Hi Gary - thanks
for doing this.
Nice to talk to you Adam and congratulations on your recent nuptials.
How do you decide what to review? How much is based upon what your readers would like to see vs. what you were supplied via screeners?
I like to think it's a little of both. In the past couple of years I've tried to expand my own tastes to include more mainstream titles. This opens-up our niche community where we can - hopefully - expose some of the other, lesser-known, but important, films to a larger audience. I never wanted us to be a little enclave of film snobs. It's easy to see we have strong support for Criterion, Masters of Cinema, BFI, Second Run etc. and will review almost everything we can from those distributors. We have specific reviewers for other cinema styles or genres - Eric covers Euro-horror, Gregory does some clandestine noir, Leonard does Korean dramas, Per-Olaf and Brian expose some great UK titles etc. I try to review almost everything that I watch. Personally, I don't request screeners from anyone as I don't want to be obliged to cover everything they send. The other day I got sent a German DVD boxset of a 90's TV show called "Parker Lewis Can't Lose". Perhaps it was a mistake as I have absolutely no intention of even opening it. I still buy a lot of DVDs or Blu-rays to review - these can represent stuff we want to expose or compare but haven't established any relationship with the distributor - or the distributor is very small and doesn't send out screeners. Most importantly I want to review things that our audience may like. I don't see the point of consistently reviewing films that we dislike or more appropriately - don't appreciate.
What do people email you about?
Encouragement, titles to review - upcoming releases to add to the calendar - I'd love to say it's all praise, but obviously not. We make mistakes. If you publish 20 facts about a DVD or Blu-ray edition over almost 6,000 releases - well, you are going to make some factual errors. We correct them right away if told about them - and are appreciative to the sender. We also are quite aware that we make more than our share of spelling and grammar mistakes - but our goal is to disseminate information to our community. If I was to fuss over every crossed 'T' or dotted 'i' the number of editions I am able to cover would drop significantly. Whether we make frequent errors or not - I think most people gather our inference - the gist of what we are trying to say. We are admittedly imperfect - but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
DVDBeaver are going full tilt into Blu-ray. Do you see this as the future of home theater?
Absolutely. It was a tough transition in the beginning though. I didn't doubt that a superior format to DVD would eventually evolve for the average homeowner, but as you know we have some aggressive opposition on the Listserv. Two chaps were openly smearing the new format and DVDBeaver for covering them. This was a while ago and we don't hear from them anymore - they probably both have Blu-ray players now.
How do you feel Blu-ray has changed your outlook on film?
I credit DVD with expanding my viewing selection, but Blu-ray with allowing me, in my home, to appreciate film at another level. Blu-ray has also expanded my viewing to include titles that I probably wouldn't have bothered with previously - and many I like. There are so many DVDs in my collection that I will own the rest of my life as, unfortunately, not everything will make it to 1080P...
I feel like a lot of people don’t understand the Amazon affiliate program, I’ll confess that I don’t know much about it myself other than you get a kick-back when people use the links which helps you to subsidize the site. Just how important are those to the success of DVDBeaver?
How it works is that if you use one of our site links to get to Amazon - it registers a 24 hour cookie credited to DVDBeaver. If you purchase within that period, without using another affiliate's link afterward, we receive a small commission. It doesn't affect the consumer price. In short, those who purchase through our Amazon links - keep us going. It is, by far, our number one source for income to pay for our, ever expanding, bandwidth, Server maintenance, new releases etc. We encourage Pre-ordering as it can be a decent savings over time. This is also why we try our best to review prior to the release date.
You don't post in the Criterion Forum anymore. Care to tell us why?
I don't post in any Forums, Adam - no time. The Criterion Forum has some passionate, and highly intelligent film fans but I also like how Ron has run the Home Theater Forum - quite early he just removed the abusive types and people are very respectful there. Both are great places to lurk but if I am stumped I rely on our own 550 strong ListServ for opinions. There is a ton of knowledge there, too.
The Listserv has evolved over the years... It was a bit more vocal in years past, with people discussing a wide range of topics, from film to DVD releases to even some heated political debates. Nowadays it’s a bit more quiet, with most discussions pertaining to your reviews, and the occasional recommendation. I can imagine it must be a bit tiring to moderate these discussions. In a perfect world what do you see the the listserv being?
I know this sounds ironic but I *think* the ListServ has less posts because it is larger than ever before. People feel reticent to talk openly to a larger crowd than a smaller one. There are some incredible film minds on the ListServ and discussions can sometimes be intimidating. I'd love for there to be more discussion but I also don't want it so large that people turn-off. I appreciate most when people post opinions on films they have seen on disc or transfers they like or dislike. People who want to subscribe sometimes get mad that there is an 'approval process' - this is only to limit SPAMMERS. Without this we'd get tones of messages involving Viagra or whatever. We are always looking to expand our knowledge base - people may join HERE.
Where do you surf?
DVDBasen daily. MRQE and IMDb. NY Times. BBC. Facebook maybe once or twice a week. Pretty boring I'm afraid.
Go to any of your competitors?
I didn't think we had any - just joking. No, I can't control what other sites do - so I just stick to trying my best with DVDBeaver. DVDBasen gives me a gauge on that. It can be fun uncovering information - especially when there are many people who perceive it has having value.
You seem to post reviews so much earlier than any other site. How is this possible?
