MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America has a history of questionable practices when it comes to their content rating of film releases. And Harvey Weinstein has a history of going up against the organization when he doesn’t agree with harsh ratings they’ve slapped on Weinstein movies. In October of 2010, his indie project Blue Valentine got slapped with an NC-17 rating due to an oral sex scene, and Harvey successfully appealed the decision, arguing that nothing in the film was exploitative or unessential, and that the rating would be financially harming a great work of art if it was left to stand. It looks like it’s time for round 2 in the Weinstein/MPAA war. This time the fight is over a documentary called Bully, which takes a look at schoolyard bullying in the United States. The MPAA has deemed that the film should be R-rated due to “some language,” and Weinstein is pissed because a restrictive rating would prohibit the youths who need to see a movie like this most from being able to buy a ticket.

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The Motion Picture Association of America must die. It’s a monopolistic behemoth that poisons creativity and commerce while hiding behind the failed task of educating parents about film content, and the time has come to call for its dissolution. The above logo is what we, as movie fans, are most familiar with when it comes to the MPAA because we see it on trailers and home video, but that symbol is really a trick of PR. The goal of the MPAA is not to rate movies, even if that’s the product we know and loathe best. The MPAA’s founding, fundamental aim is to maintain the corporate dominance of its members – the six largest studios. It does not serve fans. It does not serve families. It does not serve filmmakers.

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Reel Sex

People were up in arms Tuesday after the announcement of nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. So many seem to forget that every year they are disappointed with the nominees and every year there is some film or performer who was left off or included on the prestigious list. I may have spent the final weeks of 2011 lamenting my utter ennui with last year’s films, but I never in a million years expected some of the Oscar outcomes. No Supporting Actor nomination for Albert Brooks, whose performance in Drive unnerved audiences to the core? Or the blatant disregard for solid documentary filmmaking in The Interrupters, Buck, or Project Nim, three entries into filmmaking that will forever impact the way we view the world around us? No, the Academy seemed to forget the impressive and daring offerings in favor of an adorable dog in a silent film. What is this, 1920? Last I checked The Jazz Singer pushed us into the land of the talkies. I could spend all day gnawing my tongue over which films shouldn’t have been included in this year’s awards recognition, but just like arguing the virtues and evils of the MPAA, our time is better used talking about some of the sexy pieces of work that the Academy felt were too provocative to include (for reasons I have completely made up in my mind. Hey, they have their prerogative, I have mine.). Going along with the Academy’s new voodoo math rules of deciding the […]

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The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)’s website is live now, but it went down for a brief time alongside the websites for the US Department of Justice, Universal Music Group, RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the US Copyright Office, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), and the French copyright enforcer HADOPI. The attack is thanks to Anonymous, who is taking credit and citing the shut down of Megaupload.com and the arrest of its founder, Kim Dotcom, and several other executives as the catalyst for its work here. [Time] This comes in the wake of the SOPA Blackout and may prove that the fight for internet neutrality is just getting warmed up. The hack is, of course, hilarious (and it’s fun to imagine that they did it from phone booths while navigating through a visualization of a mainframe until they found a garbage file), but its effect was short-lived. A hassle for the MPAA and other agencies, but perhaps it’s just a shot across the bow, proving what the group is capable of. It’s just a prank, though, like signing the MPAA up on a sex-seeking site or convincing it that there’s a pool on the roof. It’s a nice, chaotic gesture, but it’s time to organize such that it forces the MPAA to restructure in a way that’s far more transparent, meaningful, and productive. There’s a way to deliver content information to concerned parents without overstepping the boundaries of economic censorship, and it’s imperative that the public pressure the government […]

