Monday, April 30, 2012

DVDs: "TinTin" Can't Defeat Creepy Motion-Capture Animation Style


The Adventures of Tintin ($44.99 BluRay combo; Paramount) -- I'll be forever confused by the fact that two of the savviest, smartest directors in Hollywood oversaw the Tintin feature film -- a life-long dream of so many fans of the Herge stories - and yet neither one of them took a look at the tests or rough footage and said, "Hold it, hold it! This looks weird." Clearly motion-capture technology has its place. It worked in the semi-realistic world of Avatar (it helps if most of your characters have cat eyes). It worked to allow Andy Serkis to deliver brilliant performances in both Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and The Lord Of The Rings (an ape and a Gollum mixed in with live actors and all sorts of other special effects). But when the film is fully animated as in The Polar Express and The Adventures Of Tintin, the weird look of it -- not quite live action, not quite animated -- and the dead eyes of the characters is genuinely ugly. It's like stop-motion animation with none of the charm, animation with none of the freedom and beauty, computer animation with none of the sharpness. It's neither fish nor fowl and it's hard to understand why Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson couldn't see that. I think either a live action film or classic hand-drawn animation to harken back to the original illustrations would have been the way to go. In any case, the script needed more work. Tintin is all about pell-mell adventure but the rather bland hero could use some fleshing out, in every sense of the word. Serkis has some fun as Haddock but it's unimpressive visually or as an adventure, though tiny kids might be captivated. Better to read them the books.





Happy Feet Two ($35.99 BluRay combo; Warner Bros.)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked ($39.99 BluRay combo; Fox)
Hop ($39.98 BluRay combo; Universal)
Wizards ($34.99 BluRay; Fox) -- As Tintin proves, animation ain't easy. Here are four more examples of that. George Miller is one of the boldest, most interesting directors working today. His foray into animation seemed unlikely but Happy Feet was a massive surprise hit. The sequel did a disastrous one-third of the business and was probably one-third as charming as the modest original. Perhaps the biggest factor is that no sequel was needed. Alvin and the gang are back (happily with Jason Lee back on board) in Chipwrecked. The title isn't nearly as clever as The Squeakquel, by the way, and unless you're very young, the hijinks on tap pale quickly. Mind you, it's genius compared to Hop, an almost indifferently made flick starring James Marsden. I don't know why Christmas inspires such great movies and Easter is a flop, but there you are. Finally, I feel bad saying anything bad about the pioneer Ralph Bakshi, whose work the rest of Hollywood still hasn't caught up with. Animation can do so much more than tell fairy tales or family friendly Pixar fare. But Wizards was made for pennies and it shows; you have to really be into his simple tale of good vs evil in a post-apocalyptic future to handle the rough-edged work offered here. Rotoscoping was obviously a precursor to motion-capture and Bakshi always pushed the envelope in terms of story and content. The best elements are the making-of comments by Bakshi himself.


Letter Never Sent ($29.95 BluRay; Criterion) -- The Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov made a string of remarkable films I'm just catching up with. I Am Cuba is the best known -- it's a visually dazzling travelogue. But I was truly blown away by The Cranes Are Flying, one of the greatest works of cinematic history. It tells the story of lovers torn apart by World War II and like I Am Cuba is show-stoppingly beautiful in its imagery but in Cranes that camerawork is geared towards telling an emotionally gripping story. Letter Never Sent falls in the middle and is nearly as great. In it, four geologists are trekking through Siberia looking for traces of diamonds that scientists say are likely there. It's backbreaking work and it doesn't help that the only woman on the trip (the Bjork-like Tatyana Samojlova) is dating one man and deeply desired by another. Forest fires prove an even greater threat as the film becomes an adventure story of humans versus nature a la Never Cry Wolf. The camerawork is again stunning -- courtesy of the great, great Sergei Urusevsky, the talent behind all three films. Sometimes his imagery has the power of political iconography, such as the scene where they're hacking away at the earth and the team looks like Soviet strength personified. Other times it's keyed to the human element. But it's always jaw-dropping. Start with The Cranes Are Flying (also on Criterion) but anyone who loves this sort of tale or fans of great cinematography should jump.



Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel ($29.99 BluRay; Anchor Bay)
Camel Spiders ($24.99 BluRay; Anchor Bay) -- A documentary like Corman's World seems like the easiest thing imaginable to pull off. Heck, who wouldn't have a great story to tell about legendary B movie producer Roger Corman, who gave seemingly everyone in Hollywood a break and let them pay for the privilege of it. Still, it can be so easy that people get lazy whereas this fun endeavor does what you would want. The names are here, such as Martin Scorsese and Peter Fonda to Joe Dante and William Shatner. I'll bet Corman could have made it for less money, however. And he's still at it: witness Camel Spiders, a B movie with a goofy premise (giant camel spiders), a happy obliviousness to logic (the poster features a web because when you hear "spider" you think of webs, never mind that camel spiders don't spin webs) and it stars an actor either on their way up or on their way down (hi, C. Thomas Howell!). It's dumb, it's stupid and people keep watching and Corman keeps laughing.





My Week With Marilyn ($39.99 BluRay combo; Anchor Bay)
Young Adult ($39.99 BluRay; Paramount)
The Myth of the American Sleepover ($24.98; Sundance Selects/MPI)
Gainsbourg ($34.95; Music Box) -- Women dominate these films. The best Michelle Williams to come out in 2011 was Meek's Cutoff. But I was not expecting her to create such a full character out of Marilyn Monroe. The movie is a trifle (and should be called My Month With Marilyn), but Williams avoids imitation and gets to the heart of what might have made this sex-bomb/ambitious actress so beguiling. Is screenwriter Diablo Cody's time in the spotlight passing? That's the fear that drives Young Adult, in which a prom queen (Charlize Theron) moves back home and sets her sights on the boy that got away. The fact that he's married is immaterial. David Robert Mitchell's Sleepover may prove to have enduring legs, thanks to the very talented cast assembled for this quiet drama about the last night of summer. Finally, a man is at the heart of the fitfully engaging Gainsbourg but he sure liked women, didn't he? It's rather routine as far as biopics go, but it's fun to hear those songs again.


In Their Own Words ($49.99; Athena) -- I can't even imagine why not a single US channel chose to pick up this BBC series about great writers and thinkers. Not PBS, not A&E, not any of them? It's a tad pricey as these specialty titles can often be. But this six part series is exactly the sort of thing you expect from public television. You hear audio recordings of Virginia Woolf, J.R. R. Tolkein speaking in Elvish, Jane Goodall on her pioneering work, William Golding, Salman Rushdie and many more.




The Killing First Season ($49.99 BluRay; Fox)
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Third Season ($39.98; Warner Bros.)
That '70s Show Season One ($24.98 BluRay; Mill Creek) -- Since The Killing was famously pilloried for failing to resolve the season-long story arc about uncovering the killer, you'd think they would find some different cover art for the BluRay release than "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" Uh, we don't know yet so why are you taunting us? I sampled a few episodes but decided to wait until I could watch the season in one gulp. Since the major plot point is left hanging, I'll be waiting till season two comes out but it looks great and the cast is strong. Scarecrow never made people wait longer than a single episode to resolve its mysteries. Kate Jackson was always my favorite Angel (I like smart women) and she proved her talent with this froth. That 70s Show barely let any suspense linger beyond a single scene. Some music cues are not original but the BluRay looks good and the price is right. It's a so-so sitcom elevated by a great cast including Ashton Kutcher, Laurie Prepon (who deserves better than the Chelsea Handler sitcom) and of course Topher Grace, the Jack Lemmon of his generation with an equal flair for drama and comedy.


