Saturday, 13 December 2008

DVD special features...

...

When I buy a DVD, I mainly want the movie, unless there's an interesting documentary or featurette with it, and at good value. I recently bought the Belle De Jour special edition DVD for a cool £9 at Borders. It comes with a doc. about the movie, and some other features. I despise audio commentary over movies, so I was a little irked when I read there was one by some "Professor" on the disc. If I want intellectual crap I'll read something by Roger Ebert or the like. I hate the idea of watching a great film with someone talking you through it. I tried an audio commentary once, with the film Alien, and I found that it simply killed the movie. My point is simple - special features should be seperate from the movie, they shouldn't kill the experience with a bogus commentary from some pompous film teacher. To think they actually put an audio commentary over Citizen Kane, again by some film "Professor." Can you imagine the image of the burning sled accompanied to the sound of someone talking a load of crap to himself during the movie? I don't know why some filmmakers agree to putting audio commentaries over their movies; it's ridiculous!

I quite like a good documentary to watch the morning after the main feature; I found the doc. for The Shining fascinating and entertaining. Of course, movie documentaries can be tedious and academic, full of interviews with people telling how great it was and whatever, and with no real insight into the making of a movie. That's what I look for in a good movie documentary. Some history about the film and insight into the making of it. I find the filmmaking process fascinating; how the grand illusion is created...

4 comments:

Kyle said...

I feel the opposite about docs and commentaries to you Steven. You can learn a lot more about what went into the making of a movie or why a certain thing is on screen in a commentary, because it's a more intimate, one-on-one experience with whomever is talking. I don't generally like commentaries by people who weren't involved in the making of the movie (and sometimes won't buy a DVD if it doesn't have director's commentary), but on occasion, they've been good. Coppola and Cronenberg probably do the best commentaries.

steven 559 said...

I just find that audio commentaries of any kind ruin the movie-experience...

Kyle said...

Why? They're much more insightful than documentaries. You'll learn more about The Godfather by listening to Coppola's commentary than you ever would watching a documentary. The good ones are hardly just "talking us through" the movie, they're pointing out little details and backstory and filmmaking tricks much more thoroughly than any doc I've ever seen has. Granted there are some terrible ones (I think Ridley Scott is horrible at them), but they're often the best special feature a DVD can have.

And I think the commentaries on Citizen Kane were by Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdonavich, who's a famous director and friend of Welles'. They're not just some random guys doing a commentary. Like I said, I don't generally like people who weren't involved in some way doing the commentaries, but those are good examples of good ones (I also like the few that Michael Jeck has done for Kurosawa movies). If you've only ever tried to listen to one (and one by a director that's not any good at them), then you really shouldn't be making the sweeping statement that commentaries ruin the movie experience, because you haven't really tried them. I can't remember if you're a Cronenberg fan or not, but his commentary on A History of Violence is one of my favorites. You should actually give them a chance before you write them off, especially with your interest in the filmmaking process.

steven 559 said...

We'll just have to agree to disagree I think...