This week I recorded commentary tracks with Bill Forsyth for Gregory's Girl and That Sinking Feeling. He took time out to talk to me about this strange activity...

Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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  • Comment number 19. Posted by Michael Mac

    on 18 Sept 2013 12:37

    I'm seeking a way to watch Bill F's 'Andrina' http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0325002/ seems impossible to locate/stream. Anyone have any info? michaelmaclauchlan at gmail dot com

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  • Comment number 18. Posted by robert paulson

    on 18 Sept 2013 10:09

    Danny Boyle is the master of directors commentary. Strongly recommend checking out his thoughts on Sunshine. He speaks with great insight about a various aspects of the story, the production process, the research that went on the thematics etc. And every now and then he stops and says, 'I'll just pause and watch this bit' so you still get a chance to keep pace with the story.

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by jwebb66

    on 17 Sept 2013 09:52

    It's hard to track down (apart from finding snippets online) but the original laserdisc commentary from John Sturges on Bad Dad At Black Rock is famously cited by Paul Thomas Anderson as being more informative than 20 years of film school!

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by mortimer

    on 17 Sept 2013 09:50

    The best commentaries are those where the participants (cast, crew) have taken the trouble to research the TV episode or film that they are talking about and therefore can give useful and correct information. The worst are those where the participants spend a lot of time either talking about something irrelevant to what they are seeing on screen at the time or else spend ages waffling about "yes we filmed this somewhere in west London but I'm not sure where" or "I wonder who that actress is" when they should have taken the trouble to come prepared to the commentary session. The commentary should be informative and add something to the film or TV programme.

    When there are multiple participants, it helps if there is a genuine spark of mutual liking between them, otherwise the bad atmosphere can be tangible!

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by Phil White

    on 16 Sept 2013 17:24

    I find it odd that people here are so negative about commentaries. Remember they are an extra to the film and added value. You aren't forced to use them and if you do you should value the experience of someone involved with the film talking about it (if you have ANY interest in cinema). Would you be so negative if someone gave you a ticket to sit in a room with the director as he/she, there and then, personally spoke to you about the film? Probably not.
    The best commentary I've got is on Ron Howard's Apollo-13. You can choose to watch the film with Jim and Marilyn Lovell as the commentators and it adds a whole new layer of interest!

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by Graphis

    on 16 Sept 2013 11:10

    I seriously can't stand commentaries: I find them as irritating as two people talking behind you in a cinema, and I can honestly say I've never heard anything said that was particularly earth-shattering or changed my view of a film. It's usually all "Oh we had a great time doing that scene. Wonder where that guy is now?" blah blah. I never listen to them now.

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by babyfacemichael

    on 15 Sept 2013 20:53

    God I love Gregorys Girl.

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by Sean Kaye-Smith

    on 15 Sept 2013 16:17

    Sorry, 'as KR' = as Ken Russell says.

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by Sean Kaye-Smith

    on 15 Sept 2013 16:16

    Commentaries...yesterday I listened to Mark, Ken Russell and co. on the BFI set of 'The Devils', two points: 1) What is an extra? The woman who plays Madeleine's mother is surely more, she's a key presence in a very powerful scene and, as KR, reappears later in a speaking role in the church. Surely she deserved a credit in 1971, and now retrospectively. Why weren't more credits given in those days? Surely the performers deserved it. 2) Sadly they didn't say where that amazing last shot was filmed, not at Pinewood presumably. Was a ruined wall constructed near some vast low-lying area? Where? It's one of the great final shots of cinema.

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by The Squiss

    on 15 Sept 2013 08:40

    I've only ever forced myself to sit through one commentary (for Citizen Kane). I hated it. It cuts against everything I feel strongly about with film viewing. I far prefer silent appreciation and then, if further background information is required, a good old-fashioned documentary.

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