Decent dvd commentaries

tons of commentaries are suck. lots of dead spaces, guy just saying what’s happening on the screen, high nasal voice, thanking everyone left and right but not really saying anything about the movie, or just plain boring. some i like are below.

my favorite dvd commentary is the one on seven samurai. the guy who did it, i think his name was michael jenk, is a japanese cinema historian/expert and his commentary runs through the entire three hours of the movie. his knowledge of the movie and japanese history totally impresses. you get japanese history, both ancient and 50s movie era, the fates of the actors, the life of kurasowa, explanations of kurasowa’s film techniques, and trivia(like how one extra got shot at with a real arrow, his only protection being the archer’s accuracy and a block of wood under his shirt or how his best friend betraying him got him his wife, with the help of his mother-in-law).

other commentaries i liked:
final destination 2 - lots of info, and they show a real love of horror movies and showing off the gore of their kills

evil dead 2 - the funniest parts are where sam raimi torture’s his brother into doing all these painful things, like stay in the rubber monster suit for so long that in one scene you can see pooled sweat leak out of the costume.

x-men 2 - bryan singer describes lots of reasons on why he did what, problems he had, nice little details he interjects into the story. for example, after he mentions how x2 was apparently had the first female air force fighter pilot(in the f-16) in a major film, how he made sure both pilots were seen safely ejecting, since they were just military personnel doing their jobs caught up in a bad situation fighting the good guys. but the commandos were shown getting killed since those guys were doing stuff that was more evil (kidnapping the kids, not really caring when stryker hinted he was going to kill the kids). you also hear how a lot of stuff was improvised.

resident evil - some people didn’t like this movie commentary because they thought milla jovovich and michelle rodriguez were annoying. i thought it was cool that they were talking a lot about the movie and how both them and the director were fans of the game.

swat - most of the cast were all together and they were just hanging out, talking about the movie. there is also the scriptwriters on a separate track, who describe how they got the movie greenlighted by showing the execs news footage of the infamous l.a. bank robbers firing ak-47s and looping the old swat soundtrack over it.

incredibles
shrek
antz
finding nemo

for these four you can pretty much interchange my comments. the guys/gals who work on animated films talk about story a lot more than in most other movies. makes sense since they have to work on that for years vs months or a little over a year for live action films. they usually got funny stories and show some love for their work. they also point out funny little details that we normally would miss out on and point out how they were telling their story.

the incredibles commentary has the funniest bitching about how certain things that look easy are hard in cg. this is when mr. incredible is putting his finger through a hole in a piece of cloth he’s handling. they talk about how the animators were like, “can we have him say, ‘oh look, a hole in my uniform,’” and “can we have him run his hand [i]over[/i the hole?” and “i don’t know, this’ll take my best guy three weeks.”

Ed Norton’s commentary on Fight Club is awesome.

Pretty much any episode commentary with Joss Whedon on one of his shows is golden. One of my favorites is the one he did with Nathan Fillion for the pilot of Firefly, if only because they point out a shot at the end where Wash is pretending to hold an imaginary yoke. Joss and Nathan are really funny together. The ones Joss does alone are great too, because he’s always so prepared. He figures out what he wants to talk about in advance, it’s always interesting and insightful and you don’t have any of those obnoxious silences.

The commentaries for the LOTR: EE are all really interesting. I think the actor commentary for Fellowship is the most entertaining because of the hobbits all recording together. The director and design tracks were all good as well.

The Superbit version of Spiderman had a good commentary with Tobey McGuire and J K Simmons.

Wes Anderson’s commentaries are always interesting too. Rushmore’s is the best.

I have Season 3 of The Simpsons and I really like the commentary tracks. Lots of funny and informative chatter. Hell I listen to the commentary tracks more than the regular audio tracks.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) has a pretty nice commentary track as well. It has Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface), Daniel Pearl (Cinematographer), and Tobe Hooper (Director), I believe. Hardly any dead air. Lots of nice stories and insight into the making of the film.