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In October of 2011, Representative Lamar S. Smith (of the great state of Texas) introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act to Congress. The bill’s aim was to bolster copyright holders in fights against those that infringe upon them, and that’s an important task. Intellectual property theft can be incredibly injurious to the victim. In fact, FSR had to cut through red tape in the fall of last year to stop a Chinese-based website from stealing its content and republishing it wholesale. Plagiarism is despicable, and stealing the hard creative work of others is too. However, SOPA is tantamount to drinking drain cleaner because your nose itches. The bill is unduly generic – granting massive powers to the government and entities who would wield it like a plaything to shut down websites for spurious reasons and to keep them down throughout what would inevitably be a drawn-out legal process. In short, for an accusation with no meat on it, some of your favorite sites could be shut down on a whim, creating both temporary and possibly permanent damage. As you can see from our masthead today, we’re in full support of the protest against SOPA (and PIPA, it’s cousin in the Senate). While we don’t know how powerful the SOPA blackout might be, we genuinely wish we could go dark as well, but it’s just not feasible for a site like ours that operates on a smile and a shoestring. Losing a day of revenue is just too much of a […]

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Attack the Block Chuck Taylor

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that has a bit of a fashion sense, a sometimes sexy side and perhaps even a creepy streak. It will use and abuse all of these facets of its game in tonight’s edition. This one, as they say, is a must-read. We begin tonight with an image of custom Attack the Block themed shoes made by Toni Taylor-Salisbury, whom you may know as Mrs. Junkfood Cinema. The lovely Kayla Kromer tweeted them earlier this evening, as yet another example of Mrs. Salisbury’s amazing work in the realm of geek footwear. You can check out her other work over on her Etsy store. Do it now. Then come back, because there’s more news.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that would like you to know that you should not be afraid, for there is far more news in tonight’s edition than the title above might suggest. The title is just a tease to whet your appetite for destruction. Today marked the first official day of shooting on Skyfall, the new James Bond film. The photo above was tweeted out by @007, the official James Bond twitter account, revealing the board for the first shot. In related news: Roger Deakins is shooting this movie? Awesome.

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Feel free to stand up from your seat and slow clap while loved ones and strangers stare, because one studio has decided to slap the stigma of the NC-17 rating right in its moronic little face. As we all know, that stupidity is two-fold. The first is in its existence in the first place. A betting man or woman could win easy money that most don’t even know that the NC stands for No One 17 and Under Admitted (because there’s a confusing C in there), but it might as well just stand for No Children. There’s an absurdly thin line between R and NC-17 that becomes all the more apparent when you hear a screaming 4-year-old in the theater where Jason Statham is beating a dude to death on screen before banging down Amy Smart’s doors. Come to think of it, the No Children of NC sounds pretty good in those cases. The second part of the stupidity surrounding the rating (which inherited its bad reputation from the X rating that it morphed into), is in the connotation that some doomed by Puritanical high horsemanship slather onto it. Yes, NC-17 means adult, but there’s also nothing wrong with making a film for an adult audience. Those that don’t think so, aren’t adults.  In a way, the rating’s reputation does a small service in weeding out those too emotionally, psychologically or sexually infantile to handle a solid adult drama (no matter their age). Sadly, that small service is a life […]

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This editorial features spoilers for Arthur, so go watch it first or consider yourself warned. Leave it to Drew McWeeny to make me think way deeper about Arthur than I ever really wanted to while sober. His piece on the drunken, bumbling movie called into question the reason why none of the advertising featured Arthur with a drink in hand, and, more interestingly, why the character has to learn a lesson directly related to his alcoholic behavior. The question is whether excess is still funny. The answer is yes, but it can’t be all funny, and that’s a shame. There was once a time when a character could be over the top without the audience having the spoon of morality shoved down their throats. If there are any teenagers out there, I can assure you that metaphorical spoon was never used for cooking symbolic crack cocaine. Only allegorical soup. Promise. The point is that a mainstream film just can’t feature a character knee deep in vice anymore without showing the negatives. McWeeny is absolutely correct, and what it’s led to is a new brand of self-censorship that would make Will Hays proud.

