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This film is review-proof. This film is virtually unavailable.
But "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" is 98 well-spent minutes and then some. Indeed, be sure to check out the Q&A with the film's director, Kirby Dick, and the deleted scenes on the DVD, which I had to purchase online.
Though it's as heavy-handed as anything from that dirty liberal, Michael Moore, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" holds a mirror to the moral spotlight cast by the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board.
And, upon reflection, the film illuminates some rather nasty, un-American habits of that body, which slapped an NC-17 rating on this movie for depicting too many bodies in, shall we say, compromising positions.
Dick splices his documentary in a disjointed way. Quick scenes of sex and violence from other films, including commentary from critics, industry insiders, attorneys and filmmakers, are coupled with a bizarre whodunit in this 2006 effort.
"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" swings from visually to verbally vulgar. Yet the movie's point is one any real American must embrace: there is no room for censorship of any kind in a democracy.
But a room does indeed exist where anonymous persons make decisions about what you can see. Those decisions, the director and those he interviews conclude, are based on unbalanced views of sex and violence.
In these United States, Dick says, violence is acceptable in films, but sex is not. He uses the MPAA's own Web site to affirm his statement. And he doesn't stop there.
As questions of same-sex marriage arouse passions of another kind, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" puts forth the idea that heterosexuality is rated differently than homosexuality.
Around the time that the identities of the film raters and the MPAA's appeals board are revealed, it becomes clear the film is about freedom and the other side of that precious coin responsibility.
Censors, those who sentence films good, bad and ugly to an NC-17 rating and box office death, try to pair freedom with security, which, not coincidentally, the voting public will see ad nauseam into November 2008.
But filmmakers of questionable value and values forget the true price of freedom. They, too, are at fault.
"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" raises many questions and answers few.
If nothing else, it continues the slow, steady chipping away of the hypocritically political right's crumbling moral pedestal. Of course, each blow causes a piece of stone-cold truth to hit the collective head of the chisel-holding, mallet-swinging left, leaving everyone dazed and confused.
I am gay and, after viewing this documentary twice, I allege that there
is bias. The comments and observations, in the film, seem to be
subjective rather than objective. Most of the participants appear to be
gay, pro-gay or, at the very least, heavily invested in sex. Do I think
that obscene language and violence is given more credence than sex?
Yes, but a film's content, including sex, is supposed to maintain the
integrity of a script. Since the 1960's, the use of obscene language,
sex, and violence has been on the increase. I do agree, however, that
sex--and, particularly gay sex--is being censored. The use of animation
and special effects, rather than an emphasis on acting, is also on the
increase. Sadly, these things are being used to distract from the theme
of a film, or to compensate for poor writing or poor direction.
Additionally, no film should carry a message that its conveyance of
ideas or concepts are right or wrong. The viewer should be allowed to
decide for himself or herself. Up until a person is of legal age, the
parent(s) has(have) the right to choose how little or how much content
is acceptable or unacceptable. In order to determine what is acceptable
or unacceptable, one has to differentiate between freedom and license.
An individual should be allowed to decide, for himself or herself, what
is freedom and what is license. But again, until a person is of legal
age, the parent(s) has(have) the right to choose. As individuals, we
can change ourself, but we cannot change someone else. Yet, John Waters
is absolutely correct. A child will learn from life experiences. As a
child, I was taught by my parents, but I learned (negative, positive,
and in-between) from people out in the world. Even a protected child
becomes an adult, and cannot be sheltered forever. Not if the child is
to grow. And, in order to grow, a person must be vulnerable to risk.
Hopefully, a person will choose wisely, but there is a consequence
(negative, positive, or in-between) to every decision we make.
Allegations should be proved--in court, if necessary--and in the changing of the law. If the allegations in this documentary can be proved--I, for one, would be more than willing to participate in a class-action suit. In order to effectively pursue an argument, one must be persuasive, and one must choose the proper forum. A media circus only causes chaos and confusion. One must choose right from wrong, and two wrongs never make a right.
This is a 'must-see' documentary because it makes one think--and, for this reason, I rate the film a 10 out of 10. Think, use critical analysis, and decide for yourself.
MPAA REFORM... www.ifc.com/video/Film/Festivals/Sundance/Sundance-2007/443670580
As entertainment "This Film is Not Yet Rated" is good. It's fun, it's
fast-paced, it's humorous, and the interviews conducted with the
filmmakers often provide insight into the thought-process behind some
of these NC-17 rated films and the scenes that caused them to be rated
that way. As a documentary I'm inclined to say that "This Film is Not
Yet Rated" is unbalanced, biased, and not entirely fair. Still, the
film shies away from overt lies, 'evidence' that has already been
proved to be false, or other similar methods of documentary film-making
that have been popularized by Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, and other
worthless, talentless directors like them.
