It should be pretty clear to even the casual reader at this point that the cinetrix is an unabashed geek. Which is why what I'm about to cop to you may find shocking. Blasphemous, even.
See, I don't understand DVD commentary tracks. Making of's, behind the scenes, allegedly hiLARious outtakes and flubs, trailers, music videos--I get all that. It's all part of the great wheel of synergy, and even second units and still photogs must get paid. If we're talking Criterion, the extras on offer often include fascinating archival stuff thought lost in the mists of time. Even the dross on the worst Hollywood blockbuster can remind you that some misguided soul once thought this was a good idea, or at least that Jackie Chan has broken more bones than most people can name.
But commentary tracks? I thought the whole reason for watching movies at home [well, aside from the relaxed dress code] is, you know, no jackasses talking through the movie. It's just you and the illusion of motion on the screen, the way nature intended.
What sets apart the cinema as a medium is "show, don't tell." If you're moved to tell me, "ha ha, this is great because," then maybe you didn't do your job. And maybe you should go stand over there, in that corner, and think about what you've done wrong. Silently. Otherwise, you're essentially the recorded equivalent of that prating asshole who took his 10-year-old to Apocalypse Now Redux and tried, not so sotto voce, to explain to him the cultural significance of Dennis Hopper. Not only are you perpetuating bad moviegoing etiquette into the next generation, no one can explain that, at any volume, pal. So shut up before I embarass you in front of your kid, who didn't want to see what happened to those Playmates in the "new" second sequence because he's 10, "cool dad." I hate you.
Where was I?
Commentary tracks on classic films can be even worse than your basic American Pie 12 ["We went through 12 Bundt cakes to get that shot!"] talk schlockfest. I mean, Noah Baumbach? I love you, kid. The Fesser still invokes your "Shouts and Murmurs" piece and laughs til he weeps. But who elected you keeper of the Sullivan's Travels flame? Was there a plebescite? Did you have a free afternoon? Go to school with a guy? Because I tried it once, listening to a commentary track, and while Baumbach and his fellow blatherers [Christopher Guest and Michael McKean among them] were smart, respectful, and clearly loved the movie, everything you need to know was put on the screen by Sturges.
If it's not there on the screen, the less said the better, OK? If it is, respectful silence is just good manners. Now, hush.
[Aspiring auteurs can record their "j'accuse" and whatnot in my commentary track, which the rest of you are free to enable or not. As for me, I'll be watching a movie. And if I want trivia, I'll read a book.]