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Boiling Point

PG-13 gets a lot of flack from us mature audiences sometimes – and with good reason. Often we complain that movies that deserve an R (Live Free or Die Hard) get knocked down to a PG-13 rating and lose the edge that can make them great. Todd Brown over at TwitchFilm recently made the point that PG-13 killed the movies it was meant to save – that is, youth adventure films. While I’m all for any chance to poke PG-13 into the eye any chance I get (and jam a thumb into the MPAA some place where they’d rate it R for violence), I don’t really follow that PG-13 killed youth adventure movies. But don’t worry. It’s still a bit of bullshit for other reasons.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, champion foosball player Kevin Smith joins us for the most sobering, introspective interview the man has given all week. Jokes aside, no topic is out of bounds, so we ask the tough questions about Sundance theatrics, taking Red State out on his own, his animosity toward critics, and retiring from filmmaking (but not from storytelling). If you’re a Smith fan, you’re probably already clicking Play. If you’re one of the people that lost some respect for the man during the past year, his appearance here will do a lot to earn it back. No, we don’t find time to review Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, but we do dig in for 105 minutes on the state of distribution, the future of his own films, and how it ties in to his past. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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While sitting down and chatting with Coming Soon, director Gore Verbinski explained why he would not be involved in the creation of a Bioshock movie after all.  It turns out he couldn’t find anybody to fund an R rated action film. To explain, Bioshock is a first person shooter video game where the playable character is a plane crash survivor who ends up stranded in a crazy underwater world. This undiscovered society has seen better days, is a little bit post-apocalyptic, and you end up needing to shoot pretty much everything that lives there to get your way through the story. Verbinski said of his position, “ … I wasn’t really interested in pursuing a PG-13 version. Because the R rating is inherent.” So studio accountants wanted to make a movie about a game where 90% of everything that happens is shooting things PG-13. What kind of a world are we living in?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Scott Weinberg drops by to offer more information on his suggestion to the MPAA that they add Animal Cruelty to their specific ratings listing. If “teen partying” and “moderate levels of menace” can be considered, why not violence against animals? Listen Here: Download This Episode

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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 […]

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Boiling Point

This weekend I got my Action Team fix on by watching The Expendables, The Losers, and The A-Team. Yeah, it was a good weekend. With the latter film, I opted for the Extended Cut – usually these things are unrated, as there really isn’t a reason to resubmit the film for ratings approval for DVD. Sure enough, The A-Team case has “UNRATED” printed very clearly across it. Surely this must mean that there will be bodies hitting the floor! Blood! Bad words! Everything that was missing in the theater from a supposed group of badass mercenaries. So I start watching. Pretty soon, within the first 15 minutes of the film, there is the F-Bomb. Three times. Sort of.

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Earlier this week, much noise was made about the MPAA’s decision to slap The Weinstein Company’s upcoming Oscar contender Blue Valentine, the breakout Sundance hit from director Derek Cianfrance, with an NC-17 rating. The film, which contains a minimal amount of nudity and heavy amounts of uncomfortable moments, follows a deteriorating relationship between a couple played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Soon after the rating was announced, the media (led by the blogosphere) leapt into action — this transgression would not go unnoticed. Today, Harvey Weinstein responded with his own statement.

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The MPAA, coming under heavy fire from the media recently that will never amount to anything or change their internal policies, has had a long-standing record of inequality in their ratings. The most graphic example has been doling out or threatening NC-17 ratings for sexuality on screen between same sex couples even if the scene is far tamer than the typical man on woman sex act. In fact, looking back, it really is sex that has the MPAA’s knickers in a twist. Violence seems to get a pass alongside whatever Adult Situations are, but if someone is enjoying another person (or themselves) carnally, the MPAA picks up its ball and goes home. Speaking of balls, the MPAA is now discriminating further in their fear of sex. It’s important to give parents a guideline, sure, but it’s overkill for the MPAA to point out whether the nudity in a film is male or female. Fortunately, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Luke Mullen and Brian Salisbury stop by to dig into the problems of the MPAA, review three terrible awful no-good very bad films, and share with us 6 things they’ve seen on film that they can’t un-see. It’s incredibly effective, and you’ll be moved. Plus, we make jokes about Pepe Le Pew. En Francais.

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Your daily recommended allowance of random movie stuff, stories that fell through the cracks, and news you can’t use.

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So you’ve been thinking about quitting your job at Steak N Shake? A position just opened up that might interest you!

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published: 12.23.2014
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