A film’s commentary track is meant to be a welcome addition to the movie, with filmmakers, critics, producers, and talent adding their voice to the pool in order to allow film buffs an insightful look into the filmmaking process. Unfortunately, many commentary tracks fall short of this goal. Fortunately, there are plenty that legitimately add value to the DVD releas and some are even more enjoyable than the film itself. So check out our list of 5 movie commentary tracks that your really shouldn’t miss.
“Clerks” (10th Anniversary Edition)
Over the years, Kevin Smith has become known as much more than just a filmmaker-he is, first and foremost, a film fan. He made his films not to become rich and famous, but because he wanted to be part of the industry that is so dear to him. His speaking shows have become as popular as his movies, and his commentary, along with the stars and producer of the film, feels as much as one of his talking shows as a DVD extra. During the film, Smith and company exchange anecdotes and fill the fan in on little details that film buffs love to know about. Be sure to pick up the 10th Anniversary Edition, as the first commentary track on the earlier release isn’t nearly as good.
While “Citizen Kane” is widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made, that doesn’t immediately qualify its commentary track as anything special. What gets it on the list is Roger Ebert, one of the greatest and most insightful movie reviewers ever and a huge “Citizen Kane” fan. Ebert avoids commentating on whether the film is good or not and sticks to the interesting facts and insights that film buffs ache for-from little details the casual viewer may miss to production notes that add depth to the film itself.
Star Malcolm McDowell and historian Nick Redman share duties on this classic’s commentary, but most of the work comes from McDowell’s side. His personal reflection is as brilliant as his energy even despite the fact that he gets a few of his facts wrong during the process (his errors are few and far between). But more important to many film buffs, especially fans of “A Clockwork Orange,” are the personal stories that McDowell offers of Stanley Kubrick, an auteur the world sorely misses.
“Brazil” is one of the most storied productions in the history of film thanks to the production company’s decision to try and ruin the movie. Although it took a bitter battle to get things right, director Terry Gilliam doesn’t let that get in the way of having a romping good time detailing how the film was made, what mistakes he made along the way, what he sees (and what he doesn’t see) as symbolism in the film, and a whole lot more. This commentary track is not just insightful to lovers of “Brazil,” but should be a must-listen for any fan of Terry Gilliam.
“Sidewalks of New York”
Just because a film wasn’t a blockbuster doesn’t mean it isn’t significant, and this Edward Burns movie is one of the stronger independent films to be released this century. The commentary track recorded by Burns is a 101 course in guerilla filmmaking; not especially insightful for people that have been in and around the industry but full of information for people interested in getting their feet wet without knowing how. It seems odd to think that a film with a $1 million budget could be considered small, but when it’s being shot with New York as one of the major characters it makes sense. Whether it’s working with the location director to find places close to home or revealing that Rosario Dawson couldn’t open the door to her character’s home because they didn’t have permission to be there (or a permit to film), this commentary shouldn’t be missed by anyone looking to start a career in movie magic.