I was young and had no responsibilities when I discovered that the only way to see Tombstone in its original aspect ratio was on DVD, so I went out and bought a DVD player for the express purpose of seeing a favorite movie the way it had been filmed. Shortly thereafter, I began to discover bonus features. These are ten of my personal favorite DVD and Blu-ray bonus features.
Joel Schumacher looks directly into the camera and apologizes for making this disappointing Bat-movie. I wouldn’t recommend buying this just for the apology, but if you bought the Batman: Motion Picture Anthology box set you already have this. It gave me closure.
The unique feature here is Joe R. Lansdale reading the first chapter from his original novella. I love writers, and it’s not often they’re featured as prominently as Lansdale is here. Also entertaining is a secondary audio commentary by Bruce Campbell in character as “The King.”
It’s not even about Bullitt, but Warner Brothers included a terrific documentary here called The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing. I first happened upon The Cutting Edge when I saw I could stream it from Netflix. David Lean felt that it was necessary to be a great editor to be a good director, and who would know better about the topic than Lean? It’s rare that editing is discussed outside of textbooks and film classes, so if you have even a passing interest in the topic this is mandatory viewing.
All the bonus content Warner Brothers included is delightful, but it’s the pair of commentary tracks by Roger Ebert and Rudy Behlmer that really shine. Each brings a different perspective to appreciating the film. Ebert reminisces about discussing the film, shot-by-shot, with director of photography Arthur Edeson; Behlmer traces the evolution of the film’s story. Both are informative and engaging.
Three “Backstage Disney” featurettes are included, but it’s “Little People, Big Effects” that’s the gem. The narration is clearly intended for younger viewers but it doesn’t become patronizing. The focus of this piece is on how Disney created the illusion of Leprechauns, using elaborate sets and clever cinematography. These kinds of practical effects amaze me even more now that we’re in the era of CGI.
Included here is a 90-minute long documentary produced by Turner Classic Movies, Scorsese on Scorsese, in which the famed director discusses his filmography. Production anecdotes are presented alongside insights into the various stories told over the last few decades by what may be American cinema’s most enthusiastic storyteller. It is criminal that this feature was not ported over to the Blu-ray Disc release of The Departed.
Did you enjoy the chemistry between Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti in the film? If you didn’t, I can’t imagine you liked the movie at all. If you did, though, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll enjoy their commentary track. Thomas Haden Church shares some insights about lighting and cinematography, but the real appeal is the fun being had by the two actors. They’re as verbose as they are entertaining; people with limited vocabularies may find their conversation intimidating.
This release is chock full of fascinating stuff, and may be my favorite overall collection of bonus content in my library. The highlight is “The Long Take,” in which the cameras never stopped rolling during the filming of one scene. We as viewers get an unfiltered, up close and personal look at the evolution of a scene. Even if you have no interest in Sin City or the personalities involved, it’s a textbook quality feature for anyone interested in the craft of acting.
Bonus bonus feature: “10-Minute Cooking School” in which Robert Rodriguez teaches you to make breakfast burritos from scratch. It’s one of the neatest bonus features I’ve ever seen (though entirely unrelated to filmmaking). Rodriguez has included similar cooking segments on DVD releases of some of his other works.
“Within a Minute” is a nearly two hour long feature that details the role that every department had to play in creating a singular minute’s worth of footage for Revenge of the Sith. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever seen or liked a Star Wars movie; this feature is one of the most informative, most comprehensive documentaries I’ve seen yet about the craft of filmmaking. I will be sorely disappointed if this isn’t also included on the forthcoming Blu-ray release.
To accompany several of their classic catalog titles, Warner Bros. compiled some vintage movie trailers, short films and news reels, to help approximate the experience of going to the theater in the Golden Age. I first saw The Adventures of Robin Hood on Blu-ray Disc recently, and elected to precede the feature with the included “Night at the Movies” collection, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was disappointed when I mentally contrasted this with the modern theatrical experience. I’d much rather watch a short film than sit through trivia slide shows.
An Amazon user has put together a helpful guide to which Warner releases include “A Night at the Movies” compilations.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Travis as minlshaw on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.