Tuesday, November 25, 2008

R is for Ridiculous

This week I saw Motorcycle Diaries. It's a film based on Che Guevara's partial autobiography of the same name. Shown at International Cinema here at BYU.

Despite the historical inaccuracies, I thought it was a fantastic film. I actually walked out feeling I'd learned a lesson about missionary work.
Online later I found out it was rated R.
I double-checked my screen a full seven times before I believed it.
Really? R? It was less graphic than most PG-13s I see. Probably less than some PGs too.
Suddenly I felt sacrilegious. I learned about missionary work! Oh no! That's not allowed. Rs are evil...right?

Then tonight, in beginning The Fall with Scarlet, I realized that film was rated R too. It DID contain more blood than I expected. But it all had the super-saturated quality of Monty-Python blood and it was too unnatural in color and behavior to be disturbing. It was used for style more than anything.

The film was gorgeous throughout. The style followed Alexandria's imagination: intoxicating color, gorgeous scenery and fantastic costume design for each of the characters. The commentary on life, living and love was very very powerful. It really makes you think too. I loved it.

Which leads to my confusion. Why R? Because it's deep? Because of the violence?
Anything with Bruce Willis, most super-hero movies and any Bourne film is much more violent. The vast majority of romantic comedies (or action flicks - they apply too) are more sexually explicit. Will Ferrel (pick the movie) is ten times as crass and vulgar.

What then?

You're telling me it's more harmful for children to be exposed to a philosophical view of life and the reasons for living than it is to hear Ferrel spout expletives and crude sexual references for an hour and a half?

For practically my entire life I've considered Rs off-limits. Bad. Evil. Dangerous.
I remember being 14 and utterly mortified that a family I babysat for owned a couple R-films. I instantly judged them to be on the slippery slope.
But here I am facing my own movies and realizing that their ratings are completely invalid. Staying away from R-movies doesn't keep you safe. There's just as much garbage in PG-13s. R-movies aren't all safe and innocent, of course, everyone knows that's not true. But there are good, valid, wonderful things in Rs. Their rating isn't an accurate measure anymore.

Maybe I'm just spouting stuff you already know. According toJordan, this skewed rating has been going on for a while. But it was new to me. I didn't want to know, I suppose. It's harder to judge when you throw the standard ratings away - easier to take them as a given and feel safe within their diction. But to watch without thinking - trusting an ambiguous third party's recommendation- THAT may be more dangerous than any film.

So...I don't plan on renting every R at Blockbuster because of this realization. But it does give me some perspective on those who do watch R-movies consistently and it's prompted me to more critically analyze my films before I watch them. Not all that glitters is gold.

Thoughts from the Animation Program

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that Motorcycle Diaries was rated for language not graphic-ness. I didn't really acknowledge that, but it's true. They had pretty dirty language. I censored it for myself since all of it was in Spanish (i.e. subtitles for me) anyway.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And then...I pounced her.

Can you believe only ONE person guessed us correctly? I can't. We were dead-ringers!

On Halloween Stacey and I dressed up as Calvin and Hobbes and it was fan-freaking-tastic. Calvin and Hobbes are my one true comic-loves so to impersonate Hobbes for a day was a definite wish fulfillment.

We went to Scarlet's for her Halloween party and her roommate made stinking AMAZING pumpkin pie! From REAL pumpkins! I didn't even know people knew how to do that anymore. But I'm ready to learn how because the fresh stuff is fifty times more delicious than any of that poser canned pumpkin. Scarlet also made flower-water which was a new one for me, but actually pretty good. It helped that it looked like blood. It's fun to drink bodily-fluid-looking fluids on Halloween.

Oh, and to make everything perfectly perfect. We also played Calvin Ball and jumped in piles of pretty, yellow, crunchy leaves.
It's okay to be jealous.

This is right before I pelted Stacey with leaves.

I love Halloween. And Calvin and Hobbes. And Stacey for being willing to dress up with me!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wait Until Dark

I'm not a fan of horror films. Really really DISlike them, actually.
But in honor of Halloween and Audrey Hepburn and Stacey Bethers, I decided to make an exception for tonight night and watch one.

Note to self: late night horror movies are never a good idea especially on the creepiest night of the year.
I'm so jittery, I can't sleep. I'm checking my blinds regularly to make sure there isn't a pale blue van outside; I've compulsively locked the door at least three times; I'm blasting pop music to try and get the dissonant, violins out of my head; and I nearly jump out of my skin every time something moves or the heater goes on.

All I can see is that horrid image of the villain dragging himself with a bloody knife towards a screaming, sobbing Audrey. Ugh. I think my mind is exaggerating how terrifying he actually was, but that knowledge doesn't help much.

The film overall was quite good. Audrey did a superb job of playing a blind woman. It must have taken quite a bit of practice to get her eyes to stop focusing on her surroundings. I'm super ticked at Sam. His good-guy role forces me to think favorably of him, but what a turd! I thought he'd run up and clutch Susy with everything he had when he found out she was miraculously still alive. But no, he waits as she stumbles over furniture and uses Gloria's assistance before embracing her at all.
Susy's brilliant.

It's too bad "Mike" had to die. I liked him. He was the only criminal with a conscience. But that would have created complications with Sam so I suppose it made sense to kill him off. At least he ended on a high.

Gloria's character arc was fascinating: she was wretched in the beginning, but by the end I would have given her a halo and gold medal. So clever! Her character was very skillfully done.

Phew, feeling calmer now. In conclusion: I'm glad I can see and gladder that there are no dolls or music boxes or drugs in my apartment. Definite plus.

Thanks for listening!