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.

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WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

I looked at both the Amazon Bestseller List for the week and the New York Times Bestseller list for the week.

While I found the NY list more interesting than the Amazon list, both were a bit more miss than hit for me. The majority of their items wouldn’t be on my purchase list. What would be?

Glad you asked. Behold:

Dogsbody[Paperback] – Book Description
Publication Date: April 12, 2012
The Dog Star, Sirius, is tried – and found guilty – by his heavenly peers for a murder he did not commit. His sentence: to live on the planet Earth until he can carry out a seemingly impossible mission – the recovery of a deadly weapon known as the Zoi. The first lesson Sirius learns in his lowly earthly form is that humans have all the power. The second is that even though his young mistress loves him, she can’t protect either of them. The third – and worst – is that someone out there will do anything to keep Sirius from finding the Zoi. Even if it means destroying Earth itself. This funny, heartbreaking, stunning book features an introduction by Neil Gaiman, an avid fan of Diana Wynne Jones.

Fire and Hemlock [Paperback] Publication Date: April 12, 2012
Polly Whittacker has two sets of memories. In the first, things are boringly normal; in the second, her life is entangled with the mysterious, complicated cellist Thomas Lynn. One day, the second set of memories overpowers the first, and Polly knows something is very wrong. Someone has been trying to make her forget Tom – whose life, she realizes, is at supernatural risk. Fire and Hemlock is a fantasy filled with sorcery and intrigue, magic and mystery – and a most unusual and satisfying love story.

Widely considered to be one of Diana Wynne Jones’s best novels, the Firebird edition of Fire and Hemlock features an introduction by the acclaimed Garth Nix – and an essay about the writing of the book by Jones herself.

About the Author
Diana Wynne Jones was the multiple award-winning author of many fantasy novels for children, teenagers, and adults. Her book Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an Academy Award-nominated major animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki. She received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Married to the medievalist J. A. Burrow, with whom she had three sons, she lived for many years in Bristol, the setting for many of her books. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in March 2011, after a long illness.

The Incredible Adventures of Doc Atlas: The Doc Atlas Omnibus (Doc Atlas Omnibus) – Publication Date: October 7, 2011 | Series: Doc Atlas Onmibus
Set in the era of the 1940s and 50s, this collection of pulp-style novellas follows the adventures of the mighty Doc Atlas and crew from the jungles of Central America to the frozen tundra of the North Pole. Whether they’re prowling the streets of Manhattan, investigating reports of a killer gorilla (with the purported brain of an executed criminal) or a crashed flying saucer in a small town named Roswell, New Mexico, Doc and company always see the investigation through to the end. Written with historical hindsight, these tales combine the best elements of the pulp era with actual historical figures and events.
I’m not a Doc Savage fan. So a Doc Savage homage, is generally not something that is going to get my attention. I would never even have stopped on the page, accept the cover. It had a striking Geoff Darrow cover. So that got me to stop, read the description and decide… yeah it sounds worth a look. And that would neveer have happened without a great cover. I can’t stress this enough, with ebooks and print on demand and specialty presses there is a lot of product and competition out there, make it easy and attractive for your book to stand out and get picked up… pay the money, get a great cover. I see so many books, and I’n a cover guy, so if you send me a book, and the cover looks like a two year old drew it, I don’t care how good the book is purported to be…, I’m just not going to take the time to read it. An awful cover, to me, shows a lack of concern on the writer’s part, for their product, not to package it as pleasingly as possible. And if the writer doesn’t care… why should I? So people, if you spend months or years on a book, don’t short-change yourself… spend the money and have a nice cover drawn up. And that’s exactly what writer Black and Lovato do with this book, and as you can see by me highlighting their title… having a good cover helps. It won’t make up for bad writing, but it will at least get people to open the book and judge for themselves the quality of the writing.

Tales from the Deed Box of John H. Watson, MD: Three Untold Tales of Sherlock Holmes– Publication Date: January 20, 2012
Three previously unknown accounts in the case files of Sherlock Holmes, discovered and transcribed by Hugh Ashton: The Odessa Business, the Case of the Missing Matchbox and The Case of the Cormorant.- I like these theme books, and Hugh Ashton’s stories are getting good reviews.

For other writers who do a fantastic job of writing original Holmes stories, some superior to the originals, I have to direct you to the fantastic audio dramas by the folks at IMAGINATION THEATRE. Jim French with wife Pat French since 1952 have been working in radio drama, and since 1995 with Transmedia have been producing and broadcasting IMAGINATION THEATRE.

Starring John Patrick Lowrie and John Gilbert as Holmes with Lawrence Albert as Dr. Watson, their long running Sherlock Holmes radio series is not just good Holmes, it’s one of the best adaptation of Holmes… period. Better than the BBC productions, better than the Downey movies, better than the new Sherlock tv series (SACRILEGE!!!).

In fact there are only two other adaptations I rate as highly, the Jeremy Brett television series… which is seminal entertainment, and (not the Rathbone radio series) the John Shirley 1940s radio series when written by two particular writers whose names are escaping me at the moment. But that’s it, those two and French’s adaptations, a Californian, An American production, are the tops.

French’s IMAGINATION THEATRE, for hundreds of weeks, producing quietly without the attention it deserves the best Holmes Original stories and Adaptations, of our time.

