Monday, March 26, 2007

[HKIFF] This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Look Yonder

The Motion Pictures Association of America's ratings system comes under scrutiny in this documentary. The judgement that movies are given G, PG-13, R or NC17 are taken a look into, as its deemed quite biased and with great mystery that films are rated based on some arbitrary criteria, from a group of chosen anonymous few in highly non-transparent means.

It's quite fun as director Kirby Dick digs into the system to try and look for answer, with hilarious results, especially when dealing with the bureaucracy. In particular, the main gripe here is how films are given the NC17 rating. Films are compared with each other, and it seemed that the board is more tolerant towards violence than sex, or in particular, female pleasure. Filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky, Kimberly Peirce, Atom Egoyan are interviewed for their views on the system, and reveal their puzzlement at the situation too.

I thought This Film Is Not Yet Rated brought out the hypocrisy of the entire system, that "absolute power corrupts absolutely", that if Kirby Dick is to believed, then there are rules and regulations set which have been breached, especially on transparency, and the primary concern that the raters should be independent and not influenced by filmmakers, studios and the likes.

I also enjoyed the entire investigations and social engineering techniques, including things like dumpster diving and impersonation, and exploiting the innate nature of man to want to help out strangers in distress, even though they are anonymous over the phone, and are "nice". You've got to salute their perseverance, all to get to the results of unravelling the mystery being those secret raters of movies, and those on the Appeals board that filmmakers can go to for redress.

The bits of animation in the movie, combined with the sharp no-holds barred revelation and hypothesis and snippets of movies which suffered the NC17 rating, made this a very enjoyable, smart and fun documentary to sit through, especially when it delivers sucker punch after sucker punch at establishment, and makes a mockery of the powers that be.

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