Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Hey, kids, do you like the DVD commentaries?

This is what makes me buy copies of movies I have already previously owned in at least nine different forms. There will be no resting until I've watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade against the backdrop of commentary from Spielberg's beard-groomer.

Sometimes you learn things. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes the commentary track make you hate, brutally hate, a movie once enjoyed (looking very hard at you, Kevin Smith, and the track you did for the tenth anniversary of Clerks, in which I was treated to thirty minutes of the sweet, sweet sounds of you and Jason Mewes consuming the box lunches delivered to you on-mike.)

Surprisingly excruciating was the commentary for the restored version of My Fair Lady, which focused sharply what every musical fan aches for more of: Extended discussions of negative cutting and print sizes. The first words of the track are a seventeen-minute monologue entitled "This, of Course, Is a Fastax to C-Mount Adapter, But Obviously the Wollensak Raptar Telephoto Is Optimal."

Possibly the commentators got all techno because when they attempted anything else, it came out like this:

"The actor who played Freddy just had his fifty-seventh wedding anniversary."





"He must be really old."

(I otherwise recommend the My Fair Lady DVD, however, because the print restoration now allows us to fully appreciate the pulsating wallpaper in Henry Higgins' townhouse. It is truly amazing wallpaper. It takes over the entire movie. Prints and stripes and swirls... it needs to have its own stream in the credits, or, at minimum, a duet with Pickering)

This was only slightly better than the pain inflicted upon me by the director's commentary on Wayne's World, which largely consisted of the following: "Uh-oh! Garth just fell off his chair! Haha! Well, let's see what happens next."

I cannot abide the tracks in which the commentators narrate the action unfolding in front of you ("Okay, now he's running away from the building, and now he's... yeah, that's the part with the lemur that hails a cab.") Give me a microphone and a handful of Fritos and a hundred thousand dollars. I'll do it.

watch, watch right here, this is the precise moment in which Lucas destroys the franchise at:


Kelli theatre geek said...

I'm with you. I love commentaries, but I think there is a serious problem with solo commentaries. There is something slightly creepy about a man sitting in a dark recording studio watching his film and talking to no one. A good, witty and insightful commentary is the one on Good Night and Good Luck. They did talk about lenses, but only in general terms and they made fun of themselves a lot, which is always a good thing.

Carrie said...

I have a tendency to buy the DVDs that have the most special features, and then rarely watch any of them. There are a few exceptions, like some of the behind-the-scenes footage for both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I hardly ever watch the commentaries, though. I did watch the commentary for The Goonies, however, which featured the entire "young" cast, and that was fun. It wasn't always coherent, but they all seemed to be having a good time.

red pill junkie said...

You hear that Josh The Pilot? kelli thinks you should invite a whole gang of your new controller buddies to do the much awaited and DELAYED director commentary! ;-)

Anonymous said...

The best one I've heard is the cast commentary for the Lord of the Rings extended editions. Hilarious.

Rachel said...

I agree that the ones where they explain what's happening in the movie are the worst. I mean, if I hadn't already seen the movie, I wouldn't be watching with commentary.
My personal favorite might be the commentary for Cannibal! The Musical, by the guys from South Park. What really sets it apart is that they decided to drink while commentating. It's amazing how Trey Parker gets even funnier as he gets drunker and drunker.
Good times.

Katie said...

I have only listened to a few commentaries, but I have to agree with the people saying the LotR commentaries were great. Well, at least the commentaries of the hobbits were great. Everyone else pretty much put me to sleep.

Cbell said...

I liked the commentary that Johnny Depp did with the director for the first Pirates movie. There was actually some funny moments in it, and they opened your eyes to some things that were going on off screen.

Leslie said...

I adore audio commentaries, especially the ones that are like mini-film classes. Most disappointing was -- amazingly -- Mel Brooks on *Young Frankenstein,* which was a running commentary on the illnesses and/or deaths of everyone who crossed the screen. Some of the best: writer/director Robert Rodriquez on *El Mariachi,* encouragingly outlining how to make a film on a shoestring budget; actress/screenwriter Emma Thompson and producer Lindsay Doran on *Sense and Sensibility,* just the right wry mix of "how we got it made" and "fun things from the set"; and screenwriter Julian Fellowes on *Gosford Park,* a movie I didn't like nearly as much as the trailer told me I would, but which I now own for his amusing, chatty tales of his relatives and the rest of the aristocracy.

Kelli theatre geek said...

Red pill junkie...


I'm confused now.

red pill junkie said...

Oh don't worry kelly, it's kind of an old joke between me and Josh the Pilot, that goes back to when he recorded one of MB's readings. He promised to make a director's cut and a commentary back then :-)

kelebek }{ said...

I watch the commentary edition's whenever I can. The two that I have actually liked were Shrek and Love Actually. In "Love Actually" you got hugh grant, the director guy, and that kid that played, well the kid. Good stuff. And Shrek's commentary was interesting. I found myself telling people the trivia I learned from the commentary. Like, do you know what happens to the mother bear? Watch this scene!

Previous Tastings