Writer/director Gus Van Sant re-imagines the end of Kurt Cobain's life in a unique film that is visceral and compelling. He achieves this through poetic sound design, mostly medium- and long-shots, and limited camera movements - except for one leisurely, perfect dolly shot. The unwilling rock star (Michael Pitt) languishes in self-imposed fear and exile, occasionally making music in a brokedown palace. The soundscape echoes the cacophony in his head, but he speaks in a barely audible mumble. He can't (or won't) talk about what's happening to him - for that, you'll have to go to Cobain's songs. The interiors and the Pacific Northwest exteriors are kept as dark as possible without murkiness or extreme loss of detail. The 5.1-channel mix creates great dynamics up front, spreads out in an arc that extends well beyond the sides of the screen, and puts a moody amount of resonance and punctuation in the surround channels. Sparse extras include a making-of documentary, a short featurette on that dolly shot, a cool seven-minute deleted scene, and a music video. [R] English, Dolby Digital 5.1 and stereo; pan-and-scan, letterboxed (1.78:1), and anamorphic widescreen; two dual-layer discs.
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