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.

Film Review: No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached is a trite romantic comedy with few redeeming features. In promoting its normative relationship between a white, middle class heterosexual couple, Ivan Reitman’s film does nothing original or illuminating.

Having had brief meetings as kids and as college students, when Emma and Adam reconnect as adults there is a definite attraction. Deciding to embark on a purely physical relationship, the pair decides to end things if either of them develop feelings for the other. Although the arrangement starts off well, things become complicated later…

No Strings Attached begins with a caption that reads “15 years ago”. This gives the audience hope that there will at least be some kitsch references to the mid-1990s to entertain. Sadly this is just a momentary flashback, and No Strings Attached does not even have these little amusements to rely upon. As it stands, the humour is rather lame; there are very few genuinely funny moments.

No Strings Attached features the usual romantic comedy jokes and narrative devices. Towards the end, it appears for a moment that writers Mike Samonek and Elizabeth Meriwether have decided to do something slightly interesting with the conclusion. Unfortunately for viewers, the very predictable outcome is plumped for.

Perhaps what most leaves a sour taste is the all too predictable ‘happily ever after’ conclusion that ties up loose ends for the couple alone. While the main characters and their heterosexual white best friends end up in traditional relationships, the same cannot be said for the friends who do not fit this mould. Thus Adam’s black friend is not paired off with a woman, while Adam and his white friend both are. Similarly, Emma and her white flat mate find love by the end of No Strings Attached, their Asian female friend and their white gay male friend do not. Instead, these characters are left to share the male cast off by the lead female protagonist. Thus, secondary characters do not get the necessary happy ending unless they fall under the same demographic as the lead characters.

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher share good chemistry as Emma and Adam. While this film is typical of Kutcher’s choices, it is a bit more surprising to see Portman in such a light movie. Kevin Kline brings humour and heart as Adam’s father Alvin. The rest of the support cast is fine, but none of them really stand out.

From the heady heights of Ghost Busters via the weak My Super Ex-Girlfriend and now No Strings Attached, Ivan Reitman’s directing career seems to be on a slow downward spiral. This is probably the worst thing that this film represents.