Just to respond to this passage...
A case in point: how about a halfway decent match-up of films, directors or genres with the people out there who are genuine experts on them? We’ve reached an anything-goes situation in which filmmakers even vaguely assimilable to “cult” cinema and its circuits of fan appreciation – Buñuel, Bergman, Godard, Jodorowsky, Chytilová, Borowczyk, Melville, Pasolini, you name it – automatically get the down-home treatment. I often have the sense that some disc producers are simply unaware of the best writings (and thus potentially the best contributors) out there, including those that are easily accessible online.
Although the question that he then proceeds to ignore (or, more likely, quietly elide) is to ask how many of these outstanding scholars would be up to the task of recording a commentary given all the various timing and budgetary constraints, plus of course the deeply peculiar nature of the medium itself. As a highly experienced commentator himself, Adrian knows full well that it demands a highly unusual skillset, and plenty of outstanding writers either won't touch commentaries at all or will do it once but never again.
The Scott Eyman piece that I linked to above is still one of the best I've read about the often dramatic differences between producing scholarly writing and creating a scene-specific 90-minute-plus commentary. I've hired commentary debutants (from the day I was first given commissioning powers, I made a point of hiring newcomers for whatever medium I've had the power to commission for, as I strongly believe in giving people similar breaks to ones that I've enjoyed myself), and while some discoveries turned out to be naturals, others decidedly weren't - I've already mentioned the guy who started noticeably running out of material after twenty minutes (if that), and his credentials as a scholar/researcher were precisely along the lines that Adrian's calling for. And I've just remembered someone who's unquestionably one of the
leading scholars when it comes to one of the filmmakers that Adrian singles out (and with multiple books on that particular topic to prove it), but whose first commentary was less than enlightening, with far too much unnecessary description of what was happening onscreen. Which, again, illustrates the difficulties people have in adjusting to the commentary medium, no matter how impressive their qualifications going in.
Incidentally, thus far Indicator's Columbia Noir boxes are making a point of using a different commentator for each and every title - including Adrian, as it happens - and it's been fascinating working with the end results, because the approaches have been so diverse. Most of the contributors are known to be safe pairs of hands, but there've also been at least two debutants thus far.