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The Ultimate Dream DVD Commentaries

The Ultimate Dream DVD Commentaries (photo)

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Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel, hosts of the DVD Afternoon podcast, were nice enough to invite me on their show to talk about podcasting and film criticism and assorted other topics. We closed our conversation, which you can listen to here, with a topic so intriguing I thought it was worth extra discussion: dream DVD commentaries. In other words, if time, space, and technology were no obstacle, what people would you like to hear discuss what films in DVD commentary form?

Paul, Heather, and I had some interesting choices, and you can hear them all on the podcast. When I sat down to pick my three choices, I decided to go against anything too super obvious to spice up the show. But I have no problem leaving this blog post unspiced, and my initial shortlist included a lot of highly desirable but totally impossible gimmes. There’s plenty of great possibilities for Classic (But Dead) Filmmakers Exploring Their Most Important Work, from Orson Welles on “Citizen Kane” to Billy Wilder on “Double Indemnity” to Walt Disney on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” or Buster Keaton on “Sherlock Jr.” Of course those would be great. But we can go deeper.

All of my picks on the podcast wound up being in the subcategory that The A.V. Club calls Commentary Tracks of the Damned, tracks for flops, failures, and camp classics. Since so many DVD commentaries are backslapping lovefests, I treasure the ones where filmmakers wrestle with their work publicly, explaining their questionable creative choices and revealing the places where studio heads or censors impinged on their work. For example, as part of my 25 Oldest Looking Teenagers piece, I just watched the commentary by director David Nutter on the film “Disturbing Behavior.” Though spoken through a somewhat rose-tinted microphone, Nutter’s commentary explains the various places where executives demanded changes, like the unwarranted happy, sequel-threatening ending. I wouldn’t recommend the movie by itself, but I would recommend the commentary.

DVD Afternoon co-host Heather brought up a good area for dream DVD commentaries I hadn’t even considered: Notoriously Troubled Productions. In reality it might be impossible to convince a director to record a commentary track for a movie that was taken away from him in the editing room, or an actor to talk about the movie he got fired from. But in the world of Dream DVD Commentaries anything is possible. I like the idea of using the power of God to lock people in a room together and forcing them to talk against their will about a film (admittedly, my ambitions as a deity are small in scope). How about a “Back to the Future” commentary track featuring Michael J. Fox and the guy he replaced as Marty McFly a month into production, Eric Stoltz? Or how about a group commentary by all three credited directors on “Gone With the Wind?” Or all six directors of the James Bond spoof “Casino Royale?” Or what about getting director Michael Cimino and former SVP of production for United Artists Steven Bach to sit down for all 219 minutes of the studio bankrupting flop “Heaven’s Gate?” I lament the fact that there are so few DVD commentaries that end with the contributors coming to blows.

The last area of impossible awesomeness is one I thought of after we stopped recording the podcast: Historical Figures On The Movies About Them. That’s another subgenre of commentary of which there are precious few examples. But how amazing would it be to hear Richard Nixon’s reactions to “All the President’s Men?” Or Mark Zuckerberg on “The Social Network?” Houdini on “Houdini?” Spartacus on “Spartacus?” Granted the first half hour of that last one would probably just be him flipping his wig over the concept of movies and television and DVDs and doors with hinges. But it’s a long movie.

Yes, this is all wasted breath and key strokes on things that can by definition never come to pass. But it’s fun to imagine the impossible sometimes. So how about it readers? What Dream DVD Commentary do you crave?

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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