Friday, February 25, 2011

Netflix Stream This, Bitch!

This Film is Not Yet Rated
     Every single film that you watch is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. The question is: who are the actual people that decide what content is appropriate for our children and various age groups? According to this wonderful muckraking documentary, it's a bunch of stuffy, over-40-year-olds that really have no merit to decide what is viewable for any of your young children. The film has many points that ponder the question of whether or not the process should be reviewed or scrapped altogether for a new process: one of the main problems is the members of actual rating board are anonymous, so the public doesn't know who decides these ratings. Kirby Dick, the film's director, digs deep into the detriments of such a censorship system, and anyone sane will come away with the opinion that the MPAA ratings board is a corrupt system that plays favorites and doesn't have any real credentials when rating a film G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17. 
     Speaking of the rating "NC-17" (which means no admittance whatsoever for any person under 17 years old), that is exactly the rating that the MPAA ratings board smacked down on this film--particularly due to the fact that this film shows various scenes from actual NC-17 movies and questions their ratings along the way.  As stated above, the members of this illogical board are anonymous; one of the main reasons this film saw significant press was the hiring of a private investigator to determine the members of the board. And here they are (as of 2006):

    • Barry Freeman - 45 - married - elementary school aged children
    • Arlene Bates - 44 - married - age of children: 15 and 23
    • Matt Ioakimedes - 46 - divorced - age of children: 17 and 20 (had served as a rater for 9 years as of 2005)
    • Joan Worden - 56 - married - age of children: 18 (twins)
    • Scott Young - 51 - married - age of children: 22 and 24 (next-door neighbor of Mrs. Bates)
    • Joann Yatabe - 61 - married - age of children: 22 and 25
    • Howard Friedkin - 47 - divorced - no children (aspiring screenwriter)
     As you can see, the majority of the members either own theater chains or are representatives of a religion (I won't even bother getting into that here). You would think that the members of a ratings board with ratings that only apply to persons under the age of 17 would have children under the age of 17, no? No. Most of them do not have children under the age of 18. It's all a tangled mess involving advertisement and money through the owners of the above chains. As Roger Ebert states, "although the MPAA ratings are supposedly "voluntary," agreements between the studios that fund the organization, the exhibitors who show their films, and the media in which those films are advertised, make it something less than optional for most films." 
    If you watch This Film is Not Yet Rated, and I suggest you do just that if you are at all interested in film, you will see that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems with this organization. The board clearly treats homosexual material in a harsher light than heterosexual material, the board is extremely afraid of the female orgasm (Obviously because its members have never given one), and the board thinks penises are hideous, disgusting things. They receive no training on the ratings they deliver. They are liberal when it comes to showing violence and ultra-conservative when it comes to showing anything sexual. They are uptight and simply ignorant when it comes to knowing what is appropriate for the country's collective children.  The question we need to ask is this: what's worse, showing a man's head getting blown off in a bloody, meaty mess, or a little bit of female public hair? After all, pubes are God's creation. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What You'll Want to be Watching:

                                    Game of Thrones
     One might as well call this ongoing blog series (that I have been neglecting due to NFL football, which, coincidentally, is now over for the season) What You'll Want to be Watching (on HBO) due to the fact that HBO is one of the only television stations that consistently produces the best shows. Come April 17th, I don't expect the trend to stop: Game of Thrones, the new series based on the epic fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, will come to fruition on that Sunday night, and from early looks at the cast and set, along with various articles that I have read about the entire making of the series, the show is looking absolutely right; in other words, entertaining, violent, sexual and gritty. Starring the always-game-to-swing-a-sword Sean Bean, the great little actor Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headley, the show (at least if it follows the books) is set to becomes the series that fills the hole that Rome left, along with some of the family drama of a series such as The Sopranos, and the vulgarity of a show such as Deadwood--not that I would dare claim that this show will be as great as the formerly mentioned--but if it plays to audiences as good as it sounds and looks, HBO Sunday nights will be Must-See T.V. yet again.
     For those of you unfamiliar with the story, and I feel sorry for you, it's "fantasy for cool people." It takes place in the fictional world of Westeros, where various families are vying for the Iron Throne. In this fictional land, the weather is peculiar: summers can last years and winters can last entire lifetimes. According to HBO, this version of the story will "stretch from the South, where heat breeds plots, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage Eastern lands; all the way to the frozen North, where an 800 foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark (and supernatural) forces that lie beyond. Kings and Queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men...all will play the Game of Thrones." The show will be violent, dirty, and will have lots of tits. Probably penises, too, ladies.
     Technically, A Game of Thrones is the title of the first book in the entire fantasy series, better known as A Song of Ice and Fire. Originally planned as a trilogy, Mr. Martin has switched that to at least 7 books, 4 of which have been written and published. I highly suggest to anyone with even a tiny, miniscule interest in fantasy to read these great books, as they have a sense of character and are, dare I say, better written than most typical fantasy fare. HBO is planning on making a 10-13 episode season with each of the books (if the show is a success), so assuming the show is great and Mr. Martin can crank out the books a little bit faster than his pace--which is similar to a snails--we should have a solid 7 seasons of great television. I know that these are big ifs. And this is also assuming that the getting-up-there-in-age-and-weight George R. R. Martin doesn't bite the bullet before writing the complete series of books. But if I have faith in anything dealing with televsion, it's HBO.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

