Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Film review/thoughts on This Film is Not Yet Rated

Had a chemistry exam tonight, and by the time I got home and settled in was ready to Veg for a while. Grabbed a dvd off the pile and threw it in, didn't really care what it was.

I watched a documentary called This Film is Not Yet Rated. It's an engaging film about the MPAA, the folks who rate movies. This is the type of subject-matter I occasionally delve into in either books or film, just to keep my toe in the conspiracy soup. I like to keep tabs on my corporate overlords, but not so much or often that I lose sleep or develop ulcers, or start standing on street corners yelling incoherent political rants at passing cars.

As a film, I'll say it worked, and was watchable. There were slow parts as the director spent a good amount of time with the P.I.'s he had hired to find out the identities of the current MPAA raters and the appeals committee (who he outs, which is satisfying). It was not as exciting as all that, but it did an ok job of stitching together a plot of some sort.

So the MPAA is an unelected, industry-driven and controlled, secret group who censors movies. They say they don't censor movies, but if they slap a NC - 17 on a movie, they can guarantee it won't be shown in most theaters, nor will it be advertised in most media, nor will it make anywhere close to as much money as if it were run in the normal channels.

It goes without saying that American movie standards favor violence over sex, and European movie standards favor sex over violence. The movie investigates this a bit, and satisfyingly. It is also unsurprising that gay sex is more harshly rated than straight sex. The film depicts this well by split-screening sex scenes from movies deemed nc-17 on one side (the gay side) and R on the other side (the straight side). Not surprising, but a good reminder and well presented. And of course, since it's an Industry association, indie directors really get the shaft whereas Industry movies get away with much more.

A plus for this movie is that there are plenty of split-second racy scenes, and some aren't even blacked out. This keeps things interesting in the dry parts. There are also good talking heads, mostly indie directors (including the Clerks guy) talking about their experiences dealing with the MPAA, as well as former Industry types.

Overall the movie pacing and interest level reminded me of my reaction to Who Killed the Electric Car. The info wasn't novel or surprising, was unfortunate, and was informative. I was glad I watched it, but somehow I was left with the feeling that nothing much of note happened in my life over the last hour and a half.

B- for this one, definitely watchable and if you are a movie-phile at all probably very watchable.

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