Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movie Review: This Film is Not Yet Rated

While I've got a nice sized buffer for anime and books right now and a small one for comics, I don't have any for movies/tv shows so I was a bit worried this week when I realized I wasn't going to be able to get to my planned movie after all. After a bit of frantic searching on Netflix I realized that another movie I was planning on watching, This Film is Not Yet Rated, was playing so I turned that on and almost turned it off after the first few minutes which, erm, had an awful lot of censor bars for a reason (although, if the film is not rated, that's not just the title, does that mean they even needed the censor bars?). I'm simply not really a fan of sex/tons of nudity/really graphic violence in general (although it was more of the first two here) but since I've heard a number of good things about this movie I turned it back on and I'm really glad I did.

This Film is Not Yet Rated

Summary: In this documentary by Kirby Dick, he explores the shadowy MPAA's rating system, how they decide what to rate a film, how the appeals court works, discovers the identities of the mysterious raters and talks to some directors whose films were rated NC-17 and why they felt that this was an unfair rating. 

The Good: The film has a number of interviews with various directors (and one or two actors) on what made their films NC-17 rated (if they knew, sometimes the MPAA won't even tell them what they need to cut) and why they thought it was unfair and honestly, it was an awful lot of evidence that the MPAA is a flawed system. There were many examples, confirming things I had already heard, that violence is okay, sex is bad, men enjoying themselves might be okay, women enjoying themselves is bad, straight sex might be okay, gay sex is not, ect. The reveal of who the members of the MPAA board was done in a great, dramatic yet not overly dramatic fashion and really feels like a crowning moment of awesome for the film, it's almost hard to believe that the film still has a few tricks up it's sleeve after that. 

The Bad: There is a good reason that the identities of the MPAA raters aren't known, these days people will send death threats over everything it seems, although the film points out that these raters aren't the kind of people the MPAA says they are and, after seeing how everything works, that argument doesn't hold as much water as it did in the beginning of the film. The film also doesn't suggest an alternative to the MPAA, which would have been a nice, final nail in the coffin for them, but since the purpose of a documentary is to report on how things are, not necessarily how things should be, I'm not sure how well that idea would have worked in the film. 

The Audio: Almost all the audio in the movie came from either the interviews with the various directors, from the footage of the various films, or from the investigation. Even when the characters are going undercover with the secret cameras the audio is alright, although for several parts towards the end they had to use actors to re-create the audio. Still, that's hardly the director's fault and those extras bits really do help add to the movie.  
The Visuals: The film is a documentary so there are no frills or gimmicks added to the visuals, it's just video and pretty consistent in it's quality. As with the audio, there are times they use undercover cameras and the film quality is noticeably poorer but that's expected with spy cameras, if you have a camera that small then it doesn't have much room for the technology needed for a nicer picture. 

I was surprised at just how interesting this documentary was, especially since I had already heard stories about how the MPAA is sexist/homophobic/thinks violence is better than sex, and there was plenty of evidence from the various films that there is some kind of double standard going on in the industry. Personally I only use the ratings on a film to figure out how much violence I should expect ("hmmm, Zombieland is R rated, there's going to be a lot of gore in it isn't there?") but now I worry that too many people rely just on these ratings and don't check out wonderful movies because of them. So I really recommend this movie, it's on Netflix and I found it at the local college library as well so hopefully everyone else can find it as well!

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