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January 16, 2007

Best DVD Commentaries

WickedPinto brought this up. The good ones are grand, the bad ones are awful, filled with nonstop praise of minor actors and what a genius the DP is for chosing a 14 inch lens to shoot this "gorgeous" shot.

I love a good DVD commentary. A lot of times I like them better than the movie, even if I liked the movie.

Here are my three favorites:

The Thing. Carpenter and Russell are funny and actually informative here, in between the loud drags as Carpenter chain-smokes.

Army of Darkness. Raimi and Campbell bust each other's balls a lot here. Campbell knocks Raimi's direction; Raimi knocks Campbell's acting. For example, Campbell makes fun of Raimi for resorting to the hack trick of just shaking the camera to create a sense of frenzy; Raimi calmly replies, "I was using the camera to get an effect that I couldn't get out of the performance."

This commentary is especially interesting because they discuss, seriously, what went wrong in the movie. They make the observation (which I'd missed myself, even though I'm a fan) that they "lost the character" of Ash in the whole back-end of the film, when the plot required he suddenly become a hero rather than the cowardly, bullying, braggart jackass he really was. You hardly ever hear these commentaries diss their own movies, and yet here these guys are casually pointing out where they'd gone badly wrong, just talking about it as if they were alone, rather than being recorded for thousands to hear.

Old School. Hilarious. Sure, Will Ferrell is funny. But the real laughs come from Luke Wilson, who explains -- deadpan -- that he considers his eyes to be individual actors. One, the droopier lidded eye, is called "Shorty," the more leading-man eye is "Kevin." Throughout the commentary, the guys riff on how "Kevin" is really delivering a great performance in this scene, or how "Shorty" is just phoning it in here. It's a goofy, weird, pot-induced riff that just doesn't get old, at least not for me.

Another interesting commentary is that for Anchorman, in which Ferrell and McKay do not, as far as I know, comment upon the film a single time, except to note how they are entirely ignoring the movie in the commentary.

They just mostly talk about balls.

In the most disappointing category-- Joss Whedon's commentary for Serenity, which is only for those who have a hard-on about lenses and overcranked film. Only a few bits of interesting information are offered by a guy who obviously is pretty smart and cagey about storytelling (like he considers Mal's shooting of three unarmed men to be, in a way, a rebuttal to the Greedo-Shoots-First "special edition" of Star Wars). Some interest in his noting that several true improvements to the film were suggested by the usually-derided "studio suits." But otherwise -- snoozers.

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posted by Ace at 02:04 PM

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