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Opinion: The Best and Worst DVD Commentary You've Listened To?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Rick Rob, Apr 2, 2004.

  1. Jefty

    Jefty Stunt Coordinator

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    Friedkin's commentaries on The Leopard Man and The Narrow Margin are also memorably feeble (it's not easy to say absolutely NOTHING of interest in 75 minutes, but he managed it--and it's all delivered in the most irritating schoolmarmish tone imaginable... he seems like a nice man, but someone must have told him to picture a 6-year old noir fan out there in the audience!)

    on the other hand, the Baumbach, Guest, McKean, and Bowser commentary on the Criterion Sullivan's Travels is a thing of beauty! It manages to be both hilarious AND full of opinions/readings of the film's individual scenes + its place in the history of Hollywood comedy!
     
  2. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    The Bandwagon has a really fun commentary track with Liza Minnelli (her father Vincente directed the film) and with Michael Feinstein.

    Liza has a great time watching the film, she visited her Dad during the filming and shares her memories. Michael Feinstein provides the more straightforward facts during the commentary. Together they have a great rapport and it is a pleasure to listen to them. I hope they do one for An American In Paris.
     
  3. Ed Moroughan

    Ed Moroughan Second Unit

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    I think my favorites are most of Ridley Scott's and Terry Gilliam's commentaries. The Python's commentaries are a blast too. Worst would go to John McTiernan's. BORING!
     
  4. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Lead Actor

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    I actually didn't like that commentary. I just watched the DVD a few weeks ago to include the review on our AFI 100 page and here's what I thought about the commentary:

    "Usually a track like this would give us factual information from a film historian, and Bowser does a little of that, but we don’t hear a ton from him. Instead, we get a lot from the three filmmakers. Of that bunch, McKean proves the most effective. He offers interesting remarks about his experiences with the movie and also sheds light on various aspects of it. McKean comes across as thoughtful and incisive.

    Though Guest does a little of that, for the most part he goes for the laughs. He provides some offbeat “facts” and quirky observations about the flick but not much more. That still beats the dull Baumbach. The filmmaker usually just tells us how much he loves various parts of the movie. I can’t recall anything useful that he said during the piece. All of this adds up to a sporadically interesting commentary, but not a very good one."
     
  5. Ron68

    Ron68 Supporting Actor

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    Best: Gojira with commentary by Steve Rifle and Ed Godziszwski, It Came From Outer Space commentary by film historian Tom Weaver and King Kong ('33) 2 disc SE with audio commentary by Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston, with Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Ruth Rose, Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong.

    I haven't listened to very many but these ones were very imformative and interesting

    Worst: Planet of the Apes - 35th Anniversary Edition

    I remember this having short sections of interviews with the actors followed by long stretches of silence and most of the info given was covered in the documentary on the disc.
     
  6. Jefty

    Jefty Stunt Coordinator

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    it's fascinating how different expectations/standards can be!

    I really enjoy the ST group's commentary as a performance, inspired by, and occasionally making direct reference to, the film, but not subservient to it in any way ... it's true those guys don't offer much in the way of hard information, but that's the last thing I want from a commentary (I guess I'm a bookish sort, at heart--I don't tend to remember details unless I see them printed up on a page or a screen...)
     
  7. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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  8. Brett_M

    Brett_M Screenwriter

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    Stimbled across this thread and had to reply.

    The commentary for 300 is dull and vacuous. Why'd they even bother? "I remember this shot...Wow, that's really cool...That was fun..." Terrible.

    Some fun ones are the cast commentary for Aliens SE and Shane Black/Robert Downey Jr./Val Kilmer on Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.

    As far as filmmaking goes, Michael Mann and Oliver Stone do a great job filling in anecdotes and stories about the production. Heat, Miami Vice, Platoon and JFK all have great comms.
     
  9. Southpaw

    Southpaw Supporting Actor

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    For me....

    Best: Back to the Future trilogy, Boogie Nights, First Blood (both), Cast Away, World Trade Center (fill in any Stone title really), Die Hard, Field of Dreams, Titanic (Cameron), The Goonies
    I'm sure I'll think of others later on.

    Worst: Batman and Planet of the Apes remake (For the most part, I love Burton's work but his commentaries add nothing), The Matrix, Christmas Vacation, 40 year old Virgin (big fan of movie, didn't care for commentary), American Pie
     
  10. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor
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    Alejandro Jodorowsky's commentaries for El Topo and The Holy Mountain are fantastic. He speaks in his native tongue (Spanish), but Anchor Bay/ABKCO provided optional English subtitles. On THM, he goes into the actual meanings of everything in the film like the symbols and philosophy. Lots of technical information and stuff on the actors. George Harrison was interested in playing the Thief, but objected to the nude scenes. Jodorowsky didn't want to change the movie, so he missed out on millions of dollars by not having Harrison.

    A lot of the main actors were really amateurs and actually the occupation of their character (the millionaire artist and the archetect). He found a lot of his talent off the cuff. One of the actors was a gay transvestite that hit on him at a bar and he ended up hiring him for a role and to design costumes for the film. He's extremely funny in parts, too. He talks about making a tall toilet that generates electricity from falling feces (in the Berg/Uranus segment). This is one of my favorite films now and his commentary helped me enjoy it even more.


