter Weller where he was fantastic. It's just this modern incarnation annoys me. I guess any holier-than-though sanctimoniousness gets under my skin, and it just feels like that's what he's devolved into with those commercials. I don't know, maybe I shouldn't begrudge him a paycheck.

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  10. I enjoyed this flick when I reviewed over at DVD Verdict. As you mentioned the use of color and some of the camera angles were really interesting. I thought Banderas was OK. His accent seemed extra thick when he was doing the voice over and I had trouble taking him seriously (maybe because I kept thinking of Puss in Boots). But all in all I thought it was worth checking out.

    As for your annoyance with Sam Elliot, I've never noticed his commercial work too much (and I always associate the Beef commercials with James Garner, even if he hasn't done them in years). But don't forget, someone is directing and writing for Sam. I doubt he's that sanctimonious all the time. :)

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    1. I don't doubt that he's that sanctimonious at all, and I'll tell you why. Back in 2006, he had a TV movie airing on TNT called Avenger. To support the film, they had him attend one of the NBA games they were airing, with the idea in mind that they'd interview him about it during one of the stoppages. So the guy goes over, asks him about the movie and he's like "hey man, there's a game on and you're talking to me about some movie?" The announcers were like "okay, TNT's just trying to support your film. Don't know what your problem is" Yes, I'll give you that the companies he advertises for want all the sanctimonious sententious BS they can squeeze out of him, but I think there's a lot of him that relishes the opportunity to do it too.

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