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DVD Commentaries: Why I Actually Loved "Love Actually"

I have a confession to make:  I love watching DVD commentaries. I know. Sometimes they can be excruciating. But when you find a director who really...

I have a confession to make:  I love watching DVD commentaries.

I know. Sometimes they can be excruciating. But when you find a director who really knows how to articulate what he or she is up to, I enjoy these commentaries almost as much as the film itself. (Fortunately, my husband feels the same way.)

I got to thinking about this because last weekend, we rented Richard Curtis’ film Love Actually. If you don’t know who Richard Curtis is, he also wrote Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral. (Yes, I realize that – given my usual penchant for films about things like abortion under authoritarian rule in Romania – you might not think that romantic comedies would be up my alley. Turns out I have a soft spot for Hugh Grant. Go figure.)

I liked the film so-so. But I loved the commentary. Why?

Part of it, I think, is that I’m fascinated by the creative process. I love it when people really understand what makes them tick professionally and can convey that process to a wider audience. (In my next life, I plan to return as a career counselor. I figure that, like a cat, I’ve still got six professional lives to go…)

So when Curtis, for example, talks about why he chose a particular piece of music or why he cast Laura Linney in a film otherwise dominated by European actors or why the lighting was particularly challenging in a given scene, I feel like I’m gaining insight into not just the movie, but into the whole world of directing itself.

The other reason I like to watch commentaries is that I love to watch people who love their work. It’s so hard to figure out what you really love to do. So when I happen upon someone like Curtis, who’s clearly found his calling, I find it not just enlightening, but joyful.

It’s the same way I felt last week when I went to see Garrison Keillor perform live in London. Keillor – best known for his quirky public radio show  A Prairie Home Companion – is also a syndicated columnist and singer/songwriter. He is funny, touching, ribald and irreverent. But most importantly – whether he’s reciting a poem or singing a song or telling a story – he’s clearly having a blast. Talk about someone who’s found his niche.

So there you have it. And having now outed myself as a serial DVD commentary viewer – not to mention an abiding Garrison Keillor fan – I feel much better. I’m glad I finally cleared the air.


Check out the blog Daily Routines to find out how artists, writers and other creative folk structure their days. I also enjoy By Henry Sene Yee Design, which examines the creative impulse behind book covers.

Image: DVDs! by THEMACGIRL via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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  1. Betsy May 21, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    You would love Martin Scorcese’s comments/book about the making of The Age of Innocence, one of my favorite films. It’s clear Scorcese is a real student of the art – his latest project is creating and maintaining archives of old, obscure movies. It’s really touching how much he loves cinema. Of course, the passion shows in everything he’s ever done.

    As to the Old Scout, well…he’s from our area, you know. As such, perhaps we’ve been overindulged with his talent and his tantrums. For a guy who makes his living via a neighborly countenance, he is famous for his real life curmudgeonliness. That’s okay. I don’t think Letterman and Seinfeld are funny anymore either. :)

    • delialloyd May 22, 2009 at 11:02 am #

      Thanks, Betsy. I’ll definitely have a look…welcome!

  2. daryl boylan May 22, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    garrison keillor, yes!!! (Some people opine that only born mid-westerners (U.S.) can truly appreciate him, but obviously this is only a partial truth.

  3. Rachel May 25, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    I just want to congratulate you on coming out of the closet. A fetish that dare not speak its name is a sorrowful thing – and certainly doesn’t contribute to the better understanding of the artistic process!


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