Archive for August 25th, 2008

Film Four

August 25, 2008

We all know Film Four the production company, responsible for some of the best British films of the last 20 years – but what about its younger brother, the hip movie channel? Is it a safe haven for real film fans to see hidden classics and cool masterpieces, as their advertising suggests, or is it just a dumping ground for a whole load of movies that Channel 4 own the rights to screen and haven’t got the time to show?

Let’s look through a week’s scheduling and find out, shall we?

Saturday – Good start, kicking off with the Matthew Broderick classic Wargames and the studio Gibhli gem The Cat Returns. An old Western later, though, and we’re into dull repetitive territory with the Around the World in 80 Days debacle and the -apparently-a-classic-but-actually-quite-shit Braveheart. After midnight they fulfil their remit by showing a couple of quirky indies that few people have seen. Shame they’re on so late, really.

Sunday – Kicking off with an immediate repeat of the Around the World in 80 Days is a bad start. but following it with the Macaulay Culkin version of the Nutcracker and then Carry On Up the Khyber is downright insulting. Clearly good family films weren’t available so they chose the worst in the world instead. The evening schedule doesn’t get much better with the godawful Little Nicky and, even worse, the remake of Shaft. Come midnight they whack another black and white indie on but it hardly atones for the sins of the day.

Monday – The afternoon is ok – running a series of classic movies (Moulin Rouge, From Hell to Texas) but sitting right back in the saddle for the nice looking but utterly vacuous Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Another massively popular movie follows – the multi-Oscar winning Million Dollar Baby. And genuine kudos for premiering Silent Light before midnight.

Tuesday – The Cat Returns is on again, as is some promo guff for Hellboy 2. Heaven Can Wait makes it on at 7 which is a bonus because it wasn’t the awful Chris Rock remake Down to Earth. Shawshank Redemption is the big movie at 9 – great film, but doesn’t everyone in the world own a copy?

Wednesday – Old movies in the afternoon and then, inexplicably, they show a Rob Schneider movie – and not even one you’d have heard of, but The Animal. Fucking terrible. That man deserves to be lynched, if not denied access to the Oscars. It doesn’t get much better afterwards with the overworthy emoting of Men of Honour. Cuba Gooding Jr and Rob Schneider are not a good mix. The Film Four funded but not very good Once Upon in the Midlands follows.

Thursday – Clearly the office day out as it’s nothing but repeats; the Nutcracker AGAIN, Carry On Up the Khyber AGAIN, Braveheart AGAIN, Shaft AGAIN.

Friday – A half day of repeats (Little Nicky, again…?) mixed with a half day of old movies and a couple of new films – the premiere KM31 and Bill Paxton’s horror debut Fraility.

And the verdict….? Well. Meh. Not exactly terrible but hardly the dynamic bag of exciting cinematic action their adverts would have you believe. All the really interesting stuff is on after midnight and they pepper their evening schedules with either crap movies that noone wants to see or classic films that everybody owns.

It does get a tad repetitive but I guess that’s part and parcel of a digital TV channel – what I don’t understand is why they repeat the shit films. Does the world really need two showings of Around the World in 80 Days over the course of a weekend? Does it even need one?

Film Four sells itself very well but in truth it’s just a little bit shit. There’s no great movie love going on here, just some nondescript films to be wrapped around the the 20 minute ad breaks. The scheduling is hardly exciting and there’s a curious lack of films they’ve made themselves – almost as if they’re not showing those so that they can squeeze a little more out of the DVD sales.

Their movies read like a car crash between middle england and a predictable student… Braveheart? Shawshank Redemption? Why not just show The Great Escape and Star Wars while you’re at it? Film Four is meant to be THE film channel – the cool one, the hip one, the one with the love of movies and not the one that shows you the movies you already possess.

“Film Four: great films you own, shite ones you don’t”