Generally bad idea


DVD commentary tracks are a wonderful thing. When they’re good, they make for an entertaining viewing experience separate from the film itself. The bad ones are an effective sleep aid, since there’s nothing quite as soporific as a director who essentially narrates his entire film in a disinterested monotone.

I have a lot of foreign movies in my collection. The obsessive collector in me gets great personal satisfaction in procuring items that are rare or difficult to find, and this certainly carries over into DVDs. While Hong Kong flicks have always had a healthy import market here, gems from Korea, India, Russia still exist in something of a titillating “off-limits” world, ripe for harvest.

Once upon a time, these movies didn’t have much in the way of special features. However, as the DVD market in these countries has caught up with the U.S., a lot of great extra material has crept into the discs. Deleted scenes, commentaries, documentaries — a lot of the same stuff you’ll find on your average American blockbuster hit. Since they’re usually not subtitled in English, however, I haven’t actually watched any of it. Until tonight.

A grand experiment: Korean DVD of a Korean movie, played with the director’s commentary track (in Korean), with Korean subtitles on-screen. I know some Korean, right? No problem. Only, I really know enough to get about 10% of what’s going on, and so does my viewing partner. It’s pride (or shame?), and a growing, morbid fascination with the situation prevents either party from revealing this fact to the other during the film.

A home video version of the Emperor’s New Clothes. A study in the absurd.

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  • benlau

    I nominate Peter Bogdanovich for Most Boring Commentary for a Feature Film for The Cat's Meow.

  • I have to say that I wonder if a similar phenomenon is going on whenever I'm watching a Peter Greenaway film.

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