"This Film is Not Yet Rated" is really far from captivating for someone familiar with the MPAA's rating system and how it works. I don't doubt that a lot of people like this movie simply because it is public reinforcement for their opinions. Essentially, what this film does is it takes the usual arguments against and for the MPAA and emphasizes one viewpoint over the other, treating the other as simply ridiculous. Is the position of the MPAA ridiculous? Perhaps. I certainly think it is, but if I was making a film about their rating system I would interview filmmakers who support the ratings system (some must exist), and maybe give members of the public a quick lecture on the system then ask them what they thought of it.
Kirby Dick clearly hates the system so much he doesn't just want to make an exposé of the system itself, but also of the people behind it. I found this humiliating and unnecessary, and frankly a little immature; couldn't he have given the same stats on their ethnicity, marital status, and what age their children were without going to ludicrous lengths to capture these people on camera and interrupt their lives.
A documentary about the MPAA has been due for a long time. 2006 was the year that one was finally delivered, alas it is a film that can only loosely be called a documentary. Succeeding as entertainment, thoroughly failing as a documentary "This Film is Not Yet Rated" is ultimately neither here nor there and completely forgettable.
This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Documentary that discusses the MPAA rating board and the infamous NC-17 rating, which any movie lover will know is just a bullshit thing. I have always been against the MPAA and their ratings but after seeing this film pure hatred has entered my heart against them. I always knew how evil they were but to see the people behind this board come as rather shocking. The appeals board crew was even more shocking. It was also great seeing side by side comparisons of films that receive an R rating and those who got an NC-17. The fact that the big studio systems run this thing makes me want to tell everyone to never buy another movie ticket, never buy another DVD and just support pirates.
A suggestion for documentary filmmakers: when you say you're not
recording a conversation, perhaps you actually shouldn't be recording
the conversation. At the very least, you may want to consider not
presenting it in your film along with a split-screen view that features
your subject speaking her half of the dialog in animated form. This
approach does indeed make Joan Graves, head of the MPAA's
Classification and Rating Administration, come off as officious at best
and corrupted by power at worst. Is the fact that it's, let's face it,
a bit of a nasty trick more or less significant than the fact that
director Kirby Dick is pointing out things that we might want to know?
I'd also argue that "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" would have been a stronger effort if it director had reined in some of its tangents. For instance, there's a scene in which the private investigator whom he's hired to identify the mysterious figures who comprise the ratings board discusses her lesbianism. Mr. Dick ties this into the question of whether the board is more lenient with films depicting heterosexual as opposed to homosexual sex -- which is certainly a question worth asking, but bringing a contractor's private life into it made the words "stay on target" spring inevitably to my mind. (Especially given that the directors of "Boys Don't Cry" and "But I'm a Cheerleader," among others, are already on hand to offer their perspectives.)
I'd have to say that this one works better as agitprop-lite than as responsible documentary journalism. Kirby Dick is clearly having a lot of fun here -- and why make a film if you're not, after all -- but I suspect that he could have served his legitimately relevant cause somewhat better with a bit more focus and a bit more fairness.
Its an artifact of the artistic pipeline that movies have to be
packaged a certain way. They have to be so and so long, and have such
and such narrative content, whether fiction or various kinds or
documentary. We accept this as if somehow it is natural, just as we
accept flat walls and square corners as natural to rooms instead of the
This restricts filmmakers profoundly, because instead of discovering something and finding the right container for it, you start with the container and fill it. If you don't have enough stuff, you invent more.
What we have here is film a documentary that has all sorts of extra, irrelevant stuff in it. It is restricted thus. Ironically, it is about how the industry and its manufacturing process restricts films.
First the damage in the thing, then the damage it speaks of.
There's an interesting case here. Its about how a small number of large powerful studios control the ratings system to make it difficult for independent and artistic filmmakers to market their films. It happens to be a secret process that is apparently biased and highly subjective. That's the story, how corporations stifle art. Its less about the arbitrariness of the process than that this dynamic exists.
But that's not enough to fill a movie, or at least the way this filmmaker sees it. So he makes the fact that the reviewers are secret the centerpiece. Does it matter that its these controlled yaboos rather than another set? No, not really, but the mystery associated with the secret hijacks the picture.
But even that isn't enough to fill the movie in this fellow's mind. So we get some kerfluffle about the chase, some business about detectives and stakeouts. But even that isn't enough, so we discover something of the life of our detectives, who happen to be lesbian housewives.
All this is poured into the film because the form constrains. And this guy didn't see it coming. Michael Moore.
But the point is a good one, the ten minutes he spends on it. We do get amazingly homogenous product. It is profoundly "safe" if you don't worry about fostering the most violent major society on the planet; if you are obsessed with sex and nudity; if you lose sleep about otherness.
On the other hand, you need a large, restrictive inside in order to have an outside. Not all art has to come from the apparently deviant, I suppose, and its hardly enough. But it does seem to help.
