Discovering the fate of the unmourned
If a person dies, and no relatives can be found to claim the body, that person's world becomes property of the local officials. That means everything that person owns is controlled by a series of bureaucrats who handle hundreds of similar cases. That person's assets are sold off and his savings are claimed, in order to pay for their body's burial. Of course, that's assuming the person has anything to sell. If he didn't have anything, the end would be much different.
A Certain Kind of Death follows three such cases, each slightly different than the other. From the discovery of the body to the disposal, these lives are brought to an end, and the camera watches the whole thing. Through a choice of shot location, the camera is either deep into the story or standing apart, keeping a detached eye on what's happening.
The thing that stands out for anyone who has watched a few documentaries is the technique. When you expect a cut to a sit-down interview to get more insight, it doesn't happen. When music should be affecting the mood, it's silent. Instead of a constant flow of imagery, there are blackouts. It's this foreign feel that helps put the viewer off balance and prevents them from settling into the movie. Death is a jarring event, and the movie reproduces that feel well.
Though the film is about death, the actual subject is the very buttoned-down procedures that surround the end of a loner's life. While "C.S.I." deals with the exciting mysteries of dying, A.C.K.O.D. looks at the mundane aspects, and in doing so, makes them just as interesting as the TV drama.
The audio, a simple Dolby 2.0 presentation, is very good as well, picking up small audio details like machinery humming that the silences in this film reveal. There's no score or soundtrack music, so it's a dialogue-only affair, and that dialogue and the ambient sounds around it are reproduced clearly.
A set of text screens with answers to frequently asked questions about the film takes the role of an audio commentary, providing background info about the production. Based on the way they are written, it seems like they come from the film's directors, and they are rather informative.
Also included are five trailers from Wellspring Video, including Tarnation, Goodbye, Dragon Inn, Seducing Dr. Lewis, Strayed and Anything but Love, but not for this film. There's also a weblink page available through a DVD-ROM drive, that takes you to the film's site, as well as the DVD producers.
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