Peter Bogdanovich MVC? (Most Vapid Commentary)

Discuss North American DVDs and Blu-rays or other DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
skuhn8
wax on; wax off
Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:46 pm
Location: Chico, CA

#1 Post by skuhn8 » Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:59 am

This is a pickup on the tangent from the Bringing Up Baby thread. It's time we grabbed this bull by the horns, send word out to the industry:

PETER BOGDANOVITCH MUST BE STOPPED!!!!!

He has no business doing commentaries. Sad that such a--ok, scholar, really--should have so little to say. When I buy DVDs and consider the value of the package I take into account the commentary(s) available. Even on films where I would never actually bother listening to it (i.e. I confess, I own Meet the Parents, but would certainly never listen to the commentary), I still count commentaries as some kind of value-added material.

But a Peter Bogdanovitch commentary listed on the box is as valuable to me as French or Spanish dub track. Zero. Basically, he's commentary for the visually impaired (apologies if this comment is in poor taste for the visually impaired.)

I skimmed through the Citizen Kane commentary and it just described the action on screen. I mean, if there's one dvd that any scholar should be honored to blab over it might be Kane. Kind of an important flic.

[Sadly Richard Schickel is working his way onto my commentary provider shitlist as well...but he's got a long way to go to Pete's crap ranking.]

User avatar
swingo
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2004 10:35 am
Location: Mexico City
Contact:

#2 Post by swingo » Sat Mar 19, 2005 5:29 am

I don't have the courage to sit and hear a commentary of Him, I don't like the fact that he comments on everything, it's like "Hey, I'm not directing anything I can do an audio commentary, do you have one? anything?"


Axel.

User avatar
Jeff
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:49 pm
Location: Denver, CO

#3 Post by Jeff » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:19 pm

shane wrote:My stomach dropped when reading the list of features for Bringing Up Baby I spied Bagdonovich's name as the disc's commentator.
I suggest then, that you avoid checking out the specs for Fury.

User avatar
duane hall
Can I confess something?
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 4:18 am

#4 Post by duane hall » Sat Mar 19, 2005 3:45 pm

schickel's La Dolce Vita is perhaps the worst commentary i've heard, sprinkled with ridiculously frequent "um"s and little insight. i definitely prefer scripted commentaries. not many critics can pull off the extemporaneous thing. although, i don't think any script could make shickel's bored warble sound pleasant.

on the other hand, i love pronouncing "andre jurieu" like peter bogdanovich. (but i haven't heard any original commentary by him, 'cept the very beginning of Kane.)

cmleidi
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 3:26 am

#5 Post by cmleidi » Sat Mar 19, 2005 10:28 pm

Bogdanovich's commentaries on DAISY MILLER and WHAT'S UP MY DOC? were entertaining and informative. The commentary on BRINGING UP BABY is a disaster. No insights at all.

Richard Schickel is the worst though. He must come cheap because there's no explanation for why he's included on so many commentary tracks. Does he know the difference between descriptions for the blind and a DVD commentary?

User avatar
FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
Location: Portland, OR

#6 Post by FilmFanSea » Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:04 am

I agree that Bogdanovich (at least when he's not reading Alexander Sesonske's brilliant words) and Richard Schickel are both deadly dull & not worth listening to. I wonder why studios keep dipping into these dry wells? Name recognition?

User avatar
Faux Hulot
Jack Of All Tirades
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 11:57 am
Location: Location, Location

#7 Post by Faux Hulot » Sun Mar 20, 2005 2:10 am

shane wrote:Spike Lee should also never be put in a room equiped with a microphone and a movie projector.
Can anyone explain why Spike was tapped for input on the Dr. Strangelove special edition? I mean... huh?

User avatar
King of Kong
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:32 pm
Location: New Zealand
Contact:

#8 Post by King of Kong » Sun Mar 20, 2005 4:24 am

Pete's Kane commentary is obsolete in the light of Ebert's great track. Sure, he knew Welles personally, but he doesn't add anything new...

User avatar
Polybius
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:57 pm
Location: Rollin' down Highway 41

#9 Post by Polybius » Sun Mar 20, 2005 4:31 am

cmleidi wrote:Bogdanovich's commentaries on DAISY MILLER and WHAT'S UP MY DOC? were entertaining and informative.
Does he talk about all the things Cybill did to him in private to get that role?

