Film Four


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”

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30 Responses to “Film Four”

  1. daveselectricblanket Says:

    When they became a free channel I stole a quiet erection. Unfortunately, the compromise made means they rely more heavily on advertising revenue. And although the might Dave Medlo seeks real films that provoke with him deep emotions, many people just want to watch funny stuff with Jackie Chan and Arnie in it.

    And I loved Once Upon A Time in the West Midlands. It’s no Mike Leigh but displays the cream of our acting talent and was a lot of fun, if by the numbers.

    Have you seen Nasty Neighbours before?

  2. The Tombstone Says:

    I can’t watch films with adverts, except the Horror Channel, doesn’t seem right.

  3. Swineshead Says:

    Peter Quince (I think that’s what you’re calling yourself these days) – have you not seen any of the Sky Movie channels recently?

    They’re just as bad, if not worse. In terms of repetition, they win. Films are rotated so tightly that you can be halfway into watching a movie (say Superman Begins) on Sci Fi then notice it’s starting again from scratch over on Sky Screens Premiere Whatsit – I can never remember the names of the channels as there are so many endlessly playing the same BLOODY FILMS.

    And Sky Indie is a total misnomer – pretty much all the films on there are non-independent – all funded either directly or indirectly by a major studio. Shit like Juno is faux-indie, trying to rip the sensibilities of indie film-making but then being funded by Fox under their ‘searchlight’ banner. But that’s another topic for another day. I only mention it because it makes me sick.

  4. Quincy Phd Says:

    I just wrote this because I fell heavily for the idea of Film Four when it was launched, but when you flick through the listings you only ever see the most popular movies of all time, or utter shit.

    I’ve got nothing against crap films – hell I love ’em, but does the Animal or Around the World in 80 Days really need to be shown on what is supposed to be the cult channel…?

    And you’re right SH, all the movie channels are misnomers – they’re reduced film watching to a convenience and appeal directly against the idea of you sitting down and actually watching them properly. I don’t subscribe to any movie channels, and I don’t think I ever would.

    Got the internet, haven’t I?

  5. Swineshead Says:

    I wonder if the golden age of torrents will continue forever, or if it’ll end in a bloody campaign of lawsuits and badly thought out fines about five years from now.

  6. George Says:

    Every time a popular downloading site closes, a new one pops up; usually improving on the faults of the previous one and using a new method which means it’s hard to detect.

  7. Swineshead Says:

    The torrent libraries can go undetected, but I’m not sure how much longer the actual seeders and leechers can get away with it. Surely ISPs will be able to catalogue exactly what’s being downloaded eventually.

  8. George Says:

    It depends, I mean look at how we switched from downloading off the site, (like Audiogalaxy) because that got the companies in trouble for breaking copyright rules, to downloading off of each other (soulseek, which hasn’t actually had an iota of trouble in the 6 years I’ve used it for, and others), then they went as people were getting sued, to a technology where you download little bits off of anybody who has that file (torrents) and now people are moving towards blogs and I don’t know what. Actually paying for a hard copy of a recording of music will seem like a silly idea in 100 years time, when viewed in the context of thousands of years of musical history, in my opinion.

  9. George Says:

    Plus, I’m no techy but I remember someone telling me that spying on who’s downloading what would be a little bit like trying to monitor sand moving on a building site. He was lending me series 2-4 of Star Trek TNG at the time as well, so he’s bound to know his shit.

  10. Swineshead Says:

    I see NC’s waging a war against Sharon… what’s that all about then, eh?

  11. charliemingles Says:

    without wanting to come over all intulektial like, I have to say they could show more good foreign cinema. Growing up, I used to watch the late-night French/European movies on BBC2. They showed everything from Claude Chabrol to Louis Bunuel and Francois Truffaut.

    I tuned in for the tits, but I stayed for the great storytelling. There was a documenary on Weiner Fassbinder on BBC4 a few weeks back followed by his two most famous movies. Really really superb stuff. That’s where the proper films are being shown. Film 4 is just the HMV £5 DVD section brought to the screen.

    *takes off glasses and cardigan*

  12. Who Says:

    Has NC really started a war, or is it a prototype for his next board game? I’m still holding a murder card from the last one….

  13. Wenchy Says:

    I remember always wishing I had Sky or Cable so I could watch Film Four. I envisaged sitting on the sofa, eyes glued to the box, film after amazing film. Bliss.

