Flicking through the TV listings on my Sky+ box (to our American friends: it’s the closest we Brits get to TiVo) I chanced upon the listings for one of Sky’s movie channels, namely Sky Modern Greats. In the past, I’ve remarked that doing the schedules for that channel sounds like a dream job, primarily because I found Rocky IV sitting in the schedules amongst some genuine cinematic classics. You can read about it here.
I’d actually not been near Sky’s marquee channel for the latest classics of the silver screen for some time, until I accidentally happened across a name in its listings that I thought must be some kind of mistake. But no: I immediately went online and checked the TV listings, and it really was there. Sky Modern Greats was showing the Will Smith epic, Wild Wild West.
Again, I’ve written about Wild Wild West before on this site, primarily at the point were it was declared the worst blockbuster movie of the last ten years. And, I might be wrong, but I don’t remember our e-mail inbox buckling under the weight of complainants demanding a recount. You can read the article here.
I was, thus, intrigued, and immediately ventured over to the Sky Modern Greats to see what else I could dig up. And I’ve since concluded that for the month of January and perhaps early February too, someone got the instructions for running the channel mixed up. Sky proclaim on the homepage for the channel, “You like things modern and you like things great – why would you choose anywhere else to be?” We’ve got several reasons why.
Firstly, let’s not let them off too lightly over Wild Wild West. How anyone who sits through that carbuncle of a film could ever reach for the word “great” when the credits roll is a modern day mystery to us. We’ve met people who don’t mind the movie (and we’ve met some who adore the title song), but even they concede it’s shit, just that it’s shit they happen to have enjoyed. Seriously: Wild Wild West as a modern great? Don’t they have a bullshit button in the Sky building? Did they just buy it in a package of movies and not have anywhere else to show the damn thing?
I dug further into the listings. If Wild Wild West can be billed as a modern great, what else would Sky allow to creep into this category?
You might need to sit down.
I had the misfortunate of sitting through Joel Schumacher’s tepid Nicolas Cage thriller 8MM back around the time of its release, and again, I accept that some think it’s better than many of us give it credit for. And I maintain that it could have been: in the rights hands. Those hands, sadly, weren’t attached to the arms of Joel Schumacher.
Next up? How about the comedy masterpiece that isn’t Kindergarten Cop. Not withstanding the fact that if you’re going to pick an Arnie comedy, it’s likely to be Twins that gets the (reluctant) nod, Kindergarten Cop is a one-joke film that’s about as far removed from a Modern Great as I am from the world of international competitive tap dancing. It’s not a disastrous film, but it’s not one you keep on that special Great Movies Shelf. Perhaps someone at Sky had nicked the DVD of The Terminator, so they grabbed the nearest Arnie film they could find?
And there’s more. Sister Act: perfectly decent movie, but a classic it’s not. Ghost has its problems, but surely that’s the Whoopi Goldberg outing, along with The Color Purple, that could at least build a case for inclusion.
Then there’s the Drew Barrymore fairy tale Ever After. And the utterly hilarious, lavishly entertaining but not actually very good Michael Douglas/Demi Moore thriller, Disclosure. There’s not a day goes by when I wouldn’t happily sit through that movie again, but it’s not for the reasons of quality that Sky apparently work to here.
To help jolly Sky along, here are a few names of films that could genuinely be at least considered to be Modern Greats. There’s L.A. Confidential. Magnolia. Sideways. Pulp Fiction. Quiz Show. Unforgiven. Election. The Sixth Sense, even. The Matrix. Heck, at least pick a film that you can build an argument over for greatness. Contrast that list with some of the names above, and it’s as if we’ve all jumped to some parallel world where the word “great” and “shit” have been mixed up in the dictionary.
To be fair to Sky, there are some corkers playing on the channel, and there always are. And to be fair too, it’s broadcasting a lot of movies now in high definition that we’d otherwise have to wait eons before the studios punted them all out on Blu-ray.
But Wild Wild West? You’re having a laugh. And you know it.
28 January 2009