Great Premise but Could've Said Far More,
This review is from: This Film Is Not Yet Rated (DVD)Kirby Dick is certainly preaching to the quire when I viewed his documentary that attempts to skewer the MPAA. It's certainly not a bold attack but it obviously has its merits. Kirby makes the assertion that the MPAA has several double standards. Primarily with regards to violent content versus sexual content and nudity, heterosexual content versus homosexual content, and content in big business Hollywood versus independent films. These are key points in Dick's anti-MPAA film and I was glad to see a film point this out and gain some mainstream attention for doing so. But these contentions were only contemplated for about fourty minutes in this film, so Kirby Dick took the rest of his movie in another direction. He wanted to find out who exactly these "raters" are...and I really just didn't care.
The MPAA and any centralization of power that has control of our freedom of speech should be abolished and that is an issue for the most part not directly tackled here in This Film is Not Yet Rated. Keep in mind; I'm not saying there shouldn't be a rating system. I am saying there should not be one that partakes in an overall system which deters films that typically get NC-17 ratings from being made at all. Currently, the incentive to make a film like The Dreamers as opposed to a film like Rambo 4 just isn't there and the incentives should ideally be the same. Why shouldn't I be able to go to the theatre up the street to watch an un-butchered Todd Solondz film rather than drive all the way into Kendall Square to see the version he intended? And what about the people who don't live near a major city? It may not be a top priority for a lot people but it is for me, as it is both impeding on the spirit of the first amendment as well as preventing me from enjoying what is likely to be a very thoughtful and pure film untouched by corporatism.
Dick's motives are there to express the same sentiments but by hiring a private investigator to stalk these raters he is really sort of missing the point, or just not prioritizing I suppose. Not to mention those scenes were not nearly as entertaining or as interesting as the interviews with filmmakers and insights about the MPAA as a whole. The filmmakers we see here include Darren Aronofsky, whose film Requiem for a Dream needed to be cut down for sexual content to get an R-rating, and with that rating the ability to make more money. That R-rated version saw very limited release on video and Aronofsky's film was released unrated in theatres and therefore it had a limited release. It was one of the best films of 2000 and had it been released with a profit-worthy adult rating it would've likely been a success. Other filmmakers that suffered similar issues with the MPAA and appeared in this film include Wayne Kramer (The Cooler), Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies), Matt Stone (Team America, South Park), Kevin Smith (Clerks), Mary Harron (American Psycho), John Waters (Pink Flamingos) and many others.
All in all though, it almost seemed as if there was more to say about these filmmakers scenarios. Why didn't Dick focus on that? Why didn't he aggressively interview some people at the MPAA? Why didn't he challenge the other side more? Even in the ironic scene where Dick finds out his film that challenges the ineffective existence of an NC-17 rating actually gets that very rating, he really seems far too docile. I was outraged while watching that part but Dick is certainly more reserved. It did cap off the documentary and prove Dick's point quite efficiently though. If Dick went off on the Hollywood film industry's favoring of money over taste and constructed his arguments beyond the MPAA instead of the private investigator scenes, this would've worked great. But he didn't do that. He didn't even point out the issues between films outside of NC-17 and R-ratings. I've seen some films get PG-13 ratings that are designed for kids and in no way deserve anything higher than PG, which I think is even more crucial considering the audience is children. Then of course there is that struggle for films to tone down their R-rated content to get a PG-13 and reap the benefits of a wider audience which really just exposes how art is not a priority. What about those films?
All I can say is thank goodness for DVDs if things continue to breakdown. I know I spent a lot of time ripping this film but that is only because I care so much about this subject. Kirby Dick put together an overall flawed but funny, and at times witty little film, that contains a premise of great meaning to motion picture as an art.