I'm only a DVD/Blu-ray reviewer - not a film reviewer. I greet the postman/courier at the door in the morning and 5 minutes later an upcoming Criterion, MoC, Sony, Fox etc. release is playing on my system with my notepad in hand. I love watching new films and enjoy compiling information on the discs for consumption on DVDBeaver. I joke about a lot of things but I take this pretty seriously. I only review the digital portion - for the film itself we will link to Rosenbaum, Kehr or someone with far more expertise than any opinion I can give. I prefer that the review coincides with my opinion but I save a lot of time focusing solely on the transfer and extras. As long as I feel people want this information - I will try my best to supply it in a timely manner.
Who are your favorite DVD Distributors?
Obviously Criterion are a big part of our site and I also love their Eclipse label. Beyond them, I really enjoy and respect some of the UK distributors like Masters of Cinema - I'm thrilled with what Nick continues to do there. I also love watching BFI and their terrific Blu-rays, Artificial Eye - they do Bresson, Tarkovsky, Dardennes etc. better than anyone in does in North America and Second Run with exposing some hidden classics - stuff I had never heard of before.
In the U.S.?
From the big studios - Warner, Universal and Sony's vintage cinema boxsets with Fox doing some strong Blu-rays. While I've never been keen on what Kino produced in DVD - I'm impressed with their first two Blu-rays and am also impressed with Blue Underground's high-def discs. I think it still remains the most exciting time ever to be a, serious or casual, film fan.
Are there Blu-ray distributor's that you don't like?
Alliance, TVA, Maple - all in Canada. I'm a little suspicious of Optimum's Blu-rays but need to review more. I don't like the French ones that have forced subtitles.
Do you have any guilty pleasures that we don't know about?
Probably too many. To unwind, or keep me company I watch animated comedy TV shows like King of the Hill, The Family Guy, Futurama, The Simpsons and now American Dad. There are so many quick gags it's not like I have to pay attention to a plot or anything. Since I haven't had broadcast TV in the home for almost 10 years this kind of fills a gap. If I'm not listening to a commentary when doing the donkey-work of the site - one of these shows is usually on.
Do you have any opinions about Polanski?
I get a lot of email about this. The Tenant, Death and the Maiden, Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion - rank as some of my favorite films. I've read the re-hashed court transcripts regarding this current business and see people in Forums giving long-winded opinions on whether he is guilty or not... but that was already determined. He fled justice - end of story. The media eats this up constantly repeating terms like '13-year old', 'sodomy'. 'rape', 'drugged' - well that just sells more copy. He doesn't need to be tried all over again. Justice should be served - that's why we have a justice system. If every plaintiff fled because he wasn't prepared to accept the repercussions of his conviction - the system would fall apart - whether the whole world thought the plaintiff was guilty - or innocent. Celebrities shouldn't be given the ability to make those determinations. If they're not treated as everyone else - then the masses are getting the wrong message. People are supposed to be treated equally, right? - that means Polanski should be subject to the law - and this will include whatever penalty there is for fleeing. I have no opinion on what those penalties should be.
How is Beaver doing financially? - you haven't had a 'Donation Drive' in a couple of years.
Yes - I think, and hope, we have turned the corner for good, although it's not always steady. We exist only because thoughtful members of our community use our Amazon links when purchasing. I tempered my expectations due to the economic slowdown and started posting as much as I could to keep us afloat - increasing my workload. We're a little better than month-to-month. I'm not complaining.
Any new articles coming up?
Jonathan and I have talked about his next but I know he is a busy journalist even in, supposed, retirement. I wanted to do one on 'Films that I frequently re-watch' - not necessarily great films - but comforting films-on-digital that I, personally, keep going back to. Relaxing and still entertaining cinema. I have a whole shelf of them.
Care to share some of those with us?
Personally? Well, it's quite a mixed bag, and I'll repeat that I may not consider them 'great' films - most aren't. I re-watch Mysterious Island, The Fountainhead, Detour, Waterloo Bridge, Juno, The Big Lebowski - this still gets better each viewing, Mighty Aphrodite, This Gun For Hire, The Spanish Prisoner, This Island Earth, Giant, Best Years of Our Lives, Psycho, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Signs - and about 20 more - there are some westerns there - like Shane. Most have to do with fond memories from my childhood but different reasons for others too. I don't know - there is no specific rhyme or reason - or at least none that I have found. I just can't watch heavy Art films - ONLY - or films-on-disc that I am solely watching to review. While the romantic in me loves I Fidanzati, or Atonement - but these moves can also be too draining to digest frequently. I have others that I don't often re-watch but could stick in at any given time and re-play - pretty much anything by Antonioni, Bresson, or Kubrick.
Do you have a favorite director?
Antonioni's cinema language is unparalleled from the 1000's of films that I have seen. So, 'The Maestro'. That was easy...
Is Rosetta still your favorite film?
It gets harder and harder to identify lists using a 1-10 rating system. I only gauge by what I've watched in the last year or so.
Can you throw out a few titles?
Hmmm....The Silence of Lorna, Synecdoche NY, 7 Pounds, Sunshine Cleaning, Ballast, Powder Blue - don't go by me on this one though - everyone else hated it.
How are you two boys doing?
Super - thanks for asking. Kyle is about to turn 7 and Sean just turned 5. Two brothers - very active - French, piano, tae-kwon-do, swimming... busy busy. You'll know one day I'm sure...