    As for terrible, the commentary on Metropolis. It's entirely someone else's analysis on the film and there's little content on the making or even Fritz Lang's own opinions. I turned it off when he started to go over how the robot was a phallic symbol and representing a hermaphrodite. Same thing for Marion Keane's commentary on Notorious. At least Criterion provided a second track with the always-great Rudy Behlmer. As for other work Behlmer has done, his commentaries for Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and The Adventures of Robin Hood are excellent. GWTW impressed me since he went into every single detail of the film - and talked constantly from the overture to the exit music. Best of all, it didn't make the documentaries in the 4-disc set redundant.
     
  11. Charles_Y

    Charles_Y Stunt Coordinator

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    Glad to see this thread revived.

    The best: probably the two by Nicholas Meyer for Time After Time and particularly, Star Trek II. He is an incredibly well read, intelligent and articulate guy. One must really check these out. They make these editions keepers for me.

    Also, I've really liked the multiple speaker commentaries on the previous James Bond editions: Dr. No, Goldfinger, etc. - a different but great approach by having a great many commentators chime in.

    The worst: Some of Richard Donner's earlier attempts were boring and very weak, ditto for a few of Blake Edwards, except with Julie Andrews in attendance.

    Lest I forget, after reading through some of this thread - Mickey Rooney's tirade on "Final Night of a Jockey" for The Twilight Zone Definitive Edition. I felt so for the interviewer. I like Rooney's work but as a human being interacting with fans - look out!
     
  12. BarryM

    BarryM Stunt Coordinator

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    Worst: the over-intellectualized style of clap-trap hum drum stuff done by Criterion commentarians like Bob Gilpin and even worse, Marian Keene. Golly, all she's concerned about is the psychology of the film, not at all about the history.

    Best: The perfect balance of history and behind-the-scenes info are by people like Criterion's Bruce Eder. In his perfect commentary for "The Lady Vanishes", all questions are answered. As Jean Harlow said, "Gee, it sounds swell to me!"

    I also like Rudy Behlmer even if he does go a bit overboard. After listening to one of his commentaries, you'll at least have none of your questions unanswered!
     
  13. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    How can you be so right about Jodo, and so wrong about Maro? [​IMG]

    Freudian analysis is certainly passe, except in those instances where the director and the film are so thoroughly and irrevocably Freudian. And I'd also go as far as to say that Marion's commentary for "Notorious" is also a great commentary for "His Girl Friday" (among many others). If you listen to the commentary on "Friday" without any foreknowledge of the film or genre, you'd be hardpressed to know that it had anything to do with the once immensely popular "Comedy of Remarriage" genre. Not only does Marion provide a thorough understanding of this subset of classic hollywood templates, she analyzes how Hitchcock uses and subverts the form. If you can come away from that track without being enlightened on that particular genre, as well as Hitch's thoroughgoing Freudianism and its expressions in "Notorious" (and other Hitch films), then you are simply far too knowledgable to waste your time listening to commentaries. You should be recording your own!

    That said, my biggest beef is with crappy, overly reverent fluff pieces of the sort that Laurent Bouzereau has apparently built a career on. If I ever have to listen to Pat Hitchcock tell another cute, utterly unilluminating anecdote about Hitch, I think I'll smother myself with a pillow. And, oh look, there's Bogdanovich again, really really enjoying listening to himself talk...
     
  14. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    While I think Peter Bogdanovich makes some interesting observations or tells interesting anecdotes from his interviewing days, it's his imitations that drive me crazy. [​IMG]
     
  15. BarryM

    BarryM Stunt Coordinator

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    Perhaps we can cut to the chase and agree on some basic requirements for a commentary (NOT counting those by active participants of the original film):

    1. We want background on the making of the film (like the source material, how the director go assigned to it, etc.)
    2. Bios of the filmmakers and actors as the film progresses, when it's convenient.
    3. Any pertinent trivia about other actors being considered for a particular part, how an unusual scene came about, etc.
    4. Some Psychological mumbo jumbo (noirs, etc.) but that should not be the PRIMARY motivation for the commentary.

    Rudy's commentaries are bit too full of info, but no one can blame his wanting to cram as much useful information onto the commentary.

    Other commentaries that I found enjoyable;
    Brian Sibley's "Around The World In Eighty Days"
    Michael Powell and Martin Scorsese's "Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp"
    Penny Marshall, et all's "A League Of Their Own" along with that amazing 9-part documentary
    John Frankenheimer's "Manchurian Candidate"

    I want to know the lowdown on a commentary, but the psychological motivation of the characters (viewed from the eyes of some windbag like Marion Keane or Bob Gilpin, who are are by no means film historians...)

    See? I DO have opinions!!
     
  16. ErichH

    ErichH Screenwriter

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    Best for me was Spike Lee on Inside Man - really honest, in the moment talk. You could tell he was in a great mood.
    He pays respect to many other film makers, and the cast. He gives you a good sense about all the crane shots and sets.
    Makes you feel like you're sitting right next to him and picking his thoughts. Cool insite on the music and score.
    Has a number a good laughs about the production.

    There are a number of worst - you can tell it was a task.
     

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