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Insomnia (2002)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Christopher Nolan (in order of shooting sequence) Rating:6.4/10 (11 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by sedna on November 11th, 2012:Find all reviews by sedna
Film school commentary alert! I am quite surprised there are still no reviews of this commentary. It\'s as if people have no idea of its existence! This is an amazing breakdown of the film by Nolan and booooy are you gonna learn a ton about the craft of filmmaking here. Yes, it does go in order of shooting sequence, so it\'s a very unconventional. You get a NON-STOP insight into what Nolan was going for with the film by giving you a breakdown of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. It\'s truly amazing just how much psychology lies in every aspect of the film. It is a blend of technical and theory and Nolan is never short of breath about it, nor are there any awkward moments. Nolan could be a great film scholar if he wanted to. He really gets how to transcend ideas and themes through shooting a film. This is one of the greatest breakdown commentaries I\'ve heard. I\'m still baffled how no one has even posted a review on this and I\'m glad I have the honor of being the first to do so. This is a very revealing track about Nolan\'s process. I loved it.
Reviewed by musíl65 on August 18th, 2014:Find all reviews by musíl65

The commentary goes in order of shooting sequence. That’s a brilliant idea. You get a picture about the working style of the director and the problems during the shoot. And he has a lot of good points. Nolan mentions many technical points, but also a lot about the actors and the script. Everything is well thought here. A monster track: 10 out of 10.
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on August 3rd, 2019:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
Previous reviews cover this one nicely. The shooting sequence order provides another window of insight into the filmmaking process, and this track never runs out of steam. Christopher Nolan obviously knows his craft, both in terms of production and in story-telling. I really wish he would have continued recording commentaries.
Reviewed by grimjack on June 6th, 2021:Find all reviews by grimjack
You know why not many seem to know this exists? Because it is well hidden in the menus, under production diaries. If you press the audio button during the movie, there is not commentary track there, which means the film must be on the DVD twice.

My review is that it is a very interesting idea, for Nolan to record his commentary in the order it was shot in. (And amusing because Nolan was also the director of Memento.) This breaks up the film, but it means the director is not just watching the film and commenting on it, but instead has obviously planned out what he was going to say, and thinking about each scene of the film, rather than the film as a whole. It could make it worse, but not with this director. And it is educational about how the shooting days makes a difference. Things like how much time you have to shoot, lighting issues you might solve later, etc..

Overall, it is very technical, talking about camera placement, editing, lights. Not just how good the performance of the actors are, and how well they know their characters, but actually points out that Pacino knew more about making film than anyone else on the set - and was very helpful.

But it is not just technical. Nolan points out lots of little moments in Pacino's acting that are easy to miss. How he wanted the actor to give various impressions, and Pacino did them great.

A couple of times he talks about sound design, and complains about road noise, babbling brook noise, hard to hear actors, etc., which is funny considering he is famous for his lack of not caring about hearing actors. And here he knew to use sound design to show irritation and a lack of focus in Pacino as insomnia is taking him over.

Also of interest is how the first time he was able to film Robin acting, he was so relieved that Robin played it exactly as he wanted: Like an exceptionally ordinary person. Who hires Robin Williams to be ordinary?
Commentary 2: Actor Hilary Swank, production designer Nathan Crowley, editor Dody Dorn, cinematographer Wally Pfister and screenwriter Hillary Seitz Rating:4.9/10 (7 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by grimjack on June 6th, 2021:Find all reviews by grimjack
So barely a commentary track, and more like a half dozen of the people who worked on the film were recorded talking about something, and they place those few minutes in the most appropriate places during the film. Not really that interesting, especially when compared to Nolan's.