Jamal and Peanut get together to hang out and cruise Compton. At Jamal’s house, however,they interrupt a thief who has broken in. Confronted with a gun, the thief keels over from a heartattack. In a panic, our two heroes bundle the body into their car and continue on their way. Thisis one-man-show filmmaking (the director handled just about every behind-the-camera duty),and the cast is very natural. The script is entirely (and obviously) improvised, and so each scenegoes on…for far too long.
The audio (in both 5.1 and 2.0, which seems like overkill to me) is unimpressive, but I canhardly fault the DVD for that, or the film itself for that matter. When you get down to this levelof guerilla filmmaking, where words like “budget” barely apply, it seems churlish to complainthat the disc lacks shock and awe sound. That being said, the sound is often very muzzy, and thesurround aspect is virtually nonexistent, even when the music is playing.
As with the sound, expectations should be calibrated to where this film is coming from. Itis shot on video, and looks it, so you’ve got all kinds of shimmering edges, bleached outbackgrounds, and so on. All of this is due to the source material rather than the transfer, whichlooks fine within the limits of what is achievable. The picture is fullscreen, which, given thevideo origin, I would have thought was the correct format, yet the case claims that reformattinghas occured.
The menu is more elaborate technically than the film itself, with an animated and scoredmain page, intro and transitions. The commentary, which takes the form of cast member RodneyPerry interviewing director Joe Brown, is very interesting. As is so often the case with low-low-low-budget movies, how they get made is often more fascinating than the end product, andBrown takes us through the movie shot by shot. There are also trailers (for Livin’ Tha Life,Down Time, Eastside and Road Dogz), a director’s bio and liner notes.
Perhaps more successful as an example of what determined filmmakers can do with nomoney than as a comedy, Livin’ Tha Life might also have some appeal to hardcore improvfans.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Director’s Bio
- Liner Notes