This Film Is Not Yet Rated

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MAKING THE GRADE Director Atom Egoyan, left, and Dick swap notes.
MAKING THE GRADE Director Atom Egoyan, left, and Dick swap notes.

Time Out says

Not yet rated? Actually, yes and no: Kirby Dick’s doc—a cathartic blast of fury at our secretive ratings board, the MPAA—was submitted for review and, as we see in the film, issued an NC-17. That happens to be the organization’s synonym for toxic, though it would strongly insist otherwise. (Movies bearing that rating are shunned by most theaters and media outlets.) Dick’s film is thus being released with no rating, which feels somehow appropriate to its clip-heavy attack, largely focused on the headier, homo end of tits and ass—unfairly singled out, it persuasively argues, while violence and hetero sex generally get an R.

It’s a slightly scary agenda, well worth pointing out, as when a serious film like Boys Don’t Cry is penalized not for its beatings but for Chlo Sevigny’s postorgasmic girl-on-girl glow. (Director Kimberly Peirce makes for a frank, appealing talking head.) But the extreme edge of NC-17 seems to have taken Dick down a rabbit hole. Why not also explore the cruelties that typically make their way into tent-pole PG-13 action flicks? That’s where the real cheapening of culture is going down.

The system is clearly flawed. But just as we don’t need a ratings board this nakedly moralistic (and, as we discover, complicit with the studios), we also don’t need a glib, Cops-style stakeout of the secret raters, exposing them as typical white Angelenos with money. Dick hires a lesbian team of private eyes to hunt them down, and the tactic is a low blow, reflecting an ad hominem mean streak that cheapens his valuable point. (Opens Fri; IFC Center.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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