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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and other DVD commentaries

Over the weekend, I found myself watching “The Talented Mr. Ripley” again on DVD — because I’d been having a major Who’s-That-Guy moment with Jack Davenport, the husky-voiced Brit who plays the Broadway director on “Smash” and who I KNEW I’d heard before. Sure enough, he plays poor Peter Smith-Kingsley in “Ripley,” the elegant 1999 Anthony Minghella thriller that’s always a pleasure to watch. (Have you seen it? Matt Damon’s finest screen performance, I think, and Cate Blanchett make something wondrous of a very small role. And Italy, as always, looks smashing.)
Anyway, I enjoyed watching the movie again — and then I remembered, years ago when I’d first bought the DVD, that it featured an excellent director’s commentary by Minghella. I started listening to it, just to catch the first few minutes. Just like that, two more hours had gone by and I’d listened to the whole thing again, enraptured by Minghella’s intelligent, detailed discussion of his characters (he wrote the screenplay, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel), his cast, locations, camera angles, subtle details, and personal observations (for example, he points out his Italian-born father in one of the crowd scenes). It was a great loss for the film world when Minghella died in 2008 at the age of 54, but the commentary gives a wonderful feeling of sitting down and listening to one of the masters.
Anyone have a favorite DVD commentary?
WKD HOLIDAY FILMS.JPG
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Matt Damon in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” the 1999 thriller that earned five Oscar nominations. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

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