    Then it popped up on freeview! Hurrah!

    I’ve yet to watch one single film on that channel. Not a single one. Honestly, it’s like a chasm of vapid trash – repeated. Time and time again. It’s seriously bloody disappointing. Shame, because the idea they sell is great.

  14. indy Says:

    maybe this just applies for the swedish market but every f*cking month our channel 5 (i think they’ve got an british counterpart) shows either:
    -romy and michelle (sic?)
    -vulcano (might be dante’s peak, what’s the difference?)
    -the rock
    i don’t know why they chose those four films but there must have been some kind of “show them 11 times a year and you’ll get the 12th time for free”-deal from the film company. i’m just sick of ’em.

  15. Swineshead Says:

    Speaking of Sweden (and films) I saw a brilliant Swedish vampire film at the weekend, Indy. It’s called Let The Right One In. Is it available over there yet? It rocked my little socks off.

  16. daveselectricblanket Says:

    The last three films you mention are awesome. And Dante’s Pique has too much dialogue in it for my liking, compared to Volcano.

    The Rock, now how can you go wrong with that? Guns, explosions, breakouts, car chases involving trams, Sir Sean and Nickle-Arse Cage, females – all in ONE flick.

    Michael Bay can make a fair film.

  17. daveselectricblanket Says:

    Peak, sorry Piqued.

  18. Swineshead Says:

    Dave – are there any females in The Rock? I don’t remember any. It’s mainly lots of men showing off their biceps.

  19. Dave Says:

    It’s more ‘female’, but I’ve seen it a few times which justifies the plural.

  20. Quincy Phd Says:

    Swedish cinema – Fucking Amaal, now there’s a great film.

    Wenchy – you’re spot on. The idea of Film Four is exciting but the content they show is largely terrible. “A chasm of vapid trash” indeed.

  21. George Says:

    Michael Bay films are crap, though he did lend himself to a great South Park quote.

    Pentagon Guy: We need an idea to stop the terrorists. I’ll get the best film makers in the land to help me come up with an idea.

    Cut to scene of him talking to Michael Bay .

    MB: How about you have a plane, and that comes down like pessshooweer, and then there’s an explosion like ‘boaarghgdd’ and all these people rush in shooting like ‘phhtsow, phhtsow, phhtsow’ and…

    PG: Mr. Bay, those aren’t ideas, they’re just special effects.

    MB: I don’t… Understand… The Difference.’

  22. Gilbert Wham Says:

    TCM is better, generally. Fuck, Movies 4 Men (no, NOT porn, war movies and such) has shown more interesting things.

  23. Swineshead Says:

    Zone Horror’s where the fun’s at – all the crappy shit that didn’t even make it straight to DVD. I loves it.

  24. extremelisteningmode Says:

    They should try that last line as a more honest slogan.

    Anyway, I’m blogwhoring as we’re live again after a one week hiatus.

    Please visit if you agree that it’s acceptables to torture pop stars;

  25. The Tombstone Says:

    Anyone here see Hole In My Heart? Fucking awesome.

    And did you catch the film on Zone Horror where Coolio faught with Pterordactyls? I could only make about 10 minutes because even I have my limits, and I bought and sat through Camp Blood.

  26. Joanne Says:

    Coolio……pterodactyls?!! *adds to Lovefilm rental list*

  27. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    I vaguely remember the drunken 4am end of a party where I was attempting to sleep in an armchair under a jacket, the sci fi channel was on and a lot of very strange late-night semi-pornographic weird shit worked its way into my brain. There was one thing where there was all mens and one womens in a spaceship, they found some seaweed (spaceweed) floating in space, took it onboard, put it in the ‘scanner’ – it was a microwave – and then all inexplicably started having a lot of sex. I woke up very tired and confused.

  28. The Tombstone Says:

    That sounds like every film I’ve ever seen on the SCI FI channel.

  29. indy Says:

    “Hole In My Heart” was the “F*cking Amaal” -director´s “Kid A”. A farewell to fans who only liked, not loved, him.

  30. Perez Says:

    True Gilbert Wham. I think the right 1970s Asian kung fu flicks on movies4men are great! And the spaghetti western fans seem to like it. Lots of random violence and explosions on that channel for sure! 😀

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