Rated: NC-17 for some graphic sexual content Reviewed by: Jim and Frank (see below) Release date: September 1, 2006 Released by: IFC Films
A rather eye-opening, humorous documentary, especially for the infrequent moviegoer, is Kirby Dick's This Film is Not Yet Rated.
The provoking auteur has the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) as the target. Some sharply discerning viewers may have wanted Dick to show how the ratings system can be altered or how ours relates to others around the globe.
The guerilla-type approach isn't unlike Michael Moore in realizing how the MPAA arbitrarily applies "parental" guidelines which defines the marketing of a motion picture.
The effect of the "religious right" on promotion is stronger than ever in the early 21st Century; having an NC-17 rating slapped on a film really hurts the marketability of a "mature" film which could be, sometimes should be, seen by a broad adult audience. Roger Ebert has been a longtime advocate for a new "A" rating that would work for this audience.
The expose makes some important distinctions when it comes to low-budget (independent) films vs. the Hollywood/studio pictures. And, especially in the case of sex vs. violence, in its most gruesome forms.
A woman's sexuality is censored much more than the way it is for males; case in point, is The Cooler with actress Maria Bello and Wayne Kramer informative on the compromising of intimacy with the film's rating. Problematic is subtle homoerotic themes rather than graphic heterosexual ones.
John Waters, Kimberly Peirce, Atom Egoyan, and Kevin Smith are among the other directors who have their viewpoints and have had to make decisions about their work relative to a censoring, fairly clandestine board who may not be in tune with contemporary society.
Dick isn't afraid to dig into the what the MPAA beholds as vital, when it comes to decisionmaking, accountability, especially of the recording of appeals. Maybe he goes too deep when his private investigators start prying into personal lives and the methods in doing so. It must be said that a brave few speak on camera who are involved with rating and appeals.
This Film is Not Yet Rated itself is submitted for certification and appeals itself to expose the system for what it is. Maybe special interest groups are to blame and it's curious to see how the preponderence of media and film companies are financed by the same ones that do so for the MPAA. Yes, the six that are the Hollywood studio system.
If Dick isn't always as coherent as he projects, he works in a lively way with his crew with crisp editing for the most explicit, wry result through censored scenes, history, and talking heads. In essence, as Newsweek's David Ansen avers, the MPAA and its backers "have made us all into children," those supposedly shielded the most from the harsh, gratuitous content of cinema.
Director/screenwriter, Kirby Dick attacks the MPAA film rating system. His premise is that independent films have a more difficult time with ratings than the major studios. He uses as proof that major studios receive direction to reduce ratings such as NC-17 while the independents are simply told the entire tone of the film caused the NC-17. NC-17 is the rating given to films which are considered by the NPAA board as displaying sexual activity beyond what is acceptable. Many independent films like This Film Is Not Yet Rated, get the NC-17. This Film Is Not Yet Rated displays scenes from other film which were cut to reduce the NC-17 down to an R. Most cinemas in the US will not exhibit NC-17 films.
In a second front he attacks the secret sessions in which unknown folks rate the films and do not allow open appeals of various ratings. The discussion also makes a comparison of European films which limit violence and embrace open sexual activity. A number participants in the interviews for the film find that a travesty and believe Europeans are far more correct than the MPAA rating board.
Was the voluntary rating system imposed to save the movie industry from Congressional action - the assertion here is that it was.
Slightly enlightening and more a chance to see those sexy out-takes, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, probably deserves the NC-17 rating.
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