The Thing only had John Carpenter and Kurt Russel, but they did a pretty good job. I don’t remember there being much dead air.

Alien Director’s Cut has a nice commentary. There are numerous members of the cast, as well as Ridley Scott. I hope the Aliens Director’s Cut is as nice.

My favourites:

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. The movie is admittedly a fave of mine, which helps, but the commentary is surprisingly terrific, featuring director Allan Arkush, producer Michael Finnell, and screenwriter Richard Whitley. It’s very talky, stuffed with terrific insights into the specifics of working on a Roger Corman picture, and is occassionally laugh out loud funny. Fun fact: The first sound of the movie is a bird saying “Cheap!”, a direct dig at Corman’s famously tightwad budgets.

Any Herzog movie. My favourite happens to be Aguirre: The Wrath Of God, but any commentary track by Herzog is worth a listen. Much of the entertainment comes from his almost deadpan discussions of the generally insane situations he routinely finds himself in - in Aguirre, he relates a story of how Klaus Kinski tried to kill him during the filming by firing a shotgun into a tent he thought Herzog was sleeping in at the time.

Comedian. A documentary about Jerry Seinfeld, the commentary is the sound of Seinfeld and Colin Quinn tearing most of the people in the movie a new asshole. Quinn, a stand-up I’ve never found all that funny, is nothing short of hysterical on the track.

Clerks: The Animated Series. Kevin Smith usually has some spirited and filthy commentaries, but the Clerks series is a stand-out for the near-litigious details of how they were fucked over by ABC. It’s rare that you get to listen to something that’s both profane and educational.

Mr. Show. All three Mr. Show sets feature some drop dead brilliant commentary, but the third season probably the best, as it was all recorded in one day with most of the cast in what sounds like Bob Oedenkirk’s living room. Drinking was clearly involved.

I always found the austin powers one to be pretty funny.

I think Steven Soderbergh, as reluctant as he sounds on doing commentaries, is great at it. His commentaries on OUT OF TIME and OCEAN’S 11 are lively, witty, and informative. (Favorite line: “If you’re making a movie and can get Don Cheadle to be in it, you should just do it.”)

The dual mother/son commentary on the director’s cut of ALMOST FAMOUS is swell, too.

Ebert’s commentary on DARK CITY is a little bit dry, but still very interesting.

All of the commentaries on the Simpsons and Futurama DVD sets are great and they do them for EVERY episode. It’s part of the reason why it takes/took so long between releases, but it’s worth it as it essentially doubles the value of each one.

Agreed, Ebert does a very good commentary on Dark City.

The best DVD commentary is the one on the Spinal Tap dvd. If you liked Spinal Tap you’ll love the commentary.

Some other good commentaries, on the collectors dvd for Black Hawk Down, there is a commentary of 3 of the troops who were in the actual battle. Pretty insightful. Also the new Apollo 13 dvd has a commentary from Jim Lovell (the real commander of Apollo 13) and his wife which is very interesting.

The Matrix box set has commentary on each film by three critics who dislike the series. They spend the entire time ripping the movies very articulately and accurately (mostly), and it’s probably the best commentary I’ve ever heard.

I like the Star Wars prequel commentaries because you get to hear some of the technical guys talk about how they pulled off some of the more difficult things in the movies. On Episode 1’s commentary, you can almost hear the SFX guy’s irritation with Lucas come to the surface when he talks about how George wanted the windows in the Jedi Temple set digitally lowered about three feet, requiring ILM to spend something like a year retouching every shot taken on that set with new lighting elements.

The LotR Extended Edition commentaries from Jackson and the writers are awesome, and it’s fun to listen to the cast one, as well. Mainly because the hobbit actors have a lot of good stories they tell, and occasionally Christopher Lee comes in and explains something relating to the book and you wonder why they didn’t just give the man his own damn commentary track.

