Nick Broomfield, never one to shy away from hard and prickly topics, here tackles theshooting deaths of Biggie Smalls (the Notorious B.I.G.) and Tupac Shakur. The trail opens up allsorts dangerous vistas, including crooked cops moonlighting as security for Death Row Records.Most intriguing, and more than a little alarming.
The sound quality is all over the map, but that’s to be expected: this is a documentary, folks,and you don’t expect the ev…ning news to sound like The Lord of the Rings, now do you? Thelevel of distortion thus varies according to the source material, and the conditions under whichBroomfield conducted his interviews. That said, the primary soundtrack (in 2.0) is startlinglygood, with great-sounding music and full use of surround effects. This is much, much more thanI would have expected from a film of this type. Hell, I would have expected the thing to be inmono.
As with the sound, so with the picture. The quality of the images is heavily dependent on thesource, and some of the material is quite raw. None of this, of course, is the fault of the DVD. Beprepared, therefore, for a fair bit of grain, but don’t blame it on the transfer. The rawness actuallyhelps the grimy aesthetic of the film’s milieu. The format is very slight widescreen (about1.66:1).
Broomfield, a very good speaker, provides commentary, thus creating a documentary on adocumentary, and he fills us in (among other things) on the origins of the material we see in themovie. If you haven’t had enough of Broomfield, there is also an interview, where he talks aboutwhy he made this risky film. There are 15 additional scenes, grouped together in categories (suchas “Failed Interviews”), bios of the main subjects of the film (interesting, contextual bios toboot), discographies of Biggie and Tupac, a filmography of Broomfield, and information on theChristopher Wallace (Biggie) Memorial Foundation. The case mentions a trailer reel, but if it’sthere, it’s well hidden. The menu is the full treatment down the second layer of screens.
Broomfield’s documenting of the more troubled side of American popular culture goes fromstrength to strength, and the DVD presentation is very strong.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Nick Broomfield Follow-Up Interview
- Discographies and Filmography
- Christorpher Wallace Memorial Fund Information