An interesting film that tackles the greater issue of what the American Public is and isn't allowed to see.
Why is there a film critic who had nothing to do with the making of the movie on the commentary track?
This Film Is Not Yet Rated is the kind of movie that is fun simply because it's story is best described as whimsical. At times serious, director Kirby Dick has put together a documentary that seems like something he made because he felt spurned. Yet, it doesn't have the anger that many documentary film's exhibit. Apparently, he wanted to do a doc on the MPAA Ratings Board. Well, this group likes to move in covert ways so they didn't let Dick make his movie.
Rather than let this get him down, Dick employed some Private Investigators, and suddenly he has two stars in a film that's trying to uncover who the members of the ratings board are. Well, not only do they do that but Dick turns the film itself into an expose of filmmakers talking about their dealings with said ratings board, and it also becomes a lot more than that. We see how the MPAA gets money for giving ratings to certain films, we find out about some of the rater's salaries and persona lives, and lastly Dick even muses on what we are and are not allowed to see because of this organization.
This commentary track features Dick, Private Investigator Becky Altringer, Producer Eddie Schmidt and for some reason Drew McWeeny from Ain't It Cool News. Okay, why in the world is there a film critic who had nothing to do with this film on this track? I know that critics often talk about movies, but that's usually in place of a deceased director, or in a film studies type sense for a movie that is very old. This didn't make sense to me and I was actually surprised that this DVD would go for the cool cachet in that way. Aside from that, they talk about movie, the use of MPAA president Jack Valenti in the film, what the public doesn't get to see, and Altringer offers up interesting Private Detective tactics. In addition to this, I think a really interesting point was how the film language during love scenes is basically the same in all films. They point out that even maverick directors shoot sex scenes in fairly sterile ways.
Q&A With Director Kirby Dick at the SXSW Film Festival
Five deleted scenes comprise this section all of which are very good quality and not simply slapped on here as a bonus. In fact, at one point these chunks seem like they were probably in the movie, and then cut out for time or pacing reasons. They have titles like "Michael Cuesta on L.I.E." and "The MPAA vs. New Technologies." I am really glad that these scenes are on this disc because they aren't at all superfluous and they really expound on the story being told.
4X3 Letterbox. Presented in a "Matted" widescreen format preserving the Aspect Ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. This movie is shot on video and it's a mix of talking head interviews, as well as movie footage that we didn't get to see, and archived footage from news shows. There is an interesting mix of formats all of which gives this movie an almost dirty look. This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a true documentary film in every sense of the word.
Language: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The audio on this DVD was good but nothing about it really grabbed my attention. I think that Kirby Dick needs to be given a lot of credit for getting such good sound considering the varied shooting conditions. A good portion of this film has private investigators digging up dirt on MPAA people. They had to utilize body cams and tiny microphones, and I never felt this film's production values suffered because of that.
A naked body displayed in front of a red curtain with the subject's backside covered up, is the main image on this DVD cover. The back features a critics quote, a bunch of festivals this film played in, a description of this film, a Special Features listing, a cast list and System Specs. Aside from the picture of Matt Stone from South Park not looking that great, this cover has a real sense of class about it.
As a writer and sometimes filmmaker, I really enjoyed what This Film Is Not Yet Rated had to say. While it isn't one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, I think that it offers a lot in terms of explaining to people just who this organization is and how they have been unwittingly effected by them. This isn't to say that the MPAA is bad, but they are an organization that is ripe to be corrupted, and it seems like in some situations perhaps they have been.
Then there's also the issue of what that rating means to filmmakers. As Kevin Smith points out, if a movie is slapped with an NC-17 rating, that film is basically banned from Blockbuster. While Netflix might help to level the playing field, Blockbuster still accounts for a great deal of the the video market share. This Film Is Not Yet Rated makes it a point to examine just how arbitrary so many of these ratings are.
While I wonder what the overall effect of this film will be, I think it's great that director Kirby Dick led the charge and tried to lift the veil of this semi-covert organization.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated was released January 26, 2006.