Here's a greater unintended feedback effect. Hollywood films thrive on a notion of romance that's puritanically pure. Its essential to the industry. That excludes depictions of relationships that are more like real life, that include hair, smell, sweat, amazing fluids and little deaths. Defining that away strengthens the channel, which constrains the form, which this fellow follows blindly.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've watched "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" about 3-4 times now in the
space of 2 months, and every time I find myself wishing to hear more
stories of how ridiculous the MPAA's methods really are. I can
understand the somewhat secrecy for the raters of your organisation
(everyone is entitled to a private life), but to then be told that
there are still existing members working way beyond the 3-7 years of
employment baffles me. To not even follow your own protocols makes me
question your methods overall, and the many film-makers director Kirby
Dick interviews certainly have engaging and absurd experiences to
The documentary follows Kirby's efforts in trying to figure out how the Motion Picture Association of America works, when the organisation remains one of the secretive corporations around. His efforts involves hiring the help of a private detective and some thoroughly engaging stories from many directors both famous and independent. Films containing homosexual behaviour are more likely to be rated NC-17 than R, surprising levels of violence are OK and sex is not. You can also appeal your movie for a lower rating, but cannot refer to any other movies in your defence.
The parts with the private detective leads to some wonderful discussions, yet I cannot help but feel that part of it feels fabricated. What is surprising however, is that both manage to unveil an exceptional amount of information regarding who is censoring what and how the MPAA is in bed with many surprising production companies. The Kimberley Pierce stuff is riveting and there's plenty of humour to be had among everyone involved.
Final Verdict: I don't really want to spoil it, but it is highly recommended. Ironically it received an NC-17, and the MPAA made copies against the directors wishes. Kirby's efforts are not in vain and no stone is left unturned. 8/10.
I watched this on a whim because I heard it mentioned and decided I
wanted to check it out. I'm glad I did. I've always been interested in
the MPAA and their ratings, and I have heard controversies involving
them before, and this movie really brings it all to light.
The movie essentially interviews film makers and talks about just how silly the whole MPAA is. They have no specific guidelines to how they rate the films, and constantly are biased against films that contain, say, gay sexual content or sexual content that is focused on female pleasure. A straight sex scene that gets an R rating for a film can be the exact same as a gay sex scene but that movie would get an NC17 because there seems to be a lot of discrimination about those kinds of topics. It really just pisses you off to see this kind of stuff going on. The movie also has a kind of side plot where the director hires an investigator to find out the names of the people who rate the films since their names are withheld by the MPAA. These scenes are pretty funny and are enjoyable to watch.
I'd say that if you are a fan of films or a film maker, you should check this out because it gives a really good insight into the ridiculous world of the MPAA rating system.
I've never been so amazed by a documentary that was so informative yet
so consistently entertaining. This is must-see for filmmakers who want
to get their film rated someday. The film has no boundaries, it
expresses the brutal truth about the MPAA and their unconstitutional
hypocrisy with the way they regulate their sometimes confusing rules.
So many flawed inconsistencies with this system when it comes down to violence vs. sexual content and the fact that the ratings board is completely anonymous. If your movie has a bunch of deaths without the presence of blood & gore, it gets a PG-13. Yet if there is harsh profanity with some nudity and/or even the slightest implied sexual material, it gets an R. It also points out the issues of independence vs. studios. For example, if you're an independent filmmaker and you get a rating that you're unhappy with like NC-17 (a.k.a. box office poison), they don't tell you what to cut out. However, if you're backed by a studio and you run into the same situation, they'll give you notes on what to re-edit. Matt Stone was right, the MPAA makes most of their money from the six major studios who keep them in business and pay their bills.
In conclusion, if you are interested in learning more information about the Motion Picture Association of America and have 90 minutes to spare, give it a watch and see the pros & cons behind one of Hollywood's biggest secrets.
It's always interesting to see a documentary about movies especially
important ones but This Film Is Not Yet Rated isn't as dangerous as
it's trying to make itself seem. Although it does have some serious
moral implications as Kirby hires a private investigator to find out
who are the anonymous members of the MPAA. The investigation is
attempted to be presented in a cinematic way with reaction shots and
closeups and all the coverage a film should have to be edited together,
but its attempt feels contrived and unconvincing due to it being shot
on DV. It attempts to be entertainment with caper music and graphics
but this just takes away the sincerity. There were times when I
struggled to agree with either side of the filmmaker vs. ratings
arguments as all it seemed to be was merely a power struggle. However,
when it got into the specificity of the details it had some interesting
points, such as the implications of sex vs. violence and how sex is
accused of hurting society more than violence, particularly homosexual
sex. As well as how with guns shooting people with no blood is
considered more acceptable than shooting people with blood and how the
position of the camera for sex scenes that implicates thrusting is more
acceptable than when it shows the trusting. It had a great payoff in
the end as its conspiracy is revealed and the intentions behind the
documentary are justified but the packaging does hold it back.
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