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Judge Brendan Babish • Location: Upland, CA
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Philadelphia Film Festival Review #3: This Film Is Not Yet Rated
April 3rd, 2006 9:29PM

Title: This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Director: Kirby Dick

The MPAA's ratings system favors studio films, pushes moral agendas and lacks transparency. These are widely held beliefs, and This Film Is Not Yet Rated provides enough evidence to drive most any film lover to arms. Perhaps more importantly, the film also presents its case in an irreverent, yet forceful, tone that makes the film great entertainment as well.

The formidable lineup of directors Kirby Dick interviewed for his movie include: Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), Kevin Smith (Clerks), John Waters (A Dirty Shame), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For a Dream), and countless others. These directors all have first-hand knowledge of the MPAA's ratings board, and their stories are simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. The interviews with filmmakers are supplanted with comments from critics and first amendment lawyers, which makes for a pretty well rounded attack on the system.

Dick also adapts a questionable, Nick Broomfield-like style of filmmaking. In addition to the talking heads, he hires a lesbian private detective (and her step-daughter) to identify the previously anonymous raters. The private detective is so successful she is able to supply Kirby the names, pictures, marital status, and ages of children of nearly every rater. Dick then gleefully exposes these people in his film. At one point he even goes through the garbage of one of the raters. At the time I was so worked up I felt these people deserved whatever punishment Dick could dole out. In reflection, the brazen way in which these people's privacy was invaded is more than a little disconcerting.

Still, The Film Is Not Yet Rated is a rare documentary that sheds light on a previously esoteric subject and manages to be wildly entertaining at the same time. It is highly recommended for all cinephiles and first amendment buffs.

Grade: B+


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