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Monday Movies: On a related point

I did not watch any movies whatsoever this week, as all viewing time was tied up in West Wing. That being the case, I’d like to take this opportunity to complain about DVD menus. I can’t remember a single DVD menu that I found to be well-designed — there are just too many submenus. For HBO shows, they have the standard format where there’s a summary, etc., but there’s no menu option for going straight to the next episode. For West Wing, once you select an episode, it takes you to a scene-by-scene breakdown before you can start it. (I know there’s always the “play all” option, but that just seems to be asking for trouble.)

And why all these animations, this music that’s seemingly twice as loud as the movie itself? What is this supposed to add? And don’t even get me started on DVDs with previews, especially the varying formats thereof — sometimes you can just hit the menu key, but sometimes you have to skip past each one….

Also, who exactly is watching all these bonus features? Every time I start a “making-of featurette,” it becomes clear within like ten seconds that it’s going to be the most oppressively boring thing I’ve ever seen. Perhaps commentaries could be worthwhile, but they seem to farm half of them out to actors who really don’t have much to say. “Oh yeah, this scene was a lot of fun. Look at how he does this — I almost couldn’t keep myself from laughing!” “Yeah, totally!” BLAH!


August 30, 2010 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. i tried to watch The assasination of Jesse James
    but the dvd didn’t have subtitles so it was difficult for me to get what the actors were saying and after the first train robbery scene i felt i don’t care whether he gets killed or not and, like, perhaps he deserves to die whenever
    must be the movie is deeper than this but i was not in a calm mood to enjoy any psychological drama

    Comment by read | August 30, 2010

  2. s

    Comment by read | August 30, 2010

  3. Read, It drives me crazy when you post a second comment correcting your first one. I’m going to start deleting them.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 30, 2010

  4. Could you correct the mistakes as I’ve noticed them, please? I’m sure there’d been many more unnoticed ones.

    Comment by read | August 30, 2010

  5. I’m not going to be your personal editor. Everyone makes mistakes — no one particularly minds yours.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 30, 2010

  6. Well, then, my corrections are my comments too and getting deleted I consider as if I am not welcome at the site. Sorry.

    Comment by read | August 30, 2010

  7. I don’t care if you comment or not.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 30, 2010

  8. I know. Thank you for your hospitality until now.

    Comment by read | August 30, 2010

  9. Aw, man. I was hoping there were eight comments about DVD menus. (That’s not sarcastic)

    I remember thinking the Matrix one might be interesting to watch, so I started watching it with the comments turned on. For some reason, they had Carrie-Ann Moss as one of the commenters. Suffice it to say, she did not add much.

    I turned it off when they were showing the scene where they’re talking to Neo in the antiseptic office building and the window washer is making the squeegee squeak. Somebody mentioned that was one of the film’s little jokes and after a five second pause, the squeegee squeaks again. Carrie-Ann Moss goes, “So, so funny” among zero laughter or even chuckles.

    I wonder if it’s something directors thought would be cool until they realized DVDs were here to stay and they’d now have to do one for every single movie.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 30, 2010

  10. Oh well. That’s sad.

    The original post is the truest thing I’ve ever read. It should be required reading for every DVD designer in the country.

    Also, I actually went to the movies yesterday, which is like a once-a-year event for me. I went to see The Last Exorcism. This movie was completely bananas. I’m not sure whether that’s a bad thing or a good thing — right now I’m leaning towards the latter.

    Comment by jms | August 30, 2010

  11. Sorry, everyone.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 30, 2010

  12. I saw The Scenesters in a one-week limited run at the Downtown Independent, preceded by a friend’s comedy short and followed by bands.

    It’s a micro-budget indie about a pair of struggling filmmakers who start investigating a serial killer with more attention to the prospect of their documentary than to catching the killer.

    It was made by a sketch group called The Vacationeers and the three main characters are hilariously deadpan throughout. The movie sometimes gets a little tangled up in its doc-within-a-doc-within-a-doc conceit, and sometimes the documentary/mumblecore format softens the jokes a little, but it’s very good throughout, even with an uncomplicated use of the term “Eastside” for my neighborhood.

    6 and 7 are the kinds of comments that make me think we can do better, here on the Internet.

    Comment by k-sky | August 30, 2010

  13. My favorite Carrie Anne Moss moment was the death scene at the end of Matrix Revolutions. I saw it in a packed theater opening weekend. As the scene went on and on, someone yelled “die already!” and the whole place applauded.

    Comment by k-sky | August 30, 2010

  14. I watched the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the local draughthouse this weekend. I especially enjoyed the lead female role and her sort of fierce ethical position throughout the film. In general I’d recommend it, but I was a tad disappointed with the ending.

