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Commentary Tracks Of The Damned: Trust The Man


— Presenting a cringe-inducing story in which one dorky, selfish man-boy learns how to properly love his frigid, castrating wife, while another learns how to properly commit to his volatile, demanding, fragile girlfriend

— Piling on the gushy sentiment, especially in the ridiculously over-the-top double-reunion ending

— Mixing all the above with poop jokes, fart noises, masturbation gags, and other repellent material

Defender: Writer-director Bart Freundlich, star David Duchovny

Tone of commentary: Enthusiastic, informative, and simpatico, but easily distracted. The two men fall over themselves simultaneously praising every aspect of the production, and trying to describe it, by explaining the lighting, the camera angles, the editing, the writing choices, and what was going on with the actors that day. Duchovny also steadily teases Freundlich for name-checking restaurants, and keeps up a running tally of how many "free meals" he's earned with the plugs. And then there are all the random lowbrow gags and the highbrow blither about the non-verbal language of cinema and how constraints make a movie. As a result of trying to pack in so much, they mostly speak in incomplete sentences and half-finished thoughts, and they interrupt each other constantly.

What went wrong: During a windy scene, Freundlich wanted a tumbleweed to blow across the screen as a visual gag, but "It blew across the street." In the same scene, Maggie Gyllenhaal is supposed to hail a cab, but it entered the shot early, then backed up, all during Gyllenhaal's best take. Freundlich cut around the gaffe and never told Gyllenhaal, and says he's relieved there's no chance of her listening to the commentary and finding out about it.

Also, both men obsess about the camera angles and coverage of various scenes. Freundlich's one admission about the film's box-office failure, at the end of a long discussion about a scene only covered from two angles instead of three: "It's always hard to know what's worth it and what's not when you have people breathing down your neck about it. That's why if this movie were successful, it would really be better."

Comments on the cast: Billy Crudup earns praise for being a "fearless" actor who doesn't mind his character looking like an ass, but draws jeers for not being around to feed Duchovny lines during Duchovny's half of their phone scenes. Freundlich says they had high hopes for all the actors being on set for phone scenes, but as the production ground on, "it deteriorated into me reading all the lines."

Inevitable dash of pretension: Freundlich brags that while he isn't as well-versed in women's mentality as in men's, he felt it was important "to try to keep sort of an equal perspective from female and male… But to be able to have, sort of feel like an insider into both, different kinds of relationships." Duchovny ignores this and says Freundlich has made both female leads look beautiful in the scene they're watching.

Freundlich: "They do look beautiful. You know, I have a knack for, women who I think are really talented, women I love, just wanting them to look as beautiful as possible. I think the camera sees them in the way I see them."

Duchovny: "Really? That's mystical. I wish it extended to your shooting of men."

Later, Duchovny praises Freundlich for "creating a character whose main characteristic is that he enjoys giving oral sex to women… You were saying you liked to get the male and female perspective, so I think enforcing yourself into that mode, you came up with the character who just likes to give oral sex to women."

Freundlich: "Yeah. In examining what I would be like as a woman, I came up with the fact that that's all I would care about."

Commentary in a nutshell: Freundlich: "Is this pretty much just you and I patting each other on the back for two hours while watching our movie?"

Duchovny: "Well, what, are we supposed to sit here and go 'This sucks, and I wish this would have been better?'"

Freundlich: "It could be interesting. I'm sure we could get at least someone in here with a dissenting viewpoint."