“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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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Arvid Nelson is a strong writer, I really like his work, and leave it to him to flesh out one of Robert Howards more underwritten, stereotyped characters. Plus fantastic covers!
It’s one of the books I would recommend picking up the slims (individual issues) over the graphic novel if you can find them. If not grab the graphic novel here: Robert E. Howard Presents Thulsa Doom SC!
Three Best Werewolf Movies available on Archive.Org!
I like big WereWolf movies and I cannot lie!
That sounded much better as a rap song, Anyhow, I do happen to have a fondness for Werewolf movies.
And this being the age of torture porn, and slasher flicks, and zombie movies (none of which I like)… good werewolf flicks are not that prevalent. Unlike many I did quite enjoy Joe Johnstone’s recent WOLF-MAN.
Unfortunately, at this rate it means one good werewolf movie every decade or so (sorry TWILIGHT and UNDERWORLD, not really interested).
Well for those who have seen all the classic wolf flicks (AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, HOWLING, WOLFEN) and are seeking something to tide them over try these obsure, little seen flicks available on Archive.org. While not exactly good, stick with em, they rise above their flaws :
WEREWOLF IN A GIRL’S DORMITORY- A zero budget film, sprinkled with sizeable amounts of bad acting. That said there is one actor who gives a compelling performance, some interesting mad scientist elements, and some interesting makeup. Worth a look. Grade: Has its moments. View it here.
WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON- Dean Stockwell who spent his early career playing annoying, conflicted characters is true to type in this zero budget horror flick. Comes off as more the rushes of a film, rather than a finished film. At times laughably bad film. Horror drama as political farce. The Werewolf meets Dr. Strangelove. I know this is one movie Dean Stockwell wishes did not exist. The telephone booth scene being so ludicrous it’s laughable.
I cannot decide if this flick is going for brainless or brilliant, at times both. The licking the midget scene at the feet of Frankenstein was just too bloody much for me!! Add to that a cage-match on the White house lawn?!?
What possessed Stockwell to think this film was a good career choice is beyond me. And is it me or does that President remind you of Bush? A bad movie, that should be at least fast forwarded through. : ). ”Get back people! He may be the President but he’s still a Human Being!”
I have never hated the beginning of a movie more, written it off, and been captivated by the last hour! I wrote most of this review before reaching the end of THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON. It really turns on a dime, and becomes a film that laughs at itself, and at you. That’s not quite right. It’s not comedy so much as satire, and by the end, very effective satire. Give it a look, I think it may grow on you.
Grade: It may take an effort, but if you can make it through the incomprehensible and pitiable first 40 minutes, the third act, may just salvage it for you as it did for me. I’ll go so far as to say that by the end of the film, I was quite entertained. View it here.
WEREWOLF WOMAN- Softcore exploitation flick, it actually transcends its meager budget, and suspect direction, to have some heart, and some care, and some tragedy. It’s more than you think. There’s a sinister thread to it, a broken morality, a fragmented picture of… abuse begetting abuse. Grade: This movie surprisingly transcends its limitations. And it has stayed with me long after seeing it. Which is more than I can say for most films today. Of the three, it’s the one I wouldn’t mind having a nice DVD version of (Well this and WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON). Your mileage may vary. View it on Archive.org and decide for yourself
[Quick Update: WEREWOLF WOMAN has been removed, like too many movies, from Archive.org. There is a Shriek Video DVD available here, but most reviews state that the Shriek DVD is sub-par, and recommends rather searching out a DVD offered by a Japanese label.]
Working on the next MONARCHS OF MAYHEM in-between real life stuff, it’s going to come out tomorrow 14 Mar 2012, just because it’s going to take more hours to get ready. These posts take a LONG time, In the interim enjoy the following:
And wrapping up my favorite AVENGERS covers from the original series, is pretty easy. Because after 1977, with very few exceptions the covers are just uninteresting at best and plain awful at worst. Much like the book itself, it was just stumbling from weakness to weakness.
Here then are the best covers in the last 20+ years of the books original run:
It says a lot that the numbers jump over a hundred issues, before I list another cover. And this is gimmicky mess, but it was better than all the previous 100 covers. It just clarifies how bad the book got.
So needless to say you want great AVENGERS covers (and comics) stick to issues #181 and before. At least for the first Volume.
In 1998 creators Kurt Busiek and George Perez would launch a new AVENGERS series that largely just pays homage to the great years of the series, You can look at them almost as a remake of the Jim Shooter and George Perez run, that I mentioned in the previous post. But it’s done well enough by Busiek and Perez to be entertaining in its own right.
And then later would come the Bendis’ years, But that is a story for another installment.
Revisit the earlier posts here:
Maurice Broaddus is the editor of the acclaimed DARK FAITH anthology (Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Black Quill nominated, with the 2nd one on the way)as well as the writer of the THE KNIGHTS OF BRETON series. He in addition is a prolific short story and non-fiction writer. And given all his responsibilities he was kind enough to play hooky long to provide the following great answers to my inane questions. Enjoy!
