Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Note: This review was originally posted on a message board forum. I am reposting it here for archival purposes. It has been backdated to the date of its original posting.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is an enlightening - at times humorous, at times enraging - documentary exploring the hypocrisy and the secrecy of the MPAA ratings board and their inconsistent and nontransparent practices. It is in some way connected with the IFC (Independent Film Channel) - which, despite the fact that I've never seen the actual channel, is one of the best channels ever, based simply on some of its programming I've seen on DVD.

Anyhow, in This Film Is Not Yet Rated, in addition to providing a little background on the MPAA and its history, and discussing through interviews with various independent filmmakers the process (and frustrations) of getting a film reviewed by the MPAA, and the dread of the NC-17 brand, which essentially prevents a film from receiving any kind of a reasonable audience (let alone profit), as such a rating severely cuts a film's distribution and advertising avenues, (is this sentence long enough yet?), the director, a guy named Kirby Dick, hires a private investigator to try to crack the suspicious secrecy of the MPAA ratings board, who keeps the identity of its raters top secret, and eventually uncovers the identities of said raters, much to the board's consternation.

Phew. So yeah, it's a really interesting documentary that really brings to light the shady practices of the MPAA, and just how biased they are towards the big studios and against the independents. Not to mention the dichotomy between their all-appeasing public image, and the corruption that goes on behind locked doors. There's also some very interesting discussion with the filmmakers I mentioned above about some of the (often ridiculous) reasons their films received NC-17 ratings. This naturally includes a discussion of what is and is not apparently okay for mainstream cinema (according to the MPAA), the uneven treatment of sexual versus violent material, discrimination of (usually sexual) minorities, etc.

If any of this sort of thing interests you, then you should definitely give this doc a viewing. It may not be a comprehensive look at the rating/censorship phenomenon, but it's certainly a fascinating glimpse and an exposé not to be missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment