The best DVD commentaries

When it comes to books, games and music I’m often happiest away from the bright lights of the charts, exploring dark, dusty corners of the catalogue. Film, though… I never seem to enjoy going beyond big budget megahits. I’ve fallen asleep in every single one of Pedro Almodovar’s films.

These three threads (one, two, three) on the always excellent Ask Metafilter feature people recommending their favourite DVD commentaries, and sound like they might inspire me to be a more considerate and appreciative student of film. The posts are worth reading in their entirety, but the following were consistently recommended:

  • Spinal Tap ( “This Is Spinal Tap is pretty excellent- the cast does their commentary in character, complaining about how the movie was a hatchet job. It’s sort of like having a whole new Spinal Tap movie” – COBRA!)
  • Ghostbusters
  • Roger Ebert’s commentaries on Citizen Kane and Dark City
  • Various seasons of The Simpsons and Futurama
  • John Carpenter and Kurt Russell on both Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China

I can’t stand Wes Anderson’s films – tedium that mistakes faux-depressed self-regard for genuine self-revelation – but I liked thirteen’s description of how to listen/watch a film with commentary:

“I find the commentary tracks on the Criterion Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaum DVD’s to be very relaxing. I know the movies backwards and forwards, and Wes Anderson’s voice is good company when I am drawing late at night. Plus his observations are often things perpendicular to the movie so it feels more like what you would talk about at a party than what he is trying to do in a scene.”

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