DVD commentary - Best and Worst

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DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Selk » Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:10 am

Most of the time, I get utterly bored with DVD commentary. I hate it when a director goes on and on about the locations that he scouted. I'd rather know something about the intentions of the scenes that I'm watching.

Truthfully, the most fun commentary is on The Simpsons DVDs. There are usually about five people doing the commentary and they are actually having fun while they are watching it.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Bryan Pope » Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:50 pm

Obviously anytime John Carpenter and Kurt Russell get together you're in for a treat. Aside from them...

I always enjoy the Dyan Cannon/Richard Benjamin portion of the commentary track on The Last of Sheila. (Raquel Welch's commentary, recorded separately, is less interesting.) It's not that they have much to say about the movie, but they are so engaging, and their enjoyment of the film is so obvious. And then there's Cannon's infectious laugh.

The Lily Tomlin/Jane Fonda/Dolly Parton commentary on 9 to 5 is a lot of fun, as are the cast commentaries on both The Goonies and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I was very surprised by how engrossing and informative John Patrick Shanley's (is that his name?) commentary is on Doubt. He shares an insider's perspective on growing up in a Catholic school.

Oh, another I can listen to over and over again: The Chiodo Brothers on Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Fun hearing how they made a pretty fantastic-looking movie on the cheap.

Can't think of a bad commentary I've heard off hand.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby ccb » Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:03 am

Always get a kick from Adam West and Burt Ward's commentary for Batman: The Movie.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby azul017 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:09 pm

Any commentary with Joss Whedon going solo is worth a listen. He's very thorough with the details (usually he covers all aspects of directing in his Serenity commentary) and his story details. When he's usually paired with more people, that's another story.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby hoytereden » Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:30 am

John Waters and Martin Scorsese are my two favorites.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Selk » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:09 pm

John Waters and Martin Scorsese are my two favorites.


You know, I don't care much for John Water's films but I could listen to him all day. I remember he was on the commentary for his Simpsons episode, it was great.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Bryan Pope » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:36 am

Selk wrote:
John Waters and Martin Scorsese are my two favorites.


You know, I don't care much for John Water's films but I could listen to him all day. I remember he was on the commentary for his Simpsons episode, it was great.

He spoke once at Texas A&M University when I was a student (I think they were doing screenings of Serial Mom, which had just come out, and some of his cult films). He was engaging and a total hoot. He's a fantastic storyteller.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Dan Mancini » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:01 am

The Sam Raimi/Rob Tapert track for The Evil Dead is mightily entertaining, as is Bruce Campbell's.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Dave Ryan » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:17 am

My favorite commentary of all time is the in-character commentary on This Is Spinal Tap.

PT Anderson's commentary on Boogie Nights is also very good.

Worst commentaries: the Aqua Teen Hunger Force sets (much as it pains me to say it)....
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby cdouglas » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:48 pm

I really like a lot of the scholars recruited by Criterion for their commentaries, particularly Peter Cowie's commentaries on some of the Bergman films.

I also generally enjoy listening to Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese... I could go on, but those three really jump to mind as examples of directors who know how to give a good audio commentary.

Worst: I like Tim Burton, but he can be so terribly dull when providing commentary tracks. The worst I've listened to recently (though it saddens me to say it) is Stephen Fry on an episode of Blackadder. I love Fry, and he's usually a tremendously engaging speaker, but in this case he just sat quietly and occasionally would quote a line just before someone said it or would just point out what was happening onscreen. Maybe 5 minutes of actual commentary in the whole 30-minute episode. Disappointing.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Steve T Power » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:04 pm

Some of my favorites have been Ridley Scott commentaries... shocking, i know.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Selk » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:27 pm

Some of my favorites have been Ridley Scott commentaries... shocking, i know.


No, not shocking. I like to hear commentary from the director. What I like about Ridley Scott is that he discusses the entire film, not just location scouting.

One director that disappoints me is Spielberg. He has never provided a commentary on any of his films and I hate that. The closest thing was on the DVD for Close Encounters of the Third Kind but that was a separate documentary (he was clearly giving an interview from the set of Saving Private Ryan) and what he had to say was really interesting. He is a guy who loves movies and I love his insights. But he won't do it because he feels that it takes some of the mystery out of the film. Same goes for Woody Allen.

Conversely, George Lucas bores me to tears. George is so dry and gives the same insights that I've heard over and over. The only exception was the commentary for Revenge of the Sith. He was able to provide some insight about that film that I actually hadn't thought of.

Irving Kershner was great. On the commentary for The Empire Strikes Back, he didn't educate me but he was so much fun to listen to. It was like sitting and watching the movie with a kindly old grandfather.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Kenneth Morgan » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:17 am

One of the best commentaries I've ever heard is the commentary for "Used Cars" from Kurt Russell and Robert Zemeckis (if I remember correctly). Actually, pretty much any commentary with Kurt Russell is worth it.