User avatar
Donald Trampoline
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2005 3:39 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

#10 Post by Donald Trampoline » Wed Mar 23, 2005 4:26 am

Don't all gang upon me and beat the crap out of me, but I've only heard one Bogdanovich commentary, and it was for Welles' Lady from Shanghai. I thought that commentary was good and informative, and he utilized large dollops of Welles' own words from interviews. He did some sort of semi-amusing Orson Welles impression when he was quoting him from interviews. (Occasionally giving the faint impression of what a Welles commentary could perhaps be like.)

The only other thing I'd heard from Bogdanovich (on DVD) was his 10-minute bit on French Cancan, and I thought that was pretty good.

I'm more than willing to believe his other commentaries may be horrid, but have any of you heard the Lady from Shanghai one, and is it at least marginally better than these other ones, or is it typical of what you detest?

(Also, no fans of his "Who the Devil Made It?" book either? Just checking.)

User avatar
Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

#11 Post by Dylan » Wed Mar 23, 2005 5:13 am

"Who the Devil Made It?," "Pieces of Time," and "This Is Orson Welles" are all terrific books, all must reads for film fans.

I personally have no problem with Bogdanovich's participation in DVDs, and I'm surprised so many are against him. True, his commentary for "Citizen Kane" was pretty bland, and overall didn't even provide half of the information that Roger Ebert did with his, but typically, I think he has an interesting, relaxed, particular personality and voice that accomadates what he shares very well.

As for the man himself, we all know that he is basically the Hugh Hefner of the film world. Being that, I believe (not to mention the wasted time chasing Cybil, and the tragedy of his relationship with Dorothy Stratton), cost him what might have been a more impressive career as a film director.

Of his films, I believe "Last Picture Show" is wonderful (and I've always loved the theme: the death of a town), and I like "Paper Moon" too (particularly Laszlo Kovacks' photography). "Targets" is fun, and it's a good role for Karloff. Most of the other stuff is pretty bad.

These days I think he's most comfortable as a film commentator and historian, and I always enjoy his comments, particular those on Welles.

Dylan

User avatar
Andre Jurieu
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:38 pm
Location: Back in Milan (Ind.)

#12 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Mar 23, 2005 11:12 am

Dylan wrote:As for the man himself, we all know that he is basically the Hugh Hefner of the film world.
Interestingly enough, Bogdanovich played a "Hugh Hefner"-esque character on an episode of one of the Law & Order spin-offs just a few weeks ago. He's also great on The Sopranos as Melfi's shrink.

User avatar
skuhn8
wax on; wax off
Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:46 pm
Location: Chico, CA

#13 Post by skuhn8 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 11:59 am

Wait, wait wait! Now hold on a cotton-pickin' minute here! This is supposed to be a thread dedicated to BASHING Bogdanovitch, not lovin' the guy! Geez...read the title already. #-o

User avatar
oldsheperd
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 5:18 pm
Location: Rio Rancho/Albuquerque

#14 Post by oldsheperd » Wed Mar 23, 2005 12:08 pm

I haven't listened to the Bogdanovich commentraies yet except for Rules of the Game which was just him reading an essay. I like Lee's commentaries. He seems like he has a bug up his ass all the time. I also like the fact that he explains his choice of shots and stuff.

User avatar
Andre Jurieu
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:38 pm
Location: Back in Milan (Ind.)

#15 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Mar 23, 2005 1:22 pm

skuhn8 wrote:Wait, wait wait! Now hold on a cotton-pickin' minute here! This is supposed to be a thread dedicated to BASHING Bogdanovitch, not lovin' the guy! Geez...read the title already. #-o
I just figured that the issue of Bogdanovich commentaries being vapid was an open-and-shut case. It would be like having a discussion over whether or not Peckinpah liked liquor.

kevyip1
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 7:07 pm

#16 Post by kevyip1 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:28 pm

I can't help noticing the abundance of cheesy comic one-liners with which you guys keep using to rip him apart. "Worth the same as a Spanish dub track, " "better off with a commentary by a room full of monkeys, "I'd take a Marlee Matlin commentary any day, " and the many variations on how Bogdanovich should be locked up in jail.

