Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More MPAA madness on the way

We're still not sure who will win the Oscar for Best Documentary, but the award for most effective doco has to go to Kirby Dick.

Though I still haven't managed to see his flick, "This Film is Not Yet Rated," apparently Motion Picture Association of America chief Dan Glickman did, and he was taking notes. Starting with an announcement Monday at the Sundance Film Festival, where Dick's movie made a splash last year, the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners will unveil a series of planned changes to the ratings system.

"The documentary made it clear that we probably haven't done as much as we can to explain how it all works," Glickman told Daily Variety. Wow .. now that's power.

Unfortunately, as should probably be expected, the new moves won't really amount to much. The two big changes will be a new admonishment to parents that certain R-rated movies aren't suitable for younger kids, period; and, for the first time, a filmmaker will be able to cite another movie when waging an appeal.

Now, on the first one, any further admonishment is welcome in my corner. I can stomach just about anything on screen, but what I can't take is when people take young children to thoroughly inappropriate movies, simply because they can't be bothered to hire a babysitter. The most egregious example in recent memory was "Hustle & Flow," which must have had at least 10 preteen kids there. Just what the hell are they supposed to learn from that?

So, should parents only take their kids to PG or G-rated flicks? Not at all. I'm only asking for a little common sense.

A.O. Scott, in a great article published Jan. 5 but no longer available for free on the New York Times Web site, invoked the words of poet Frank O'Hara: "Mothers of America, let your kids go to the movies!" His very valid point: If you only let your children see the animated fluff generated by the Hollywood machine, they'll really be missing out on a lot. Amen to that, but I'd only add that you please pick the movies with care and be there to make sure your offspring behave themselves and don't disrupt this curmudgeon's movie day.

But even this half-step misses the point about most complaints about the MPAA's decisions of late: That it puts way too much emphasis on sex and not enough on violence. In a PG-13 movie, you can graphically kill an armada of soldiers, but God forbid we move a few steps beyond heavy petting, especially between members of the same sex.

It's a twisted view of the world, and only passes this view on to future generations who will be more and more obsessed with violence as they become more and more sexually repressed. A dystopia indeed.

Talking Oscars

I'm not sure if you can call it a podcast, since I still have no idea what that word means, but you can hear me trying to predict the major Oscar nominations by clicking here.

My only caveat is that I did not lobby for or choose the title of "movie expert." Though I do know more about flicks than, say, rocket science, I can only claim to be a way-too-obsessed fan.

I hope my rambling makes sense. I find it somehow oddly appropriate that I managed to mangle the pronunciation of "Happiness" much the same way the filmmakers did its spelling. Feel free to sound off on whether you think I got it right, and have a perfectly bearable hump day.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, they are making the announcement about the changing of the MPAA on Monday, and the next day, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED is being released on DVD.


Eaglewing said...

Asking for a little common sense, eh? Would be nice to see, but it seems to be in short supply in the world these days. I've been in a few movies too where I wonder what the hell the parents were thinking bringing kids to the show. Not to mention the constant interuptus they cause. One of many reasons my theatre trips keep dwindling, but that's a different topic.

The ratings systems is rather out of whack and could use a bit of an overhaul though. I never could figure out what they're smoking to decide on some of the stuff that makes it in to movies vs what doesn't.

Reel Fanatic said...

One idea I think may work, eaglewing, is to do away with PG-13 ... I'm not quite sure how you could do it, but it's easily where the R rating was 20 years, ago, and it just seems like a dumping ground for all the garbage that can be found

Anonymous said...

The most egregious example in recent memory was "Hustle & Flow," which must have had at least 10 preteen kids there. Just what the hell are they supposed to learn from that?

It's hard out here for a pimp. Geez, everyone needs to learn that.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I dislike sharing my theatre with anyone that I didn't bring there myself but have become more tolerant with age, I think. :o)
Nice podcast! I think your calls are on-the-mark, barring any politics that may sway the voters. I'll be happy to see a year where the Best Actress actually goes to a best actress rather than a vanity card finesse (Nicky Kidman, bless her heart, literally won that statue by a nose) That's going to be a great race. I also think that a split between best picture and best director is very likely. What do you think will get the nods for best original and best adapted screenplays?

Reel Fanatic said...

That's a great question, Divinity .. I think I would have to go with either Thank You for Smoking or Notes on a Scandal for best adapted .. and I would give the nod to Notes on a Scandal by just a hair there ... And for best original, I think The Queen, because the dialogue between QE II and Tony Blair is just razor sharp

bleu said...

Talking about movies, ratings, kids and parents, there is this website, that I think is pretty cool to help review a movie before taking the kids.

It rates sex/nudity, violent/gore, and profanity. It also suggests discussion topics and message of the movie.

Marina said...

I think you may have something on "Dreamgirls" for best picture but I hope the Academy overlooks it for some of the year's more deserving flicks like "Letters from Iwo Jima" or even "Babel".

It was nice to hear the short stream. Hope you do something similar in the future!

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't managed to catch Letters from Iwo Jima yet, Marina, but I would be very happy to see either Babel or Children of Men take the Best Picture crown .. my gut, however, tells me that Dreamgirls is just the people's, and critics', choice

FrancesDanger said...

I am so glad to hear that filmmakers will be able to cite other movies when protesting a rating. So often how a movie is rated seems based on a coin toss and I think this will make it a bit easier to get a uniformity to them.

Reel Fanatic said...

That is one very good thing, Francesdanger ... I'm still afraid the decisions will be maddeningly arbitrary, but if presenting sharp logic and precedent, perhaps a few filmmakers will triumph

Anonymous said...

Caught this article in my news-surfing today and thought it particularly apt.

Anonymous said...

Damn, that didn't work so well...
How do you link in the comments' field?
Ah, well, it was an article about who will be the top ten snubs of the Oscars according to Jake Coyle. In short:
1.Daniel Craig
2.Jack Black
3.Young Actors - specifically Abigail Breslin, Ivana Baquero, & Shareeka Epps
4.Dave Chappelle
5.Aaron Eckhart
6.Mark Wahlberg
7.Catherine O'Hara
8.Kevin Kline
9.Rob Brydon
10.Ken Davitian

Reel Fanatic said...

I have no idea how it works, Divinity, but I know it is a pain in the ass .. all his choices are intriguing, especially Aaron Eckhart, Daniel Craig and Dave Chappelle, who, even if his movie is a documentary, still deserves some kind of special prize for just being so entertaining