Hays Code

Gangster Squad

Hollywood is used to being a scapegoat for acts of violence. Automatically implicating movies in the wake of unimaginable acts of atrocity has proven to be an easy way of pursuing closure without actually having to investigate anything; if we blame the fictions put on our movie screens made by people we don’t know somewhere else, we don’t have to feel the responsibility to do anything more, or accept the notion that incomprehensible events can’t be pegged to a singular determining factor. In contrast to collective reactions to prior tragedies, assertions that movies are directly “responsible” for gun violence seem to carry significantly less weight in the current national conversation about gun control. However, entertainment media has been and will continue to be part of this conversation. As Scott Beggs pointed out last month in the wake of Newtown, if we’re going to have a comprehensive conversation about guns and gun violence, then movies should by all means be a part of it – that is, part of an ongoing, dynamic critical dialogue rather than an assumed singular scapegoat.

read more...

Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

read more...

If I could finish that time machine taking up space in my guest room to travel back to visit college-aged Gwen I think the first thing I would tell her would be to take more notes in her Film Studies classes. Remarkably she would need them nearly five years later. All those hours spent in the dusty, haunted film book section of the library stacks devouring the almost forgotten tomes detailing women’s objectification in cinema, the battle between art and pornography, and the influence of 1960s era sexploitation films on modern day moviemaking would definitely not be for naught. I still have vivid memories of discovering there were in fact sexy movies being made before 1970, and they were considered treasured celluloid artifacts. In 1966 the previously used American rating standard known as the Hays Code was traded out in favor of the industry-wide rating system we now know. While the studios got used to this new form of self-governing rather than censoring, many controversial films passed through to receive national distribution. Audiences could now attend sexual charged films just as easily as they could a family-friendly picture. By the time the rating system really got its legs in the late 1960s to early 70s it was too late. The country had had a taste of something always featured off-screen, and they wanted more. In the coming weeks I’m going to explore each decade’s contribution to modern-day exploration of sex on screen. I chose to start in the middle, mostly […]

read more...

Culture Warrior

A few months back, a fight for free expression was exercised by the Weinstein Company for the Sundance-indie favorite Blue Valentine to be theatrically released with an R-rating instead of the dreaded NC-17. Many things about this pseudo-fight are nothing special: there’s hardly anything surprising about fights with the MPAA or about the Weinsteins making a fuss – it’s how they’ve succeeded in the business for decades. But this fuss, and the anti-MPAA lobbying contained within it, seemed significantly more justified because it was exercised in the name of potentially getting an exceptional indie into more theaters across the country (and while the film does star two recognizable names, it is, economically speaking, very much a truly modest indie of the classic Sundance variety). In the end, the Weinsteins got their way, and justifiably so. The NC-17 rating has become an economic form of censorship: nothing associated with the label, or the institution that bestows that label, has the power to actively stop distribution of NC-17 films, but because of the rating’s associations with sexually-explicit content, and because of the liability and extra measures required of theaters in preventing young people from sneaking their way into such films, many theaters (and some entire theater chains) will not exhibit films with such a rating. This would have relegated Blue Valentine, at best, to arthouse theaters in big cities. Such theaters are no doubt where Blue Valentine will play best regardless, but the key word here is opportunity – an R-rating provides […]

read more...

Culture Warrior

One odd thing about being a child of the 80s is that you learn movie history backwards. In watching anything from Animaniacs to Pulp Fiction, I became acquainted with references and homages to classical Hollywood cinema long before I ever watched the movies referenced or the moments paid homage to. Thus, my knowledge of cinema’s past was framed through cinema’s present: I learned about old movies because of what new movies did with them. One of the most formidable moments of this backwards cinematic education occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s when major event kids’ movies became especially preoccupied with 40s film noir in movies like Robert Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) or Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990). These movies embodied a world of double crosses, femme fatales, and cynical detectives without requiring their viewers, young or old, to have seen any of the films these genre tropes are indebted to. Thus, because of my exposure to new tweaks on an old form, conventions became familiar to me long before I could name the films from which such conventions originated. But one movie was exceptionally influential in formulating a distinct impression of film noir in my childhood imagination, and that movie was – oddly enough – Home Alone (1990).

read more...
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
SXSW 2014
Game of Thrones reviews
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3