I don't know what's deadlier. Bogdanovich's dullness, or the zingers you guys keep writing? :lol:

User avatar
Polybius
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:57 pm
Location: Rollin' down Highway 41

#17 Post by Polybius » Thu Mar 24, 2005 12:38 am

Andre Jurieu wrote:
Dylan wrote:As for the man himself, we all know that he is basically the Hugh Hefner of the film world.
Interestingly enough, Bogdanovich played a "Hugh Hefner"-esque character on an episode of one of the Law & Order spin-offs just a few weeks ago.
An incredibly vile and spiteful "performance". A new low for him, really.

I agree with Dylan's assessment of his oeuvre (I'll watch Last Picture Show anyplace, anytime. Ben Johnson's story about coming out to the lake yers before is just spellbinding, just one of many great aspects of that film.)

Lots of guys chase after women they should leave alone, but most are smart enough not to put them in their films if they can't act or sing. Got to draw the line at the work and make sure you're thinking with the big head.

I actually have no comment on his commentaries other than to say the one for Kane is, as agreed by several here, bland and pointless.

There's just something about him, even apart from the vendetta against Hefner and the squandered talent that's just...creepy. He drops more names than Dominick Dunne and has some sort of weird, slightly wrong anecdote for every occasion. In some people that's cool or charming. It just comes off as smarmy from him.

Maybe it's the ascot...

User avatar
Tommy Sleeb
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 11:14 am
Location: The Heartland, USA

#18 Post by Tommy Sleeb » Thu Mar 24, 2005 12:01 pm

It looks like he gets tapped by the WB again for Lang's Clash By Night in the Noir Vol 2 box. That's now 2 Lang films he's "commentating" on. Let's hope he stops there.

User avatar
alandau
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 5:37 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#19 Post by alandau » Thu Mar 24, 2005 12:58 pm

uhftv wrote:
Schickel is 10 times worse
Hard to believe, but Schickel is pretty good on Leave Her to Heaven.[/quote]

User avatar
alandau
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 5:37 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

#20 Post by alandau » Thu Mar 24, 2005 1:05 pm

uhftv wrote:
Schickel is 10 times worse
Hard to believe, but Schickel is pretty good on Leave Her to Heaven.

User avatar
skuhn8
wax on; wax off
Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:46 pm
Location: Chico, CA

#21 Post by skuhn8 » Sun May 08, 2005 3:00 am

ahhhh...and this from our good brother Gary Tooze on his beaver review of Lang's Fury:

One from Fritz Lang's ouvre is a huge bonus for this already bravisimo Boxset. I was very impressed with this film and DVD and Bogdanovich's commentary awaits - he is usually and excellent film historian... and Lang excerpts!.

Bold emphasis added by me.

Gary, tongue in cheek?

User avatar
skuhn8
wax on; wax off
Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:46 pm
Location: Chico, CA

#22 Post by skuhn8 » Fri May 13, 2005 3:42 pm

And the army grows. THis from digitally obsessed review of the supplements on Bringing up Baby:

"Peter Bogdanovich has made at least one great movie (The Last Picture Show), some very good ones, and some of lesser quality; as a younger man, he befriended many of the filmmakers of the previous generation, and has performed an invaluable service in publishing interviews with many of them; he's even done frequently interesting audio commentaries on DVDs of some of his own movies. When it comes to commentary tracks on films he did not direct, however, Bogdanovich must be stopped. He turned in a shoddy effort on Citizen Kane, among others, and despite knowing Hawks reasonably well, he's got close to nothing to say about Bringing Up Baby. He starts off with a small amount of promise, at least, talking about how the David/Susan relationship was modeled in part on Hepburn's parrying with director John Ford; Bogdanovich also really likes showing off his Hawks impression, which is probably great fun for the people listening who knew Hawks personally. I bet you can count them on one hand. (Let me tell you, I can do a Leo McCarey impression that would fool his own mother.) Occasionally we get Hawks' observations on his movie refracted through Bogdanovich, but more often, it's little more than Bogdanovich repeating punch lines, or laughing at the movie. He and Richard Schickel are the twin pillars of the Keen Grasp of the Obvious School of DVD commentaries. In the name of all that's right and good and holy, please don't let them do any more of these."

Very well put.

User avatar
The Elegant Dandy Fop
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 3:25 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA

#23 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Sun Mar 26, 2006 7:02 pm

As much as you hate the guy's commentaries, you have to admit he's an excellent writer. Check out this article that was in todays L.A. Times.