The War Room ($39.95 BluRay; Criterion) -- Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker have made more important, more illuminating films. But The War Room is great fun and captures a moment in the ever-changing world of political campaigns (They've always been nasty and barbed, mind you). Ah, how young George Stephanopolous looks; how tame in comparison to today's vipers the fact-based James Carville appears. It's all great fun and the extras are illuminating, such as the 2008 documentary film Return Of The War Room, panel discussions, video interviews with the filmmakers and a fascinating piece on my personal bete noire polling.


The Three Muskateers ($30.49 BluRay; Summit) -- Do you need a "reason" to make yet another version of the Dumas swashbuckler? No, of course not. It's a perennial. Still, 3D is certainly no excuse; you do need a good cast and some passion for the material. Despite Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz and Milla Jovovich in key roles, this version is let down by it's D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman, who I still remember fondly for the TV series Jack & Bobby). He's better at likable than the arrogant jerk he's asked to assay here. And you'd be hard-pressed to top the defining version from 1973. So you don't need a "reason," you just need the talent to put your own special stamp on this tale.


My Joy ($29.95; Kino Lorber) -- Documentary filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa shows an impressive command of technique and actors but fails in the rather important department of story in his fictional debut. The production notes helpfully inform me that the film's structure is based on the road system of Russia: main roads lead to arteries which lead to smaller roads which can dead end in a village. If you want to get anywhere, you have to turn around and go back. Not knowing that when watching the movie, all I knew was that one character led to the next in a series of vignettes, most of which ended in violence and corruption. A truck driver delivering flour gets "trapped" in a town. At one point, he takes up with a very young prostitute, who is maybe 14 or 15. His decency is somehow so obvious, we know he's not going to buy her services. What's amusing is how furious she becomes when he tries to do her a good turn. Like so many scenes in this film, it's vivid and funny and memorable. Unfortunately, the driver is killed and we move on to new characters. One after another is knocked off, with venal and vicious authority figures a favorite source of pain. Russia is trapped in a cycle of violence? Corruption is endemic? Life is bleak? Take your pick. It's a pity the film reduces itself to slogans since so much solid acting is on display.

Most titles listed here will be available in multiple formats and in multiple combinations, including DVD, Blu ray, digital download, video on demand, streaming and the like. The format listed is the format provided for review, not all the formats available. It is often the most expensive version with the most extras. Do check individual titles for availability in all their various guises and price points.

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It's available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available  for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and  gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free copies of DVDs and BluRays with the understanding that he would be considering them for review. Generally, he does not guarantee to review and he receives far more titles than he can cover.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DVDs: "Tinker, Tailor" Quietly Brilliant; Peak For Oldman


TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY ($34.99 BluRay combo; Universal) -- it's not as if this sober, subtle spy film was ignored -- it was one of the most acclaimed films of the year and received three Oscar nominations. But I think the stock of this remarkable achievement is going to rise steadily. Frankly, I would have thought condensing the convoluted, indirect, intellectual novel by John Le Carre into a feature film was impossible.  (The British did it with a terrific miniseries starring Alex Guinness, but that was a seven part miniseries.) Instead, the compact film meant that audiences could concentrate intently on the tale of intrigue and betrayal unfolding before our eyes, including a career peak for actor Gary Oldman as George Smiley, a role I thought belonged forever to Guinness. Every element is superb and above all it's a sensational second feature from director Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In). He's a major talent we'll be watching for years to come.


I. CLAUDIUS ($59.99; Acorn) -- From a new classic to an all-time great. This BBC miniseries based on the novel by Robert Graves is often cited as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. I've said so myself. But how does it hold up? It's been 20 or 30 years since I've watched it and I worried it might seem a bit stagey or tame given what's followed. This is The Sopranos in Rome and maybe all the shows that have come since will make it look stodgy. Ha! First, this newly remastered set looks simply terrific. And the story of betrayal and lust and madness in ancient Rome (with good old stuttering-but-clever Claudius staying quietly in the background and outliving them all) is as soapy and compelling and fun as ever. What a cast! Sian Phillips is stunning as the power-mad Livia, who'd poison her own husband or son to get what she wants. But she's just one of many, including Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart and of course Derek Jacobi in the title role. Thirty-five years on and it's as compelling as ever. Indeed, one of the all-time greats.


