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Old August 25th, 2004, 12:27 AM   #1
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Favorite DVD Commentaries?

So I've been watching a lot of movies lately and my favorite part is often the commentaries. Just curious what other people consider to be the most entertaining or enlightening commentaries available. Also, anyone know of any good commentaries with cinematographers? Anyway, I'll start with a few of my faves:
American Splendor- Harvey Pekar's friend Toby is hilarious and Harvey has the same "Yeah, whatever" attitutude that he used to have on Letterman.
American Movie- Probably the funniest commentary I've heard and a great film to boot. Mike Schank, Mark's buddy, is classic.
Hellboy/ The Devil's Backbone- Liked Hellboy. Didn't like The Devil's Backbone. Regardless, Guillermo del Toro is one of the best directors I've listened to. Very insightful.
Identity- Another really smart director.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 12:56 AM   #2
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Excellent topic, Brack!

I very much enjoy listening to directors' commentary on films. Unfortunately many of today's directors are not often very lucid with their remarks. Here are some of the top picks that come to mind immediately.

Tora, Tora, Tora!: The director's commentary is offered by Richard Fleisher who directed the American portion of this incredible film. Listening to Mr. Fleisher talk about the stupendous challenges and risks of making this film is positively hypnotic. For young people here who have not seen this film, see it. This was made long before filmmaking became dominated by computer technicians. Those are -real- planes, -real- aircraft carriers, and -real- explosions on the screen. Yes, that was a -real- mock-up of the Arizona that just blew up. Hearing him remark that you're watching stunt men literally running for their lives as some of the shots didn't exactly go as planned puts a whole new overlay on the film.

I am a very big fan of the late John Frankenheimer. Some of his films were stinkers. But some, particularly those in the 1960's, were real masterpieces. It's so fortunate that the DVD medium was able to capture some of his commentary before he died. His commentary on Seconds, Seven Days in May, and The Train, in particular, are well worth hearing for anyone aspiring to make movies.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 01:21 AM   #3
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Goonies - they got the entire cast back together for an on-camera commentary. You just can't beat that.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 04:03 AM   #4
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Good topic indeed. The extended special editions of Lord of the
Rings come to mind. I'm still planning on going through my DVD
collection to check the commentaries out (since I haven't
listened to most yet), although that will take a lot of time....
Especially with some of the multiple commentaries on some discs.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 08:04 AM   #5
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For cinematographers, there's Peter Suchitzsky (sp?) on Existenz and Dead Ringers.

Three for horror fans:

British critics Kim Newman and Stephen Jones on The Dead Zone (I believe this is a Region 2 only release though). Thoroughly interesting and informative.

John Carpenter and Kurt Russell on The Thing.

Critic David Del Valle and actor John Karlen on artful 70s Euro vampire yarn Daughters of Darkness. Fascinating to compare Karlen's broad New York accent with the totally convincing Scandinavian one he does in the movie!

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Old August 25th, 2004, 12:44 PM   #6
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Three Kings has some nice BONUS FEATUREs and the Directors Commetary is very good; not just a bunch of babble but tecnical in its presentation.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 12:51 PM   #7
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personally i fear commentaries because it detracts from my full experience with a film. i don't think i have photographic memory but i have a pretty good memory. and if i listened to a commentary i'll never let it get out of my head to enjoy the film the same way i did prior to the commentary.

easy example, in t2 when arnold's motorcycle jumps off the ledge onto the sewage system i thought it was pretty nifty how they did it. but after i heard how they actually did it (with strings), then they erased it digitally, i felt disappointed. why? because EVERY TIME that i see the scene it's in my head now that the technique they used to achieve the special fx! it's been a terrible bane on modern films.

this is why i really appreciate warchowski brother's exemption from director's commentery or m night shyamalan's shared philosophy on themes of the film they made. cause if they shared the theme then it'll forever be stuck in my head. the interpretations of the films will be forever the director's and not mine.
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Old August 26th, 2004, 12:34 AM   #8
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John is right, Three Kings is great, like a film school.

Boogie Nights was kind of annoying, but somewhat good.

Anything by Scorsese is a must.

Mallrats and esp. Spinal Tap (in character) are HILARIOUS.

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Old August 26th, 2004, 01:24 AM   #9
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El Mariachi by Robert Rodriguez. One of the best commentaries I've ever heard, because he efficiently dissects the entire movie. It's amazing how he pulled some of it off.
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Old August 26th, 2004, 01:33 AM   #10
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I will admit, though, I don't listen to many commentaries. They can sometimes get self-indulgent.

But, I loved doing a commentary with the star and co-writer of my film. fun and hilarious! When a black screen comes up, they comment that's it's a pastel black.

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Old August 26th, 2004, 10:20 AM   #11
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Cannibal, The Musical: Just about the best commentary, ever. It's Trey Parker and Matt Stone's (Southpark Guys) first movie they did in college, and the commentary is them with their friends getting drunk watching the movie. The funniest parts are where they talk about how wrong so much of what they did was."I may not know all that much about making movies, but now I at least know you don't do THAT!" "Now you're married to the manager of JC Penney's and I'm worth 7 million dollars, b**ch!"

Fight Club has some great commentary with Fincher, Norton, and Pitt. "Admit it, Finch, that's a little dark..."
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Old August 31st, 2004, 12:36 PM   #12
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top 10

my top ten:
1) Anything by Kevin Smith. He always has amazing insightful comms. that are both educational and hilarious.
2) Ghost Busters. Great history behind the movie, and just generally interesting as hell.
3) El Mariachi. Perfect vote of confidence for all of us ZERO buget filmmakers out here.
4) Back to the Fucture Tirlogy. The Bobs are total nerds and it really comes through here but someho its cool. I mean COME ON, THEY MADE BACK TO THE FUTURE.
5) Swingers. Both comm. tracks on the special edition. The one with Vaugn and Favreu is hilarious and the Doug Linman track was educational, although i cant stand his tone of voice and his cadences...because im insane.
6) Donnie Darko. cant believe that it was his first film.
7) The GOdfather. Coppola is a genuis and I dont think he ever topped this one...except for part 2.
8) The Doors. Personally, I think that Stone is pretetious as hell, but he must have taken his "im a normal guy" pills for this track.
9) American Movie. Because, through failure, Mark Borchardt has become my personal Jesus.
10) Almost Famous, Bootleg Edition. His mother is on the track...i mean come on.

And this is the way ofo the future folks. Film school is becoming obsolete because of these commentary tracks and i think that its awesome. Listen to enough of them, take notes, read books and practice, and save yourself $100,000.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 06:33 PM   #13
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I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with a hangover, on dvd fairly recently, it's quite a film (!), and the commentary track by director, dp, and actor that plays LeatherFace was, as I recall, pretty interesting.

I don't know that I have favorites. Some are more entertaining than others, some are more dissipating of the raw experience of the film than others, some more lucid than others, and some more "truthful". I often have trouble with anyone other than an artist that directly participated in the making doing the commentary, in theory, but in practice, I have enjoyed the outside, often scholarly, perspective. I think I prefer the ones that come from the soulful rather than the technical perspective, since the soul is the essence and main motivator of all of the technical (the thousand steps of busy work). Werner Herzog's and Harmony Korine's commentaries sum it up for me, for the most part: it so often isn't a rational, logical process at work in art. My choices can't be distilled very usefully into easy verbal explanations. Sorry.
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Old September 2nd, 2004, 10:49 PM   #14
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Shawn,

I hope it was the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:58 AM   #15
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Absolutely, Heath, the original.
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