T-T-T-Today, Junior: The King's Speech Review

What, exactly, constitutes a film as Oscar-Bait? There are a myriad of examples: films that run longer than they should, British period dramas that are filled with elaborate sets and costumes, films with casts that have previously won acting trophies, films that run "For Your Consideration" advertisements accompanied by sweeping, epic musical notes. Do films that fall into these categories generally suck? They don't have to: previous films that fall close to any of these categories I have loved--Polanski's The Pianist and Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are two examples. The King's Speech hits many of the criteria (a British period drama, a story about a man with a disability, a heartwarming story and friendship); however, none of these things change the fact that The King's Speech is an entertaining and tearjerking (although sometimes obvious) stroll through a portion of the life of stammering King George VI.
     Anyone that has any little fear about public speaking can relate to the stammering of King George VI (portrayed with amazing precision by the future Best Actor winner, Colin Firth), nicknamed Bertie, and that is precisely the reason why the film works on many different levels. At the beginning of the film, his stutter is devastating: in one of the many extremely tense and awkward scenes in the movie, it's almost uncomfortable to sit in the theater seat and watch (This helps the major payoff at the end of the film in relation to seeing someone overcome adversity in the face of pressure and stress). He has been ridiculed throughout his entire life about his stammer, mostly by his father, King George V, and his brother, King Edward VIII. When King George becomes ill and dies, Bertie's older brother Edward becomes King, but his reign comes to an end suddenly and quickly due to the love of a divorced women. Bertie, now King George VI, becomes King during one of the most important wartime eras in history. Consequently, that means that Bertie becomes the center of attention, and he must deliver one of the most important speeches declaring war against Hitler's Germany.
     The King's Speech is great instead of good because of one reason: the sometimes hilarious and always heartwarming relationship between Bertie and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue (portrayed with a warm and humorous understanding by Geoffrey Rush). Bertie goes to the "doctor" after he and his wife have exhausted many options to help his stammering. In the first of many meetings between the  royal man and the common man, Lionel has Bertie recite Shakespeare into a recording device while wearing headphones playing very loud music so he can't hear himself speak. He gets frustrated, throws a tantrum and leaves, but not before Lionel gives him the recording as a parting gift. A few scenes pass before the obvious happens: Bertie, angry and hopeless, listens to the recording and hears himself reciting without much of a stammer at all. This realization by Bertie that Lionel may possibly have the answer to help him with his problem propels the film to the entertaining ups and downs of Bertie overcoming his problem with Lionel's help. Throughout the film, their scenes together are always amazing and magical, with Lionel as the conductor and Bertie's voice as the music.
     Lately, The King's Speech has been stealing the momentum of The Social Network in the Best Picture Oscar race. I can see why; however, I think that The Social Network is the better film, a better film about "now" and one that shows the world how it is today. But: I'm not going to go too far and say that I will be disappointed if The King's Speech brings home the big trophy. Although it is the definition of perfect wanking material for the older Oscar voters, The King's Speech is an uplifting story about a man overcoming personal adversity in the face of enormous pressure, a story about the benefits of a loving wife and a true friend, and a story about the nervousness we all feel at some point in our lives.     (B+)