Thursday, September 19, 2002

There's a short interview with writer/director Cameron Crowe from Empire Magazine, in which he discusses puting together the DVD commentary track for Jerry Maguire. This particular commentary is with Crowe and the main actors for the film. When told in the interview that some actors (Schwarzenegger) now demand payment for commentaries, Crowe laughs.

Personally there are few things I have less desire to hear than what Arnold has to say about his movies. I have enjoyed a few of his movies, but what I am interested about is how the movie was made, not the motivation of the actors or the characters. I love commentary tracks, and I am always interested in what the film-makers think, but with a few exceptions I don't give a shit about the actors' thoughts. (One exception was another Cameron Crowe movie, Say Anything.... I would have been very upset if the commentary had not featured John Cusack in this case. Of course the distributors of this film in the PAL world released it without the commentary, but..). I think the best commentaries generally have two of the film-makers (in many instances the writer and the director) talking about the film. In some cases the director talking on his own works well, but generally interaction is good. However, not always. The Princess Bride has separate commentaries from director Rob Reiner and writer William Goldman. The reason they are separate is presumably because Reiner lives in Los Angeles and Goldman is a devoted New Yorker, but surely it could have been possible to get them together for a morning. ( Stephen Soderbergh has generally got it right with his films, as most of his films have a commentary track of him talking to the writer. He has described commentary tracks as "The best film school around" or somethink like that, and he fills them with little details. Plus they are pretty no holds barred. (In the commentary on The Limey, writer Lem Dobbs spends quite a considerable time explaining all the things Soderbergh did wrong. The comments are interesting because the criticisms are generally fair, and it's a terrific film anyway. Soderbergh also clearly doesn't like the solo commentary, because on DVD of the one major film he both wrote and directed (Sex, Lies, and Videotape) he spends the commentary track talking about the film with another director. (Neil Labute). This commentary is a trifle self-indulgent, actually. Soderbergh spends a portion of it cringing about things that he would have done differently if he was more experienced. Labute responts by complimenting Soderbergh on what a fine film he made anyway. (Labute is right. The film holds up to the passing of a few years extremely well).

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