THE MUPPETS ($49.99 BluRay combo; Disney) -- One of the year's most delightful surprises, Jason Segal co-wrote and stars in a sweet, successful update of the Muppets that features good songs, all your favorite characters, celebrity cameos and just the right mix of knowingness and simplicity (the Muppets are never arch or ironic, thank goodness). Yet again, the Muppets need to defeat a bad guy and put on a show to save their run-down amusement park/theater. It's easily the best Muppet movie since the original. Here's hoping they maintain the high standards in the movies to come. And yes, get the Muppets to host the Oscars!



THE SWELL SEASON ($29.95; Docurama)
BATTLE ROYALE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION ($49.99 BluRay; Anchor Bay) -- Here are two releases for people needing a new fix on their favorite loves. Fans of The Swell Season and the Broadway show Once can turn to this documentary for a look at the couple at their center. Following them for three years, it watches as their romance fades but they find a way to continue to collaborate fruitfully. Sad but sweet. And if you have already seen The Hunger Games three times and read the books over and over again, why not dive into the Japanese version that got there first? Battle Royale was a novel about a class of students plucked out of their lives and placed on an island to battle to the death. It was always compared to Lord Of the Flies until The Hunger Games books came out. You can read the book and then watch the two films in this deluxe set, which includes the fun original, a director's cut, a lesser sequel and a disc of extras. It is even more hyper-violent than The Hunger Games, so parents take note.



A NIGHT TO REMEMBER ($39.95 BluRay; Criterion)
TITANIC: THE COMPLETE STORY ($19.95; History/New Video) -- With the 100th anniversary, we're being crushed with Titanic-related programming from a new miniseries to a 3-D reissue of the James Cameron blockbuster, books, articles and on and on and on. But if you take the time to watch only one new release, make sure it's A Night to Remember, the sober, quietly moving British film from 1958 that was scripted by the spy novelist Eric Ambler and is noted for its then-up-to-date historical accuracy, ability to keep the human drama in the forefront and a reserve that makes the tragedy all the more moving. Not surprisingly, Criterion provides loads of great extras, including audio commentary, a 60 minute making-of film, a 50 minute BBC documentary about the disaster, a Swedish show interviewing survivors and archival footage of another survivor, Eva Hart. If you haven't completely gorged, the History Channel's collection of three documentaries is more than 5 hours in all.







THE DESCENDANTS ($39.99 BluRay combo; Fox)
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO ($49.99 BluRay combo; Sony)
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE ($35.99 BluRay combo; Warner Bros.)
CARNAGE ($35.99 BluRay combo; Sony)
IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY ($40.99 BluRay combo; Sony)
MELANCHOLIA ($29.98 BluRay; Magnolia) -- Ah, the best laid plans.... Here are six films made with passion and care and the highest expectations. They all fall short, which makes it all the more remarkable when movies do work. These certainly had everything going for them. Most would call The Descendants a major success and rightly so. It enjoyed critical acclaim and serious box office all over the world. I think it's a step back from the brink for director Alexander Payne and certainly George Clooney is as good as ever while Shailene Woodley is one to watch. But for me, the drama was essentially inert -- I never felt terribly involved and kept wondering about the central dilemma: wouldn't the government of Hawaii want to buy the land for a state park, keeping everyone happy? You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thought this Dragon was better than the foreign language original. Plus, the books becomes increasingly un-cinematic (the foreign trilogy dropped hard in the grosses for movies two and three) so I'd think long and hard before making the sequel. You know a film is in trouble when it's scared of its central storyline -- Extremely Loud was always desperate to insist it's NOT about 9/11, but
"about every day after." Except, of course, it is about 9/11, just not very interestingly. Carnage should have been a slam-dunk but the thin but well-constructed play by Yasmina Reza loses what power it has when you're not literally trapped in a room (or theater) with these characters. A fine cast brings some fun to the proceedings but it's not enough. Angelina Jolie has every right to be proud of her film debut. But it takes a lot of work to grow as a director and not everyone can be Charles Laughton or Orson Welles right out of the box. Next time, she should take on someone's else's script. She's smart enough to make a good director but you know what it takes to get to Carnegie Hall. Finally, Melancholia is a fairly dull end of the world saga set in a stately home (not exactly the sort of folk designed to elicit sympathy as the world comes crashing down). But what  a sensational opening scene -- it's worth owning just to show off your home theater system.