And for those of you new to Maurice Broaddus he has a pretty wild bio. It’ll put a smile on your face. Here’s part of it:
“Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic”. He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight.
When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons … when they are not solving murder mysteries.
The way he sees is, as a fiction writer, he’s a professional liar.”
That’s only the beginning, it gets a lot better, read the whole thing at his website bio link listed at the bottom of this post. It’s hilarious. Now without further ado, onto the questionnaire…
HT: What is your favorite genre or genres?
MB: I’m a huge fan of the crime genre. Walter Moseley, Elmore Leonard, George Pelecanos, when I’m reading for fun, this is typically what I’m reading.
HT: What is the favorite thing you’ve written?
MB: The favorite thing that I’ve written might be a story called “Dream Weaver”. It was among the first five stories I ever wrote. It’s completely unpublishable. I’d have to rewrite it from scratch for it to even see the light of day. But I have an odd fondness for it. As for stuff actually published, it’s all upcoming. A three way tie between “The Cracker Trap” (in an upcoming issue of Shroud Magazine), “Under a Concrete Hill” (in an upcoming issue of Bull Spec magazine), or Lyta’s Dance (a children’s fantasy book that is currently being illustrated).
HT: Name 5 classic or genre writers who inspire or impress or influence you?
MB: Toni Morrison. Neil Gaiman. Michael Chabon. Kelly Link. Jeffrey Ford.
HT: Name some current or new writers, whose work you’ve recently read or discovered and that blew you away.
MB: N.K. Jemison. Saladin Ahmed. Ekaterina Sedia. Genevieve Valentine.
HT: Name 2 or 3 of your favorite horror short stories.
MB: Jack Ketchum’s “The Box”. Gary Braunbeck’s “Rami Temporales”.
[I had never read either of these stories, but you can read Gary Braunbeck's story here!]
HT: Anthologies are usually theme based, so you have your Poe anthologies, or Lovecraft etc. If you could do a short story for such an anthology, if you could decide/choose, what would the anthology be about?
MB: I actually have the luxury of doing an anthology. Dark Faith (Apex Books) explores the intersection of faith and genre as I had fantasy, horror, and science fiction authors write stories that turned on the idea of faith (no matter what that looked like). After the success of the first one, I’m currently putting together Dark Faith 2.
HT: Name 5 Favorite films, horror or otherwise.
MB: Do the Right Thing, Pulp Fiction. L.A. Confidential. Big Fish. Blazing Saddles. Amelie, Good luck trying to piece together my personality based on that list!
HT: What do you think can or should be done to get more writers of color producing genre fiction?
MB: I think we’re on an exciting cusp of writers of color exploding on the scene. As I was coming up, I could point to Chester Himes, Charles Saunders,Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, or Tananrive Due. But as I look around, we see the success of N.K. Jemison, Chesya Burke, Wrath James White, Nnedi Okafora, L.A. Banks, Linda Addison, Kaaren Lord, Nisi Shawl, (and I’m just scratching the surface). As more folks see that it can and, more importantly, IS being done, more will pursue it.
HT: While book sales have been steadily declining, specialty presses such as Subterranean and Centipede Press continue to sell out of their lavishly illustrated, high quality tomes/reissues of writers of weird fiction. Proving that even in the age of ebooks there is an unlessened demand for collectible books with spot illustrations and/or art-books. So keeping this in mind a/what are some of your favorite book covers and b/what artist would you like to do a cover and spot illustrations for one of your books?
MB: I’ve been blessed to have artists like Steve Stone (the Knights of Breton Court urban fantasy series) and Steve Gilberts (my horror novella, Devils Marionette, as well as the art accompanying my story “Rainfall” in the recent issue of Cemetery Dance) illustrate my work. That being said, I’d love to have a cover done by John Picacio.
[Steve Stone's cover for KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT III is fantastic!!]
HT: And finally in closing with a little less than 11 months left in 2012, what are you looking forward to?
MB: I’m such a fanboy, I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers movies!
MB, Great answers! Thanks for taking the time to provide these informed and insightful responses. Lots of stuff even I haven’t tried. But I’ve created a bunch of links to get myself and other interested readers up to speed. Thanks and look forward to reading your upcoming stories and books!
Oh and one more bit from MB’s bio:
“Speaking of which, he’s married to the lovely Sally Jo and spends as much time possible with his two sons, Maurice the Second (giving him an excuse to retroactively declare himself “Maurice the Great”) and Malcolm X (named before realizing his son would be blond and blue eyed).”
Come on! That’s hilarious!
To read his complete bio, and more hilarity go here!
And to purchase any of his books in e-format go here!
Unless you’re an old fashioned paper guy like me, in that case go Here to buy his books!
And tell’em HT sent ya! And HELLS COMING WITH ME!!! oh… sorry. Just re-watched TOMBSTONE and I’m all hyped up!
p.s. the schedule for the other MONARCHS OF MAYHEM has changed because these posts take a LONG DARN TIME to do! So yeah will need to space these out a bit more. But keep your eyes peeled (what exactly does that saying even mean?!) for the next wacky, fun, hernia inducing installment!!