Best Before Death (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Anti-Worlds Releasing
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (20th September 2020).
The Film

Twenty-three years ago, Bill Drummond ceased activities as part of the enormously successful pop group, the KLF.

Since 2014, hes been on a World Tour, travelling around the world with his show The 25 Paintings visiting a different city each year. In December 2016, he based himself in Kolkata, while in the Spring of 2018, he was in Lexington, North Carolina.

In each place, he carries out his regular work, setting up a shoeshine stand in the street or building a bed in order to give it away.

He walks across the longest bridge he can find, banging his parade drum at dawn, starts knitting circles with anyone who wants to join him, bakes cakes and offers them to strangers whose houses sit on a circle hes drawn on a map of the city.

Hes not rich, and hes deliberately designed his actions so they cannot be monetised. Hes mostly been ignored by the art world. So what is he doing it all for? Director Paul Duane shadowed Bill Drummond for three years before starting this film in order to achieve some level of understanding of what hes about. Co-produced by Grammy Award-winning writer Robert Gordon and shot by Oscar-nominated DOP Robbie Ryan, the documentary is a fascinating look at an uncompromising artist.

Best Before Death is named after Drummonds belief that the World Tour, scheduled to end when hes 72, is a race against his own mortality.

Its a film about life, death, art, money, music, and cake. And some knitting.

Video

What it says on the tin: an affable documentary about former KLF band member Bill Drummond and his 12-year world tour where he travels the world.

The image is very naturalistic and largely handled in an straightforward manor with no artifice; the cinematography records the action matter of factly. Colours are not muted but not boosted either; primaries pop when they naturally appear and my overriding impression is that nothing has been put deliberately in front of the lens to bias the colour values. Greens, browns and grays are most prominent colours. Flesh tones are natural and tight; no one looks unnatural.

Black levels are rich and deep when required to be with plenty of shadow detail although there is the odd instance of crush here and there but nothing unintended. Most likely down to the fast and dirty shooting. Contrast is natural, layered and supportive. I never noticed any blown out highlights and detail was always present on all focal planes, but having said that the focus was generally flat to capture the maximum amount of detail and image. This being a digitally shot production there's little to no grain but what does occasionally surface is fine and well handled by the encode.

No damage, no tinkering and a superb encode. A topnotch transfer that represents the film perfectly.

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / 1.85:1 / 93:01

Audio

English LPCM 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English HoH, US Theatrical subtitles

A basic stereo track that when played straight through an amp has no surround or rear speaker activity at all. However, when screened in cinemas I'm sure it would've been channelled into the full system there is plenty of rear activity. It won't blow anyone away but it's there. Mainly it's ambiance and occasional score. LFE and the subwoofer rarely comes into play but this just isn't that kind of film. The sound design is not showy and nor should it be; the track earns full marks because it's presented beautifully in lossless with no distortion.

Two sets of subtitles are provided.

Extras

Audio commentary with Bill Drummond and director Paul Duane (2020)

Fascinating, comprehensive commentary by the two key creatives. In many ways I found this equally interesting as the film due to the amount of information about the purpose of the film and creative choices behind Drummond's aims.

"What is Film?: A Forty Minute Interview with Paul Dene, January 2020" 2020 featurette (42:55)

Wide-ranging promo interview for the film.

Deleted and Alternative Footage:
- Deleted Scene: The Man Who Bangs the Drum Across the Danube, 15 November 2015 (4:03)
- Deleted Scene: Childhood's Home, 9 April 2018 (11:55)
- Deleted Scene: Lexington Open Mike, 13 April 2018 (13:53)
- Deleted Scene: The Bed Reading, 15 April 2018 (66:59)
- B-Roll: Kolkata (0:47)
- B-Roll: Lexington (3:14)


A comprehensive deleted scenes package with plenty of interest for fans of the film.

Short Films from the Best Before Death Project:
- Tenzing Scott Brown: A Short from the Best Before Death Project (3:01)
- 23 Seconds with Bill Drummond in the Wig Shop: A Short from the Best Before Death Project (2:10)
- Big Mike and the Pike: A Short from the Best Before Death Project (3:03)


Promo pieces that whet the appetite for the main film.

Paul Duane Short Films:
- Ink (1988) (10:53)
- Blind Alley (1992) (10:08)
- Misteach Bhaile tha Cliash (1994) (32:02)


A collection of the director's earlier short films all in HD.

Theatrical Trailer (1:58)

HD theatrical trailer.

Image Galleries:
- Best Before Death Behind the Scenes: Kolkata, December 2016 (85 images)
- Best Before Death Behind the Scenes: Kolkata, (Paul Duane's iPhone) (82 images)
- Best Before Death Behind the Scenes: Lexington, April 2018 (50 images)


Extensive, extremely satisfying HD image galleries.

40-page booklet containing new writing by Bill Drummond, David Keenan on Best Before Death, an interview with Paul Duane, Duane on his short films, and film credits

Typically comprehensive hard copy companion to the film; plenty of added value.

Packaging

Standard clear BD case.

Overall

A quirky, interesting, off beat documentary about one and his ... crusade. Excellent image and sound that reproduce the theatrical experience and the intended audio visual experience perfectly. Technical specifications are impeccable and the extras add great contextual added value.

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A

 


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