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directed by John Jeffcoat
USA 2014

 

A docudrama "road movie", BIG IN JAPAN seems as though it will trade in raunchy sight gags with its performers seemingly willing to do or say anything in front of the camera for laughs; but the central trio become endearing over the course of the film and the humor finds a balance between the bawdy and the understated. Playing to virtually empty bars, Seattle band Tennis Pro is on the verge of breaking up. Phil (Phillip Peterson) has been suffering from writer's block for the past five years and has just been fired from his job as a church music teacher while his wife (Robin Marsh, Peterson's actual wife) is still in nursing school, card counter David (David Drury) is on a loosing streak, and hairdresser Sean (Sean Lowry) is sick of his job and their band being considered a novelty act (because of the white tennis outfits they don for performances). At one virtually empty gig, they are approached by eccentric Alex Vincent, formerly of the band Green River (which later became Pearl Jam after his exit) who suggests that they go to Japan since they need to make it big somewhere else to make it big in the Seattle music scene. After David loses fifty thousand dollars at the casino (while trying to raise enough so that they scan skim off just enough money for the plane trip to Tokyo), Phil promises Robin that he will quit the band if they do not come back with a following, Sean promises his girlfriend Tiffany (Tiffany Lowry, his wife) that he will not cheat on her, and they sell the touring van for airfare. The trio begin to question their decision when Alex's band photo shoot consist of a snapshot on his phone at the train station and their first gig is to an empty bar, but Phil tries to remain optimistic as Alex takes them through a series of capsule hotels, love hotels, strange venues, and after parties while promising them an audience with an executive from Impact Records. Frustrated, they take to the streets for impromptu concerts and self-promotion. David finds love with a female band member, Sean loses his girlfriend via Skype and falls in love with Japanese ice cream dogs, and Phil is introduced to Shochu and the "Bubble Dance" by "student of the world" Mans (the film's sound recordist Adam Powers) whose ways of living in the moment may be the key to Phil overcoming his writer's block. When tragedy strikes, they must decide whether to scrap what progress they have made and head home or make a go of it in the chaotic aftermath. Director/co-cinematographer John Jeffcoat (whose earlier film OUTSOURCED was the basis for the short-lived NBC sitcom) also appears as a record producer.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 20 February 2015 (USA)

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:39:48
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English SDH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
� Audio Commentary by Tennis Pro
� Audio Commentary by director/co-cinematographer John Jeffcoat and co-cinematographer Ryan McMackin
� Behind the Scenes (16:9; 2:09)
� Interview with John Jeffcoat and Tennis Pro (16:9; 7:01)
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:58)
� Five Music Videos
� Strand Releasing Trailers

DVD Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

 

 

Comments

Strand's dual-layer, anamorphic, high-bitrate encode of this docudrama looks quite slick given the shooting circumstances (often practical lighting augmented with Chinese lanterns and a single Kino Flo light) and the cameras used (mostly the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR-lesned with a few shots on the 7D and an early GoPro model). The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is an immersive experience thanks to the music and live sound, although it of course does not compare to studio films or slicker low budget films.

The band Tennis Pro appear on a commentary track at first mocking the format before settling in to distinguish what elements of the film are real and what is fabricated (their real homes and workplaces as well as family members were used but some situations never happened in real life and they had help from a local acting coach). Director/co-cinematographer John Jeffcoat and co-cinematographer Ryan McMackin appear on a second commentary track that covers some of the same ground but is also invaluable for low budget filmmakers as they discuss the cameras they used, the mix of practical lighting and a single KinoFlo, the custom rigs they assembled to achieve some shots, and how some performances are assembled from a mix of multiple takes. Of somewhat less interest is the short behind the scenes segment and an interview with the director and the members of Tennis Pro. The extras are rounded out by a handful of music videos for the songs heard in the film as well as the film's trailer and trailers for four other Strand releases.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

 



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