Tony Earnshaw: Why I'm heading to my man cave with the Beatles this Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year...More to the point, it's the period when my friendly local postie staggeres to my door laden with bundles of screeners from all corners of the world.Screeners are DVDs sent by film distribution companies, PRs and studios to journalists in readiness for the coming awards season.
The Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week.The Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week.
The Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week.

And whilst some reflect films already on release, others (especially in the UK) are for movies yet to be seen on these shores.

Thus Earnshaw Towers becomes, albeit briefly, a hub of previews and premieres, at least in my part of Yorkshire.

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This morning a bulky parcel contained a dozen discs including the Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week and the Korean zombie chiller Train to Busan. It’s an indication of the wide cross-section of films on release every year, and the manner in which a reviewer must switch gears from one genre to another.

So Christmas for me will involve a gleeful conveyor belt of films in the privacy of my own man cave. The kids won’t be admitted, nor the missus. And definitely not family, friends or random Christmas visitors. That’s not how it works. Because there’s something else going on here. It’s about trust. Pirating and the risk of it has largely put paid to regular Press shows and previews, especially north of Watford.

And when the big splashy previews occur journalists are invariably met by hulking security guards who confiscate phones “and other recording devices”. It’s now the norm, not the exception.

This is a million miles from the 10th generation VHS copy of ET bought from a guy with a duffle bag full of tapes who wanders into your local on a weekend. Or the market trader with dodgy DVDs in badly photocopied (and home-made) covers, selling for a fiver. It goes beyond that and edges into paranoia. Yet when it comes to the awards season journalists get the newest films to watch at home on their super-wide screen, or on their laptop. Though the latter does seem to be the antithesis of what constitutes cinema. The likes of David Lean would be spinning in his grave. There’s no evidence that I know of that points to journalists, reviewers or critics (choose your monicker) being responsible for pirating and otherwise disseminating knock-off copies of new blockbusters to the wider populace. In fact when it has happened the dupe has been traced back to industry folk – the people who make movies, not write about them. But, heigh-ho, it’s a cross we have to bear. So don’t expect me to share my goodies. They’re mine, all mine. And, in any case, sharing equals breaking the rules and we wouldn’t want that, would we...?