TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 1 of 3!


“She loved me. That’s the root of the business. But she knew… she knew I thought more of my wife’s footprint in the mud, than I did of her body and soul.”
— A fantastic performance by Ciaran Hinds as Jim Browner, telling Holmes about the sister-in-law who connived to destroy his marriage, with tragic results. From THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES adaptation of THE CARDBOARD BOX.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series

In this age of streaming and Netflix, the DVD/Blu-ray is still the format of choice for those who want to do more than ‘see’ the movie, but explore it and enjoy it. I’m speaking of special features.

Specifically Director’s Commentaries.

As a rule I don’t purchase DVDs/Blu-rays, unless it is a movie or series I intend to watch more than once. And as such a director’s commentary is an essential part of the DVD for a film fan such as myself.

I can watch the DVD once for the program, then go back and watch it for the cast/crew insights into the film. So that said, what are the best DVD/Blu-ray commentaries?

Best is a problematic designation, so let’s go with favorite… here are my 15 favorite DVD commentaries:

Images
The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman’s IMAGES/THE LONG GOODBYE- I put these two films together as one, because they are Robert Altman at his most experimental, and to my mind, while not his biggest or most lavish or most acclaimed films, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE are his most interesting and stylish and surreal films (and they also sport two of the most amazing, experimental scores).

They are my favorite Altman films. And while endlessly watchable on their own, the excellent special features push them over the top. While not really a commentary, the films instead sport brief interviews with Robert Altman, but such informative and formative interviews. Altman gives a great insight into the division of labor between Director/Writer and Actor, and how as a writer a work is 2D, and it is incumbent on the actor and others to make it 3D, to bring it to life. Between the film and the interviews, it’s a class on film-making, for the price of a DVD.

And next…

Michael Mann and Tony Scott are two of my favorite directors, they make fantastic films, and their commentaries are full-on clinics in film-making. So just about any movie they make, I purchase as much for the commentaries… as the film. So you can easily fill a top ten or twenty list with just these two directors.

But for the sake of brevity we’ll limit each director to just one:

Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER [There are numerous DVD and Blu-ray versions of this film, but the link below is the only DVD that sports the Michael Mann DVD commentary.]
Manhunter (Restored Director’s Cut Divimax Edition)

[And as honorable mention check out Michael Mann's COLLATERAL, from covering using the digital camera to the landscape of mercenaries, to the actors, it is just a riveting commentary. Collateral (Two-Disc Special Edition)]

Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE showcases two excellent commentary tracks.
Man on Fire

Another one of my favorite directors is Werner Herzog, and his commentaries are always things of high drama and art onto themselves. Everyone of his films are worth owning as much, and in some cases more for his commentary. Just a fascinating director, and a fascinating man.

Like Mann and Scott, every one of his commentaries could fill a best of list, but again for the sake of brevity we’ll narrow it to one.

AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD- cause it’s always entertaining hearing him discuss Klaus Kinski

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski: A Film Legacy

Werner Herzog Collection

DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS- Put together a novel from one of my favorite writers, a few of my favorite actors, and one of my favorite directors in Carl Franklin, and you have a movie that makes anyone’s purchase list. Add a riveting commentary from director Carl Franklin, and you have DVD as film and film-experience.

Devil in A Blue Dress

And rounding out the first five for this list of 15 Favorite commentaries is

THE COMPLETE FARSCAPE- People who are fans of this show, a show that at its heart is this great love story, are fans because they are so connected to the characters that the actors and writers bring to life. Outside of possibly BABYLON 5, FARSCAPE is the most emotional and best acted show of the fantastic (Browder giving wrenching, award worthy performances). So the chance to reconnect with these shows, especially by listening to Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who obviously have as much chemistry off screen as they do on… is just a joy. Even lukewarm episodes of FARSCAPE, rare but they do exist, are made ‘must-haves’ by the commentary. A fantastic series, adorned with fantastic commentaries.

Farscape: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Farscape: The Complete Series

So that’s it for the first five favorite commentaries. Join me in the next installment as we cover #s 6-10! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries.

Frell! Frell! Frell! Thoughts on Season I – III of FARSCAPE Pt 2 of 2!

I just finished watching the season finale of FARSCAPE Season III, the episode entitled DOG WITH TWO BONES. In many ways the episode starts off with everything that has been wrong with season III, the meandering, unfocused, and often forced nature.

That said that ending of this particular episode is absolutely FANTASTIC! Much like the first season the creators draft this finale, not knowing if there would be a 4th season, and what an audacious, ballsy, and just absolutely merciless cliffhanger to end the season, and arguably the series on. Absolutely brilliant ending, that makes you shout at your tv!

Can you imagine how this hit people seeing this cliffhanger and not knowing if there would be a 4th season. Just takes a huge amount of gall, and balls to do something like that. And it helps an otherwise lackluster season go out with the audience definitely wanting more.

I just wish the writing could be strong throughout the episodes and the seasons, rather than just being impressive for cliffhangers.

But thankfully I have the whole series on DVD, so season 4 here I come!!

Frell! Frell! Frell! Thoughts on Season I – III of FARSCAPE Pt 1 of 2!

Frell!

Frell!

And effing Frell!

So as stated previously I bought the complete FARSCAPE on DVD. A series I have fond memories of from catching episodes of the 1st and 2nd seasons, during its initial run on SCI-FI.

Let me tell you, those two seasons don’t prepare you for the frelling train wreck that is the third season. What… the…. effing….eff?!!!

Talk about a show that is off the frigging rails.

The third season is so out there, uneven, often contrived and forced, and definitely often uncomfortable and frustrating, that you really, really have to give HUGE, HUGE, HUGE kudos to Sci-Fi Channel (back when it was named the Sci-Fi Channel, instead of the idiotic SyFy- I still say the moron who signed off on that name change should be effing stoned!) for sticking with this show, and giving it a fourth season.

Cause looking at the third season, I would have pulled the effing plug.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not horrible, and I’m glad there is a 3rd and 4th season, but there are a lot of episodes of Season III that I’m not crazy about.

I mean the first season was good, and hit its stride in the last several episodes, ending great, with a powerhouse performance by Ben Browder and a fantastic cliffhanger. Season 2 ratcheted it up quite a bit, building on the strength of season 1. Though by the season finale, they were pushing the melodrama a little hard, walking uneasily the line between brilliance and banality.

Unfortunately that uneven nature, and wild shifts in quality and storytelling would be the defining theme of Season 3. A season that had as much to dislike as to like.

That said you do have to admire just how imaginative and experimental that 3rd season was/is.