I wish however they would put together thematic sets of their Holmes audio dramas. They have a fantastic 3 or 4 episodes with a villain, that transcends Moriarty in terms of craziness, but it is spread over multiple seasons. They need to make that trilogy/quadrilogy a boxed collection onto itself, and that would make a fantastic introduction to IMAGINATION THEATRE and their Holmes dramas.

But do they listen to me… no. Oh well, until such time as they do, make do with the following:

Jim French Holmes Productions

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Volume 1

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The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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Quote of the Day: from THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY FRANCES CARFAX

THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
A GRANADA TELEVISION PRODUCTION
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY FRANCES CARFAX
DRAMATIZED BY T.R. BOWEN

The best line from this Sherlock Holmes’ story, isn’t actually in the story and wasn’t written by Conan Doyle in 1911 when it originally appeared in the Strand Magazine (And later to be collected in HIS LAST BOW). The best line is in the 1984 Granada Television adaptation of the story, starring the brilliant Jeremy Brett and written by the definitive Holmes’ dramatist… the great T.R. Bowen and goes thusly:

Peters: I don’t believe you’d use that (referring to the gun Watson has pointed at him) on an unarmed man, Doctor.

Watson: I was a soldier in India, Sir. I’ve shot nobler creatures than you.

God that is such a great line.

I love the Brett television series, and I say this not being a Conan Doyle fan.

I don’t dislike Conan Doyle’s work, but I’m not particularly wowed by his writing either. I’ve read many of his stories and own the brilliant THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES by Leslie S. Klinger, and I don’t think his stories are particularly timeless or exceptional, I think in many cases they are very formulaic and repetitive and a bit too mired in the jingoism and other isms of their time.

However what is brilliant and novel, is the germ of Doyle’s idea, the central conceit of these very remarkable characters, this odd duo poised against crime. The character of Holmes and Watson (particularly as developed in the television series where they expand his role, and give him real weight) and Victorian London are large enough to continue to capture and inspire our imaginations. Are large enough to be built on. Iconic enough.

Iconic enough that great writers like T.R. Bowen can flesh out these stories, and make the whole, the equal of its parts, and often superior to its parts.

Check out my previous review of a TR Bowen Holmes Adaptation, by searching my blog for mentions of Sherlock.

Movie Review: THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR… The best SHERLOCK HOLMES Film?!

This article/review Copyright 2011-2012 Masai Inc.

THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR was the fifth and last of the feature length Sherlock Holmes’ movies, produced by Granada Television and WGBH Boston, starring the great Jeremy Brett and the talented Edward Hardwicke it is also seen as the capper to the third series of Sherlock Holmes, “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes” (Not quite correct since the source story is actually part of Doyle’s 1st short story collection, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES).

While I intend to do an overview of the entire venerated and venerable series in an upcoming installment, for this post I wanted to cover this specific episode, that left quite an impression on me, THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR.

Available either in boxed set containing all the Jeremy Brett episodes, not the cheapest thing on the planet but considering it is the complete collection, over 2500 minutes of (without argument from me) the finest film interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, and comes with commentaries and booklet it is HIGHLY recommended (Make sure you are buying from a reputable seller, as there are low quality copies out there without commentaries or booklet). Or if you just want the ELIGIBLE BACHELOR DVD, there’s a link for that as well.

If you’re going to purchase please click on the respective DVD images below. Your DVD collection will thank you, and this blog can always use the 2 cents (And I only recommend items I personally own, and think are great).

Enough schilling, now onto the review:

At the time of THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR’s filming, Early 1993 (It would air Feb 1993 in England and a year later, Feb 1994 in the States), Jeremy Brett had been playing, masterfully, the role of Sherlock Holmes for over Nine years. And would produce only 6 more Sherlock Holmes episodes, and two non-Holmes feature films prior to his death a scant two years later on 12 September 1995 at the age of 61.

Cause of death has been listed as iatrogenic congestive cardiac failure, which is a fancy way of saying medical incompetence. The medicine Brett was being given to treat his supposed Bi-polar disorder wreaked havoc with his, from a childhood sickness, already weakened heart. Though to be fair, no doubt Brett’s heavy smoking habit had no small part in his untimely demise.

What is unquestionable is that Brett’s appearance and the state of his health would take a quite noticeable and quite drastic turn for the worse in 1994, and is clearly seen in these last shows he left us. But like the driven, consummate professional he was, he soldiered on, to the last. Bringing, to the very end, a dedication that is only to be admired and marveled at.

But if one must pick an episode of Sherlock Holmes and a performance of Jeremy Brett from this latter period to hold up as great, as perfect denouement for a career and character… it would be the haunting and haunted ELIGIBLE BACHELOR.

This episode is selected for various reasons, the foremost being….

Well, let’s stop there. I think that gives you a pretty good taste of why this is one of the most popular articles on this blog. The Full, huge,jam packed 2800 word!!! review/article is available either in PDF format(great for laptops and desktops) or Epub (perfect for tablets and ereaders) format. Very low cost for this popular article, and your purchase is GREATLY APPRECIATED and helps me keep producing content on this blog.

So ONLY $4.99 for this great reading material/content. Oh you know you want it. 🙂 So Use the paypal button below (it’ll take you to paypal to make payment), once payment is received the full article will be emailed to you (please specify if you want PDF or EPUB). Thanks for looking and supporting and please enjoy! Thanks!

This article/review Copyright 2011-2012 Masai Inc.