Saturday, April 24, 2010

"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" (2006) - Movie Review

When the Deepa Mehta’s “Fire” got it release in India, spur should be putting it lightly among the public. There were threatening demonstration and demolition of theatres screening the film. Now that is something to be scared and you want the members of the censor board allowed it for viewing maintain secrecy, but they are not in India. In India, the majority of the audience are ultra super conservative crowd when it comes to films. Here in the United States, the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) is the sole owners of an unofficial censor board but official rating systems in the film industry. Here is this body of unknown people and they declare them as the representation of American parents rating the movies you and me go to theatres and rent in DVDs. Ever wondered on what basis they give these ratings? No one knows.

Kirby Dick the director of “This Film is Not Yet Rated” takes the war on MPAA. He is not as dramatic as Michael Moore but borderlines on invading privacy. He hires a Private Investigator to finally reveal the MPAA raters. This organization formed when silent films were the main stream to be this supposed guardian to channel the creative works and deem the right audience. Sounds good to me. We do need a guideline and especially when you do not want your kids to see what they are not ready for. Kids do what they want to do eventually though but you do not want to open the door. There is a conscience of responsibility. But if that guideline is more of a standard for box office numbers to be high, what happens to the independent film makers?

The documentary interview film makers Kimberly Pierce who made the daunting “Boy’s Don’t Cry” and was slapped with NC-17. She did not mind as the content indeed needs an age limit but the studio was backing off. Promotions go away and it is like the sick kid no one wants to play with. It is tainted. Several independent film makers go through this and the MPAA cuts off their chances for any kind of marketing or box office return. The creators only ask for transparency which is completely absent in this organization.

Movies are the artwork of a team spirit. It involves directly and indirectly several people. It is an organism and the birth of it comes through many people. When the hard work is done, correcting, criticizing, worrying and spending immense amount of their time, a group of invisible people comes to a closed building with a guideline to rate not even present to judge and decide the miniscule chance of returns for a film. But beyond that is the unfair criticism and it personally offends the author of the work.

Kirby Dick lays out the discrepancy and the no sense strategy in branding NC-17 and R-ratings unevenly on films. There is a funny way in understanding the few opinions which come out of these MPPA. You cannot show too long of an orgasm is one such. We saw a glimpse of pubic hair and that is NC-17 is another argument. And the icing on this whole thing is that there are two religious representations involved in the appeals. What is so secretive about these raters?

Dick links the tie ups of this corporate studio giants to have a strong recommendation on this organization. The head of this corporation Jack Valenti has been proud and righteous about what he has established. Policing might be wrong to say but dictating with unknown rules behind closed doors calls for more severe term than that. There needs a body to provide a guideline for the audience and I will not dispute that. I use it as a guideline for my choices of viewing a film or at least makes me prepared on what to expect out of it rather than shocked. But when it directly affects the income of some and them having to be in the dark of not knowing why they are deemed such rating as they would not expect is hurting.

Any organization of deciding authority runs into the bludgeons of criticisms and unfairness. MPAA initially appears to be running on to that but the simple democratic action of being transparent is denied and that goes far out of line in the country which boasts itself of the system it governs. No one questions that there are films for grown ups, kids and the in between but to not have a method to at least have a semblance of fairness sickens the way MPAA operates.

“This Film Is Not Yet Rated” is a film to be watched by every parent and of course due to the images they show it is not surprising that it gets rated NC-17. Kirby Dick includes that process too in the documentary and revealing the raters he found using his PI. The public declaration of Jack Valenti is that all the raters only work for 5-7 years and they are the representation of the American parents. The raters here are not those and that explains everything that is wrong about the system.

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