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  • DVD Commentaries

    When I rent DVDs if I have time I usually try to watch the film again with the commentaries on. I am somewhat interested in the artistic side of films so it is often interesting to hear what directors and producers have to say, as well as any of the actors involved. Also contextual information is often interesting too.

    The problem is that sometimes commentaries are very good, while at others a complete waste of time, and you don't usually know until you have invested some time into them.

    An example of a DVD with "waste of time" commentaries is "The Longest Day". One of the all time classic war films that most people, except Canadians, really enjoy. However, Don't waste your time on the commentaries that come on the special edition disk. The one with the director is useless because most of the time he doesn't say anything and you end up just watching the film with him. When he does say something it is completely uninteresting.

    On this disk there is a second commentary by some hippie type history professor at some California university. I had high hopes for this commentary as I was thinking she would put the film into a proper historical context and comment on things like inaccuracies in the film versus reality. She did no such thing. Instead of focusing on her supposed area of expertise she acted like the history professor who was given a chance to be film critic. All she did was talk about the artistic aspects of the film, which was completely out of her depth, and didn't say any word at all about the history involved. I was extremely disappointed. Don't waste any time at all on these.

    The series Rome did have some good contextual commentaries about the period involved.

    I do like the artistic, production, and behind the scenes kinds of commentaries. The ones for Tudors, Mad Men, and Rescue me are interesting in some of these ways. For Tudors and Mad men they talk a lot about the difficulties in doing sets, props, and costuming for period pieces. In Rescue Me they talk a lot about reality versus their show, and the problems with NY location shooting. Very interesting stuff.

    Some films are message films and sometimes this is what appears in the commentary. Just in case you didn't get the message while watching the film. The commentaries for the series the Wire are this way. They are making a political statement with their stories and unabashed in doing so. The commentaries are politically very direct and they want you to know exactly what they think.

    For the film Platoon it is a combination. We get to learn that Captain Dye was most concerned about the realism of the film in terms of costuming and props. He wanted the vets who served in Vietnam to immediately recognize the GIs in the film. Whereas Oliver stone was mostly concerned about the message elements and the most important aspects of the film to him were the atrocity elements such as rape and murder scenes.

    Sometimes Commentaries actually make me mad for what they say. Platoon was one of those because Dale Dye said that hearing the VN extras in the film talking in VN brought back all the difficulties of the war to him. However, the extras themselves were living in refugee camps in compete squaller at the time and were still homeless after fleeing Vietnam. Yet Captain Dye had nothing to say about their difficulties.

    Recently I watched the commentary on two films that kind of bothered me. One was "A Few Good Men", which I had always thought of as a good film. Well, it turns out Rob Reiner was trying to make a statement about the Marine Corps in this film. As he put it, his film was a metaphor for the real Marine Corps. He said it was like the Silent drill team sequence in the beginning. The outward appearance of the Corps was very professional, polished, and impressive, while deep down inside it was rotten and had serious problems.

    Another similar case, although not as heavy handed (in the sense they were laughing when they were saying it so it was a bit lighter), was the commentary for the film Stripes. In this the two people in the commentary keep repeating the same theme. They keep saying that they were worried that audiences wouldn't find the premise of the film believable because "Why would two reasonably intelligent men join the Army". They say this again and again and beat the concept to death. In their minds no intelligent person would join the Army, so it was difficult for them to write a situation where Winger and Zisky would actually join. Interesting that they kept characterizing Winger and Zisky as intelligent guys when my take on the film was that they were supposed to be a little bit moron. In any case, over and over again they kept referring to the idea that they couldn't imagine how any reasonably intelligent person would join the Army. All I could think of was that I am sure there are plenty of soldiers who enjoyed this film and found it funny, without realizing that the people who made it look condescendingly upon them.


  • #2
    "One of the all time classic war films that most people, except Canadians really enjoy"

    ????

    Last I checked I was as Canadian as back bacon and Shania Twain

    This is a land mark film one of the all time greats.
    Life is change. Built models for decades.
    Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
    I didn't for a long time either.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by les Brains View Post
      "One of the all time classic war films that most people, except Canadians really enjoy"

      ????

      Last I checked I was as Canadian as back bacon and Shania Twain

      This is a land mark film one of the all time greats.
      My understanding of the Canadian complaint of this film is that, while they played a significant role in D-Day at Juno Beach, they are not portrayed in the film at all. Even though the Free French, Resistance, Germans, Americans, And British are all represented well.

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      • #4
        No biggie, we Canadians all know we went further inland on D-Day than anyone else

        But I'm used to being clumped in as 'part of the British'
        Life is change. Built models for decades.
        Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
        I didn't for a long time either.

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        • #5
          I like commentaries but I rarely watch them all the way through. Usually I just skip to a favorite scene and listen to what the directors had to say about it.
          A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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