One of the worst, though, was the one for "Star Trek: TMP". Robert Wise sounds like he's just reading a script (which he may have been) and the other participants (except for the brief word from Stephen Collins) don't sound too enthusiastic, either. Just because the movie runs too slow doesn't mean the commentary should be, too.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Selk » Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:44 am

One of the best commentaries I've ever heard is the commentary for "Used Cars" from Kurt Russell and Robert Zemeckis (if I remember correctly). Actually, pretty much any commentary with Kurt Russell is worth it.


Yeah, he was a lot of fun on the commentary for Big Trouble in Little China too. He was there with John Carpenter and it was clear that neither had seen the film in years.

I was disappointed in Mel Brooks' commentary for Spaceballs. He spent most of the time just watching the film, at one point saying "I know I should be commenting". There was one funny moment though, during the scene when Barf says "Funny . . . she doesn't look Druish", Brooks takes a pause and then says "I am both proud and ashamed of that joke."
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby BrettCullum » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:52 am

There are just so many qualifications for this... I like fun commentaries when I can get them. And some favorites:

There's a really bad movie called THE SWEETEST THING and it starred Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair. They recorded a commentary with the director while the movie was tanking in the theatres. So they decided to simply goof on the project, tease each other, and suck helium balloons while doing their track. It is far better than the film, and a total hoot.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to drink heavily when they did a commentary for CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL, and it's funnier than the movie as well.

I love the '80s horror comedy VAMP's commentary, because it's obvious half the cast never saw the film. They also freely admit that there are plot holes and bad special effects everywhere.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Selk » Tue May 04, 2010 2:44 pm

I thought the commentary on Juno was fun. Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody did something that I love in a commentary - they made it fun and also gave some interesting information about the film. I loved it.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Mach6 » Mon May 10, 2010 10:00 am

The commentary for Black Dynamite was a blast for me. Michael Jai White, the director, & the producers really knew their 70's blaxploitation films & it just sounds like they're having a lot of fun pointing out all the intentional (& unintentional?) errors.

On the other hand, Milla Jovovich's commentary for Ultraviolet is by far the worst one I've ever heard. I'm used to actors' commentaries saying everything about this movie was great, but all she says for 90 mintues, is "That was rad", "Like, you know", "That was cool". That's it. She absolutely had nothing interesting to say.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby J.M. Vargas » Mon May 10, 2010 11:15 am

^^^ Plus she's alone! Usually actor commentaries at least have a director or producer that talent can bounce from (for reactions, questions, etc.) but when they're all by themselves most actors are complete bores. For an interesting example check Jack Nicholson's commentary on Antonioni's "The Passenger" DVD. Boring as heck but, because of the subject matter and rarity of the flick, somewhat interesting. But "Ultraviolet" is the worst of both worlds: an uninteresting commentary about a movie that's not interesting or memorable in the least.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Attrage » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:42 pm

I am, generally speaking, a big fan of commentary tracks in general. I have even been known, on occasion, to re-purchase a film I already own if it gets re-released in a special edition with a commentary track (even if the *only* addition, special feature-wise, is the commentary track). The only reason I say “generally speaking” is that sometimes commentary tracks are not all that interesting. I very quickly tune out mentally when a director proceeds to simply analyse ad nauseum how each shot was constructed, or how he set up the lighting for the shot, or what type of camera he used, etc. I think of these types of commentaries as “film student commentaries” in that only a film student would find them interesting.

I share Selk’s feeling above about the Simpsons dvd commentaries. They are often as funny, if not even more so, as the episodes themselves. I also share people’s sentiments about Kurt Russell/John Carpenter. Their track on The Thing is awesome.

To me, a good commentary makes you feel like the director/writer/actor/whatever is in the room watching the movie with you and talking about it. The types of commentaries I love are those that include behind the scenes info, and further expand on the story/characters, etc. I like commentaries that share interesting stories about the production itself. A good example of this is Edward Zwick’s commentary on Blood Diamond – he explains a lot about the motivations of the characters and what he was trying to say about particular characters by doing certain things in scenes, but he also explains how he and Leonardo DiCaprio actually spoke with former mercenaries and soldiers to develop the Danny Archer character. It was really fascinating to listen to.

Another interesting listen is Andrew Niccol’s commentary on Lord of War. He speaks a lot about the actual people and events the film is based on, and the sort of tricks and deception that real illegal arms dealers use to fool the authorities, like changing a freight ship’s flag and name mid-voyage! Plus he tells of the difficulties in financing and distributing a film that blatantly criticizes US and other Western democracies’ involvement in the world arms trade. And this brings me to something else, voice. It helps immensely that Edward Zwick and Andrew Niccol both have great “commentary voice”. They both have this calm, soft-spoken sort of tone that is really easy to listen to. Another director with a great “commentary voice” is Michael Mann. On the flipside, a director with a really bad commentary voice is Robert Zemeckis. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy’s films and he has some really interesting things to say in the couple of his commentaries I’ve heard, but his slightly nasal, high-pitched voice gets a bit grating quite quickly.