    Comment by Jeremy | August 30, 2010

  15. Wow, k-sky, I knew I was pretty sick of the Matrix movies by the time the third one rolled out, but I didn’t realize to what degree. I don’t even remember that scene.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 30, 2010

  16. “Angels & Demons”–it need not be said, but I have little else to say about this film: absolutely unbelievable. So, there’s a guy who makes it his life mission to study “the Illuminati” and the Vatican gets in trouble with “the Illuminati” and invite him over to solve the mystery, even though they really hate each other. (Fear not: mutual recognition will come by the end of the movie–this one has a happy ending.) The evil plot sees “antimatter” stolen from the Large Hadron Collider, from a research project lead by a Catholic priest and an ambitious “young” and “beautiful” and “intelligent” woman. (Will she be able to get a rise out of Tom Hanks’ wittered old man dick? Let’s hope not.) The “antimatter,” of course, is to be used to blow up the Vatican and all the Cardinals because, apparently, “the Illuminati” hold a grunge against the Catholic Church for the Inquisition (or something). Anyway, this brings Tom Hanks and the scientist lady to the same room, sitting next to one another and, guess what?, they strike up a conversation about “the Illuminati.” For reasons entirely unclear, she seems to know everything about them–perhaps even more than the world’s expert on the topic! What a pair! Will anyone be able to stop them! Or is she part of the conspiracy! Don’t worry! She’s a “beautiful” “young” “intelligent” lady and she would never do anything evil! But wait, there’s more! The Camerlengo, able portrayed by Ewan MacGregor!, seems to know nothing at all about “the Illuminati,” but he’s willing to help out! Surprise twist: he knows everything about “the Illuminati” and it is he who is behind the terrible plot! Because he wants the Church to take a stand against science! And he can fly a helicopter!

    “Vantage Point”–watched this on “The History Channel” last night. We were unable to determine what, exactly, qualified it to be broadcast on that channel, but, then, that’s how we started watching “NCIS,” and there’s nothing historical about that show. (Unrelated: how many times has “Time Life Home Video,” or whatever it is called, released the same World War II footage, calling it “never before seen” and “too troubling for civilian eyes”? Follow-up: who buys these DVDs?) Anyway, the movie itself was completely stupid and generally incoherent. The motivations of the terrorists were opaque and the vast extent of the conspiracy unbelievable. So too was the head terrorist’s ability to control everything from a “suped-up” Palm Pilot–and his decision to cause his own death in order to save some annoying girl’s life. Also: what is with Forest Whitaker? I ask this sincerely because I cannot tell and I’m not about to look on Wikipedia: is he “slow”? is he “special”? The expression on his face when he saw “the president” (a body double) on the stage up close was resplendent: “Wow! [Smile stupidly and look around.] I can see my white ruler up close!” Dennis Quaid is unbelievable as a human. We disputed whether “the token black Secret Service Agent” (after years of watching TV and movies, I’ve determined that the token black government agent is also a poor version of Denzel Washington) was Richard T. Jones or not–you’d remember him from “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” I thought his head and neck were too fat and he didn’t seem to be behaving in a way suggesting he was familiar with the formidable threat presented by robots. Turns out it was him.

    What was with the dog-show commentary on the Emmy’s last night? Only watched to puke at every reference to Temple Grandin and to see how sad they could force Eric Northman to be.

    (I expect Ben to edit my comment and for Adam to institute all of his recommendations.)

    Comment by Craig | August 30, 2010

  17. I didn’t even read most of your comment, Craig. Nothing personal, I’m just really tired and having difficulty focusing. My eyes are closed as I write this.

    I watched most of The Thief, a noir starring Ray Milland and filmed entirely without dialogue. I was interested to see how they’d pull it off. It turns out they don’t, really. A character can only look significantly at, but not answer, a ringing phone so frequently.

    Comment by ben | August 30, 2010

  18. My eyes are closed as I type this, just to see if I could do it. I had to see where I was clicking the mouse though.

    [Upon opening: hey! 100%!]

    Comment by k-sky | August 30, 2010

  19. I have long derived peculiar satisfaction from typing with my eyes closed.

    Comment by ben | August 30, 2010

  20. I agree about DVD menus. Quite possibly the worst one in existence is the one for Memento.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | August 31, 2010

  21. “And why all these animations, this music that is seemingly twice as loud as the movie itself?” The second part of this question has to be the best one asked on the internet for a couple of weeks.

    Comment by Earnest O'Nest | August 31, 2010

  22. The loud menus lead to the inevitable, “Why’s that so loud?” question, followed later by “Could you turn it up?” once the show has started. Every time.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 31, 2010

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