(2006) dir. Kirby Dick
There is something sinister here, the MPAA, its secretive staff and policies that dictate the ratings that films get in the United States. And while theoretically this organization has no power to do anything in regards to legality, their endorsements (by means of ratings) influence the ability for films to be marketed, distributed, and sold and resultingly, their influence winds up with a implicit form of censorship. And I am willing to guess that the average American has no idea how this whole thing works.
Kirby Dick plays this with a large tongue embedded in cheek, hiring a private detective to see if they can find out who the actual staff of “reviewers” are and also who the review board turn out to be. The tone works largely, because otherwise it might be quite a slog about the censorship and challenges to the “art” of cinema. There is a great deal of hypocrisy in the whole system, which Dick exposes as essentially being a cadre of huge corporations, governmental mentality in Hollywood, and even organized religion.
I guess the realities of all this stuff is nothing overly shocking. He has a lot of pretty well-spoken directors and actors who talk about the issues with great eloquence, though clearly on a one-sided perspective. The fact that the organization is so secretive and hidden is almost frightening, but the people who really “suffer” from this are film artists and the American people who might be interested in a less filtered array of feature film art.
There are other aspects of homophobia and the great irony that, in reality, the MPAA filters out sex 4-5 times more often than violence, which is a cultural critique on America in innumerable ways. It is pretty fucking pathetic that the ultimate review board is made up of CEOs and other corporate bigwigs of studios and distribution companies. It’s total hypocrisy. The Kafka-esque responses that the board offer as to how their system works and their awful, awful tone of high-and-mighty-ness is pretty bad too.
The movie itself is good, but not great, though it was an enlightening experiment and investigation.
Jack Valenti be damned.