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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"He's putting the hair away now."
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November 07 2010

Gimmicky commentary tracks - Dr Horrible's Commentary! The Musical. As featured on a list at The A.V. Club.

I think those two "Ultimate Matrix" commentary tracks might qualify as gimmicky and good candidates for the list. Those Wachowski's can really make some interesting choices. (As born out by "Speed Racer"--what the heck was that?) I liked both commentaries for making me view the films through different eyes. I liked the Ken Wilber/Cornell West one--despite it being a bit of a "love fest." I mean, how often do you get to hear two philosopher's (one eastern oriented, the other a classical western philosopher) analyzing a movie? Of course, it also made me think that maybe academic philosophers are not necessarily the best people to make to make films. ;-) ) And heh, it was kinda cool to listen to three critics with really valid arguments pick apart the two sequels and shred them into pieces. (I learned a bit about how to dissect a story.) They were so right about why the sequels didn't work as well as the first film.

I think all the best commentaries really are done by the people who craft the films and not the actors. (Unless it's Nathan. :-) ) I love it when they explain what all happens behind the green curtain. Usually for me, that means it's done by a writer, like in my favorite commentary for "Pirates of the Caribbean." Of course... my least favorite commentary was also done by a writer, Neil Gaiman for "Neverwhere." Talk about listening torture. The poor man had obviously no idea what to talk about whatsoever, and after explaining why the film looked so bad (video), and how the titles were amazingly done by Dave McKean on his simple Mac, spent pretty much the rest of the time narrating action by action what the viewer sees on the screen. *sigh* And I would have loved to hear how Neil constructs a story. I've learned so much from Joss and Co.
Writer/directors usually give the best non-gimmicky commentaries (David Koep's on 'Stir of Echoes' is a good one for instance) partly I suppose because they know the material backwards and forwards. And Joss' are almost the perfect balance of entertainment and information.

I thought 'Shaun of the Dead' was going to have the ultimate gimmicky commentary when I read "Zombie Commentary" on the box but it turned out that was just a commentary by the people who played the main zombies rather than 90 minutes of moans, grunts and unappetising eating sounds. 'A Cock and Bull Story' has a pretty good one featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon which might be (is IMO) a gimmicky commentary in as much as it's in character BUT the actors were playing themselves for most of the film and it seems to be the in-film 'themselves's that they play on the commentary (it's based on 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman'. 'Nuff said ;).

There're a couple on there that I own but haven't listened to (assuming i've got the right editions of the DVD) which is cool.

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