Conan the Barbarian is an awful commentary, but highly entertaining because Arnold is such a goofball through the whole thing. Milius is trying to talk about the difficulty of setting up a particular shot or take, and Arnold cuts him off with idiotic blather like, “OH, EEN DIS SHOT EYE HAF DAT HEAVY SWOAHRD, REMEMBAH DAT, JOHN?!” and you can actually hear Milius sigh a couple of times.

Their commentary on Big Trouble in Little China is pretty funny, they just tell stories about happened on the set most of the time.

Ahhh, Conan. Spacemonkey has often regaled me with tales of listening to the Conan the Barbarian commentary track. I really should let him tell this, as his Arnold impersonation is much better than mine, but my favorite line in the track is when Arnold comments in the midst of a bunch of Milius’ pontificating–I think during a sex scene–“I am getting laid a lot in dis movie.”

I’d almost want to buy the thing just to hear that.

Ditto on the Fight Club commentary. I think there are four tracks, but my favorite is the one with Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and David Fincher. Norton is holding forth on the themes of the movie and Pitt is the class clown sitting in the back in the room making smartass comments. One of the great moments is during a scene where they are smashing headlights (I think) and Norton says how much he hates the new Beetle. Pitt says something about liking it and Norton is all hurt because the cool guy disagrees with him. “I thought we hated that car.” “I think I’ve turned the corner on it.”

Seven (I can’t bring myself to write it with the number in the middle right now), if memory serves, also has four tracks, and the one with Brad Pitt and David Fincher is very good. I think Morgan Freeman is dropped in from time to time, recorded separately. My favorite moment in that track is their discussion near the end of how the film’s marketing was botched and how tough a job marketing people have in general.

Schizopolis has some amusing moments as Soderbergh interviews himself for the track, waxing pompous about his masterpiece, though it grows tiresome as a little of that goes a long way.

I also enjoyed the Gladiator track, not because it was overly enlightening but rather because in listening to it I got the distinct impression that Ridley Scott had not a fucking clue about how the film came to be. It was like somebody else wrote the actual paper, then he had to come in and give the oral report. It was surreal.

But that might just be me.

“He’s a nutbag. Just because the fucker’s got a library card doesn’t make him Yoda.”

-Amanpour

Funny you should put it that way. The primary thing I remember about their commentary on Escape from New York (I think it was that film) was how much smoking you could hear them doing. I mean it was almost constant.

“So, she smokes.”

-Amanpour

The commentary on Austin Powers 2 is pretty good, but they fucked up on the production of the first one. It’s just Mike Meyers if I’m not mistaken, and instead of laying him over the film soundtrack, they have him all alone. So basically, it’s just complete silence followed by the occasional comment, followed by complete silence.

The Edward Scissorhands DVD has a couple commentary tracks. The first one has Tim Burton, and the second one has a nice soundtrack-only track with Danny Elfman doing commentary. Tim Burton does a decent job, but there’s quite a bit of dead air. It really would have been better if they had gotten Depp in there as well.

I thought the Star Wars IV-VI DVD’s had good commentary. I thought Lucas, the sound editors, and Kershner (V) did a pretty good job. No Mark Hammel or Harrison Ford though, and Carrie says about four things throughout the entire box set.

I guess Ford doesn’t do commentary, because there aren’t any on the Indy box set at all.

Ghostbusters is noteworthy for having MST3K style silhouette during the commentary. They don’t really take full advantage of it though.

I’m pretty sure thats do to Speilburg having some wierd thing about not liking commentaries and not allowing them on his movies. Which sucks but at least its not as bad as Lucas not releasing the original versions of Star Wars.

And it’s a pretty good commentary as well.

I’m partial to the director’s commentary for American Beauty.

[quote=“tronnc”]

I’m pretty sure thats do to Speilburg having some wierd thing about not liking commentaries and not allowing them on his movies. Which sucks but at least its not as bad as Lucas not releasing the original versions of Star Wars.[/quote]

This is particularly weird in light of Spielberg’s interview segment on Lawrence of Arabia, in which he talks about watching LoA with the director talking the whole time and thinking it was one of the coolest things ever.

This is hilarious. I need to go buy this as of now.