Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 May 2005


Lately I've felt, again, a desire to watch (or rather to listen to) audio commentaries on DVD's. Perhaps I am becoming interested in filmmaking itself or maybe I am more broadly fascinated by the artistic processes of other people. Filmmaking, especially, seems to me to be something requiring collaboration, but it also seems to be a medium where success and vision are things that actually can be achieved.
I have been obsessed with Merchant Ivory lately, as I have said, and so I have been watching everything I can on the Merchant Ivory DVD's I've been getting. The Criterion Collection has released 18 of their films under something they've called The Merchant Ivory Collection, and these DVD's look great and have some nice extras on them: most notably interviews with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory (and usually Richard Robbins as well). Very few have commentaries, but they all have these interviews as well as short films from the period or in the same vein. And I've been watching all the extras on these DVD's.
Last week I came home from work and watched The Householder, several interviews about The Householder and then I watched Merchant's first film The Creation of Woman and Ivory's second short The Sword and the Flute. By that time it was so late I had to go to bed.
Then the other day I finished watching Down by Law and noticed there was a Jarmusch interview on the DVD, so I just started listening to it. An hour had gone by before I snapped out of it.
I borrowed Heat and Dust from my boss the other day and I still haven't returned it because (unlike most of The Merchant Ivory Collection) this one has a commentary with Merchant, Greta Scacchi and Nickolas Grace. So I haven't given it back because I just have to watch it. (Obsession, remember.)
And then this morning, as is my usual custom on Saturdays, I watched a film: Paul Mazursky's first feature Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. It's really great and very Sixties and I am so interested in the making of it and so I turned on the commentary, which features Mazursky and Robert Culp and Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon. I started listening to it and then I just had to stop. I can't do it.
There are too many films to see. If I am going to commit to re-watching a film, I definitely want to listen to the commentary, but there are so many films I still haven't seen at all (For instance, I have Fellini's 8 1/2 and David Gordon Green's Undertow at the house right now, just waiting for me) and I need to watch those... not to mention all of the other films from decades past that I still haven't seen. I just can't justify re-watching a movie, no matter how good. There is too much I still need to see.