THE BBC NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTION ON DVD ($179.98 DVD; BBC/2Entertain) -- The BBC has so thoroughly raised the standards of natural history programming that it makes Wild Kingdom from my youth look like kiddie stuff. You really should be watching Frozen Planet Sunday nights on Discovery. And either one of these sets will give you a wealth of amazing television. They both rather confusingly have the same name but contain mostly different specials. The BluRay set is of course demo-ready and it contains the terrific show Planet Earth, along with Wild China, Ganges and Galapagos. All look sensational though Planet Earth is head and shoulders above as programming. The DVD set (which contains 18 discs) is the artistic high point. It features Planet Earth and the landmark Blue Planet, as well as David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals and The Life Of Birds. It's absorbing television of the highest order. You can bet that Blue Planet and Planet Earth will be packaged with Frozen Planet someday soon on BluRay and, if you're like me, you already own at least one of them. But as a starter set, either one is going to blow you away.


Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It's available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available  for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and  gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free copies of DVDs and BluRays with the understanding that he would be considering them for review. Generally, he does not guarantee to review and he receives far more titles than he can cover.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DVDs: "War Horse" Stumbles




War Horse ($45.99 BluRay combo; Touchstone/DreamWorks)
The Iron Lady ($39.99 BluRay combo; Weinstein)
We Bought a Zoo ($39.99 BluRay combo; Fox) -- It's been a decade since Catch Me If You Can, director Steven Spielberg's last truly satisfying film. But Tintin and now War Horse are misfires on the level of career low points like Hook and Always, films so out of touch you can hardly believe they came from someone who at the very least always had a populist touch. These two were both appropriately rejected not just by critics but by audiences as well.

War Horse is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, a solid young adult novel with classic status in the UK. It was turned into a brilliant bit of theater (really, you should see it if at all possible). But Spielberg's film fails on every level. I'll focus on just one: the cinematography by the great Janusz Kaminski is laughably over the top, dolloping every scene in such a hazy, "pretty" manner that it becomes self-satirizing...until the would-be tear-jerker of a finale raises the ante even higher and bathes a simple scene of quiet homecoming in such lurid color, it's like reading a preteen's diary where every emotion and sentiment is underlined and followed by a string of exclamation points. Shameless, terrible work.

Meryl Streep on the other hand does sterling work as always in depicting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. It's a pity the movie isn't remotely worthy of her performance. Some object to the film humanizing the divisive Thatcher. I wish the movie had embraced Maggie more strongly: show her as the political steamroller she was. Or demonize her! But do something other than generally ignore what made Thatcher as interesting and compelling as any Shakespearean king. Instead, people who don't know their history would look at this story of a nice little old lady and wonder why people on the street are screaming at her and bombing the places where she stays. Toothless.

Finally, Cameron Crowe is utterly lost. At least Elizaebthtown flopped with originality and a sense of purpose. We Bought A Zoo is just an anonymous, family friendly film that might have been (mis)directed by anyone. Someone help this man.


David Lean Directs Noel Coward ($79.95; Criterion) -- Another impeccable boxed set from Criterion, this one celebrating the collaboration between a young David Lean and writer/actor Noel Coward. Before Lean turned into a specialist in smart epics like Lawrence Of Arabia, he was a tight, economical director. His first truly exceptional movie was Great Expectations, but you can see him building to that masterpiece in these four earlier films.

