Sunday, March 25, 2007

Review: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Look Yonder

The Motion Pictures Association of America's ratings system comes under scrutiny in this documentary. The judgement that movies are given G, PG-13, R or NC17 are taken a look into, as its deemed quite biased and with great mystery that films are rated based on some arbitrary criteria, from a group of chosen anonymous few in highly non-transparent means.

It's quite fun as director Kirby Dick digs into the system to try and look for answer, with hilarious results, especially when dealing with the bureaucracy. In particular, the main gripe here is how films are given the NC17 rating. Films are compared with each other, and it seemed that the board is more tolerant towards violence than sex, or in particular, female pleasure. Filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky, Kimberly Peirce, Atom Egoyan are interviewed for their views on the system, and reveal their puzzlement at the situation too.

I thought This Film Is Not Yet Rated brought out the hypocrisy of the entire system, that "absolute power corrupts absolutely", that if Kirby Dick is to believed, then there are rules and regulations set which have been breached, especially on transparency, and the primary concern that the raters should be independent and not influenced by filmmakers, studios and the likes.

I also enjoyed the entire investigations and social engineering techniques, including things like dumpster diving and impersonation, and exploiting the innate nature of man to want to help out strangers in distress, even though they are anonymous over the phone, and are "nice". You've got to salute their perseverance, all to get to the results of unravelling the mystery being those secret raters of movies, and those on the Appeals board that filmmakers can go to for redress.

The bits of animation in the movie, combined with the sharp no-holds barred revelation and hypothesis and snippets of movies which suffered the NC17 rating, made this a very enjoyable, smart and fun documentary to sit through, especially when it delivers sucker punch after sucker punch at establishment, and makes a mockery of the powers that be.

Red Carpet: Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust!

The press conference with director Yasuo Baba, and stars Hiroshi Abe and Ryoko Hirosue in the afternoon two days ago was cancelled at the last minute, and there was supposed to be a make up of sorts in the late evening during the Red Carpet.

Alas, it turned out to be such a rush, that it turned out to be just a Red Carpet photograph opportunity for the press members present, with hardly a single word uttered by the stars.

In any case, we were there to bring to you a short video clip from the Red Carpet. Enjoy!

Do Check Back for More Pictures!

Text / Photos: Stefan
Video: CK Yip

Review: Village People Radio Show (Apa Khabar Orang Kampung)

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

The latest news about Amir Muhammad's Village People Radio Show, is that Malaysia has banned it outright. That makes it two in a row for Amir. Like his previous documentary The Last Communist, this is a sequel of sorts continuing on a similar topic where The Last Communist left off, with the filmmaker and his team revisiting the village at the Malaysian Thai border, interviewing the Malay-Muslim members of the old communist party.

However, after watching it, one cannot fathom the ban. There wasn't any violence, sex nor the word "Communist" in the title. Neither did it glorify, and perhaps it did not condemn. What it did, again like its predecessor, is to allow the interviewees to share history based on their perspective. Perhaps it is this opportunity for an avenue to air thoughts, that it's deemed as a "dangerous" movie that shouldn't be seen by the masses?

There are nice touches in the documentary, and usually they're the scenes of serene, calm, and innocence exuded by the children - two girls having the time of their lives playing on a see saw. Those who expect something of sorts like The Last Communist will be disappointed. There is the clear absence of the madcap song and dance routines that made The Last Communist enjoyable. Here it has taken a rather serious, at times mundane, tone to its delivery, as if to demonstrate that there is no need for visual and aural gimmicks to spice up the film.

But it decided to incorporate some Thai melodrama into the presentation, and there will be some who will enjoy reading in between the lines. And in relation to its title "Radio Show", the narrative adopted a style of turning the dials, having transitions that must take getting used to before it irritates, especially when they start off rather long in duration (as a transitional scene).

Respectable documentary this is, but don't expect anything fancy. Really too bad about the ban, which does seem to drum up more support and curiosity for the movie, rather than to achieve its supposed desired effect.