Film Four to go free

No mention of when it’s going to happen, but the Media Guardian is reporting that Film Four is finally to do the sensible thing and become a free-to-view channel. Given its tiny subscriber base, the news isn’t wholly surprising.

Film Four is a channel that in theory, is great. Yet it never was in practice. I, for one, should have been one of its obvious targets, but frankly, I could never justify the cost, given that whenever I looked at its listings, there was never anything on I wanted to watch. There should have been, but there wasn’t.

I might have been happy with it as pay-per-view so that I could watch the occasional movie of interest as it floated by, but free sounds even better. I hope the move is as much a success as the shift of E4’s sales model was.

UPDATE: Broadcast Now says Film Four will be free to view in July.

Basic Instinct 2: a downmarket version of Basic Instinct is actually possible!

In case you haven’t yet seen the ‘leaked’ footage of Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction, I envy you. Would that I could go back to those heady, innocent days. You can view it over on Rope of Silicon (hmmm…) if you want, but I warn you:

  1. It’s very, very bad
  2. It’s so very, very bad, you’ll be pining for the high quality writing that Joe Eszterhas brought to the original
  3. You’ll wonder what the hell David Morrissey was thinking. Okay, you probably won’t. It’s quite clear what he was thinking. But will you be able to take him seriously again? Could you take Michael Douglas seriously once you’d seen him in that v-neck down the night club? No. You couldn’t.

But you’re a grown adult, I take it, so if you want to make that choice, it’s up to you. But you won’t be able to go back. Oh no.

Film reviews

The Island: Why it flopped

The Island poster

There’s an interesting article on Slate about why Scarlet and Ewan’s The Island flopped last summer. It has some interesting points to make, but there are a couple of things I take issue with.

Firstly, the author, Edward Jay Epstein, describes The Island as original. As good old Mark Kermode pointed out at length, it wasn’t; at the very least, it was very, very close to The Clonus Horror, but it certainly had echoes of Logan’s Run and several other movies in there as well.

Secondly, he also says “What really failed here was not the directing, acting, or story (which were all acceptable for a summer movie)”. While Ewan and Scarlet could certainly have phoned in worse performances and the directing was actually reasonably good at times, the second half of the story was astonishingly bad. The heroes fall off the side of a skyscraper, stuck to a giant logo, and all that happens is they get a couple of scratches!? How does that work?

While the first half was reasonably clever and interesting, the second half was just a neverending series of setpiece stunts. If that’s what’s now acceptable then it’s easy to see why 2005 lacked any rmust-see blockbusters. Blockbusters aren’t ever going to smash records with a Hamlet-like script, but audiences have to feel they’re not having their intelligences utterly insulted. If Hollywood wants to know where it’s going wrong, it should take a firm look at their writing processes to see how to get better quality into the scripts.

The IT Crowd: funny or not funny?

My vote was for funny, although it dragged slightly in the middle of the second episode. Still, enough laughs in there to make me eager for the next episode. Courtesy of today’s Broadcast Now email, we can see that critics were divided about how funny it was:

The IT Crowd (C4)

“The fact that the laugh track didn’t grate was evidence of how successfully Graham Linehan had pulled off the self-consciously retro style of The IT Crowd.”

Thomas Sutcliffe, The Independent



The IT Crowd (C4)


“It couldn’t be sillier and, as a consequence, couldn’t be funnier.”

Caitlin Moran, The Times



The IT Crowd (C4)


“The whole thing is utterly and completely bereft of any smidgen of wit, humour or comic insight, and is possibly the least comedic comedy of the century.”

AA Gill, The Sunday Times



The IT Crowd (C4)


“At a time when most of the best comedy is pretty dark, [The IT Crowd is] so good-hearted and celebratory that it does feel distinctly refreshing.”

James Walton, The Daily Telegraph



The IT Crowd (C4)


“The IT isn’t funny Crowd.”

Ian Hyland, News of the World

Despite the hopes placed on The IT Crowd by Channel 4, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the next mass-market hit: ratings for the first two episodes were only two million or so.

PS My mate Martin hates Richard Ayoade. Why? Apparently, Ayoade was a bit of a nobber back in his Cambridge days and rejected Martin’s scripts all the time when they were working together in Footlights. Seems a reasonable enough reason for hate to me.