The new wave of feature length, local indie film is barely beginning to swell. The long promised productions are finally hitting the beaches and, if “The BIG Something” is any indication of what’s in store for AZ indie audiences; start waxing your boards ‘cause we are in for a hell of a ride. Director Travis Mills (The Ruffians) premieres his first feature length film “The BIG Something” this Thursday at the Tempe Pollack Cinema. Lewis (Michael Coleman) is a vinyl record junkie who sleeps on the floor of the record store where he works, owned by his friend Marcus. After a night of carousing in Tempe, Lewis slithers back into the Tracks In Wax in time to find Marcus dead on the floor, and cops ordering Lewis to the ground. Lewis is the prime suspect for about five minutes, after which the laziest detective in Arizona declares Marcus’s death a suicide. Lewis decides he must find the real killer, not to provide himself with a sense of purpose or life affirmation, but to maintain a nourishing workplace where he can continue his highly skilled freeloading and slacking.
“The BIG Something” has everything you would expect to find in a local indie film, plus much, much more. From the beginning, this film provides a comical array of the most un-loveable, unlikeable, cheesy and sleazy characters to ever roam the alleyways and dumpsters of Tempe. No one in Lewis’s life can seem to get their act together long enough to be of any help, as he lazily seeks out justice for his pal Marcus. His hateful, alcoholic boss April (Mina Mirkhah) reluctantly offers to help Lewis by drunkenly driving him from location to location in an actual, working, AMC Pacer. From bungling cops to Marcus’s dimwitted widow Melinda (Sandy Kim), Lewis encounters a loathsome assortment of suspects as he peers into every grimy peephole Tempe has to offer. In this no budget feature foray, Director Mills squeezes every ounce from his meager resources. Photography is excellent as Mills savors every inch of the wide screen and provides the audience with a surreal, ultra-real view of Tempe like they have never seen before. The locations Mills has acquired become a playground for the camera and a puzzle for Mills to manipulate at his discretion. Although Mills describes his film as ‘whodunit’ inspired by noir classics like “The Big Sleep,” this film reminded me more of the 1987 horror cult-classic “Street Trash.” The characters are vile and the depressing, shiftless sub-culture existing in the junk piles, abandoned buildings and bars of Tempe leave no room for empathy or redemption; from the bike thieving gang of ‘Freegands’ to the LP addicted weirdo’s that snatch and dash records like they were beer bottles at a Circle K. “The BIG Something” keeps the plot simple and the film entertaining. The characters are memorable and the locations are a hoot. Music is massive and all within the public domain. Zero budget, 10 day, wing and a prayer feature filmmaking has come to Arizona, as “The BIG Something” offers a tantalizing taste of the swelling wave of local, indie feature filmmaking. The BIG something premieres this Thursday October 27, 2011 at 7pm at the Tempe Pollack Cinema. Admission is $8 at the door or can be purchased online at a discount.
Final Take – Just for the record, this is something BIG.