We just subscribed to Netflix. Helaine and I are not a huge DVD watching couple, but we thought this might be an interesting experiment. We’re on the plan where you get one movie at a time, with a new one as often as you send the old one back.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated was at the top of our queue and came yesterday. With me currently alone, the timing was right. This film is a documentary and Helaine’s not usually inclined to see docs.
I originally became aware of this film on my way home from October’s trip to Maine. While I drove, and Bob tried to sleep, I listened to director Kirby Dick being interviewed on NPR.
The premise of the movie is, the MPAA movie ratings (The G, PG, R and NC17) are arbitrarily assigned, in a system which benefits big studios and penalizes independents. Dick also concludes homosexual sex is much more harshly treated than similar heterosexual sex acts.
The movie was shot after Dick had already come to a conclusion. That’s not to say he was wrong. It just isn’t an evenhanded presentation. He’s looking to justify his conclusions, nothing more.
The board that assigns the ratings is secret. It’s rules are secret. Everything about the system is secret. And, this secrecy is portrayed as a smarmy kind of underhanded cabal.
The movie goes out of its way to unmask the people involved, using private detectives. I understand the point and method, but I felt these people had their privacy unfairly invaded. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive here, but I felt uncomfortable watching the detective work in progress.
After all, Kirby Dick’s problem is with the MPAA, not their employees.
A few quick notes before I end:
I found the interviews with directors, specifically John Waters¹, Matt Stone and Kevin Smith, fascinating. Forget wanting to meet your favorite stars. The interesting people in Hollywood direct.
Also, in a Q&A session from the SXSW Film Festival that’s part of the “extras,” I felt there was gratuitous closeup B-roll of Harry Knowles, proprietor of Aint It Cool News, a movie fan site. Harry never asked a question, nor was he identified. Why shows him… and show him again?
Before the film was released, but after the Q&A, Harry wrote:
Harry’s words would mean so much more if he were a totally dispassionate bystander. Did they really have to kiss up to him and cast doubt on his imparitality?
Netflix asks you to rate the movie you have just seen (so they can better recommend other films). I gave this doc 4 of 5 stars. If there was a 3.5, I would have given it that instead.
Glad I got it.
¹ – Could he be any more weird… even if he tried?