Sunday, June 13, 2004

You Don't Know Jack

Back in the laserdisc days, I cherished the rare novelty of audio commentaries, listening to as many as I could. Now thanks to the glorious mass popularity of DVDs, the feature has become nearly as prevalent as letter boxing. Not that I’m complaining, but I rarely listen to the director’s or writer’s or actors’ comments on the discs I own (with the exception of those Futurama and Simpsons commentaries). The problem is that many of them are so bland and repetitive, that you’re taking a gamble any time you switch audio tracks.
On the airplane the other day, I listened to Nancy Meyers and Jack Nicholson’s discussion on the Something’s Gotta Give DVD. Jack’s insights are a must listen for actors, writers, directors and Nicholson fans. He’s gotten a bad rap as a grinning joker in recent years, but on this track he’s very serious (yet still delightfully charming) about his craft. He talks almost exclusively about his technique in terms of his work in the film at hand (a movie I enjoyed but didn’t love), so somebody needs to book him to record one of these for every movie he’s ever been in. And then James Lipton needs to give him a call. And then the people that made The Kid Stays in the Picture need to start working on a similar journey through Jack’s career.
No matter your feelings for Something’s Gotta Give, it’s worth a purchase (or at least a rental) purely for this feature (I haven’t yet given a listen to Dianne Keaton’s chat with Meyers). Even if you think you don’t like Jack, give him a chance. I guarantee you’ll have more respect for him and what he does afterwards.


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