Blithe Spirit is based on a stage smash about a husband haunted by the ghost of his first wife while trying to get along with his second. As a play, it must have seemed awfully clever. But Coward's essential disinterest in humanity shines through in this silly froth: any writer worth his salt would have grounded the comedy in some sort of purpose, such as having the ghost helping the husband set aside his first love and commit wholly to the new wife or dumping a harridan that was no good for him or... well... something! This comedy just bounces about to no purpose and without nearly enough humor to let it coast on charm.

This Happy Breed is a lower class spin on Coward's Oscar-winning Cavalcade. Both tell the recent history of Great Britain through the eyes of a family. This Happy Breed is solid agit prop to gin up soldiers by reminding everyone of exactly what England was fighting for (hearth and home and all that mush). It's no Mrs. Miniver but interesting nonetheless. Brief Encounter is the best of the bunch, a terribly stiff upper lip drama in which the romance is painfully, beautifully unsatisfied in the most British of manners. After seeing numerous Coward plays, hearing many of his songs and watching these movies, I must admit he leaves me cold. Gilbert & Sullivan are sillier, Oscar Wilde and Shaw more pointed, while Coward is just archness and "sophistication." But Coward certainly couldn't ask for a better presentation of his work. Criterion includes bountiful extras, from a UK TV show about Coward's career to a 1971 documentary about Lean and even a rare audio chat from 1969 between Richard Attenborough and Coward. Clearly, Coward was at his best in small talk.


Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection ($19.93; Shout) -- In this feminine critique of gender roles and the medical society's historic tendency to marginalize, ignore or dismiss as psychological the physical ailments of women, the white uniforms of the nurses represent not purity and innocence but its opposite, the blank slate of desire on which..... Okay, just kidding. This is more Roger Corman B movie silliness. If titles like Candy Stripe Nurses, Night Call Nurses, Private Duty Nurses, and The Young Nurses sound like they're up your alley, by all means dive in. Be prepared for less nudity and naughtiness than you're hoping for but hey -- in the early 1970s there was no Skinemax, so what else did you have to watch?




The Conquest ($29.95; Music Box)
Sleeping Beauty ($24.98; MPI)
Miss Bala ($29.99; Fox) -- The Conquest is a fun, smart political drama about Nicolas Sarkozy's unlikely rise to power. I boned up on French politics to prepare myself for this movie but the performances are sharp enough and the lust for power universal enough to translate into any language. Sleeping Beauty is a rather silly tale of a young woman's almost passive descent into the sort of kinky netherworld that only exists in movies. However, the lead Emily Browning is totally committed to her part and director Julia Leigh is so completely in control of the story on a technical level that you just know they both have real talent and are ones to watch. Miss Bala never quite lives up to its catchy premise -- beauty queen wannabe gets caught up in drug wars -- but is a serviceable thriller nonetheless. I expect a U.S. remake with a comic spin.


Treme Season Two ($79.98 Bl;uRay; HBO) -- I'm still rooting for Treme, the drama about life in post-Katrina New Orleans. I haven't finished with season two yet and I'm still waiting for it all to click into place the way The Wire did about half way through its first season. For the moment, it remains in shambles with an excellent cast as the saving grace of a frustrating, meandering storyline. The bountiful extras look promising, with a focus on the music, the art, the food, the Mardi Gras Indians and most unusual of all a commentary track devoted to the musical performances. You can't fault them for their passion.


Most titles listed here will be available in multiple formats and in multiple combinations, including DVD, Blu ray, digital download, video on demand, streaming and the like. The format listed is the format provided for review, not all the formats available. It is often the most expensive version with the most extras. Do check individual titles for availability in all their various guises and price points.

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It's available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available  for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and  gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free copies of DVDs and BluRays with the understanding that he would be considering them for review. Generally, he does not guarantee to review and he receives far more titles than he can cover.