Eddie Schmidt

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This Film Is Not Yet Rated Review


OK
When South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker made Orgazmo, a romp about a Mormon porn star, and submitted it to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for a rating, it came back NC-17. The filmmakers asked what they could do to get it down to an R, and they were told, brusquely, nothing. Years later they made Team America: World Police, which included a four-minute puppet-sex scene (including many shots they had no intention of using, just so they'd have something to cut out) that pushed them into forbidden territory. This time, however, they were provided scene-specific notes on how to make the film into an R. The difference? Orgazmo was an indie release, while Team America came from Paramount Studios. The message of this story, as relayed by Stone in the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, is fairly simple: The MPAA is less a responsible watchdog organization keeping the country safe from sexually explicit material than it is a corrupt industry tool, keeping the fig leaf of respectability not so firmly in place.

The MPAA was a lobbying organization that first implemented its voluntary ratings system in 1968 under the auspices of Jack Valenti, a Washington insider and LBJ confidant determined to defend Hollywood from the possibility of government regulation. Valenti argued it was better for film studios to police themselves so as to avoid having political prudes come down with a modernized Hays Code. So filmmakers must present their films to the MPAA's classifications panel (whose identities are never disclosed and are only described on the MPAA's website as "a board of parents") and then, if they don't have enough industry clout or the ability/desire to cut and resubmit their film for another pass, have to live with whatever rating is passed down. As This Film points out time and again, given that NC-17 films are shown by almost no theaters and often not carried by video rental chains, it's a system where de facto censorship is carried out by a secret nongovernmental body that seems to have a real problem with sex.

Continue reading: This Film Is Not Yet Rated Review

This Film Is Not Yet Rated Review


OK
When South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker made Orgazmo, a romp about a Mormon porn star, and submitted it to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for a rating, it came back NC-17. The filmmakers asked what they could do to get it down to an R, and they were told, brusquely, nothing. Years later they made Team America: World Police, which included a four-minute puppet-sex scene (including many shots they had no intention of using, just so they'd have something to cut out) that pushed them into forbidden territory. This time, however, they were provided scene-specific notes on how to make the film into an R. The difference? Orgazmo was an indie release, while Team America came from Paramount Studios. The message of this story, as relayed by Stone in the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, is fairly simple: The MPAA is less a responsible watchdog organization keeping the country safe from sexually explicit material than it is a corrupt industry tool, keeping the fig leaf of respectability not so firmly in place.

The MPAA was a lobbying organization that first implemented its voluntary ratings system in 1968 under the auspices of Jack Valenti, a Washington insider and LBJ confidant determined to defend Hollywood from the possibility of government regulation. Valenti argued it was better for film studios to police themselves so as to avoid having political prudes come down with a modernized Hays Code. So filmmakers must present their films to the MPAA's classifications panel (whose identities are never disclosed and are only described on the MPAA's website as "a board of parents") and then, if they don't have enough industry clout or the ability/desire to cut and resubmit their film for another pass, have to live with whatever rating is passed down. As This Film points out time and again, given that NC-17 films are shown by almost no theaters and often not carried by video rental chains, it's a system where de facto censorship is carried out by a secret nongovernmental body that seems to have a real problem with sex.

Continue reading: This Film Is Not Yet Rated Review

Twist Of Faith Review


Very Good
About an hour into the documentary Twist of Faith, Tony Comes tells a dirty joke about priests and little boys. It's a crummy joke, and it's weird to watch him tell it - after all, he says he was molested by a priest when he was a teenager, as do the two men he's casually chatting with. But you want to laugh with them in sympathy -- the wisecracking obviously helps the men bond together and manage their grief. When the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal first came to light in 2002, stories about victims soon blurred together, making it difficult to comprehend the extent of the psychic damage. Kirby Dick's film is a powerful corrective, then: by providing an intimate portrait of the emotional struggle of a single victim, Twist clarifies just how damaging the abuse is, and how easily it can contaminate others' lives.

Dick has a remarkably articulate and self-aware subject in Comes. A firefighter in his early 30s living in Toledo, Ohio, with his wife and two kids, Comes speaks candidly about how the alleged molester, Dennis Gray, brought him and his classmates up to a cottage retreat, plied them with alcohol, and raped them. He recalls Gray's offhand comments about how Comes was the sort of guy who'd screw up a wet dream. "Was this part of some conditioning process?" he wonders. "It screws with you." He's also keenly attuned to the sad ironies that his past has created in his adult life, like the fact that his drive to his therapist's office requires him to pass his old church. His wife, Wendy, was forced to adjust as well; she explains how Comes' past history has forced them to change the way they act in the bedroom, and indeed brought a level of neurosis to nearly everything they do.

Continue reading: Twist Of Faith Review

Chain Camera Review


Very Good
What happens when you give a high school student a video camera and tell them to go play, with the single condition that the camera must document his life for a week? You expect the worst. The turmoil, the pain, the "nobody understands me!" Or a load of made-up garbage from someone starving for attention. Maybe something even worse.

But Kirby Dick has found some gems by doing just this. In April of 1999, he gave ten video cameras to ten students for a week. At the end of the week, those cameras were given to the next ten students. The stories accrued until the end of the school term. He sifted 16 diaries from them to create a collage of the perpetually unknown: the mind of adolescence.

Continue reading: Chain Camera Review

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This Film Is Not Yet Rated Movie Review

This Film Is Not Yet Rated Movie Review

When South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker made Orgazmo, a romp about a...

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Chain Camera Movie Review

Chain Camera Movie Review

What happens when you give a high school student a video camera and tell them...

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