Moving pictures
Once, great movie houses drew us together. Now they're gone -- and the decline of the big screen diminishes us all.
By Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Bogdanovich directed "The Last Picture Show," "Paper Moon," and "Mask," among other movies. His most recent book, "Who the Hell's in It," is just out in paperback.
March 26, 2006

GOING TO THE MOVIES with my parents is one of the great memories of my childhood. I remember getting strong anticipatory butterflies in my stomach long before we'd even leave the apartment. In the late 1940s, early '50s, we lived on Manhattan's West 67th Street, three blocks from two huge "neighborhood" picture palaces: the RKO Colonial and the Loew's Lincoln. Both were spacious, elaborately decorated, very comfortable stand-alone theaters with huge screens and giant, red velvet curtains that parted before the show. Each seated more than 1,000 (with smoking in the balcony).

A typical evening or afternoon at the "nabes" meant a double feature — two recent films, usually an A-budget movie paired with a B-picture. We never checked for starting times (no one did); we went when we could or when we felt like it.

Normally, therefore, we would enter in the middle of one of the two features. Part of the fun was trying to figure out what was going on. After it ended, there would be a newsreel, a travelogue, a live-action comedy short, a cartoon and coming attractions. Then the next feature, followed by the first half of the other film until that once-proverbial moment: "This is where we came in." (All this, by the way, for 25 or 50 cents a head, often less for kids.) On Saturdays, there was the children's matinee, complete with a white-uniformed matron who chaperoned us and made sure kids didn't put their feet on the seats in front of them.

Both of my old neighborhood theaters have long since been demolished. But recently I've been thinking about them again as I've read about the decline in theater attendance — down from 90 million tickets sold per week in the late 1940s to about a quarter of that number today — as people rent movies and watch them at home on increasingly elaborate home entertainment systems. Now, some of the big studios are talking about closing the months-long window that has traditionally separated a movie's theatrical debut from its availability on video or DVD — a change that some say could lead to the end of the movie-theater experience altogether.

When I was a growing up, there were no ratings — all pictures being suitable for the whole family. Parents could, if they chose, take the family to serious films such as "How Green Was My Valley," "Citizen Kane" or "From Here to Eternity" without worrying that it might not be "appropriate" for the children. If a couple on screen were going to bed together, vintage movie shorthand took over and the camera panned to the fireplace or to the waterfall, or, during a passionate kiss, there'd be a discreet fade to black. I would turn to my mother and ask what was happening, and she'd say something ambiguous, such as "they like each other" or "they're talking now," which completely satisfied my curiosity.

Movies, when you used to see them on the big screen, had a mystery that they no longer have. For one thing, they were irretrievable: Once the first and second runs were past, most films were not easy to see again. They were much, much larger than life and therefore instantly mythic (screens and theaters were a lot bigger before the multiplex arrived). And they were inexorable; once a film had started, there was no pausing it or in any way stopping its relentless forward motion.

Also, the communal experience of seeing a picture with a large crowd of strangers was a great and irreplaceable happening — all of us, young or old (if the picture worked) palpably sharing the same emotions of sorrow or happiness. The bigger the crowd around us, the greater the impact.

On special occasions, my parents took me to the greatest movie theater in the country, Radio City Music Hall, which, for $2, would show a first-rate new film exclusively (such as "An American in Paris" or "North by Northwest") plus a live, 40-minute stage show featuring the Rockettes. That's why it meant so much to me in 1972 when my first comedy, "What's Up, Doc?" was booked to open in New York at the Music Hall.

I was so excited I called to tell Cary Grant (a friend of 10 years). "That's nice," he said casually. "I've had 28 pictures play the Hall.

"I tell you what you must do," he went on. "When it's playing, you go down there and stand in the back — and you listen and you watch while 6,500 people laugh at something you did. It will do your heart good!"

I went, of course, and it remains the single most memorable showing of any of my pictures: The sheer size of the reaction in that enormous theater was like a mainliner of joy. The fact is, it takes at least 100 people to get a decent laugh in a movie — smaller audiences are just not given to letting go.

On the other hand, a Michigan university student told me recently that one of the few classic Hollywood movies he'd seen was John Ford's version of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath." He said he'd been looking at a "video of it" and couldn't get his "eyelids to stop drooping."

Well, of course. Not only was he alone in his living room, but he was seeing on a small screen a work that had not been created ever to be reduced so radically in size. The especially dark photography (by the legendary Gregg Toland, who the following year shot Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane") needs the large screen to convey its effect, not to mention that darkness and TV have never produced easy-to-watch results.

