Live From SXSW's Screening Room
A CERTAIN KIND OF DEATHD: Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh.
Documentary Feature First Films, Regional Premiere First, there are the bodies: days or weeks dead, some maggoty and a little runny, measured and manhandled, wrapped in clear plastic and dragged bumping down the stairs. What follows is mostly a lot of cleaning and clerical work: identifying the deceased, clearing out the apartment, arranging cremation, searching for family or acquaintances, auctioning possessions. A Certain Kind of Death documents the particulars of dying alone, unbefriended, and sometimes underdocumented and reads as pure vérité, giving little clue as to the filmmakers' points of view. Still, its catalog of tasks stirs up intriguing questions about a certain kind of life -- i.e., what does it mean, if anything, when what's left at the end is $124 in used furniture and a stain on the carpet? -- and there's a sadness underlying the matter-of-fact style. There's subtle provocation here, as well; the film doesn't so much broach as hint at themes of human isolation and the meaning of modern bureaucracy, purring along nicely far beyond the grave. (Paramount, 3/13, 5pm; CC, 3/15, 10:15pm)