Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Film is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick, 2006)

Above all else, Kirby Dick has made a very important documentary in This Film is Not Yet Rated, revealing the incredibly arbitrary and ultimately unfair (to indies, gays, women, and more!) MPAA ratings system that all films must undergo if they want major distribution. Although more and more theaters, in my experience, are showing experimental and unrated films, there is still a definite barrier caused by the ratings system. Kirby Dick hires a private investigator and talks both with filmmakers who have been screwed by the MPAA and former and current members of the ratings and appeals boards. In the process, he reveals some very important and interesting things about the way films are rated (there are no written guidelines to rating), the raters (their identities, for one, as well as the unfairness in term length and qualifications), and Jack Valenti himself (a former politician who is a pretty good lobbyist for the major film industry). The interviews with filmmakers are my favorite parts of the film, with John Waters being his hilarious self, Kimberley Peirce offering her thoughts on the MPAA's view on female sexuality, and Matt Stone showing the difference between ratings for indie films and those on the major studios.

The amount of facts Dick reveals in the film is astonishing, and his own process with the ratings and appeals board is revelatory in the unfair, ridiculous ways these boards work. The tone of the film ranges from (annoyingly) zany to downright self-righteous, and neither of those extremes work very well. Dick does best to stick in the middle and present these facts, as they really don't need embellishment. Like other recent documentaries like The Corporation and An Inconvenient Truth, This Film is Not Yet Rated left me fuming afterward, angry at this system that says it is for the filmmaker, and yet makes it incredibly hard for independant, forward-thinking filmmakers to get their visions out to the public if they are at all sexually challenging. But, unlike those aformentioned documentaries, Dick's left me with this anger that is almost self-defeating. He offers no solutions, nothing the public can do to fight this system. Getting the raters' names and all this information out there is a good thing, but there's got to be a next step. Dick offers the audience nothing but information, which, in a documentary as outrageous as this, is just frustrating. It's definitely worth seeing, but don't expect any closure.


RIYL: Any of those left-leaning muckraking documentaries of the last few years

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