DID YOU READ

What happened to DVD special features?

What happened to DVD special features? (photo)

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Brian Collins over at Badass Digest has written a good piece about a subject that’s been troubling me lately: disappearing DVD special features. His “The Slow Death Of DVD Special Editions” identifies the recent lack of quality and depth in DVD and Blu-ray releases. And he’s absolutely right when he says:

“Nowadays, beyond the occasional big ticket item like the ‘LOTR’ or ‘Star Wars’ films, you almost never see these sort of mammoth sets anymore, particularly for horror movies. Most of them don’t even have actual special editions — as terrible as it was, ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’ was one of the bigger hit horror films of 2010, yet its DVD only has a few deleted scenes and a generic making of along with Blu-ray exclusive features (brief interview/behind the scenes snippets). No commentary, no in-depth documentary, etc. Compare that to the special edition DVD of Platinum Dunes’ equally successful ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ from six years before, which had three commentaries and hours of material (spread across two discs), including a documentary about Ed Gein! For twenty bucks, you got a set that would take nearly a full day to go through in its entirety, plus crime scene photos and things like that. Now, you can be done with the (disc-only) ‘Nightmare’ set in about three hours or so, which costs the same amount.”

Collins identifies the rise of online movie streaming through services like Netflix as the leading factor in the death of DVD special editions. Unquestionably, it’s an important one. Wonderfully convenient as they are, streaming video sites like Netflix don’t offer special features. There are a few exceptions: you can follow your Netflix Instant viewing of “The Expendables” with “Inferno: The Making of ‘The Expendables,'” for example. But those exceptions are few and far between. If you want to watch “Insidious” — one of the best horror movies of the year — on Netflix, you’ll have to do so at the sake of missing its DVD special features. Then again, those special features are so paltry (a Horror 101 seminar with the filmmakers, a brief behind-the-scenes documentary, and a featurette about the film’s ghosts) it might be a sacrifice worth making. The same goes for Amazon Prime. Ditto iTunes movie rentals.

If you’re still using Netflix’s DVD rental business, you’ve no doubt noticed the disappearance of special features there as well. Most Netflix discs of major new releases no longer include the supplements; clicking on them in the onscreen menus brings you to a disclaimer instructing you to buy the film for the full experience. Given that sort of teasing marketing technique, you’d think it would be in the studios’ best interests to continue to deliver high-end supplements to encourage purchases. But as Collins notes, that just isn’t the case.

The bad economy and the decline of the DVD and Blu-ray markets, probably have as much to do with the problem as people’s streaming habits. Companies are cutting back wherever they can, and I suspect smaller rosters of supplements and fewer 2 or 3 disc DVDs and Blus are a direct result. Factor in the nature of online viewing and the fact that less and less people have the opportunity to consume special features, and you’re left with an artform in decline.

It’s particularly a shame because of the potential for new and innovative supplements on Blu-ray. Just a few years ago, as Hollywood embraced this format, we got some very creative special features. For example, I love the “Crank’d Out” mode on the “Crank: High Voltage” Blu-ray, which gives you a video commentary by the filmmakers which you can put either full-screen or picture-in-picture with the movie and includes mini making-of documentaries that branch out from the main feature. Zack Snyder made some interesting video commentaries as well. Lately, when we do get special features on Blu-rays, they seem far more pedestrian.

Experimentation apparently isn’t considered a good investment anymore. That’s a shame. Even though they’re getting rarer and rarer, special features just don’t feel as special anymore.

Do you miss the heyday of DVD special editions? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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