What's more, Ford was very much the master of the long shot. Twenty years before that famous fly-speck-on-the-desert entrance in "Lawrence of Arabia," Ford had introduced Henry Fonda in "Grapes" as a tiny figure on the horizon coming toward us. But tiny on a giant screen is not the same as tiny on a TV set. The first makes a poetic impression, the second leaves you wondering what you're looking at and causes yet more eye strain. No wonder the student's eyelids drooped.

One of my favorite movies is Howard Hawks' "Bringing Up Baby" with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn — probably the fastest and at the same time most darkly photographed comedy of all time. When I watch it on TV, I find myself getting tired and running out of steam before the film ends.

Most young people have never even seen older films (before 1962, let's say — the end of the movies' golden age, when the original studio system finally collapsed) on the large screen for which they were solely created. So it's easy to understand why they're not interested in them. That they don't know what they're missing is a sad fact, increasingly more common, therefore sadder.

What is there to say about seeing movies of quality on an iPod? Chilling.

I was first taken at age 5 or 6 by my father to see silent movies on the big screen at the Museum of Modern Art, and it inculcated in me a lifelong interest and reverence for older films. Starting my daughters at a young age looking at classics from the '20s, '30s and '40s did the same thing for them. Wouldn't it be a great thing if all the studios pooled their resources and opened large-scale revival theaters in every major city as a way of promoting DVDs of older films, which remain difficult to move in the kind of bulk everyone would like?

It's hard for me to imagine that the movie-theater experience will ever completely disappear, no matter how reduced it may become. After all, the legitimate theater still exists in the age of TV and film, though of course there is nowhere near as much of it as there was even as late as the 1950s. (Remember summer stock?) In some places you can even still see opera, a very popular medium a couple of hundred years ago.

But Larry McMurtry's novel, "The Last Picture Show," and the movie version of it which I directed were both at least partly about the loss to a small Texas town of its single movie theater, a great diminishment in community and sharing. We all now live in a more insular, distanced society. And though our communication capability has never been faster or more inclusive, it does not have the ability to let us experience the silent interrelating that happens in a live theater, at church or at a movie house.

Over the years I've noticed that audiences, just before the show starts, radiate a kind of innocence. Considered person by person, that may not be the case, but as a group they share the ability to be taken wherever the film chooses to take them, either to the stars or the gutter, and their communal experience will alter them for better or worse. Let's not let all that possibility fade away further than it already has.

Better movies would help.

User avatar
Antoine Doinel
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Contact:

#24 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:46 pm

Faux Hulot wrote:
shane wrote:Spike Lee should also never be put in a room equiped with a microphone and a movie projector.
Can anyone explain why Spike was tapped for input on the Dr. Strangelove special edition? I mean... huh?
The only Spike Lee commentary I've attempted to listen to (as I have yet to get my hands on Criterion's Do The Right Thing) was for 25th Hour and I don't think I lasted more than a half hour. He simply described the scenes as they were unfolding! No insights at all.

And Peter Bogdanovich has been one of my biggest pet peeves and I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this. He's managed to built a career out of being the guy who managed to get into the company of Golden Era Hollywood stars. Yes, Peter Bogdanovich you met Orson Welles and like screwball comedies. MOVE ON!

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

#25 Post by zedz » Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:05 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:The only Spike Lee commentary I've attempted to listen to (as I have yet to get my hands on Criterion's Do The Right Thing) was for 25th Hour and I don't think I lasted more than a half hour. He simply described the scenes as they were unfolding! No insights at all.
My recollection is that the Do the Right Thing was pretty good. I haven't had the dubious pleasure of experiencing any others.
And Peter Bogdanovich has been one of my biggest pet peeves and I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this. He's managed to built a career out of being the guy who managed to get into the company of Golden Era Hollywood stars. Yes, Peter Bogdanovich you met Orson Welles and like screwball comedies. MOVE ON!
Dismal as his commentaries are, Bogdanovich is a Cronenberg alongside William Friedkin on The Narrow Margin, probably the most excruciatingly mindless commentary I've ever sat through. What Friedkin has to say about film noir could fill all of ten minutes (if he spoke r-e-a-l s-l-o-w), so when he runs out of material, he just makes stuff up. Utterly inane.

Post Reply