CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
DVD Review: ‘A Necessary Death’ is Daring Debut From ‘The Last Exorcism’ Director
CHICAGO – Daniel Stamm’s “A Necessary Death” was such a conversation starter on the film festival scene that it essentially served as the calling card that got its director the job helming the excellent and underrated “The Last Exorcism.” In many ways, “AND” is a better film. It’s a challenging work that uses a taboo subject in daring ways and is clearly the work of a talent to watch. It’s also finally available on DVD after years of being held back from the market (it was first released in 2008). Don’t miss it.
A documentary filmmaker takes out an ad looking for someone who wants to die. He wants to make a film about something that we still don’t truly understand and most people aren’t willing to talk about — suicide. We’re scared to talk about suicide. Most of us don’t understand it or its motivations. As a character says in “A Necessary Death,” they’re playing with the boundaries of what is comfortable to document. And, at the same time, Stamm is playing with audience beliefs about suicide and whether or not it’s OK to invade such a horrendously private decision. Do we have a right to document suicide? Maybe it is unknowable and un-discussed for a reason.
Like “The Last Exorcism,” “A Necessary Death” starts to play with our own conceptions about its subject and even comments on filmmaking as a whole. What is the filmmaker’s true intention? And what is ours in watching it? These are daring, challenging themes for a young filmmaker and Stamm proves to be adept at playing with ideas that scare away writer/directors with twice as much experience. It’s not a perfect film as some of the actors display their lack of experience and the final act twist seems a bit forced but it’s the daringness of the film’s themes and the confidence displayed by its writer/director that makes it a movie worth seeing, worth talking about, and worth admiring.
The DVD release comes with excellent special features but it’s the film itself, one that I thought would disappear (more films never make it out of the festival circuit than you would ever expect and don’t even get a DVD release), that is the true special feature. I can’t wait to see what Daniel Stamm does next but I’m happy that more people will finally be able to see what he did first.
A Necessary Death was released on DVD on May 29, 2012
Photo credit: MPI
“Documentary filmmaker looking for suicidal individual to follow from first preparation to final act.”
Cut from 142 videotapes, A NECESSARY DEATH sheds light on the tragedy that followed this infamous internet ad.
Shocking audiences around the globe, the film witnesses the making of a complex crime in chilling detail and stands as a fascinating tale of ambition, manipulation and intrigue.
o Deleted Scenes
o Alternate Ending
o Filmmakers’ Commentaries