Monday, March 05, 2007
Track Marks, Part Two
Following up on last week’s entry, here is the first installment of what I feel are some of the best – or at least most entertaining – DVD commentaries out there today, in rough alphabetical order. Comments welcome.
ANIMAL FACTORY (Columbia Tri-Star). Commentary by Danny Trejo and Eddie Bunker
Not many people saw this great Steve Buscemi-directed prison drama from 2000, though it sported a brutally authentic atmosphere and a terrific cast, including Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Mickey Rourke, Seymour Cassell and the great Mark Boone Jr. The commentary adds yet another level of authenticity, coming as it does from ex-con-turned-novelist Eddie Bunker, who wrote the book it’s based on, and ex-con-turned-actor Danny Trejo, who co-stars and, with Bunker, co-produced. They were fellow convicts at San Quentin in the 1960s, and the commentary gives them a chance not only to reminisce about the day-to-day realities of prison life (“Some of the most politest people in the world are in the penitentiary,” Trejo says, “The last thing you want to do is be rude to another killer”), but also to marvel at where life took them afterward (“Boy, we come a long way, Bunk”).
Bunker, a career armed robber, sold his novel “No Beast So Fierce” to Hollywood while he was still in prison, and saw it made into the Dustin Hoffman movie STRAIGHT TIME. After his release, more novels (the best of them is 1981’s LITTLE BOY BLUE) and film roles (most notably Mr. Blue in RESERVOIR DOGS) followed. Trejo eventually became a drug counselor and served as a consultant on films such as RUNAWAY TRAIN and HEAT. He’s since become one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood, with roles in the SPY KIDS films, the new SHERRYBABY and the upcoming GRINDHOUSE. But their commentary here brings them back to another time, before Hollywood or anyone else came calling, and their futures promised only more of the same. Bunker died in 2005. His 2000 memoir, EDUCATION OF A FELON, is a classic.