As far as a favourite to close out this spiel and actually stay on topic, I’d say the commentaries by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens on the Lord of the Rings extended editions are among my very favourites. The tracks are a perfect mix of what I’ve spoken of above; behind the scenes, character development, inspirations, etc. Plus they explain in great detail how and why they chose to omit/change certain things from the novels, and their friendly banter is just a delight to listen to. Fran Walsh is a huge Tolkien geek and has a copy of the book open as they speak, and you can practically picture her frantically flipping to certain pages as they discuss certain scenes.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby viktorz » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:33 am

I don't know why but sometimes i look to commentary ))
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby J.M. Vargas » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:57 am

Uhhh, thanks? 8)
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Bryan Pope » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:35 am

viktorz wrote:I don't know why but sometimes i look to commentary ))

My thoughts exactly, man.

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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby JoshRode » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:47 pm

Hands down, the best is "Commentary: The Musical!" from Dr. Horrible. My favorite of the films I've reviewed is from a horrible horrible film called "Julie Darling," wherein co-star Isabelle Mejias pans the hell out of the film the entire time.

An example, talking about the director: "He's walking around like he's this big-shot artist and, look at this crap! Look at the composition! My God! It's like, 'Yeah, I'm a director.' Well, yeah. My five-year-old can do this too."

Worth the price of the DVD just for the commentary.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby stypee » Fri May 25, 2012 2:32 am

I mentioned this before but this is the topic anyway..

The worst commentary in the history of all commentary has to be William Friedkin's additional commentary for the Blu-Ray Exorcist.

The Blu-Ray is phenomenal, packed with great extras. They do have the first ones recorded prior but the new one is a train wreck.

Basically, Friedkin is watching the film and describing, in detail, what you are literally watching on the screen. So you're watching an audio book.

Terrible.


Best:

I liked Robert Rodriquez early stuff during the laserdisc days.

P.T. Anderson is great for all his films.

The Spinal Tap (all of the commentaries)

Kevin Smith is entertaining but on ocassion can be monotmos.

there are others, I don't remember right now and I am also very gassy this morning.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby hoytereden » Fri May 25, 2012 10:26 pm

viktorz wrote:I don't know why but sometimes i look to commentary ))


Yes! Even more fun is listen to pictures.

I have to agree that Robert Wise was very disappointing. I didn't check out Star Trek but The Body Snatcher and The Set-Up tracks were surprisingly dull. Too bad.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby stypee » Sun May 27, 2012 8:19 am

Can't believe I forgot to mention this, I actually just bought the Blu-Ray on purpose, only for the commentary.
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I Spit On Your Grave (original) - The Joe Bob Briggs commentary is fascinating, aside from the humor, that commentary gave me a completely different perspective on that film. He provided a wealth of information and with all his goofiness, provided an excellent, intelligent analysis - I can listen to that commentary over and over again.

I sold the Elite DVD and got the Blu-Ray super cheap - the transfer is amazing.
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Attrage » Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:15 pm

Mel Gibson's commentary on Braveheart is an interesting listen. Also Val Kilmer on Spartan (though it's an effort to stay awake as he...speaks...very...very...very...slowly...)
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Re: DVD commentary - Best and Worst

Postby Mach6 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:00 pm

Best: Matt Stone & Trey Parker were brutally honest, hilarious, informative & entertaining all at the same time during their entire commentary for South Park Bigger Longer & Uncut. They don’t hold back on all the BS they had to go through when making their movie. The producers wanted to make it PG-13 & even took Matt & Trey to some phony talking points meeting to try to convince them. Another example is when they were so disgusted with the awful Adam Sandler-type movie trailer that Paramount produced, that Matt actually stole the trailer negative & hid it so they would never show it. Eventually, Matt & Trey decided to cut their own trailers.
I also like that during their commentary every 15-20 minutes, they bring in a member of their TV animation & writers' crew to give their views on it. They all take turns pointing out all the color choices & animation errors. The best is at the end with Bill Hader where they go off topic & talk about other movies (Matt & Trey are very critical of Iron Man’s & The Dark Knight’s third acts.) I only bought the Blu Ray for the commentary & it was well worth it.

Worst: The mothers’ only (Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, & Adam McKay’s moms) track for The Other Guys got on my nerves very quickly. I know they’re proud of their sons’ accomplishments but I could only take twenty minutes of it before I said enough.
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