This Film Is Not Yet Rated (IFC Films, NC-17)

If nothing else, it's worth seeing for its sickening ending, in which the director reveals the names of the people on the MPAA's appeals board for this movie's rating appeal: not the average parents of the regular ratings board, but rather the very same people who you often hear complaining about the ratings board in the press.

Any time the MPAA's rating of NC-17 comes up in a national daily, it is usually followed with phrasing along the lines of "which would keep it from being shown in most theaters, thus greatly reducing its long-term profit." In the case of Kirby Dick's This Film Is Not Yet Rated, however, I'm sure that the NC-17 was both hoped for and gleefully received. It's the odd case where the film would be much harder to market had it received anything less. The film maintains that the MPAA has gotten too much power over the years, so that it is greatly stifling the artistry of film as a medium. Also, the MPAA seemingly has some strange ideas about what is and isn't appropriate (for example, violence is OK but sex isn't). This Film makes a great news item and finds a lot of press coverage by being rated NC-17-the MPAA is trying to quash a film that is critical of it.

What's more, getting this rating makes for a killer ending for the film-seeing the film that you're watching get rated and why. But I'm getting ahead of myself; although he isn't widely known (yet), Dick is and has long been one of my favorite modern documentarians. He is the helmer of what is maybe my all-time favorite documentary, 1997's Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, and has cranked out many other winners, such as last year's Oscar-nominated (and otherwise generally, tragically overlooked) Twist of Faith. This Film is kind of a U-turn from Dick's usual directorial style, in that his documentaries of the past have, while tackling relatively extreme subject matter, generally been very sober and disciplined; instead, This Film plays much more like a Michael Moore documentary. In it, Dick hires a private investigator to find the identities of the anonymous ratings board, and as such, he spends most of the film's running time on camera. About the only time he isn't the main character in the action is when he is interviewing someone who was wronged in the past by the ratings board-and the list is long: Darren Aronofsky, Atom Egoyan, Kimberly Peirce, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, John Waters, and more-with many of the funnier scenes coming when Dick is doing something that he probably shouldn't.

So, while the film may not be exactly what you expect from Dick, it is still a good and important film all the same. If nothing else, it's worth seeing for its sickening ending, in which the director reveals the names of the people on the MPAA's appeals board for this movie's rating appeal: not the average parents of the regular ratings board, but rather the very same people who you often hear complaining about the ratings board in the press.

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