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15 Minutes (2001)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director John Herzfeld Rating:6.3/10 (3 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on April 25th, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
Herzeld comes prepared and delivers an informative commentary. He speaks to the origins of film, the rivalries between police and fire departments and recalls some of the real life media celebration of crimes that had occurred in recent years. Throughout, he points out the underlying social commentary, his thoughts on violence and celebrity in an absurd world that he sought to satirize in this film.
He was able to get collaboration from fire departments, police departments, and media outlets, and did his research and had technical advisors on set to ensure that what was depicted was as realistic as possible. There was a wardrobe meltdown when they decided to dress De Niro in the actual clothes of one of the advisors, undermining the wardrobe supervisor, who decided to quit the film.
He strove to have the recorded video used in the film complement the filmed footage. The actor Oleg Taktarov really was the operator for his video footage. Herzfeld assigned him the task of watching 5 classic films to train him on the style he wanted Taktarov to employ. Herzfeld incorporated the historic tension between the actors in speaking Czech or Russian as part of their relationship in the film.
He was unaware of the nationality of Vera Farmiga when she auditioned and after she told him that she was raised in New Jersey, he asked her to keep that a secret and let everyone think she was Ukrainian.
There was a theme of casting non-actors in roles related to the media, police and fire department, and even those working in the service industries as depicted in the film. The filming was predominantly in New York City, but they used Los Angeles to double for NYC in some scenes. Herzfeld tried to rehearse some of action on location, which sometimes generated new ideas that improved the scenes. Much of the crowds seen in the film were not actual extras, just spectators that lollygagging while the crew was filming.
The actors did as much of their own stunts as possible, and Herzfeld filmed the action so that the viewer could see that the actual actors were involved.
The look of this film was based on specific artwork, and he was glad to work with a director of photography who shared his vision.
Herzfeld notes which key scenes were added after principal photography was completed because he felt as they started the edit that some beats were missing.
While much of the commentary is replete with production anecdotes, Herzfeld tends more towards plot narration and describing character motivations in the latter half.