Michael Blowhard on DVD commentaries (specifically the director of the film Abandon):
What makes the “Abandon” DVD package really remarkable — and one that I suspect many people interested in movies will enjoy — are a few of the package’s extras. In a short making-of documentary and on his commentary track, Steve Gaghan discusses his movie as a dud. He makes this quite clear: He wants to discuss his film “from the point of view of what doesn’t quite work.” I’ve never seen or heard anything like it: a filmmaker talking frankly about his shortcomings and inadequacies as his film rolls by. Gaghan is generous in his appreciation for his actors and collaborators, and he’s boyishly likable and smart about his own goofs and mistakes…
Early on, Gaghan announces proudly that he worked super-hard on his screenplay right up until the day filming began. Later he confesses that this was yet another dumb mistake. He should have set the script aside far earlier, and given himself many weeks before shooting to turn to what needed attending-to as a director. The consequence of this mistake in procedure was that Gaghan often showed up on his set without a clear idea of what he wanted to accomplish as a director. “I showed up that day, but I didn’t show up,” he moans about one especially static scene. Interesting to hear Gaghan report that the experience of making “Abandon” has made him think — as a writer — more visually, dynamically, and texturally than he once did.
For the record, my favorite commentary track has been for Solaris, and I watched one famous film from the 1970s where (I kid you not!) I knew the movie much better than the actors performing in it.