Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kirby Dick, Becky Altringer, Allison Anders, David Ansen, Darren Aronofsky, Jamie Babbit, Maria Bello, Atom Egoyan, Stephen Farber, Wayne Kramer, Kimberly Peirce, David L. Robb, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, John Waters
Written by: Kirby Dick, Eddie Schmidt, Matt Patterson
Directed by: Kirby Dick
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 97
Date: 01/25/2006

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The latest documentary by Kirby Dick (Sick, Derrida, Twist of Faith) unfurls in three parts. In the first, Dick hires a lesbian detective, the wonderful Becky Altringer, to uncover the secret identities of the Motion Picture Association of America's Ratings Board. For whatever reason, the people who assign the G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 ratings to movies, are protected from public scrutiny. Secondly, he assembles a series of film clips to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the ratings system: violent films are rated easier than films about adult sexuality, and films about homosexuality are rated the hardest of all. Finally, he submits his film -- this one -- to the ratings board to document the process. (He receives an NC-17.) But since Dick filmed the process and subsequently changed the film he submitted, the finished film is now going out without a rating. Though Dick ventures into territory that has needed scouring for years, the entire package has a slapdash feel; like Michael Moore, Dick attacks giant, powerful corporations and must do so with a series of small, random blows. The filmmakers he manages to interview, John Waters, Jamie Babbit, Kimberly Perice and Kevin Smith among them, seem to fear for their own careers simply by appearing here. It's all incredibly tasty, and yet there's a great deal more to be covered. Here's hoping that the ground Dick has broken continues to be mined by others.

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