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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:11 pm 
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Mathew2468 wrote:
Nah... I can't remember any scholarly ones that needed to be so long.

Great rebuttal


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:44 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:40 pm
I was hoping I'd be given an example.

I haven't heard The Wild Bunch commentary but I've heard Stephen Prince's for Straw Dogs. I don't think the whole film is necessary and even if you have two hours of ideas I don't think it makes sense to confine yourself in that way. You're only trying to say something. But I still listen to them (don't worry!), I just almost always wish I didn't have to unless they're entertaining.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:00 pm 
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But you certainly weren't couching it that way. You were defying us to give you (impossibly) an example of a lengthy yet "justified" scholarly commentary you've already heard -- which 1) how should we know what you've heard and which 2) furthermore, in any case, you've already preemptively declared will not exist. Btw, for the record, I meant the Peckinpah scholars' group consisting of Paul Seydor, David Weedle, Nick Redman and Garner Simmons. I like Prince's work too, but their Straw Dogs track is only on the MGM U.K. disc. And part of the pleasure of listening to commentaries like these is hearing the scholars pipe up about small choices, odd bits of business, day players, line readings, singular images, etc. -- the sort of details that might not make the cut of a more rigorously dense and time-limited visual essay.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:05 pm 
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I mean, the obvious candidate here is Kalat- who ran rampant over the entire like 9 hours of the Mabuse trilogy without flagging in energy or quality of information once. Yes, in theory that could all have been done via visual essay, but a.) the restriction of the form can give rise to creativity, b.) 9 hours of visual essay wouldn't have fit on the discs, and c.) I suspect painstakingly picking images to go with everything you want to say instead of responding to a movie would take even longer than a nicely prepared, edited, screen specific commentary.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:09 pm 

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I didn't mean to be "defying" anyone, I was just being casually annoying which doesn't seem to work in writing and will probably get me the Richard Cranium award if I keep it up. The pleasures you speak of are the ones I get out of Zulawski's commentaries but not scholarly ones. I always expect them to be rigorously dense. I got nothing to say. I've heard the wrong ones.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:12 pm 
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I think it's also fair to say that one inherent quality/advantage commentaries have over visual essays is their ability to be digressive. Commentaries are much more like annotations in this regard -- there's nothing too small to remark on. I love a good Tag Gallagher visual essay as much as anyone. But there's no way he can tell us everything he notices or loves about a film in them.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:13 pm 
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100% seriously if you listen to David Kalat, David Forgacs, and Casper Tyberg and don't enjoy any of them, scholarly commentaries just might not be for you.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:13 pm 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
I mean, the obvious candidate here is Kalat

Why not give the forum award winning To Be or Not to Be commentary a try?

L'avventura also has a great one that helped me appreciate the film a lot more.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:25 pm 
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I agree with warren oates, the more freeform discussion between a number of commentators is absolutely fantastic when it is done well and a commentary track itself provides more leeway for digressions or tangents than a fully composed video piece may. Though video pieces have their own advantages too, such as being able to juxtapose scenes together to illustrate a point and manipulate the original imagery of the work in question in various other ways - I particularly like the Subjective Assault visual essay on the Clean, Shaven disc, and the value of both kinds of approaches to film criticism is best shown I think by those BFI releases of Peter Greenaway's work which features both commentaries (explaining ideas in the film) and video pieces (playing around with the images to create a different take on the same ideas).

In addition to the 'Peckinpah scholars' commentaries I would highly recommend any of the Kim Newman and Alan Jones commentaries for Dario Argento films (Blue Underground's release of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage and the UK disc of Suspiria), or the Kim Newman and Stephen Jones commentaries on I Walked With A Zombie (on The Val Lewton set) and Mark of the Vampire (on the Hollywood's Legends of Horror set) as being full of fascinating information along with analysis and discussion provoked by the unfolding film.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:04 am 

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Another issue, which I don't think has been mentioned yet, is that an audio only commentary is a whole lot easier to put together than a long visual essay, from a production standpoint.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:03 am 
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My favorite is the Danish film historian, Casper Tybjerg, who gives informative, often eloquent commentaries, on Dreyer's Joan of Arc (and has an essay in the MOC booklet) and on the Kino edition of Dreyer's Michael. I see he will also be doing commentary on Criterion's forthcoming Master of the House.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:34 am 
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He's also on Haxän and The Phantom Carriage as well as the BFI Day of Wrath.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:56 pm 
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He may not be an academic, but Guillermo del Toro's commentary on Vampyr is one of the best academic commentaries you'll come across.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:15 pm 
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One great commentary in the collection that doesn't get enough credit, I think, is Gary Giddens in Paths of Glory. Lots of neat facts. My two favorite highlights:

-Kirk Douglas apparently hated the way Timothy Carey played the scene as he's escorted in front of the firing squad, and had wanted it to be much more somber and calm.
-His analysis of the three officers being akin to a chess match in the General's office.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:22 pm 
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I loved the pair of academic commentators for the MofC 'Toni'
Carl Franklin for 'One False Move', and 'Devil'
The three commentators on the 'Touch of Evil' Special Edition DVD - esp. the one for the original version
The three commentators on the Criterion 'Seven Samurai'
The commentator for the Bava box-sets.
The Willem Dafoe-Greg Kinnear joint commentary for 'Auto-Focus'

Werner Herzog is a great raconteur: he'd be a wow on the after-dinner circuit


....that should be enough to be going on with! [cool]


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:55 pm 
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zedz wrote:
I'm exactly the same. There are some commentaries that drive me to get all sorts of long-ignored household jobs out of the way.

I guess now you know why the missus is always buying you Friedkin commentary DVDs for presents! :D


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:57 pm 
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Jean Pierre Jeunet

His English-language commentaries for Amelie, City Of Lost Children, Alien Resurrection, were limiting in content from him because of his limited English skills, so his French commentaries were always more lively and more enthusiastic.

But his English commentary for Micmacs was one that matches his French commentaries. His English has improved quite a lot, and gives a lot of funny, interesting info with barely any gaps.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:39 pm 
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Not commentary during the film, but there are two very good interviews as extras on the Minerva disc of Love in the City (1953).
Paolo Mereghetti contextualizes Zavattini's theory and approach. While detailing where this neo-realist project goes off the rails.
And Luca Bandirali makes an interesting case for the talents of musician-composer Mario Nascimbene, his theory of a neo-realist sound design and subsequent Hollywood career.
Both interviews are just talking heads, but are very informative and analytical.

Not mentioned in the Nascimbene extra was one very arresting use of sound. The mother walks to the gates of the religious institute where the son she abandoned the day before is being cared for, and we hear this sad funereal music. And then as she presses the door bell, the music stops abruptly and the buzzer pierces through. Quite effective how the music captures her subjective state, and then the harsh buzzer provides an objective complement. The sound design follows her musing about doing this unpleasant act and then reality intrudes as she does it. And all of this is filmed from inside the gates, so the bars look like she's in prison already ... In the discussion Bandirali talks about how Nascimbene tried to combine music cues with ordinary sounds to make an integrated sound texture for the film. And that is a perfect small example.

Anyway, I usually don't bother with extras, but gave a glance at these two and was very glad I did. Both of them could be watched either before or after viewing the short film compilation. The third interview is more general and less interesting.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:19 pm 
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I've never been fond of commentaries, more often than not they just seem to rehash the obvious, are too idiosyncratic to the speaker, contain a lot of filler or dead air. But after all the praises of David Kalat here, i decided to check a few out & am a convert. His commentaries are informative & engaging, definitely a bonus feature worth having.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:30 pm 
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If you enjoyed Kalat's style, then I'd recommend Tony Rayns, Christopher Frayling, Stephen Prince and Michael Jeck who follow a similar method (prepared essays told in an engaging way, with little to no dead air, avoiding just stating the obvious or narrating what's on screen).


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:04 pm 
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I would put David Forgacs, Casper Tybjerg, and Peter Cowie in that same circle.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:01 pm 
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I would also add Tim Lucas to the list, although I haven't listened to his most recent ones for Redemption, Arrow and BFI.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:58 am 
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EddieLarkin wrote:
If you enjoyed Kalat's style, then I'd recommend Tony Rayns, Christopher Frayling, Stephen Prince and Michael Jeck who follow a similar method (prepared essays told in an engaging way, with little to no dead air, avoiding just stating the obvious or narrating what's on screen).

Aside good points, Stephen Prince bastardizes Japanese pronunciation (unlike Tony Rayns who pronounces Japanese very well), and what Kalat has above all the others mentioned is the excitement when he talks. Rarely monotone, and changes in rhythm and cadence. He knows how to give a great presentation.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:14 am 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
I would put David Forgacs, Casper Tybjerg, and Peter Cowie in that same circle.

...with Forgacs possibly slightly edging it out of that trio. For instance, when he and Cowie went directly head to head on The Leopard (Cowie recorded the Criterion commentary, Forgacs the BFI), Forgacs was the runaway winner, largely because he's a professional specialist in the relevant historical/cultural/linguistic fields in a way that Cowie isn't.

And I think Forgacs' commentary on Arrow's The Conformist is pretty close to my benchmark for what a perfect critical commentary should be, in terms of both content and presentation.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:48 am 
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What are the thoughts of James Ursini's commentary for Out of the Past, which is being carried over to the blu?


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