Films on Television

Today sees the launch of the Sony Movie Channel in the UK. It got me thinking about the possibility of every major distributor having their own film channel. It would call into question the dominance of packages like Sky Movies. Currently, there are only a few film channels available without the Sky Movies package, most notably Film4 and TCM. Disney offer a host of channels, although their Disney CineMagic requires a subscription. If other major distributors follow Sony’s lead, it would change how people view films on television. There would still be a need for ‘premier’ channels, as it would be unlikely that a distributor channel would show its own films on television that soon after theatrical release.

Futhermore, the main television channels would also still show films and feature terrestrial television premiers of new movies. Nevertheless, more non-subscription film channels would offer the television viewer more choice. And given the proliferation of streaming and online viewing services, new film channels would surely increase the viewership of films on television.

If every major distributor follows Sony’s example, what can we expect these new channels to show? I pondered what delights may be on offer…

Sony Pictures

Sony Movie Channel launches on 3rd May 2012. The very first film screened will be Woody Allen’s fantastic Manhattan Murder Mystery. The channel will be screening films from the last three decades, so not quite the full back catalogue of Sony Pictures. If they choose to extend this remit, the channel could screen some fantastic films. At their best Sony have distributed classics such as It Happened One Night and Ghostbusters. They are also responsible for Jack and Jill.

20th Century Fox

The television side of the Fox corporation is alive and kicking, particularly in America. If Twentieth Century Fox had their own movie channel, audiences could expect such delights as Star Wars and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Also on offer would be Big Momma’s House and its sequels.

Paramount Pictures

One of the major film companies of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Paramount have a rich back catalogue. A Paramount movie channel could offer some of the finest films ever made, including Double Indemnity and Rear Window. The channel could also screen No Strings Attached.

Universal Pictures

Celebrating their 100th anniversary this week, Universal also have a tremendous array of films to populate a hypothetical movie channel with. Viewers could look forward to tuning in to Bride of Frankenstein and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. 2004’s Wimbledon may not attract quite the same viewing figures.

Warner Bros

Famed for their crime films in the 1930s and 1940s, and their box office-dominating recent franchises, a Warner Bros move channel could feature a cornucopia of classic films. Films as diverse as The Maltese Falcon and The Dark Knight could be aired,  but so could 2011’s New Year’s Eve.

Sony Movie Channel launches on Thursday 3rd May 2012 in the UK, on Sky channel 323.

Midnight in Paris Trailer

British cinemagoers finally get to see Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris when it opens on 7th October 2011. I’ve heard good things about this film, so I am really looking forward to it. I really enjoyed last year’s Whatever Works, so this should be factored in when you appraise the worth of my opinion. Manhattan Murder Mystery is probably my favourite of Allen’s films, so also factor this in. Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams.

Film Review: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is not one of Woody Allen’s finest films. Considering the writer-director’s cinematic flair however, the film is still a cut above many other comedy romances.

After forty years of marriage, Alfie leaves his wife Helena to pursue a younger lifestyle and a younger woman. Meanwhile, their daughter Sally longs to start a family but is having marital problems with her husband, struggling writer Greg. Each of the four encounters new people, which leads to trouble…

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger lacks the charm of some of Allen’s earlier efforts, such as Manhattan Murder Mystery. Nevertheless, the film is still amusing and engaging. Characters are well written, if not always likeable, and the incidents that occur offer humour as well as contemplation.

Allen centres the action on a family, and their liaisons with others. It is very much an ensemble piece, with the four main characters wrangling for screen time with the assorted extras. Some of these side characters appear a little one dimensional, but add comedy and drama to proceedings.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is not as witty as some of Woody Allen’s best scripts. Humour is present however, and it is mostly generated through Helena and the minor characters. There is no distinct Woody Allen character, such as Boris in Whatever Works. Instead, a number of the characters take on the writer-director’s typical neuroses. Most prominent of these is Helena, who likes a drink and appears highly-strung. Elsewhere, Roy is the writer struggling with self-confidence, and attracted to a beautiful young woman. It is perhaps because of this absence of the singular recognisable Allen archetype that the film fails to enamour in the same way as the filmmaker’s best films. It is this character type that often brings the wit, which would explain why You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is not as consistently funny as you would hope.

Allen’s other London-based movies have not been that well received. However, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger fares better than the previous movies set in the city. The film paints a fairly romanticised picture of London; the locations featured are in the more attractive areas of the city. This is not unexpected as gritty realism is not something Allen is known for.

Performances from the cast are excellent overall, and the casting is spot on. Gemma Jones as Helena stands out in particular, while Naomi Watts is convincing as Sally. Lucy Punch is suitably over the top as Charmaine.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is an enjoyable movie, which is underscored by a layer of quiet contemplation. It is definitely worth a watch, even if it is not the film Woody Allen fans were hoping for.